Rural round-up

November 8, 2019

Muller: Labour wants ag gone – Annette Scott:

The Government does not see agribusiness as part of the future of New Zealand’s economy, National Party agriculture spokesman Todd Muller says.

And the freshwater reforms are potentially damaging to the rural community, he told about 200 people at a meeting in Ashburton.

He is wary of new rules without factoring in the potential economic impact.

“You can only get sustainable, enduring outcomes if farmers can see a way they can farm to their limits.

“Economic, social and environmental implications are all perspectives that need to be in communications.

“That’s why we are pushing back very hard and will do if we are in government after September next year.”   . . 

Fonterra wants change to water rules – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra wants the Government to remove suggested maximum required levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in streams.

In its submission on the Government’s Action of Healthy Waterways proposal, Fonterra says it “strongly opposes” some of the maximum required levels for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP).

Farm Source Group director Richard Allen says the discussion document does not contain sufficient economic analysis to justify the proposed bottom line values.

Fonterra believes that in-stream bottom lines should only be used where there is a direct link to the outcomes sought. . .

‘Some mud needs to be thrown’ – farmer at Fonterra AGM :

Fonterra shareholders are frustrated and want accountability after turbulent times for the country’s biggest enterprise.

About 200 farmers gathered in Invercargill for the dairy giant’s annual general meeting.

The co-op recently posted a $605 million loss for the last financial year, and didn’t pay dividends to shareholders.

Farmer shareholders acknowledged that today was going to be tough for Fonterra’s leaders during an Q and A session. . .

Breeders boost eating quality – Neal Wallace:

Breeders are responding to customers’ desires and positioning the sheep farmers for the day when processors start grading meat for its eating qualities. Neal Wallace reports.

Meat processors don’t recognise eating quality yet but a group of ram breeders is preparing for when they do.

Andrew Tripp from Nithdale Station in Southland is involved in the South Island genomic calibration project, which uses DNA testing to let breeders predict terminal sire rams likely to produce offspring with meat that has superior qualities of tenderness and juiciness.

Other partners in the project include Beef + Lamb Genetics, Pamu, AgResearch, Focus Genetics, Kelso, the Premier Suftex group, the Southern Suffolk group and Beltex NZ. . . 

A blaze of yellow – Nigel Malthus:

Several thousand hectares of South Island farmland is a blaze of yellow as the annual rapeseed crop welcomes the spring.

Cropping farmer Warren Darling is one whose display regularly wows the public, since his farm straddles State Highway One just south of Timaru. His 120ha of rape is at “peak flower” and he expects to harvest at the end of January.

Darling has been growing the crop for about 12 years, along with wheat and barley.

He is now also trying sunflowers, beans and industrial hemp, in an effort to find compatible crops to move to a four-year rotation. . .

Busy music career gathers speed – Alice Scott:

Farmer’s wife, teacher, mother of twin boys, fledgling musician and all while recovering from brain surgery … it’s fair to say Casey Evans hasn’t been taking things easy over the last few years.

Casey moved to husband Rhys’ family farm near Owaka just under three years ago and things have been moving rapidly since, as her country music career begins to gain momentum and she is about to set off on a Somewhere Back Road music tour, raising funds to produce her first solo album.

It is just over a year since Casey underwent surgery to extend the size of her skull and release the pressure on her cerebellum and brain stem tissue which was pushing against the hole at base of her skull. For years Casey said she has experienced chronic fatigue and headaches which she attributed to “a few too many” horse falls. Being pregnant with twins, the symptoms compounded and Casey blacked out.

“It was then they did a scan and diagnosed the problem.” . . 

EcoScapes: Stunning views, mental massages and the country’s coolest cinema – Brook Sabin:

I’ve come up with a great concept: the mental massage.

Let me explain. It’s a crazy time to be a human: we’re bombarded with so much information, we’re expected to do more than ever, and we’re all feeling, well, a little bit tired. 

So, you’ll like this next bit: it’s time for a mental massage. I’m talking about a little holiday that slows the heartbeat. That relaxes the muscles. That gives your brain a break. 

And, boy, I think I’ve found it. 

It’s a luxury pod in the mountains, where you can sit back in bed and stare at the Southern Alps. And with the flick of a button, the room transforms into the country’s coolest cinema – all to enjoy with just one other person. . . 


Rural round-up

September 2, 2018

Proving consultants were wrong – Neal Wallace:

Sheep farmers are enjoying a golden patch but it would be a challenge to find a more profitable breed than Merino-Romney halfbreds. That is a contrast to the last rites that were read to the mid micron sector by consultants 18 years ago. Neal Wallace meets some farmers who ignored those forecasts of impending doom and stayed loyal to halfbred sheep.

John Duncan confesses to never being a great meeting goer. 

One the Otago sheep and beef farmer recalls attending was in Ranfurly in about 2000 at which he was told there was no future for mid micron wool.

International consultants McKinsey had just released a report on how to improve wool grower profitability. Recommendations included dissolving the Wool Board and, alarmingly to owners of mid micron sheep such as Duncan, warning the fibre did not have a future. . . 

Westland weighs options – Hugh Stringleman:

Westland Milk Company’s 420 farmer-shareholders will have some options for capital structure to chew on at the co-operative’s annual meeting on December 5.

Chairman Pete Morrison said a report from a strategic review of the company being done by Macquarie Capital and DG Advisory will be available for shareholders.

The quest is to find a sustainable capital structure and competitive milk price. . . 

Virtual reality experiments in Rotorua could replace forestry field work – Samantha Olley:

The forestry industry has been experimenting with virtual reality in Rotorua this week to develop new ways of measuring tree growth.

The University of Tasmania and Interpine are carrying out the research, which is partially funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia.

The university’s Human Interface Technology Lab leader, Dr Winyu Chinthammit, said the experiments aimed to give skilled workers a safer and more efficient way to measure forests, using data from aerial LiDar scanners, rather than field work. . . 

Sheep-milking gets a hoof-hold in Waikato’s dairying’s heartland – Gerald Piddock:

The burgeoning sheep-milking industry has upped its stake in Waikato’s dairying heartland.

Two new farms will be ready to milk this season. Both are near Cambridge and are owned by Taupō-based Spring Sheep Milking Co, a joint venture between state-owned enterprise Pamu and marketing firm SLC Group.

Spring Sheep announced plans to establish the two farms in December and to grow sheep-milking from a handful of exporters to at least 60 farms by 2030. . . 

On the farm: a guide to rural New Zealand:

Do you know what’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Northland has had a fantastic winter. While the skies delivered two and a half times the normal amount of rain in June, July and August were extremely mild and farmers didn’t need to put on their wet weather gear nearly as often. Calving is all but finished so farmers are thinking ahead to mating and treating cows that had trouble calving so they’ll be in good shape for the next round. With the threat of Mycoplasma Bovis being transferred from farm to farm, farmers are being advised to lease bulls from credible sources.

In South Auckland, Pukekohe had a fine weekend but heavy rain fell on Wednesday leaving the ground too wet to be worked on. While the free irrigation is normally welcome, too much of a good thing is entirely another matter. Some crops are showing signs of diseases that flourish in wet conditions. Heavy supplies of broccoli continue to be hard to sell. . .

Pāmu lifts operating profits despite challenging climatic conditions

Pāmu (Landcorp Faming Limited) has announced EBITDAR (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, Amortization, and Revaluations) of $48.5 million for the year ended 30 June 2018 (FY18), up $12.9 million (36 percent) from the previous year. Net profit after tax was $34.2 million a reduction of $17.7 million (34 percent) largely due to lower gains from biological assets (forestry and livestock) and a higher tax expense.

Directors have declared a dividend of $5 million which will be paid on 15 October 2018. . . 

 UK could run out of food a year from now with no-deal Brexit, NFU warns – Lisa O’Carroll:

Britain would run out of food on this date next year if it cannot continue to easily import from the EU and elsewhere after Brexit, the National Farmers’ Union has warned.

Minette Batters, the NFU president, urged the government to put food security at the top of the political agenda after the prospect of a no-deal Brexit was talked up this week.

“The UK farming sector has the potential to be one of the most impacted sectors from a bad Brexit – a frictionless free trade deal with the EU and access to a reliable and competent workforce for farm businesses is critical to the future of the sector,” she said. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 9, 2018

Documentary explores Dannevirke sheep shearers’ international success – Kerry Harvey:

Overseas visitors are flocking to Dannevirke – looking to get down and dirty in the shearing shed.

The tourists come from all over Europe to learn from – and work for – Paewai-Mullins Shearing, a fourth-generation family business which is at the centre of Māori TV’s new documentary series Shear Bro.

“We’ve got the best teachers here and that’s why we get such a big influx of foreign shearers,” says Tuma Mullins, a world-class trainer who has worked in shearing sheds around the world. . .

Takapau farmer a public hit at Young Farmer of the Year Competition – Andrew Ashton:

Takapau farmer Patrick Crawshaw admits he was pushed to the “absolute limit” at this year’s FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final but says he “loved every minute of it”.

Speaking to Hawke’s Bay Today after taking on six other finalists over three days of gruelling competition in Invercargill, Crawshaw said he was feeling “tired but not too bad”.

“I learnt a lot through the process, it was a very cool project to go through but certainly one that challenges the body and mind more than anything. I’ve never pushed it that far before in my life. . . 

Disrupters are here – Annette Scott:

Red meat farmers are facing the biggest disruption in more than 30 years, Beef  + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor told farmers at the annual FarmSmart conference in Christchurch.

“We are facing a bigger disruption for our sector than seen in the 1980s when a lamb was $4 and a ewe 50c, if you could get killing space.

McIvor outlined seven forces B+LNZ has identified as driving disruption.

They include global and government institutions putting the impact of meat consumption on the agenda and while it will move slowly the conversation has started. . .

NZ kiwifruit experts share tips with Chinese growers – Gerard Hutching:

It used to be called the Chinese gooseberry; now New Zealand experts are showing Chinese growers how to create the perfect kiwifruit.

Even though China is the home of the kiwifruit, New Zealanders have honed the art of growing them and are now sharing their expertise.

It is all part of Zespri’s Project Bamboo, which aims to contract selected growers to supply the Tauranga-based marketer with fruit for its expanding Chinese market.

Sales in China reached $505 million at the end of June and turnover is expected to double in four years’ time. . .

Synlait applauds high performing farmers:

Synlait recognised high achievers in their milk supplier network at their annual conference in Christchurch for dairy farmers and partners on Thursday 28 June.

Nine accolades were up for grabs at the 2018 Synlait Dairy Honours Awards.

“We make a point of celebrating the significant achievements of an increasingly large number of high performing dairy farmers each year,” says John Penno, Synlait’s CEO and Managing Director. . . 

Icebreaker’s sustainability report sets new standard to follow – Lyn Meany:

Corporate sustainability reporting is almost de rigueur. According to the Governance & Accountability Institute, the number of S&P 500 companies issuing sustainability reports has grown from just 20 percent in 2011 to 82 percent in 2016. That’s quite a trend, and quite a good thing, for the companies and their stakeholders — but only if they do it right.

How can you ensure your sustainability report is a good thing for your company?

Many look at the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework as the gold standard for reporting in the private sector. It is not a quick or easy framework to use — but then again, no effective sustainability report is quick or easy. You have to set goals in all the expected categories: energy; waste; water; and so forth. You have to establish metrics and track your progress against those goals, then write, design and publish your report. . .

Premium Pāmu Venison conquering Auckland and US

From The Sugar Club at SkyCity  to the  Archive Bar and Bistro on Waiheke, premium quality venison from Pāmu in partnership with Duncan Venison and Carve, is livening up the plates of over a dozen restaurants in Auckland and further afield, with more queuing up.

Duncan Venison chief executive Andy Duncan says the demand for the Pāmu Venison is growing as chefs discover the superior taste and quality of the Bistro Fillet product. . .

WA farmers go full Monty to reveal mental health issues – Cally Dupe and Zoe Keenan:

A groundswell of goodwill and humour caused by farmers getting their kit off has drawn attention to a more serious issue: mental health.

The founder of popular Instagram page The Naked Farmer wrapped up his month-long tour of Western Australia this week, visiting farmers across the State.

From Dumbleyung to Kununurra, Victorian farmer Ben Brooksby and his best mate Emma Cross photographed WA grain, sheep and cattle farmers on their broadacre and pastoral properties. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 6, 2018

Milking it for deer – Nigel Malthus:

If the world is ready for deer milk, New Zealand is ready to supply it.

The product, believed unique, was simultaneously launched at Fieldays and at a VIP function in Auckland aimed at high-end restaurants and the food service industry.

It won the Grassroots Innovation Award at Fieldays for Pāmu (the commercial name of Landcorp Farming) and its primary partners Sharon and Peter McIntyre, deer farmers at Gore. . . 

Is deer milk the next big thing?

“I can absolutely see this going global,” says consultant executive chef Geoff Scott, of the deer milk now being pioneered in NZ.

Scott, engaged by Pāmu to help launch its deer milk, says it’s rare for chefs to work with a new ingredient they have never seen before.

He says deer milk’s most noticeable feature is its “phenomenal” texture. And contrary to his expectations, the aroma was not as strong as goat or sheep milk.

“It’s got a lovely gentle slightly savoury nose and when you drink it you get this amazing sensation with the texture of the milk,” said Scott. . .

MPI scotches professor’s blog – Annette Scott:

Cross-species transmission is not a risk in the spread of Mycoplasma bovis, Ministry for Primary Industries response director Geoff Gwyn says.

Animals other than cattle are considered to be dead-end hosts and not important in the ongoing spread of the cattle disease.

“There is no scientific evidence that non-cattle species can act as a source of infection to cattle,” Gwyn said.

He expressed concern the matter continues to be raised given it has potential to unnecessarily heighten farmers’ anxiety. 

“Our firm view is the transfer of M bovis from non-cattle to cattle is not of material concern,” Gwyn said. . . 

Mackenzie Basin: Fonterra dairying criticism rejected – Kate Gudsell:

The Dunedin businessman behind a planned mega-dairy conversion in the Mackenzie Basin is shrugging off criticism from Fonterra about further intensification on the vulnerable landscape.

Murray Valentine has 9600 hectares of land at Simon’s Pass near Twizel and wants to irrigate 4500 hectares of that.

Originally, he was granted resource consent for 15,000 cows, but plans to put 2000 on it by next year, rising to a maximum of 5500 cows when consents are gained for extra cow sheds. . . 

Biodynamic forum held

Maori star lore, the winter solstice and water and earth energy were popular topics for the nearly 100 people who attended the 2018 New Zealand Biodynamic Association’s conference, in Clyde and Wanaka from June 22 to 24.

One of the organisers, Su Hoskin, who is in charge of the organic and biodynamic practices at Domaine-Thomson Wines vineyard near Cromwell, also sits on the association’s council.

”The conference was great,” Mrs Hoskin said.

”The theme was water and light.” . . 

Feds and MPs put on a good show – Alan Emmerson:

I’ve been dealing with Federated Farmers and going to their functions for longer than I care to remember.

I’ve witnessed a strong, focused organisation and one with a distinct lack of focus.

Currently, in my view, Feds are as strong as they’ve ever been. 

They are well led, their staff contains a good mix of youth and experience and the policy and communications teams are second to none.

I believe Federated Farmers is becoming increasingly important because of its advocacy role. That advocacy allows us to continue farming. Without it we would be in some difficulty.

Until this weeks’ conference I hadn’t realised just how busy they are. . . 


Rural round-up

June 27, 2018

Chinese demand for NZ crossbred wool lifts; auction price rises – Sally Rae:

There are “just a few hints” of upside potential for crossbred wool prices over the next two years, an industry report says.

Auction prices had lifted slightly in recent months and demand from China was just starting to return, the Ministry for Primary Industries latest Situation and Outlook report said.

The wool market had been struggling for the past 18 months or more. The main reasons were a lack of crossbred wool demand from China and increased competition from cheaper synthetic fibres. That had led to a build-up of inventory on farms and throughout the supply chain, which was slowly being worked through. . .

Tom Mulholland to speak at ‘Safetree’ workshops – Yvonne O’Hara:

Media personality and emergency department doctor Tom Mulholland will be speaking at Forestry Industry Safety Council (FISC) workshops in July.

Dr Mulholland will be talking to forestry workers about their physical and mental health and wellbeing as part of the FISC ‘‘Safetree’’ programme, which will include topics such as diabetes, smoking, cancer and dealing with depression. . .

The milk that can change the world:

New study seeks to understand more about milk variant – and the huge changes it potentially brings.

Somewhere in Auckland, 20 men and 20 women are drinking lots of milk and eating lots of cheese – and they could help change not only the digestive comfort of 65 per cent of the world’s population but the make-up of our dairy herd and the direction of the dairy industry.

The reason is A2 milk, the genetic variant supposed to aid digestion for people who find dairy products a difficult assignment to eat or drink. . .

Deer milk about taking ‘industry forward’

Deer milk is the sort of innovation the agriculture sector needs to invest in to make sure it remains competitive, Pamu chief executive Steve Carden says.

Pamu deer milk won the Grassroots Innovation award at the national field days at Mystery Creek earlier this month.

“As an industry, agriculture needs to be changing and evolving what we produce in response to consumer demand.

“Pamu deer milk is one of the ways that Pamu is investing in innovation, with like-minded partners, to take the milk industry forward,” Mr Carden said.

With its high fat content and protein levels, it was ideal for food service, cosmetics and other uses that were being explored, he said. . . 

Live export halt: WA farmers tell of sheep in limbo – Bethany Hiatt:

The fate of tens of thousands of sheep is in limbo after the sudden halt to WA’s live sheep exports, farmers have warned.

The Federal Government suspended the export licence of the State’s biggest shipper, Emanuel Exports, on Friday, just days after the industry’s second-biggest exporter, Livestock Shopping Services, announced it would suspend shipments for the northern summer.

WAFarmers president Tony York said no one knew what would happen to 60,000 sheep being held in a quarantined feed lot in Baldivis, ahead of their scheduled departure on a livestock carrier this week. . .

Trump’s trade war shuts cheesemakers out of foreign markets – Ana Swanson:

It’s a common observation here that you can’t turn off the cows — not for Christmas, and not for a trade war.

So as President Trump’s aggressive trade measures prompt other countries to retaliate with barriers to American goods, dairy farmers and cheesemakers in the rolling, bright green hills of Wisconsin are growing anxious about what will happen to all of the milk and cheese they churn out and typically sell overseas.

“If export markets get shut off, I could see us getting to the point where we’re dumping our milk in the fields,” said Jeff Schwager, the president of Sartori Company, which has produced cheese in a nearby town for generations with milk it purchases from more than 100 dairy farms throughout Wisconsin. “It’ll be a big ripple effect through the state.” . . 


Rural round-up

June 16, 2018

Cube cleans up farm and orchard footwear – Hugh Stringleman:

Farm and orchard gate footwear cleaning and disinfection is expected to be a growing business for Jacson3 of Hamilton, which launched its portable biosecurity system at the National Fieldays.

Partners Jackie Humm and Russell Knutson, pictured, showed their Jacson Cube for the first time, after 18 months in development.

The product replaces the messy and often ineffective buckets and brushes that are now used on most farms and orchards. . . 

Regulator says Fonterra’s asset beta for calculating milk price ‘not practically feasible’ – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission says it is concerned that the ‘asset beta’ Fonterra Cooperative Group uses to determine the farmgate milk price is too low, meaning it ends up paying its farmers a higher price for their milk than would be warranted under the company’s enabling law.

“The impact of this is that Fonterra calculates a higher milk price than would be the case if it used a more feasible allowance for risk in the cost of finance, consistent with other processors,” the commission said in a statement accompanying an ’emerging views’ paper. . . 

Second place still winner for NZ food if branded:

Lincoln University agrifood marketing expert Dr Nic Lees says we need to make more of being second when it comes to international food ratings.

Research from Lincoln University and the University of Florida, showed that most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their local products.

However, Dr Lees said we are not taking advantage of this positive perception of the quality and safety of our food products.

“Unfortunately we are missing out on this premium because many overseas consumers are unaware their food originates in New Zealand.” . .

Deer milk wins Innovation Award at Fieldays:

Pāmu’s (formerly Landcorp) focus on innovation in the food business has been recognised at the 50th Fieldays, winning the Innovation Grassroots awards, with its ground-breaking deer milk product.

After three years of trial and testing, with partners Sharon and Peter McIntyre, who farm near Gore, today’s award caps an exciting week for deer milk, with a chefs tasting in Auckland on Monday.

Chief Executive Steve Carden says that deer milk was the sort of innovation that the agriculture sector needs to invest in to make sure we remain competitive. . .

Growing the future of forestry – top scholars rewarded:

Winners of the inaugural IFS Growth Tertiary Scholarship awards have been announced for 2018.

This prestigious scholarship initiative was established by innovative industry specialists IFS Growth, to support exemplar students, in pursuit of a qualification for the forestry industry. The award provides a powerful kick-start into the world of forestry with cash towards course tuition fees, work experience opportunities and entry into the company’s graduate career programme. . .

Sowing seeds of healthy childhood motivation for new charity partnership :

Helping young New Zealanders have the best chance of a healthy childhood is the driving force behind a new partnership between New Zealand’s leading charitable child health research funder and premier seed supplier, Pioneer® brand products.

Pioneer Head of Commercial Operations, Steve Richardson, said that the partnership with Cure Kids is a tangible way that our organisation, as a seed supplier can take an active role in improving health outcomes for New Zealand children. . .


Remind me why we own this?

August 31, 2016

Landcorp has reported an operating loss of $9.4 million for the year to June.

The result compared with a $4.9 million operating profit the previous year, itself an 84 percent decline on the previous year.

Statutory profit was $11.5 million, reflecting the one-off receipt of $7.4 million from land sales and unrealised “revaluation movements on items such as livestock, farm properties and financial assets, e.g. co-operative shares”, a spokesman for the company said.

“It’s been a tough year for the entire dairy sector, so our result is solid in that context,” said chief executive Steve Carden. “The result would have been lower without the progress already being made to strengthen our farming systems” and its high value Pamu product range. . . 

The loss isn’t unexpected with dairy prices so low and sheep meat having had a pretty ordinary year but remind me again why we own this company?

Landcorp owns or leases  376,942 hectares of land. Its 140 farms and 1.6 million stock units makes it New Zealand’s largest farming operation.

It has a good reputation for staff management and training, animal welfare, genetics, other farming practices and environmental sustainability.

But does that justify state ownership of the company when its total asset value in its half year report to December 2015 was $1,846.4m?

There is a case for the crown owning land to use for treaty settlements.

There’s also a very strong case for reducing that huge investment in Landcorp by gradually selling farms to free-up money to spend it where the need for, and value from, investing it are greater.

That won’t happen.

All the parties on the left are philosophically wedded to the idea of state ownership even though the government, investors and taxpayers are all better off after other partial privatisations.

National is philosophically supportive of the idea but good philosophy and policy are sometimes bad politics and it has other priorities on which to concentrate.

Why do we still own the company? Politics.


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