Rural round-up

November 29, 2013

Irrigation ‘doesn’t always mean dairying’ – Tim Fulton:

A farm adviser who did financial estimates for the Ruataniwha and Central Plains irrigation schemes says access to irrigation doesn’t lead farmers automatically to dairying.

Hugh Eaton, from Macfarlane Rural Business, outlined the options at an irrigation field day at the Rathgen family’s mixed-farming operation near Timaru.

The Rathgens have a home farm at Esk Valley, a dairy block at St Andrews and another at nearby Otaio, some of which may join the proposed Hunter Downs scheme. . .

Nitrate in Canterbury groundwater – Carl Hanson:

Nitrate concentrations in Canterbury groundwater have been prominent in the media recently. Headlines have included phrases like “ticking time bomb”, “scaremongering” and “freaking out much of Canterbury”.

What I want to do in this article is to present the state of nitrate concentrations in Canterbury groundwater, and the trends we see in those concentrations, as objectively as I can, avoiding any emotive language.

First, the concentrations. Based on the data from our regional long-term monitoring programme, which includes approximately 300 wells distributed across the region, nitrate concentrations in Canterbury groundwater fall into two groups:

Sharing ideas in the global farming village – Sue O’Dowd:

Taranaki sheep and beef farming identity Bryan Hocken loves to play host.

He presents a unique blend of bonhomie, humour, a passion for his industry and a ready-to-share approach to anyone who happens to pop along to his 485 hectare Tarata farm, about 25 kilometres east of Inglewood.

Not that you would just pop along.

The farm seems remote after a picturesque drive over the winding Tarata Saddle and along the 3km Toe Toe Rd beside the Waitara River.

On the journey traffic is scarce so a single traffic light in the middle of nowhere on the road to the farm raises a chuckle – as do a plethora of signs saying things like “Wannabe Dairy Farm” and “High St”. . .

Synlait Farms shareholders keen to cash in – Alan Williams:

Synlait Farms shareholders have raced to cash in on the takeover offer led by China’s Shanghai Pengxin group.

The acceptance level had reached 91.16% by last Tuesday, meeting the 90% minimum level that was a condition of the offer just more than three weeks after the offer was received by shareholders and well inside the original December 6 closing date.

SFL Holdings, the vehicle through which Shanghai Pengxin and partners Juliet Maclean and John Penno are making the offer, has extended the date to December 20. . .

Research into apricots ‘exciting’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Research being carried out at Plant and Food Research (PFR) in Clyde will contribute to higher-quality and better-tasting apricots that ripen more slowly and reach overseas markets in better condition.

Scientist Jill Stanley, based in Clyde, and Dr Ringo Feng, who is based in Auckland, are looking at fruit respiration and ethylene production, as well as fruit maturity, light levels, wood age and atmospheric modification.

Ethylene is a naturally-occurring gaseous hormone given off by the fruit, which accelerates ripening. A range of seedlings have been bred at the Clyde Research Centre which have characteristics that include low ethylene production. . . .

Research targets women – Yvonne O’Hara:

Dairy Womens’ Network (DWN) has launched Project Pathfinder, a programme designed to encourage more women in the dairy industry to take on leadership roles at community and governance levels.

DWN’s trust board deputy chairwoman Cathy Brown, of Tauranga, said DWN had received $180,000 from the Sustainable Farming Fund to develop the three-year project in association with DairyNZ and AgResearch.

”We are at the beginning [of the project] and most of the research will be done in year one,” Mrs Brown said.

One of the first steps was to carry out a survey about dairying women in business and in leadership roles. It finished this month. . .

Angus farmers get lesson from NZ – Tim Cronshaw:

Scottish angus breeder James Playfair-Hannay would like to take New Zealand bloodlines back with him to the home of the breed, after judging the angus fields in the cattle ring at the Canterbury A&P Show.

However, the high praise from the owner of Tofts Pedigree Livestock in Kelso does not extend to every angus entry.

“There are some wonderful functional animals which look to be pretty proficient, and we could use the genetics back home. Then there are some other animals that are not what we are looking for.

“We are looking to produce a 300 to 350-kilogram carcass off grass at 18 months, or earlier if we can.” . . .


NZ First needs a headline

November 29, 2013

Colin Craig is a younger, fresher option for people who might have been attracted to Winston Peters.

Craig’s Conservative Party has been getting headlines and that’s bestirred a New Zealand First MP to go in search of one too.

He found it in NZ First will stop farm sales to foreigners:

. . . New Zealand First is calling for a complete halt to sales of farmland to non resident foreign buyers, its primary industries spokesman Richard Prosser says.

“Under a New Zealand First-influenced government there will be no more sales of farmland to non resident foreigners, full stop.

“This road leads to peasantry and New Zealanders being tenants in our own country,” Prosser said.

Not surprisingly the rhetoric isn’t supported by the facts:

Though there is no formal record of how much land is owned by offshore investors Overseas Investment Office land information manager Annelies McClure said “Current best estimates are that between 1% and 2% of New Zealand farmland is held by overseas interests.”

That figure excludes forestry and land, such as areas of native bush, not in productive use. . .

Prosser’s rant has been prompted by plans for Synlait Milk to sell to the Pengxin Group.

He doesn’t factor in the foreign exchange this will bring into the country and what those who sell their shares might do with the money they’ll get for them.

But then that wouldn’t get the attention-grabbing negative headline he wanted.

It might not do him and his party any good though because the Conservatives are not keen on foreign ownership either.


Rural round-up

October 19, 2013

Pengxin, Synlait founders make $85.7 mln offer to take over Synlait Farms – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Shanghai Pengxin, which bought the Crafar family farms in a controversial deal last year, and the Synlait founders are offering $85.7 million to buy South Island dairy farmer Synlait Farms.

SFL Holdings, a joint venture between Pengxin and Synlait Farms chief executive Juliet Maclean and director John Penno, is offering $2.10 a share to Synlait Farms investors in a full takeover bid for the company which operates 13 dairy farms and a total herd of almost 13,000 cows. That’s a 31 percent premium to the $1.60 price the shares last traded at on the Unlisted platform.

If the takeover is successful, SFL plans to inject a further $20 million in fresh capital to reduce debt and accelerate investment. It also plans to reinvest all surplus cash to fund further growth. Penno and Maclean will hold about 26 percent of SFL, with Pengxin owning the rest via New Zealand Standard Farm, a subsidiary of its Milk New Zealand unit. . .

Spierings blames ‘she’ll be right attitude’ for Fonterra botulism scare – Christopher Adams:

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings compared the company’s botulism debacle to Emirates Team New Zealand’s near-capsize during the America’s Cup. Photo / Greg Bowker

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings says a “she’ll be right attitude” was one of the causes of the company’s botulism fiasco.

Business leaders have gathered in Auckland today for the annual China Business Summit.

The event’s main focus this year is the ongoing impact of Fonterra’s whey protein contamination scare, which led to a global recall of consumer products, including infant formula, but turned out to be a false alarm.

Addressing the summit, Spierings said Fonterra was world class in manufacturing and food safety but the company still needed to “lift its game”.

“That was one the key learnings [of the botulism scare] – a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude is not acceptable,” he said. . .

Primary Growth Partnership enhances world-class Mozzarella technology:

A Primary Growth Partnership programme is helping deliver world-leading patented technology for the production of quick-frozen grated mozzarella.

The Transforming the Dairy Value Chain programme is driven by Fonterra, Dairy NZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership. The technology, which is being expanded at Fonterra’s Clandeboye site in South Canterbury, enables quick-frozen, natural, shredded mozzarella to be produced in just a day—a process traditionally taking around two months.

“This is a key demonstration of the type of innovation that is being enabled by the Primary Growth Partnership,” says Justine Gilliland, Director Primary Growth Partnership, MPI. . .

Creating the ‘angus moment’ – Gerald Piddock:

Angus beef must position itself as a guilt-free indulgence for wealthy consumers around the world if it is to prosper in the modern world, a leading brand strategist says.

But to achieve this would require a new way of thinking, Brian Richards told farmers at the World Angus Forum in Rotorua.

It meant angus farmers viewing themselves not just as sellers of protein but also as producers of a food experience, Richards said in his keynote address at the forum. . .

New Zealand wine industry ‘icon’ receives 2013 trans-Tasman agribusiness leadership award:

New Zealand wine industry luminary Sir George Fistonich has been named the recipient of the 2013 Rabobank Leadership Award for his outstanding contribution to agribusiness.

A pioneer of modern-day winemaking in New Zealand, Sir George, the founder and owner of Villa Maria Estate, was presented with the prestigious trans-Tasman honour at the annual Rabobank Leadership Award Dinner in Melbourne last night.

Australian grains industry advocate Georgie Aley was named Rabobank Emerging Leader, a new award category recognising up-and-coming young leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s food, beverage and agribusiness industries.

Announcing the award winners, Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group managing director Thos Gieskes said Sir George Fistonich had spent five decades at the forefront of New Zealand’s wine industry and had been an instrumental figure in the rise of New Zealand wines on the world stage.

“In a career spanning 50 years, George Fistonich has exemplified true leadership along with an extraordinary passion for the New Zealand wine industry – successfully leading not just his own business, but helping to pioneer and drive an entire industry and inspire and mentor those around him,” Mr Gieskes said.  . .  (I posted on the award yesterday, but this is the official media release).

Waiting for Nuffield – RivettingKateTaylor:

It’s Nuffield time of year again.

Years ago, a Young Farmers friend, arable farmer Hugh Ritchie, was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship. I think I was working for radio or the HB Herald Tribune at the time and did a story on his selection.

Now I work for Nuffield NZ in a freelance journalist role and see the scholars come and go (literally – six months of overseas travel/research is an integral part of a scholarship). . .

Oaklands Milk now from A2 dairy herds:

Local dairy farmer Julian Raine, has announced that all Oakland’s milk naturally contains A2 beta casein proteins. He says “Centuries ago all cow’s milk contained this protein but as dairy herds around the world have been bred and selected for higher production the incidence of the A1 variation has increased.”

Through genetic testing Mr Raine has been able to select cows from his two Nelson dairy herds that have only the A2 gene. These cows are milked separately and it is only this pasteurised milk that is currently sold through vending machines located at Oakland’s farm gate. . .

Kiwi company takes the spotlight with its world-leading technology:

Global players in the fresh produce industry will this weekend get a first-hand look at innovative fruit sorting solutions from Kiwi company BBC Technologies, the world’s leading supplier of blueberry sorting and packing machinery.

BBC Technologies, specialists in the development and manufacturing of advanced processing technology, will be showcasing its range, for the first time, at the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention & Expo in New Orleans.

PMA’s Fresh Summit is one of the largest trade shows held in the United States, drawing more than 18,000 visitors from over 60 countries. North America is a key market for BBC, with the thriving New Zealand company recording 30 per cent year on year growth. . .


Fay led local team ups offer for Crafar farms

September 21, 2011

A group of North Island farmers, led by Sir Michael Fay has increased its offer for the Crafar farms.

The original offer was for only nine of the 16 farms, the new offer is to pay $171.5 million for all 16 farms.

The Overseas Investment Commission is appraising an offer for the farms from a Chinese based group.

“Our group of farmers is the only other buyer for all the farms in this sales process and following satisfactory due diligence we are ready to go,” said Sir Michael. “As soon as we have a signed deal with the receivers they can hand over the keys and we’re ready to walk onto the land. Obviously that’s subject to the Overseas Investment Office rejecting the current Chinese contract.”

Sir Michael said the group was a mix of Iwi and local farmers who already own dairy farms in the Central North Island and who don’t have the complication of needing OIO approval.

“We’d like to be on the farms before Christmas to get them up to full production for the new season starting in mid 2012.”

Sir Michael said the average per hectare price was an accurate reflection of current land, asset and herd values and the opportunity to closely inspect production figures would need to confirm the value of the $171.5 million farmer group offer.

Steve Bignell, of Stretton’s Chartered Accountants in Taupo is the lead negotiator for the group of farmers and says the average $28,500 per hectare offer placed the contract price in the leading bracket for dairy farm sales in the area and across New Zealand.

Federated farmers says the bid is the best option for keeping the farms in New Zealand hands but the Overseas Investment Office should complete its investigation of the Chinese offer without bias.

“As a Kiwi would I like these farms to remain in Kiwi ownership? You bet I would,” says Robin Barkla, Federated Farmers Dairy Vice-President who farms in the Bay of Plenty. . .

“While my heart says one thing my head says that because there’s a live OIO application, we need to let it go through all the necessary hoops.

“The OIO process must be clean for if there’s any hint of favouritism or bias, then we risk becoming a South Seas Venezuela. Anything like that would spook international investors and dangerously drive up interest rates.

“That said, Sir Michael Fay is doing exactly what Federated Farmers has called for. Assembling a group of Kiwi investors to make a sizeable but credible bid for these farms.

“It certainly provides the receiver with a great option should the Pengxin Group bid fall over,” Mr Barkla concluded.

That’s a reasoned response.

The Chinese offer was first on the table is, I think, for a higher price and is part way through the OIO process.

The receivers have a responsibility to get the best price  accept the best offer for the creditors on whose behalf they are working. If the OIO accepts the Pengxin Group bid then it would be difficult for the Fay-led bid to succeed if it is offering a substantially lower price.

If however, the locals increase their offered price so it is close to that of Pengxin then the receivers might have a more difficult choice to make.

UPDATE:

RadioNZ reports the receivers say the Pengxin offer is still the best.


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