Rural round-up

August 9, 2017

100-plus rivers and lakes to be improved:

Freshwater improvement projects covering over 100 rivers and lakes across New Zealand are to receive grants of $44 million from the Government, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today.

“The Government has an ambitious plan to improve water quality in our rivers and lakes that involves stronger direction to councils, tighter regulation and funding to support projects. Today we are announcing grants of $44m for 33 projects which, with Council and other contributions, will see $142m invested in over 100 lakes and rivers.” . . 

Partnership approach on freshwater quality hailed:

A partnership approach to dealing with river and lake water quality offers the best prospect of making sustained progress on problems that were often decades in the making, Federated Farmers says.

The Federation’s water spokesperson Chris Allen hailed the announcement today of an initial $44m in grants from the $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund, particularly as it will leverage a further $98 million of investment by councils, farmers, other land-owners and agencies.

In total, 33 projects covering more than 100 lakes and rivers have won funding, including at Lakes Tarawera, Horowhenua and Wanaka and involving the Manawatu, Wairoa, Waimea and Selwyn Rivers. . . 

Horticulture welcomes funding for water protection project:

Government funding for a nationwide project to better protect waterways, by measuring and managing nitrogen on cropping farms, has been welcomed by Horticulture New Zealand.

Today Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced funding of $485,168 from the Freshwater Improvement Fund for a three-year project: Protecting our Groundwater – Measuring and Managing Diffuse Nutrient losses from Cropping Systems. . . 

True value of Coromandel seafood industry realised in report released today:

Moana NZ’s oyster processing plant based just out of Coromandel Town

Coromandel mussel and oyster farmers, along with industry, iwi, businesses and agencies came together today to celebrate the findings of a report which demonstrates the real economic and social value of aquaculture to the Thames-Coromandel and surrounding regions.

Some of the key findings from “The Economic Contribution of Marine Farming in the Thames-Coromandel District,” written by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) include: . . 

NZ beef export market faces headwinds, AgriHQ says – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Headwinds are building for New Zealand exports of beef, the country’s largest meat export, according to AgriHQ.

The outlook for beef prices is weakening in the US, the largest market for New Zealand beef, after a United States Department of Agriculture report showed cattle numbers at a nine-year high as farmers rebuild their herds following heavy culling in 2014 and 2015, with most of the increase in beef cows rather than dairy cows. Elsewhere, Japan has temporarily lifted the tariff on frozen beef from New Zealand, rival exporter Australia has increased supplies, and a rise in the New Zealand dollar  . . 

CropLogic’s ASX float underwritten by Australian corporate adviser Hunter Capital  – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – CropLogic, the agricultural technology company which counts Powerhouse Ventures as a shareholder, will have its initial public offering underwritten to ensure it crosses the A$5 million threshold.

Sydney-based Hunter Capital Advisors has been acting as a corporate adviser to CropLogic and has committed to ensuring its public listing succeeds, acting as an underwriter for the offer, CropLogic said in a statement yesterday. Christchurch-based CropLogic is offering 40 million shares at 20 Australian cents apiece to raise as much as A$8 million and listing on the ASX. Those funds will pay for market development, research and development, working capital, and to cover the cost of listing, which is a certainty with the underwrite. . . 

The great food disruption: part 3 – Rosie Bosworth:

Milk without the cow, meatless burgers that bleed, chicken and shrimp made from plant matter, and now foie gras without a force-fed goose in sight. A new food revolution enabled by science and biotech is brewing and, if it succeeds, animals will have little to do with the future of food. For some, that future looks rosy, but, as Dr. Rosie Bosworth writes in part three of a series, the implications for New Zealand’s agricultural sector could be less than palatable.

For all its promise, synbio and lab-made food need to overcome a number of challenges and not everyone is convinced it will be the solution to the problems of conventional animal agriculture. This gives New Zealand at least a small window of respite while it assesses a potential road ahead without the farm.

4,500 Years of Crop Protection: – Mark Ross:

Like all agricultural innovations, crop protection products have evolved tremendously since their inception. From natural chemical elements, to plant and metal-based insecticides, to synthetic products, formulations have drastically changed for the better. Today’s products are more sustainable, targeted, efficient and environmentally-friendly than their predecessors.

The first recorded use of an insecticide was about 4,500 years ago by the Sumarians, who used sulphur compounds to control insects and mites attacking their food sources. In the first century B.C., Romans made a compound from crushed olives, burnt sulphur and salt to control ants and weeds in their crops. In 800 A.D., the Chinese used arsenic mixed with water to control insects in their field crops and citrus orchards. Other pesticides, derived from natural sources such as pyrethrum from dried Chrysanthemum flowers and nicotine extract from tobacco plants, evolved over time. . . 

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Farmers do cry over spilt milk.


Rural round-up

June 26, 2017

Targeted approach wanted for water – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers is seeking a ”targeted catchment approach” to addressing water quality, where sustainable economic growth could be achieved alongside environmental goals.

The rural lobby organisation has launched its manifesto before this year’s election, challenging political parties to take a sensible, practical and affordable approach to tackling issues of high importance to its members.

It supported a framework for catchment partnerships that co-ordinated community, council and scientific efforts. . . 

Feds want affordable rural issues solutions – Neal Wallace:

Water quality issues should be addressed by targeting individual catchments, Federated Farmers says.

The policy was included in the federation’s Farmers’ Manifesto that advocated a “sensible, practical and affordable” approach to tackling issues of relevance to rural areas.

On water quality, the federation’s outgoing president Dr William Rolleston said that approach would allow sustainable economic growth alongside environmental goals.

“We support a framework for catchment partnerships that co-ordinates community, council and scientific efforts. . . 

She’s the boss – Neal Wallace:

It takes very little prodding for new Federated Farmers president Katie Milne to identify that her number one priority is reconnecting urban and rural New Zealanders.

That split was the root of many accusations levelled at farmers over water quality and environmental issues as well as deterring people from pursuing careers in agriculture, she said.

“Because of all the flak we’ve been getting lately from Greenpeace etc, NZ needs to remember that farmers produce great food, which is important economically and to the sustainability of local communities.” . . 

Boosting safety at Mahinerangi – Sally Rae:

Waipori Station manager Dave Vaughan readily acknowledges the topic of health and safety wouldn’t have been brought up a few years ago, if it didn’t have to be.

But much had changed in recent years, he said, and it was now something regularly and freely discussed among the 14 team members.

At 12,000ha, Landcorp-owned Waipori Station is a vast property, surrounding Lake Mahinerangi, in the Otago hinterland.

Mr Vaughan and his wife Hayley have been there for five years. Before that, he managed another Landcorp property at Hindon. . . 

NZ King Salmon lifts annual earnings guidance on appetite for fish – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand King Salmon Investments expects annual earning to beat its offer document forecast on strong demand for its products and affirmed its projected profit for the following year.

Pro-forma operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation is forecast to be between $20.5 million and $21 million in the year ending June 30, up from the $19.2 million predicted in its October offer documents and ahead of $16 million a year earlier, the Nelson-based company said in a statement. . . 

LIC increasing its investment in UK agribusiness:

LIC is increasing its investment in National Milk Records PLC (NMR), the leading supplier of farm management recording services in the United Kingdom.

The farmer-owned co-operative currently holds a 2.6% stake through its subsidiary business, Livestock Improvement Corporation (UK) Limited. The acquisition of another 17.2% will take LIC’s total shareholding of NMR to an equity stake of 19.8%. . . 


Rural round-up

June 15, 2017

More funding to support rural mental wellness:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have committed another joint funding boost to rural mental health.

The Ministers committed $500,000 for Rural Mental Wellness at the opening of the Fieldays Rural Health Hub earlier today.

It will go towards 20 workshops for rural health professionals treating people at risk of suicide, continued support for the rural Clinical Champions and Medical Director, as well as support aimed at younger rural workers.

“The Government recognises that rural life goes in cycles, and we want to support our rural communities through the ups and downs,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Rural Mental Wellness initiative is administered by Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and Rural Support Trusts. . . 

Helping farmers return home safely:

Last year, 18 people died as a result of work-related incidents in agriculture, accounting for 36 per cent of all work related fatalities in 2016. This is significantly higher than any other primary industry.

The introduction of the 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act and WorkSafe’s ongoing scrutiny requires businesses to understand and adapt to minimise potential for harm to employees and contractors.

To help agri-businesses keep their employees and contractors safe, Safetrac has partnered with MinterEllisonRuddWatts to develop an interactive online training course. . . 

Sustainable farming fund hits 1000th project:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Louise Upston have tonight celebrated the 1000th Sustainable Farming Fund project, and awarded two Emerging Leaders scholarships at an event kicking off National Fieldays.

“The Sustainable Farming Fund supports the primary sector’s own forward thinking and kiwi ingenuity – which in turn helps keeps New Zealand ahead of the game,” says Mr Guy. 

“1000 projects have now been funded since the fund was initiated in 2000. This represents around $150 million in government funding alongside a significant level of sector support.

“The fund has supported projects as diverse as reducing nutrient run off on lowland farms, reducing use of antimicrobials when managing mastitis, and increasing the market share for New Zealand olive oil,” Mr Guy says.

Ms Upston says much of the success of the fund is due to its grass-roots nature. . . 

Commonsense prevails on firearms recommendations says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that Police Minister Paula Bennett has listened to the concerns of the rural community on the Parliamentary Select Committee report into the illegal possession of firearms.

Minister Bennett rejected 12 of the 20 recommendations made by the committee that would have significantly impacted on licensed firearms owners- but done little to stop firearms getting into the hands of criminals. . . 

Vegetable prices up 31 percent in year to May:

Higher lettuce prices helped push vegetable prices up a record 31 percent in the year to May 2017, Stats NZ said today. Overall, food prices increased 3.1 percent in the year.

“Our wet autumn has pushed vegetable prices to their highest level in almost six years in May, with the largest annual increase to vegetables on record,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “The increase was more pronounced because warmer-than-usual weather in the 2016 growing season resulted in cheaper-than-usual vegetable prices in May last year.” . . 

NZ agriculture needs to latch onto tech faster:

New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.

A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says. . . 

Smaller NZ wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however, export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . 

Bellamy’s to pay Fonterra A$28M to change supply contract as it struggles to crack China – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bellamy’s Australia plans to raise A$60.4 million from shareholders and will pay nearly half of that to New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group in order to change their milk supply contract in its quest to comply with Chinese import regulations.

The two companies have been in negotiations this year after announcing changes to their take-or-pay organic powder contract. Fonterra and Bellamy’s first entered into a five-year, multi-million dollar deal to manufacture a range of baby nutritional powders at the Darnum infant formula plant in south-east Victoria in November 2015. . . 

Wrightson warns wet autumn will weigh on annual earnings Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, whose chief executive yesterday signalled his departure at the end of the year, warned a wet autumn sapped the performance of its seed and grain business and will weigh on annual earnings.

The Christchurch-based company said it expects operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be in the bottom half of its earlier guidance for earnings of between $62 million and $68 million, while net profit will be near the low end of its previous forecast for between $46 million and $51 million. . . 

Rural sector stabilises despite challenges:

Rural businesses show signs of improvement despite facing constrained business environment

However, 1-in-5 rural businesses expecting no change from technology a “cause for concern”

As Fieldays 2017 kicks off, a new survey by accounting software provider MYOB reveals rural businesses are showing strong signs of economic improvement despite a constrained environment. . . 

Fieldays an opportunity for careers advice:

More than 500 students will be offered advice on careers in the primary industries as they pass through the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays this week.

Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Louise Upston says that with strong growth in the primary sector anticipated over the next few years, the Government was encouraging more young people to consider careers in primary industries.

A number of schools, totalling more than 500 students, have registered to visit the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Careers NZ will be among those offering advice to young people considering such a career. . . 

Plenty to celebrate for Zespri at Mystery Creek :

Kiwifruit’s growing importance to the rural economy is being celebrated at Fieldays 2017 at Mystery Creek this week, together with the 20-year anniversary of the Zespri brand.

The kiwifruit marketer has a large presence at the biggest agricultural and horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, hosting growers and industry stakeholders at its hospitality site over the four-day event. . . 

Wrightson boss Mark Dewdney to leave at the end of the year – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson chief executive Mark Dewdney will leave the rural services firm at the end of the year, by which time a new leadership team is expected to be in place.

Dewdney will end three-and-a-half years in charge of the Christchurch-based company at the end of 2017 “to pursue private interests”, and will help the board install a new leadership group by 2018, Wrightson said in a statement. Chairman Alan Lai said Dewdney had done an “excellent job” in building staff engagement and targeting growth in certain areas of the business.. . 

Vodafone calls on rural Kiwis to check their coverage at this year’s Fieldays:

Thousands of rural Kiwis are within reach of better broadband and Vodafone is on a mission to end their ‘buffering blues’ at this year’s Fieldays.

The company is challenging visitors to use its brand new interactive coverage wall to see if they can get a faster and more reliable broadband connection where they live.

In addition to super-fast wireless broadband, Vodafone has a range of coverage solutions on display to help rural New Zealanders improve their connection to the world. . . 

BEC Feed Solutions expands to meet growth:

BEC Feed Solutions has expanded its New Zealand operation with the appointment of Rhys Morgan as South Island Sales Representative. The new position was created following substantial business growth after a successful three years in business, and the desire to expand BEC’s presence in the South Island.

Reporting to BEC Country Manager, Trina Parker, Mr Morgan will be accountable for growing the business via the sale of ingredients, solution-focused feed additives and premixes within the South Island. He will also have responsibility for developing the company’s presence in the dairy sector, in addition to account managing a number of existing clients across New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

May 19, 2017

Farmers ‘dead keen’ to improve water practices – council – Alexa Cook:

A group of farmers near Whakatāne are working with the regional council to try and improve water quality by changing the way they farm.

Agribusiness consultant Ailson Dewes has gathered about 15 dairy farmers on behalf of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to understand more about how their farming systems can impact water quality.

Ms Dewes said the group was facing the issue head-on.

“They are sitting around the table, they are exposing all their numbers in terms of the health of their business, their environmental footprint, the way they farm – and they’re saying ‘we realise the way we farmed in the past is not the way we can farm in the future’. . . 

2017 Dairy Award Winners Environmentally Conscious

The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners and finalists represent a group of people who are acutely aware of environmental issues and the dairy industry’s role in farming responsibly.

In front of nearly 550 people at Auckland’s Sky City Convention Centre last night, Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley were named the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Hayley Hoogendyk became the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Clay Paton was announced the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $190,000. . . 

Fonterra Australia to pay more in 2017/18 season with improving business, milk price –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group says an improvement in its Australian business and rising milk prices mean it will be able to pay its suppliers more in the season that kicks off in six weeks.

Fonterra Australia expects to pay its Australian suppliers a range of A$5.30-to-A$5.70 per kilogram of milk solids in the 2017/18 season as well as an additional payment of 40 Australian cents/kgMS. It paid A$5.20/kgMS in the season that is just ending. . . 

Counterfeits, name recognition a challenge for Zespri in quest for Chinese market dominance – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group’s expansion into China is continuing at pace, after the country last year overtook Japan as its biggest retail market, though the company is battling against counterfeiting and theft from local growers who want a slice of its market.

Lewis Pan, the fruit marketer’s China country manager, says Zespri is focusing on brand recognition to shore up its dominance in the market. China delivered almost $300 million in revenue in the 2016 financial year, a 60 percent lift on a year earlier, and accounting for 16 percent of Zespri’s total $1.91 billion of revenue that . . 

Wilding pines control work nears million hectare mark:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say wilding pines control work has nearly reached its first year target of a million hectares.

“20 per cent of New Zealand will be covered in unwanted wilding conifers within 20 years if their spread isn’t stopped. They already cover more than 1.8 million hectares of New Zealand and until now have been spreading at about 5 per cent a year,” Mr Guy says.

“The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme was put in place in 2016 to prevent their spread and systematically remove them from much of the land already taken over.” . . 

Ten years after the crisis what is happening to the world’s bees? –  Simon Klein:

Ten years ago, beekeepers in the United States raised the alarm that thousands of their hives were mysteriously empty of bees. What followed was global concern over a new phenomenon: Colony Collapse Disorder. The Conversation

Since then we have realised that it was not just the US that was losing its honey bees; similar problems have manifested all over the world. To make things worse, we are also losing many of our populations of wild bees too.

Losing bees can have tragic consequences, for us as well as them. Bees are pollinators for about one-third of the plants we eat, a service that has been valued at €153 billion (US$168 billion) per year worldwide.

Ten years after the initial alarm, what is the current status of the world’s bee populations, and how far have we come towards understanding what has happened? . . .

Delegat grape harvest growth slows, still has enough stock to meet projected sales – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Delegat Group recorded a small gain in its Australian and New Zealand grape harvest but has enough stock on hand to meet its projected sales targets for the coming year.

The Auckland-based winemaker, whose brands include Oyster Bay, had a 4 percent increase in the New Zealand harvest to 34,595 tonnes, while its Australian harvest grew 6 percent to 2,760 tonnes, it said in a statement. Last year, Delegat’s New Zealand harvest expanded 33 percent from a weather-affected crop in 2015, while the Australian vineyards delivered a 56 percent increase in 2016. . . 


Rural round-up

May 8, 2017

Finding alternatives to dairy – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand dairy production has increased by 80% since Year 2000. This has come almost equally from both more dairy hectares and more production per hectare. However, the limits to pastoral dairying in New Zealand have largely been reached. Where do we go from here?

First, there is a need to recognise the two reasons why pastoral dairying has largely reached its limits.

The most important reason is that society is no longer willing to accept the effects of cow urine leaching from pastures into waterways and aquifers. Huge progress has been made in fencing off livestock from waterways, and in tree planting alongside the streams, but that does not solve the problem of the urine patch. This 2013/14 year is therefore the last year of large-scale conversion of sheep and beef farms to pastoral dairying. New environmental regulations have effectively closed that door. . .

Lifting water quality and profit too – Nicole Sharp:

Southland farmers are continuing to be proactive when it comes to changing regulations within Environment Southland’s Water and Land Plan. Mid-Oreti and Hedgehope farmers held a catchment field day recently to discuss the plan and what more they could do on farm to continue to improve water quality. Nicole Sharp reports.

How can you make looking after the environment profitable?

That was the hot topic at the mid-Oreti and Hedgehope catchment field days recently, where farmers gathered to discuss Environment Southland’s Water and Land Plan and what more they could do. . . 

Farmers hold back wool from auction in weak market  – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Less wool than forecast was offered at New Zealand’s weekly auction as farmers held back bales from sale in a weak market.

Just 6,821 bales were put up for sale at yesterday’s South Island auction after 11 percent of the expected bales were withdrawn before the sale started, according to AgriHQ. Even with the low number of bales on offer, the clearance rate fell 2 percentage points from last week’s auction to 73 percent, lagging behind last year’s levels, AgriHQ said. . . 

Comvita shares slump 9.4% on Deutsche Bank downgrade, news of Myrtle Rust in NZ  – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Comvita shares sank 9.4 percent as investment analysts cut their valuation for the manuka honey products maker, coinciding with yet another problem out of the Te Puke-based company’s control with the discovery of Myrtle Rust in the Far North.

The shares fell as low as $6.07 in early trading today, the lowest since Jan. 23, and were recently down 65 cents to $6.25 after Deutsche Bank cut its price target for the stock to $7.05 from a previous target of $9. Deutsche Bank owns a stake in broking and research firm Craigs Investment Partners, whose executive chairman Neil Craig also heads up Comvita’s board. .. 

New South Wales agricultural region showcased to leading New Zealand and Australian farmers:

Puketapu beef finisher Rob Pattullo was one of nearly 50 leading farmers from across New Zealand and Australia to tour North-western New South Wales recently.

Hosted by specialist agricultural bank, Rabobank, the tour group gathered to visit some of the region’s most progressive farming businesses. . . 

Harraway Sisters Help Celebrate 150 Years of Harraways Oats

New Zealand’s iconic oats company, Harraways, is celebrating 150 years of providing Kiwis with delicious oats.

Since 1867, Harraways has been operating from its original site in Green Island, Dunedin and remains privately owned.

With humble beginnings as a small family business producing flour for the growing population of Dunedin, oats weren’t the company’s sole focus at the time. Replacing the old method of stone grinding flour with an oat roller milling plant in 1893, a thousand tonnes of oats were produced in the first year, expanding Harraways into the breakfast cereal producer that they are well-known as today. . . 

Star gazing tours and new pools are ‘hot’ attractions at Tekapo Springs:

The introduction of star gazing tours married with the launch of new pools have put Tekapo Springs firmly on the global tourism map. 

Star gazing tours in one of the world’s top ‘clear sky’ locations was launched by Tekapo Springs in New Zealand’s Mackenzie country just two months ago, taking viewing the Southern night sky to whole new levels. . . 

 Manuka Health unveils $3.5 million Wairarapa Apiculture Centre
Minister for Food Safety officially opens state of the art processing plant:

Leading honey manufacturer Manuka Health has today officially opened its expanded national apiculture business after a $3.5million build that will significantly expand the organisation’s export capacity.

Joining CEO John Kippenberger, the Minister for Food Safety Hon David Bennett opened the Manuka Health Wairarapa Apiculture Centre in an event attended by MP for the Wairarapa, Alastair Scott; Mayor John Booth of Carterton District Council; Chief Executive of Carterton District Council, Jane Davis; industry and government representatives; neighbours; beekeeper partners; site design and build companies; and Manuka Health staff. . .


Rural round-up

April 27, 2017

Door-to-door farm visits welcomed as floodwaters recede and costs become clearer:

Teams from the local Rural Support Trust and Red Cross have been documenting destroyed pastures, damaged homes and inundated orchards, as they carry out assessment visits to flood-affected farms and orchards in the Bay of Plenty.

“Our farming and growing families have been very stoic in getting through the flooding, and now our visit is a chance for them to sit down, have a cup of tea, and see what they need to move forwards with recovery,” says Igor Gerritson from the Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust.

“What’s immediately clear is the extra cost associated with the evacuations of about 5000 cows, and the pressing need to buy feed for stock whose grazing is destroyed by floodwaters. The cost of transporting stock out alone is estimated to be $75,000 in the first week of the event.” . . 

Fifty years of Canterbury farming revolution – Keith Woodford,

The ideas for this article were triggered by a recent reunion of former Ministry of Agriculture Canterbury farm advisers. There were about 45 of us who got together to tell tales of former years. Our collective experiences that day went back to 1946 when Austin Ebert joined what was then the Department of Agriculture, followed by Les Bennetts in 1947, and then Lyndsay Galloway and Dave Reynolds a few years later.

I was one of the later recruits, joining as a fresh-faced and very ‘wet behind the ears’ 22-year old at the end of 1969, having just completed a four-year agricultural science degree at Lincoln University. Compared to many, my farm adviser career was short.  I only lasted two years, one year either side of two years back at Lincoln for a Master of Agricultural Science degree, before heading off to South America for mountain-climbing and other adventures. But those two years as a farm adviser were enough to create many memories, and also to learn many lessons, both from colleagues and some very experienced farmers.  . . 

Wet autumn weather a ‘big shake-up’ for crop farmers:

Cropping farmers throughout New Zealand are feeling the impact of a wet autumn, with two cyclones this month leaving many crops underwater or too wet to get machinery in to harvest it.

New Zealand has been drenched in recent weeks, with the remnants of Cyclones Cook and Debbie causing widespread flooding.

Federated Farmers spokesperson Katie Milne said farmers across the country had been hit in different ways by the storms and while some areas had plenty of feed, others were struggling. . . 

Pumped Dry – Central Otago farmers’ fight for water – Ian Telfer:

Alarm is growing in the farms and orchards in the country’s driest region as irrigation rights granted during the Otago Gold Rush expire, and new environmentally sustainable allocations loom.  

More than 400 so-called deemed permits, which underpin Central Otago’s economy, have to be replaced with modern water permits within five years, and large cracks are appearing in the process.

The Carrick Water Race has run for 140 years, and survived, but its users might now have to dig deep to save it.

The historical hand-dug water channel has snaked its way downhill since the gold rush days, carrying water from Coal Creek high up in the mountains to the water-short land of Bannockburn. . . 

A2 Milk posts third-quarter sales that beat its projection, lifts annual guidance – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co’s third-quarter sales beat expectations as Chinese and Australian demand outstripped the milk marketer’s projections and the company sees annual revenue jumping by almost 49 percent.

The Auckland-based, Sydney-headquartered company forecasts revenue of $525 million in the year ending June 30, up from $352.8 million a year earlier, it said in a statement. A2 generated sales of $388.1 million in the nine months ended March 31, with the third quarter infant formula sales exceeding expectations.  . . 

Canadian Milkroad trilogy – Eric Crampton:

Three great reads on the insanity of Canada’s dairy supply management system:

Trevor Tombe explains the consequences of supply management:

According to recent estimates from the OECD, the artificially high agricultural prices in Canada transfer $3.5 billion from consumers to producers annually — nearly $3 billion from milk alone. Spread over the 8 billion litres of annual production, it’s effectively a hidden milk tax of 37 cents per litre.

For producers, this is a big deal. At the end of 2015, there were just under 11,500 dairy farms in Canada. The $3 billion that supply management allows them to extract each year is equivalent to $260,000 per farm. Much of this is capitalized into the value of the quotas they are required to hold. A single one in BC and Alberta, for example, is currently worth roughly $40,000; in Ontario and Quebec, they go for $24,000. With nearly one million dairy cows in Canada, quotas are collectively worth tens of billions of dollars, an important cause of our country’s higher production costs. . . 

Earth Day isn’t relevant here – Uptown Farms:

The last few days social media has been blowing up with Earth Day celebrations. Earth Day was born in 1970 by protestors in response to “the deterioration of the environment,” according to EarthDay.org.

This morning on our farm, we will get up and go to work like we always do.

We will check cows that are grazing our crop fields, currently seeded with turnips, radishes, and cereal rye. We refer to that mixture as cover crops, which we’ve been using on the farm for the last eight years or so, and they provide immeasurable environmental benefit. They reduce our chemical usage, runoff and erosion while increasing our soil organic matter and soil microbes. That means healthier fields and healthier environment surrounding our fields. . . 

Canterbury’s leading agritech companies showcase their solutions to increase productivity and profitability in agriculture:

Canterbury’s leading agritech companies, who contribute to the country’s $3 billion agtech sector, will be showcasing their solutions to increase productivity and profitability in agriculture, at a TechWeek event on 10 May 2017.

Robotics, software, pasture mapping and management are some of the solutions being integrated into on-farm practices across New Zealand, and will be exhibited at Lincoln Hub’s ‘Showcasing Agtech’ event in Lincoln.

For the first time in Tech Week’s history, events are being held outside Auckland, including the showcase, which has been developed to raise the profile of Canterbury Agtech companies, as well as create a conversation around sustainability and growth in the agriculture industry. . . 

NZ’s largest logging industry event planned for June:

The New Zealand forestry industry set a new record last year for the annual forest harvest. There is no denying the fact that the sector is on a high right now. On the back of booming log exports to China, low shipping rates and strong domestic demand, wood harvesting has reached record levels.

This year forestry export revenues are forecast to rise even further. For the year ending June of this year, they’re forecast to increase by 5.8% to NZ$5.4 billion, and climb a further 8.8% to NZ$5.9 billion in the year to June 2018. With the supply of harvestable wood also forecast to rise even higher over the next five years, logging contractors and transport operators from around the country will continue to be extremely busy. . . 


Rural round-up

April 4, 2017

New research will help address rural communities’ health and wellbeing:

New research on farm-related suicide and the factors behind it is a progressive step and will enable a more concerted focus on reducing rates, says Federated Farmers.

The study by Dr Annette Beautrais was conducted on behalf of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and funded by AgResearch.

As inaugural members of RHANZ, Federated Farmers has advocated for many years for an increased awareness on addressing issues related to rural health and wellbeing.

In her findings, Dr Beautrais reveals that general farm workers and males are the most vulnerable and more likely to take their own life. . . 

Zespri calls in police over cross-border kiwifruit transfer – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – Zespri International has called in police to investigate the transfer of Gold3 and Gold9 kiwifruit varieties into China that may have been done illegally.

Last year the Mount Maunganui-based international fruit marketer started investigating reports that a kiwifruit licence had been sold to a third party, breaching the terms limiting transfers within a country, and it passed on that evidence to police in December which is investigating, it said in a statement.

“The purported sale of a licence from one jurisdiction to another by a third party is a breach of Zespri’s licences and plant variety rights, and potentially could give rise to allegations of fraud or misleading conduct,” Zespri said. “In this case, Zespri suspects . . 

Primary sector women funded to step up:

Government investment in developing and supporting women to create sustainable prosperity in the primary sector and regional communities has been welcomed by the organisation that is growing the leadership, governance and business skills of women in the sector.

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) has received $289,000 from the Government’s Sustainable Farming Fund to extend its work to three groups of women who have been identified as part of the key to sustainable primary industry growth.

The two-year project will see AWDT research, design and deliver pilot programmes for younger women who are entering primary sector careers, Māori women in the regions, and women who have had careers outside of primary industries whose expertise was of value. . . 

More RMA stress and cost for farmers in Horizons region:

Federated Farmers is deeply disappointed by a legal decision which suggests the Horizons Regional Council has not implemented the One Plan correctly and environmental gains are not being made.

The court decision announced today is now being carefully reviewed by Feds, so we can begin to understand the on-the-ground implications for our member farmers.

Federated Farmers Manawatu/Rangitikei provincial president James Stewart says we have to remember the enormous amount of good work and investment undertaken by farmers across the region to comply with the ‘One Plan’ regulations and that the plan’s objectives are being achieved.

“The council has worked very hard to implement a One Plan that’s workable and that does not put farmers out of business and improves water quality as needed. . . 

Research provides new guidance for West Coast farmers on pests:

AgResearch scientists are set to present new guidance to West Coast farmers on dealing with some of the region’s worst pests after years of in-depth research alongside locals.

Over the past three years farmers in the West Coast Pest Management Group have taken part in a project funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund to improve the understanding of pests that threaten pastures.

“This research is about providing farmers on the South Island’s West Coast with the tools to tackle these pests, before the long-term damage is done to their pastures and bottom lines,” says AgResearch Senior Scientist Sarah Mansfield. . . 

New Zealand farming couple grow record-breaking wheat crop:

Huge crop confirmed by Guinness World Records

• Bayer and Yara play key role

• Increasing yields key focus

Ashburton farmers Eric and Maxine Watson have entered the renowned book of Guinness World Records after producing the world’s highest yielding crop of wheat.

The couple produced a staggering 16.791 tonnes per hectare, beating the previous record of 16.519 tonnes held for two years by a UK farmer.

On average, irrigated wheat yields in New Zealand are around 12 tonnes per hectare, demonstrating how remarkable the new record is. . . 

Successful meeting with Lithuanian Agricultural Minister:

New Zealand Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Bronius Markauskas met on Monday in Vilnius, Lithuania to discuss a range of agricultural issues in each country. 

“Clearly, there are many similarities between our countries, including the role of dairy in our respective economies,” says Mr Guy. 

“New Zealand is an example for Lithuania,” says Lithuanian Minister of Agriculture B. Markauskas

“We are quite similar – in both countries the dairy industry and agriculture in general play a huge role. I was in New Zealand previously and I was impressed by the great atmosphere and the relationship between the government and farmers, as well as the country’s agricultural potential. . . 

  Fonterra makes a splash at China’s food ingredients show:

Fonterra’s NZMP dairy ingredients business has made a splash at China’s largest food ingredients trade show in Shanghai, launching three dairy ingredients and bringing New Zealand’s dairy story to life for customers through a 360° immersive virtual reality experience.

One of the world’s foremost food ingredients events, the three-day Food Ingredients China 2017 event attracted more than 100,000 customers from all over the world.

Fonterra announced the launch of NZMP Gold Whole Milk Powder for UHT, NZMP Tasty Cheese Powder and NZMP Butter Concentrate products at the event. . .

 

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If you think it’s expensive to hire a quality farmers, just wait until you hire a crappy one.


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