Rural round-up

May 3, 2016

Rattling Fonterra’s governance is not enough – Keith Woodford:

Late last year, Fonterra’s farmers rattled the cage by voting for a change in governance rules. However, the voting majority was insufficient to change the rules. Fonterra’s Board has now responded with its own proposals for new governance structures.

To me, the new proposals look like a continuing meander towards corporatisation, without recognition of the special features of a huge co-operative conglomerate like Fonterra.

The proposal last year, led by former Fonterra directors Greg Gent and Colin Armer, was to reduce the number of directors. But would a smaller number of directors really make a difference? And what would it do in terms of further disconnecting the Board from the grassroots? . . 

Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly (NZ) – April 2016:

The Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments.

Key Highlights:

• Dairy – Global commodity prices continue to stumble along a market floor largely determined by the level of EU intervention support—and the ceiling for this support has just been approved higher. . . 

Time to plan ahead for droughts – Dan Satherley:

Improving water storage will be key to getting farmers through future droughts, according to one agribusiness expert.

Failing that, it might be time for beef, sheep and dairy to rethink their business model.

North Canterbury is into its second year of drought, with rainfall over the past few months only a third what it normally is. . . 

Kiwi-Owned Organic Rice Company Number One in South America:

Organic Latin America, an organic rice processing and distribution company in South America owned by kiwi company Ceres Organics and international partners, has risen to be the largest organic rice exporter out of South America in just five years.

Organic Latin America was founded five years ago by Ceres Organics and Thai, Danish, and Argentinian companies in order to provide South American organic rice growers with access to international markets.

Organic Latin America worked with growers in the Northern parts of Argentina and in Southern Brazil to help them improve processing systems and supply markets all over the world. . .

Fonterra says season-to-date milk collection down 3% in NZ, down 1% in Australia – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in both New Zealand and Australia in the first 10 months of the season, reflecting destocking in its home market in the face of low milk prices and unfavourable weather across the Tasman.

Milk collection across New Zealand fell 3 percent to 1.39 billion kilograms of milk solids in the 10 months ended March 31, with all of the decline coming in the North Island and no change in the south. . . 

New PGP Investment Advisory Panel Chair announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed John Parker as the new Chair of the Primary Growth Partnership’s independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

Mr Parker is a primary industry and governance specialist, and assumes his role as IAP Chair from 1 May 2016.  He replaces Joanna Perry whose tenure as Chair finishes on 30 April after nearly seven years on the IAP, including almost three as its Chair.

“IAP members use their expertise and judgement to advise on decisions about the investment of PGP funds, and to help ensure these investments achieve the aims of economic growth and sustainability,” says Mr Guy.

“Mr Parker has extensive experience in both governance and in the primary industries and he understands what is required to grow value in the sector. . . 

Northland Farmer gets top foodies on side:

A local specialist pork and beef producer has won a nationwide competition to have some of the country’s top experts help promote the business.

Amanda Hellier and her husband Wayne farm in Motutangi under the name Farm Gate Produce. They have been named as one of four winners of the Sustainable Business Network’s Good Food Boost competition. The family business produces Free Range pork cuts, sausages, salami and Chorizo and supplies it ‘from gate to plate’. . . 

Considering more days in milk?:

After a tough season many dairy farmers may be considering extending the milking period of their cows to create more cashflow.

For farmers in a position to do so, keeping cows in milk for an extended period can make strong commercial sense. A dry cow by contrast still incurs feed and grazing costs but without a corresponding milk income.

SealesWinslow Consultant Animal Nutrition Specialist, Paul Sharp, says that farmers weighing the costs and benefits of extending the milking period have several things to consider.  . . .

Waikato forum to unlock secrets to $3/kg MS farm systems:

Dairy farmer Gary Rowlands says running his farm at a cost of under $3/kg milksolids (MS) is thanks to a simple system.

Gary and wife Debra’s farm is among the 10-15 percent of New Zealand farmers who operate below $3/kg MS FWE (farm working expenses).

The Rowlands put their $2.21/kg MS FWE system down to simple farming – including an all-grass focus, basic machinery, doing their fertiliser application/silage/topping themselves and looking after their cows well.

“It’s a simple system. We just do the basics well and don’t spend if we don’t have to,” says Gary. “Every aspect comes into it.” . . 

Federated Farmers welcomes New Zealand Fire Services merger:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s announcement today that funding of $303 million will be used over four years to combine rural and urban fire services.

Federated Farmers rural fire spokesperson Anders Crofoot says the creation of the new organisation – Fire and Emergency New Zealand – will mean a more efficient delivery and a better service provided by one organisation. It also recognises the services other than fire which rural fire has often provided for many years, even though it was unfunded and outside their mandate.

“The government is showing a strong commitment to transition and we welcome the additional money to build capabilities in rural fire and supporting our rural volunteers,” he said. . . 

Westpac NZ seeks more agriculture market share despite dairy downturn – By Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Westpac New Zealand says it wants to lift its market share of agricultural lending over time to 20 percent from the current 12.6 percent.

The Australian-owned bank today reported a steady performance in its New Zealand unit with cash earnings of $445 million for the six months ending Mar. 31, up 2 percent on a year ago.

Overall lending rose 8 percent with a 9 percent lift in business lending to $26.6 billion. Its agricultural portfolio totals $8.1 billion, up from $7.3 billion a year ago with dairy accounting for more than two-thirds of that. Its market share in agricultural lending rose from 12.3 percent in the previous half to 12.6 percent, which chief financial officer Jason Clifton said went mainly to existing rather than new dairy operations. . . 

Water Accord demonstrates the importance of using qualified advisers:

The release of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord this week highlights the important role of talented people in delivering improvements in the environmental performance of dairy farming.

The report notes that the training and certification of nutrient management advisers hit a major milestone in the 2014/15 year with a total of 100 rural professionals completing the requirements for and achieving certification in the Nutrient Management Adviser Certification Programme (NMACP). This was accomplished with the ongoing support and commitment of the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand and its member companies, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd and Ravensdown Ltd. One of the Accord targets was that 50% of Fertiliser Association member company advisers would be certified by 31 May 2014, which was comfortably achieved. . . 

Contractors must do their bit:

Agricultural contractors around the country must play their part in helping to prevent the spread of the invasive weed velvetleaf, says Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet.

Mr Levet is reminding contractors about the importance of biosecurity and machinery hygiene practices on, and between farms, in controlling the spread velvetleaf and says rural contractors have an important role to play in this.

“Contractors need to be conscious of the potential of spreading velvetleaf when moving between properties, or between areas of the same property, and to take responsibility in managing these risks,” he says. . . 

Wool Industry Reacts to New Health and Safety Regulations:

The National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests Inc comprises associations and organisations involved in the domestic and international trading of greasy and scoured wool. The Council acts as the New Zealand member of the International Wool Textile Organisation, which represents the interests of the wool textile trade at the global level.

The National Council and its members are committed to providing a safe working environment throughout the wool industry. Increasing concerns relating to bales weighing over 200kg (which are estimated to cover approximately 6% of the national clip) have prompted the Council to address the issue. Bales weighing in excess of 200kg can contribute to workplace accidents and throughout the industry provide a significant problem during dumping and shipping. These bales have been assessed as hazards during transport and handling, with changes deemed necessary to comply with tougher Occupational Health and Safety laws being introduced in New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

April 12, 2016

Water brings back ‘marvellous’ times – Sally Rae:

“Lower Waitaki – The Community That Water Saved” was the theme of a recent media tour organised by the Waitaki Irrigators Collective and IrrigationNZ and coinciding with IrrigationNZ’s 2016 conference in Oamaru. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae hopped on the bus to discover just what irrigation has done for the area and its inhabitants.  

When Jim Dennison’s father bought Drumena in 1919, the Hilderthorpe farm was in a “desolate state”.

Local women pitied his new bride moving to such a property to try to make a living. . .

Harnessing the sunshine for record-breaking crop yields – Pat Deavoll:

Farmers talk about growing feed, but North Otago crop and dairy farmer Chris Dennison says he is “harvesting sunshine.”

His world record-breaking crops of barley and oil seed rape were the combination of heavy soils, a coastal environment, reliable water and sustained sunshine, he said.

“Here at Hilderthorpe (just south of the Waitaki River) we get a cool easterly wind which gives a lull in the growing season for cereal and oil seed rape, so the crops can utilise more sunshine.”

Dennison took over the farm from his father Jim in the early 1980s. Traditionally it was a mixed sheep and beef property but when Dennison arrived home he brought with him an interest in cropping. . . 

Waitaki water key to reliable farming – Sally Rae:

Reuben Allan’s dairy shed has one heck of a view.

It overlooks the vast Waitaki River which provides not only recreational opportunities for his family, but also has allowed them to transition from a “feast or famine” dryland operation to one with reliable irrigation.

Mr Allan grew up on Fairway Farm, which used to be a dryland sheep property, near Ikawai.

Irrigation began on the hills in the mid-1990s and the move was made into intensive beef finishing. . . 

Irrigation provides reliability – Sally Rae:

Matt Ross first arrived in North Otago “more by accident”.

But his decision to return, once he completed his university studies, was deliberate as he had identified the potential opportunities in the district.

Mr Ross and his wife Julie operate Kokoamo Farms, which comprise two dairy farms near Duntroon, milking 1730 cows at peak, and lease a run-off property.

Their farming operation is a showcase: lush green grass, extensive plantings, including a wetland development that is home to more than 100,000 plants, and impressive infrastructure. . . 

Still turning them (tractors) on at 85:

North Otago’s Don Fraser is a man who loves his tractors. His love affair has been so intense he is still driving them at the ripe old age of 85.

Part of the hard-working team at EGL Pastoral for 26 years, and a farmer most of his life, Mr Fraser remembers the old style tractors (crawlers) when he first started out and recalls they were so noisy you needed hearing aids. “There was no silencers then and we didn’t have air con back in the day, but then we didn’t need it when a keen souwester was blowing through.” . . .

Sheep Industry Awards celebrate success:

This country’s sheep industry will celebrate its best and brightest at Beef +Lamb New Zealand’s fifth annual New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in the Wairarapa in July.

Entries are open for the Awards which recognises this country’s top sheep farmers, breeders, scientists and industry innovators.

People can put their name forward, or be nominated for the Award categories; Science Trainer of the Year, Innovation, Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry and the Emerging Talent Award. . . 

Focus on forages is key to sustainable farm profits:

Pastoral farming is a huge earner for New Zealand worth over $23 billion in export revenues last year. Forages – the grasses and other plants grazed by farm animals – are a critical part of pastoral farming systems. Industry participants consider there is significant scope to lift the contribution forages make to the underlying productivity and profitability of the pastoral sectors and to achieve these outcomes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

This is why an initiative to improve the sustainability and profitability of New Zealand’s forage grazing systems has the buy-in of everyone representing the pastoral sector. . . 

Bostock New Zealand experiencing highest quality apples for several years:

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower is harvesting some of the best quality fruit it’s experienced for years – thanks to near perfect growing and harvesting conditions.

Bostock New Zealand Director, David Brasell says the weather has been outstanding for the harvest and the fruit has sized well.

“The quality of our apples this season is very, very good. The colour is great, the fruit is clean and the size is excellent. . . .

Time to guard against costly nutritional deficits:

A small investment in autumn feed testing can be good insurance against mineral deficiencies in dairy and beef cows that can lead to low growth rates and poor milk yields.

Winter feeds like fodder beet, low pasture phosphorus levels in some regions, and lower seasonal availability for copper can lead to deficiencies of both of these key minerals during late pregnancy, early lactation and calf growth.

Consultant nutritionist to SealesWinslow, Paul Sharp, says for around $100 a comprehensive pasture mineral test will provide the right information to farmers. . . 

Yealands Launches NZ’s First Vineyard Tour Guide App:

The first kiwi wine app that allows the user to take a self-guided vineyard tour – and take in Yealands’ famous White Road hot-spots.

One of the only vineyards to actually let visitors drive through its vineyard, wine innovators, Yealands Wine Group have released a mobile application that allows visitors to its Seaview Vineyard in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough the unique opportunity of taking their own self-guided vineyard tour. . .


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