Rural round-up

April 29, 2018

Dairy role model gets reward – Annette Scott:

Taupo dairy farmer Kylie Leonard believes she has a responsibility to be involved in her community but she never “in her wildest dreams” expected any special accolades for doing what she loves doing. She talked to Annette Scott.   

Kylie Leonard is passionate about her community roots that go back more than 60 years on the Central Plateau.

Her family has a long history of farming in the region where her grandparents walked from Te Aroha, in Waikato, to Reporoa to establish their dairy farm in the 1950s.

Initially pursuing a teaching career Leonard never gave up on her long-time dream to one day own a piece of land and be a dairy farmer herself. . . 

Legendary herb offers forest options – Richard Rennie:

With more than 2000 years of Chinese use as a tonic and medicine ginseng is a herb familiar to the world’s fastest-growing consumer market, one increasingly seeking traditional therapies and tonics for a growing list of modern ailments.

The fact it appears to grow exceptionally well in New Zealand under the canopy of pine tree forests only adds to the appeal this ancient herb offers as a marketer’s dream and a forester’s cashflow booster. Richard Rennie gained an insight to the herb’s potential at the country’s inaugural Ginseng Symposium.

The harvested root of ginseng has long held medicinal and healing properties valued by the Chinese and Koreans who see it as a cure for ailments including memory, fatigue, menopause symptoms and diabetes to name a few. Globally, the ginseng market for both the raw root and processed product is valued at more than US$2 billion. . .

Wairarapa pea growing ban extended:

Extending the ban on growing peas in the Wairarapa for at least a further 12 months offers the best chance of ensuring pea weevil has been eradicated in the district, Wairarapa Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

“After the 12 months we can then review whether a continued total ban, partial restrictions or other measures will be the best option going forward, based on what the trap crops show us.”. . .

Philippines-based Bounty Fresh mounts $437.8M takeover bid for Tegel –  Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Philippines-based poultry group Bounty Fresh Foods will mount a $437.8 million takeover bid for NZX-listed Tegel Group at a 50 percent premium to the share price, which has been beaten up after multiple earnings downgrades.

The Filippino company already has Tegel’s cornerstone shareholder Affinity Equity Partners on board, signing a lock-up agreement with the holding company Claris Investments for a 45 percent stake. The offer of $1.23 per share is a premium to the 82 cents the stock closed at on Tuesday, although it’s still a discount to the $1.55 price the shares sold at in the 2016 initial public offering. . . 

Council aims to sell dam research to recoup losses

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has lost most of the money it invested in the now defunct controversial Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, it says.

After spending $20 million on planning and resource consents, the council last year pulled its financial backing for the project after the Supreme Court ruled the council could not flood a large parcel of conservation land.

The council now wants to sell the intellectual property and research prepared for the dam.

Council chair Rex Graham believed they would be able to recover some of their investment. . . 

CropLogic’s managing director Jamie Cairns resigns, replaced by CFO James Cooper-Jones – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – CropLogic’s managing director has resigned with immediate effect, with the company’s chief financial officer appointed as acting chief executive.

The Christchurch-based agritech firm, which listed on the ASX last year, said today that Jamie Cairns had tendered his resignation and the board had accepted. James Cooper-Jones, CropLogic’s CFO and company secretary, has been appointed acting CEO. . . 

Clevedon Buffalo Co. named Supreme Champion Of Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2018:

Clevedon Buffalo Co has been named Supreme Championof the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2018, with a further eight food businesses receiving awards recognising the outstanding quality of their produce.

The food producers were assessed as the country’s finest after 186 food products from 100 producers were assessed by a panel of judges in March. The majority of judging marks were for aroma, taste, quality, with a further 20% for brand story, product and pack design and sustainability. Shortly after judging, 25 New Zealand food producers received Gold Medals and a further 57 received Silver. Champions were chosen from the highest scoring Gold Medal winners. . . 

The 25 Most Important Cheeses in America, According to Cheese Experts – Carey Polis:

The phrase American cheese used to mean only one thing: that floppy, pale orange plastic-wrapped slice of processed perfection. But when I use the phrase American cheese now, that’s not what I’m talking about (save for this great grilled cheese recipe and the occasional hamburger). Instead, I’m referring to the incredible range of cheeses handcrafted in America—from young, tangy goat cheeses in Indiana to aged, nutty cow’s-milk cheese in Wisconsin; dessert-like blue cheeses from Oregon and complex, caramel-y clothbound cheddars from Vermont.

We’re living in a dairy renaissance, people! The golden age of American cheese! What a time to be alive!

But the cheese counter can be an intimidating place; good cheese does not come cheap. So I asked seven of the country’s leading cheese experts (see their bios at the end) to share what they think are the most important (and most delicious) cheeses that define American dairy today. Beyond just how good these cheeses taste, many of them also serve as models for responsible dairy farming and helping local communities. . .

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Rural round-up

April 26, 2018

Land use tipped to change on Waimea Plains, near Nelson, if dam gets nod – Cherie Sivignon:

Waimea Irrigators Ltd chairman Murray King is putting his money where his mouth is to support the proposed Waimea dam.

The dairy farmer and long-term proponent of the dam project said he had committed to buy more water shares, at $5500 a pop, than he needed for his 57ha block of land on the Waimea Plains.

“We’re fully subscribed, a little bit over actually.”

His “60-something” shares would cost him more than $300,000. . .

Retaining soil carbon the answer to managing agricultural GHG emissions – Gerald Piddock:

A Matamata dairy farm has become ground zero for a team of Waikato scientists searching for ways to lower agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Soil carbon and nitrous oxide losses are being measured on the 200 hectare farm owned by Terry and Margaret Troughton and managed by their son Ben and wife Sarah.

Their findings so far in a project funded by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre were outlined at a field day on the farm.

Better pasture management, genetics, feed and nutrition had been done well, but new strategies were needed to take the project the next step forward, Landcare Research’s Jack Pronger​ said. . . 

Farmers give thumbs down to new taxes:

Any move to introduce a capital gains, land or environment tax will meet stiff opposition from farmers, a Federated Farmers survey shows.

The Federation asked its members for their views last month, to help inform the farmer group’s submission to the Tax Working Group. The nearly 1,400 responses indicated strong opposition to some of the new taxes that have been suggested.

Just on 81 percent opposed a capital gains tax excluding the family home, with 11 percent in support. However, 47 percent would support a CGT on property sold within a five year ‘bright line’ test. There is currently a two-year threshold, and the measure is seen by some as a way of discouraging speculators. . . 

NZ farm sales fall 11% in March quarter as mycoplasma bovis keeps farmers nervous –  Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand farm sales fell 11 percent in the March quarter from a year earlier, as the mycoplasma bovis cattle disease outbreak weighed on purchasing intentions and spanned a period where smaller plots of rural land were captured by the regime to screen foreign buyers.

Some 388 farms were sold at a median price of $27,428 per hectare in the three months ended March 31, down from 438 farms at a median price of $27,509/ha in 2017, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show. Fewer dairy and grazing farms accounted for the drop, with gains in finishing farm sales coinciding with strong prices for beef and lamb meat. . . 

Calm ewes produce more than nervous ewes:

A calm temperament in ewes improves ovulation rate and successful pregnancies, according to a study published by The University of Western Australia.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with researchers from Uruguay, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA and UWA, has implications for the impact of stress in human reproduction.

The team investigated the reproductive outcomes of 200 Merino ewes known to have either a calm or a nervous temperament. They found the ovulation rate and rate of successful pregnancies to be higher in the calm ewes. . .

Shearing at the end of the world –  Tomas Munita and Russell Goldman:

Life at the end of the world can be lonely.

For weeks at a time, Roberto Bitsch and gauchos like him might not see another human being. They see horses, both wild and tame. They see the dogs they work with. But mostly, they see sheep — thousands of them.

Locals mark time by the length of the sheep’s woolly coats here on Isla Grande, the largest of the Tierra del Fuego islands at the tip of South America, closer to Antarctica than to Chile’s capital, Santiago. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 15, 2018

Water schemes left high and dry – Annette Scott:

The canning of Crown funding for water schemes is a “kick in the guts” for rural communities, especially when six regions have been declared in drought this year, National Party agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy says.

“This Government has now raided $100 million and effectively pulled the plug on any lifeline for rural communities,” Guy said.

“These projects, such as Hunter Downs and Hurunui, are about rural communities providing for much wider regional development and what needs to be remembered is that this Crown funding is not a grant. It’s a loan and it’s all paid back. . . 

Jeff Grant becomes Kiwi meat’s Brexit rep:

OSPRI and AgResearch chairman Jeff Grant has been appointed at the meat industry’s Brexit representative to be based in London.

On behalf of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association the former National MP will provide the red meat sector’s response to Brexit.

Grant will work closely with B+LNZ’s Europe representative, the Government and commercial interests to help strengthen the red meat sector’s ties with the United Kingdom and safeguard NZ’s exports to the key market. . . 

Ploughing with horses luck of the draw – Nicole Sharp:

Straight and steady is the aim of the game, but it is no easy task with Anna and Nugget, who have minds of their own.

The two Clydesdales are part of Sean Leslie and Casey Rae’s horse ploughing team, from Middlemarch, which will be competing at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Thornbury this weekend.

They are one of six horse teams competing in the event and they will attempt to plough the straightest, neatest and tidiest plot, but a lot of it was luck of the draw, Mr Leslie said.

“It does depend on soil conditions and being able to tackle it and master it.” . . 

Auckland Council rates policy fails to value private land conservation:

Auckland Council is proposing to remove rates remission for privately owned land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “we are submitting against Auckland Council’s proposed policy. This policy discourages landowners from protecting natural heritage areas on their properties and fails to support protection of biodiversity on private land in the region.”

“QEII covenants often protect the habitat of threatened indigenous species, and provide corridors linking larger areas of private and public land set aside for conservation. The work landowners do in protecting their land, like excluding stock from the protected area, is critical in encouraging regeneration of native vegetation.” . . 

NZX targets ‘natural advantage’ in primary industries with new index, dairy derivatives expansion – Paul McBeth;

(BusinessDesk) – NZX wants to capture New Zealand’s “natural advantage” in the primary sector with a new index tracking listed industry players and build on the early success of its dairy derivatives market, says chief executive Mark Peterson.

The Wellington-based company is in the process of refocusing on its core market business to revive investor interest in the capital markets. Among those initiatives is a drive to capture New Zealand’s comparative advantage in agriculture and horticulture, and Peterson told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Christchurch a new index will be launched in the second quarter including stocks such as a2 Milk Co, Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, Comvita, New Zealand King Salmon, Scales Corp, Sanford, and Seeka. . . 

Working Lands: A Missouri farmer saves prairie and grassland birds – Joel Vance:

Tom Smith’s anthem could be “Don’t Fence Me In,” except that he has a fencing company. His customers can be bizarre; one wanted a 10-foot fence to protect his garden from starving mobs fleeing Kansas City and St. Louis, which, he was convinced, would burn to the ground within two years.

But most are more ordinary landowners to whom Smith, a 63-year-old cattleman, preaches the value of native grass. Smith raises about 90 grass-fed feeder calves on 627 leased acres of Hi Lonesome Prairie, a state-owned property near his Cole Camp, Missouri, home. “When I found a neighbor was planning to plow a patch of big bluestem,” Smith says, “I told him, ‘Oh, man, don’t plow that. What you’ve got there is native prairie.’ . . 

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Rural round-up

April 9, 2018

Greenpeace should be thrilled – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Greenpeace has suggested that meat and dairy product consumption should be reduced to 16kg and 33 kg per person per year, respectively. 

For the average North American (eating 90kg of meat and 275kg of dairy products, according to the OECD and FAO) and European (70kg of meat and 286kg of dairy products), the Greenpeace suggestion could be seen as radical. 

For the average New Zealander, it would require quite a rethink: we eat 72.2kg meat and “more than 200kg” of dairy products per capita per year.

The Greenpeace vision is explained in ‘Less is more: reducing meat and dairy for a healthier life and planet’, released in March 2018. It is based on the following statement:  . . 

Matamata dairy farmers win Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Matamata dairy farmers Rod and Sandra McKinnon, Oakstone Hinuera Ltd, have won the Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Their win was announced on Thursday night (April 5) at the Sir Don Rowlands Centre at Lake Karapiro. The McKinnons will host a field day at the Taotaoroa Road property on Thursday May 10 from 10am.

Rod and Sandra milk 375 cows on 140ha (effective) producing 162,000kg of milk solids a year. They bought their first 44ha farm in 1992 and added 25ha in 1995, 92ha in 2005 and 33ha in 2017. A philosophy to look after the environment had been maintained alongside the growth of the business from 44ha to 194ha in 25 years, the awards judges said. . . 

Kaipara Flats family operation wins Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

The Dill family from Kaipara Flats has won the 2018 Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Family teamwork and a multi-generational attachment to the land have created a successful and sustainable farming business with many environmental highlights for the Dills at Kaipara Flats near Warkworth.

Father and son duo, Bruce and Steve Dill, are the farmers on the 488ha sheep and beef property. They are supported by Buce’s wife Felicity, and Steve’s wife Clare, who has an increasing involvement alongside her communications and marketing consultancy work. Their win was announced at a dinner at the Holiday Inn Auckland Airport in Mangere on Wednesday night (April 4). The family will host a field day at their Dill Road property on Tuesday May 8 from 10.30am. . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmer and agribusiness leader Sam Robinson joins NZ Young Farmers Board:

Hawke’s Bay farmer and agribusiness leader Sam Robinson has joined the board of NZ Young Farmers as an appointed director.

The 67-year-old brings strong governance experience and extensive industry connections to the role.

Sam is on the board of red meat processor and exporter Silver Fern Farms and spent nine years as the chairman of AgResearch. . . 

Fonterra milk collection hindered by unkind weather in February –  Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group’s New Zealand milk collection fell 4 percent in February from a year earlier, as difficult weather conditions weighed on pasture quality and feed growth rates.

The country’s dominant milk processor collected 135.3 million kilograms of milk solids in February from 140.9 million kgMS a year earlier, taking the season-to-date collection to 1,171 million kgMS, down 2 percent from a year earlier, the Auckland-based cooperative said in its monthly global dairy update. It forecasts annual collection to be 1,480 million kgMS. . . 

A2 remains confident in Chinese demand as competitors emerge, share price drops – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co says it hasn’t seen any change in growth in China and it’s confident in its business as its share price continues to drop on news that competitors have begun selling their own A2-branded infant formulas in China.

The stock dropped 6.5 percent last Wednesday, when Nestle confirmed it is had launched an A2 product under its Illuma brand, with the product called Atwo and sold in China. It fell a further 4.2 percent on Thursday and was recently down 4.4 percent to $11.86. . . . . 

ASX-listed CropLogic to spend up to A$320k to buy Tasmania-based Ag Logic – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwi agritech company CropLogic will spend up to A$320,000 in cash and scrip to buy Tasmanian agri services firm Ag Logic to develop an Australian beachhead.

Christchurch-based CropLogic, which is listed on the ASX, has signed a conditional share sale agreement to buy the Tasmanian firm, which would see it pay A$160,000 in cash and $160,000 in shares. Half of the acquisition price would be at the time of settlement, and two further payments depending on meeting earnings targets, CropLogic said in a statement. The deal values Ag Logic at 1x revenue and would employ Ag Logic’s Reuben Wells on a base salary of A$100,000 a year with incentives of up to A$60,000. . . 


Rural round-up

March 20, 2018

Sticking with tradition pays off for merino breeders – Sally Rae:

When Jim Hore got his first stud merino sheep, industry stalwart Bill Gibson told him not to mix bloodlines.

He listened to that advice and followed it through, saying the Stonehenge sheep had not really altered over the years, as they had stuck to the traditional.

The Hore family hosted the Central Otago stud merino tour on Friday, with other properties visited during the two-day tour including Nine Mile, Malvern Downs, Earnscleugh, Matangi, Little Valley, Matarae and Armidale.

It also marked a changing of the guard with Jim and Sue Hore’s two sons, Charlie and Andrew, now at the helm of the operation. . .

‘Dark moments’ dealing with cattle disease – Sally Rae:

Since Mycoplasma bovis was detected on their property in July last year, Kerry and Rosie Dwyer have gone through some “very dark moments”.But there had also been some heartwarming and humbling times for the North Otago farmers who voluntarily sent 400 calves to slaughter and now face an undefined period before they can be rid of the impact of the bacterial cattle disease.

Mr and Mrs Dwyer were grateful to their friends, neighbours and colleagues for their understanding and empathy, and those Ministry for Primary Industries and AsureQuality staff who had been practical and hardworking to help them find solutions to “so many problems”.

The couple also thanked the rural contractors and service providers, the meat company and transport companies willing to work with them and the employers and employees who had stuck with them through the process. . .

Berry group hopes for $1b export business – Andrea Fox:

Blueberries will be the foundation crop of a new joint venture between a Maori collective and Government scientists that will use technologies not seen before in New Zealand to grow export berries in non-traditional growing regions and climates.

The 50:50 deal between Miro Limited Partnership, owned by more than 20 Maori trusts and iwi from the Far North to the top of the South Island, and state-owned science company Plant and Food Research, will create a breeding programme for new high-value berry varieties, to be grown, marketed and sold by Miro, with support from BerryCo NZ.

Miro aims to build a business as successful as kiwifruit exporter Zespri.. .

Primary sector exports forecast to rise to over $42 billion in 2018:

New Zealand’s primary industry exports are forecast to rise nearly 11 percent in the year ending June 2018 to $42.2 billion.

This would be the largest annual increase since 2014, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest quarterly update.

“Our Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report shows export revenue across all of the sectors has been incredibly strong over the past year, particularly for dairy, meat and forestry,” says Jarred Mair, MPI Policy and Trade Acting Deputy Director General. . .

Major Te Puke kiwifruit orchards marketed to foreign buyers – Paul McBeth:

A block of three kiwifruit orchards in Te Puke is being marketed to foreign buyers, despite the new Labour-led government’s plans to restrict overseas investment.

Bayleys Real Estate is marketing the Te Matai, Pacific Gold and Coachman orchards in Te Puke, spanning 98 canopy hectares in an international tender, closing on May 3, the realtor said in a statement. The three privately owned orchards are on track to produce 1.2 million-to-1.3 million trays of SunGold G3 and Hayward kiwifruit in roughly equal percentages, or about 0.9 percent of Zespri Group’s total supply. That implies payments from Zespri of between $11.4 million and $12.3 million based on the 2017 payment of $9.76 per tray. . .

Eggleston farmer braves Beast from the East to move pregnant sheep – Katie MacFarlane:

FARMERS battled the elements as the Beast from the East brought unrelenting snow and gale-force winds.

Sheep farmer, David Mallon, braved the harsh conditions to move his pregnant Swaledale ewes to a safer part of his farm in Eggleston, Teesdale, just weeks before they are due for lambing.

Mr Mallon, 35, said: “It definitely makes the routine work more difficult and obviously there’s a concern for the safety and welfare of the animals. . .

Good Food Nation bill must empower food producers – Gordon Davidson:

SCOTLAND’S upcoming Good Food Nation Bill is a ‘prime opportunity’ to ensure that food producers are more empowered within the supply chain, NFU Scotland has told politicians.

At a specially orgnaised fringe event at the Scottish Labour Party Conference, the union’s political affairs manager Clare Slipper told delegates: “Retail sales of Scottish brands have risen by 37% in the last few years and internationally, exports of Scottish food and drink products have surpassed £5billion. That is a great success story but, as Scottish farm incomes figures show, there is a disconnect from field to fork.

“The Good Food Nation Bill is an opportunity to address some of the bad economics that are at play within the food and drink supply chain. It is also an opportunity to recognise that in Scotland we also have a looming public health disaster with obesity and health statistics,” she said. . . 


Rural round-up

March 4, 2018

Meat sector aiming high – Neal Wallace:

A national brand for meat supported by a story detailing New Zealand farming practices will be released within the next few months to spearhead the sector’s response to the growth of competing artificial protein.

A just-released study on the threat of alternative protein to NZ’s red meat sector commissioned by Beef + Lamb NZ identifies beef in our largest market, the United States, as most at risk from the growth of artificial protein.

It warns plant-based burgers and mince will likely be widely available throughout the US within five years and China in 10 years, potentially targeting the grinding beef market. . .

A2 Milk executives cash out of surging shares with combined $36.6 mln payday – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co executives have enjoyed a combined $36.6 million payday after cashing in on a surging share price since the milk marketer’s announcement last week that first-half profit more than doubled and it had inked a deal with Fonterra Cooperative Group.

Share sales over the four days following the Feb. 21 announcement included $18.5 million sold by departing chief executive Geoff Babidge, who hands over the reins to Jetstar chief Jayne Hrdlicka this year. . . 

Farmers’ stress over cattle disease: ‘We hope we will survive this onslaught – Gerald Piddock:

The distress of battling Mycoplasma bovis and trying to keep a multimillion-dollar farm business has been laid to bare in emails between the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLG) and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The strain VLG owners Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen were under as they battle to eradicate the cattle disease while saving their farm business during, at times, a tense relationship with the MPI was shown in the release of more than 250 pages of documents released under the Official Information Act to Stuff.

Parts of the documents were heavily redacted for privacy or commercial reasons. . . 

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q1 2018: Impact of Trade Agreements and Blockchain Technology:

A number of trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a proposed Mercosur/EU trade agreement, look set to start having an impact on global beef trade in 2018. At the same time, applications of blockchain technology are now being widely developed in the food industry, with opportunities to realise benefits further up the supply chain growing, according to the RaboResearch Beef Quarterly Q1 2018.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership
The 11-member version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) looks set for formal signing in March (although respective governments need to sign off on the details before implementation). Gains are expected for beef-exporting countries Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Canada—through reduced tariffs into key global beef importer Japan, plus reduced tariffs into smaller importing countries Chile, Vietnam, and Peru. . . 

Empowering rural women:

Farming Women Tairawhiti (FWT) has taken off since it was founded in 2014. Chairwoman Sandra Matthews from Te Kopae Station at Rere tells the Weekender about her role in the organisation and the support avaliable for women who want to achieve more in their farming businesses.

In resource terms, Rere farmer and Farming Women Tairawhiti (FWT) chairwoman Sandra Matthews has struck personal gold while the organisation has grown exponentially.

The Gisborne farmer has helped empower farming women in this region, tapping into an often under-utilised pool of talent that sits within New Zealand’s farming communities. . .

Winning share farmers love the thrill:

The Hawke’s Bay-Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmers of the Year say entering the competition has been excellent for networking, growth and knowledge of their business.

“It’s been a huge benefit to receive feedback from the judges on ways we can improve our business. Plus we love the thrill of the competition,” say Thomas and Jennifer Read.

The region’s other major winners are Gerard Boerjan, the Dairy Manager of the Year, and Brock Cumming, the Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .


Rural round-up

March 3, 2018

Hauraki Plains dairy farmer elected to oversee the creation of Auckland educational farm:

A respected Hauraki Plains dairy farmer will lead the board overseeing the development of a new educational farm in Auckland.

Julie Pirie has been elected to chair the five-member Donald Pearson Farm Board.

The 74-hectare dairy farm in South Auckland was gifted to NZ Young Farmers by the late Donald Pearson last year. . . 

Slim pickings: Worker shortage leaves apple farms frantic – Anusha Bradley:

Apple growers in Hawke’s Bay are preparing to work around the clock to cope with what’s being described as an extreme shortage of seasonal workers.

Orchardists said they have less have than half the workers they need, and despite a recruitment campaign, are failing to attract the usual hordes of backpackers they rely on.

Hastings-based Bostock is the largest producer of organic apples in the country.

Bostock human resources manager Vikki Garrett said usually they’d hire about a 100 or so backpackers, but had only managed to recruit 10. . . 

Bug’s impact on horticulture devastating, report says:

An economic report, released today, says if the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) establishes in New Zealand it would dramatically impact New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP) as well as export revenues from horticulture.

Prepared by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), Quantifying the economic impacts of a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug incursion in New Zealand, shows GDP falling between $1.8 billion and $3.6 billion by 2038, and horticulture export value falling between $2 billion and $4.2 billion by 2038. . . 

Agriculture exporters meet to discuss issues:

Key stakeholders in the agro-export market today gathered to discuss possible solutions to address pertinent issues faced by exporters in the export pathways.

While officially opening the Agriculture Exporters Symposium at the Tanoa Plaza Hotel this morning, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr. David Kolitagane said the objective of the workshop was to address constraints in the agro-export pathway as the impact of the contribution of agricultural exporters was integral to economic development.

“The rationale for organizing today’s symposium is to address constraints in the export pathway, collate information and make appropriate and . . .

Farmers left in limbo as Mycoplasma Bovis takes hold:

With just one month to go until a decision will be made, farmers will understandably be left confused and anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate the crippling cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials appeared before the Primary Productions Select Committee at Parliament this morning to answer questions about how the Government plans to contain the spread, compensate farmers for their losses and ultimately to eradicate it. . . 

Tractors lead agricultural imports:

Tractor imports have remained at high levels in January 2018, continuing the trend for the last year, Stats NZ said today.

The value of imported tractors rose $27 million (191 percent) in January 2018 from January 2017. For the year ended January 2018, values were up 51 percent compared with the January 2017 year.

“Imports of tractors can be an indicator of confidence in the agriculture industry,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The last time we imported this many tractors was in 2014 when dairy prices were at their peak.” . . 

Deborah Marris joins Synlait leadership team:

Synlait will welcome Deborah Marris to the Executive Leadership Team in the role of General Counsel and Head of Commercial on Monday 5 March.

“Deborah’s outstanding legal and commercial background makes her the perfect person to join our team. Our rapid growth requires strong leadership in this area and Deborah has the skills, foresight and international experience to support us well,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO.

Ms Marris’ role will encompass legal affairs, risk, corporate governance, insurance and commercial matters, including customer and supplier contractual relationships. . . 

NZ King Salmon sees weaker second half on hot summer; 1st-half profit soars 81% – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand King Salmon says the “extraordinarily hot summer” has cut survival rates at its fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds and it expects weaker second-half earnings after profit in the first half soared 81 percent.

Profit rose to $15.7 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $8.7 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales climbed to $87.7 million from $63.6 million. . . 

Seeka annual profit falls 44% on lower kiwifruit volumes, impaired banana business – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka posted a 44 percent decline in annual profit as Australasia’s biggest kiwifruit grower booked a $2 million charge on its banana sourcing unit while managing a decline in kiwifruit volumes.

Net profit fell to $5.8 million, or 34 cents per share in calendar 2017, from $10.4 million, or 62 cents a year earlier, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. The year-earlier figure was bolstered by a $3.1 million gain on an insurance payment. Revenue fell 2 percent to $186.8 million. . .

Comvita swings to first-half profit, reiterates full-year guidance – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the mānuka honey company, swung to a first-half profit on strong sales growth and a recovery in the “grey” or informal sales channel into China and reiterated its full-year earnings guidance despite bad weather hitting the 2018 honey season.

The Te Puke-based company reported a net profit of $3.7 million, or 8.31 cents per share, in the six months to Dec. 31 versus a loss of $7.1 million, or 17.18 cents, in the prior period. In January the company said net profit would be more than $3 million. Sales reached $83.6 million versus $57.7 million in the prior year. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were $9.9 million versus an ebitda loss of $2.8 million in the same period a year earlier. . . 


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