Rural round-up

March 13, 2019

Tax recommendations threaten future prosperity:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Government to reject the majority of the raft of new taxes proposed by the Tax Working Group.

“Small business would pay the costs, large business would spend thousands avoiding the costs and tax advisors and valuers would have a field day,” Federated Farmers Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says.

“There is possibly an argument for a Capital Gains Tax aimed at rental properties if there was some sound evidence it would dampen investor speculation, and reduce price pressure and first home buyers being out-bid. But even with that, we haven’t given the tougher ‘bright line’ test rules a chance to really kick in. . .

Despite rising prices farmers are feeling oppressed from all sides and confidence is low. FIckle urban voters are driving a flood of rules and imposing costs that make little sense to the business of farming – Guy Trafford:

The results of the January Federated Farmers farmer survey have recently been published and makes fairly sober reading – especially in the context that prices for most commodities are reasonably sound.

Only 5.1% of respondents expected economic conditions to improve and but nearly 46% expect economic conditions to worsen, this is the worse result since July 2009.

Given the recent rises in milk prices and solid returns coming for sheep and beef farmers this level of pessimism is somewhat surprising and perhaps is a reflection of where farmers heads are at rather than a measure of what the ‘true’ economic conditions are. . . 

Looking to Generation Z for the future of  food – Sarah Perriam:

The rural sector is rapidly changing.

Consumer demand and global trends means New Zealand farmers need to embrace innovation to be able to compete and thrive in this new and exciting environment.

The next generation is vital for success. . . 

Greenpeace billboard ruled misleading  :

Federated Farmers is pleased the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a Greenpeace billboard aimed at fertilizer companies and the dairy industry is misleading and takes advocacy a step too far.

“Federated Farmers believes everyone has the right to express strong views but as the ASA Complaints Board ruling underlines, over-simplification of issues and targeting of two farmer-owned companies is misleading and overly provocative,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says. . .

Zespri. Appoints Bruce Cameron as chairman – Luke Chivers:

While the kiwifruit industry is having its day in the sun it is not short of challenges. Luke Chivers spoke to new Zespri chairman Bruce Cameron about the future.

New Zespri chairman Bruce Cameron is taking over at a time of strong continuity and volume in kiwifruit exports.

He replaces Te Puna grower Peter McBride who has stood down to pursue other primary industry interests, including a Fonterra directorship. . .

Butter prices go into meltdown :

Butter prices fell 10 percent in February 2019 to a 19-month low, Stats NZ said today.

The average price for a 500g block of butter fell to $5.20 in February 2019, down from a record high of $5.79 in January 2019.

“In January we saw milk prices fall to a 19-month low. This price fall now looks to be flowing on to other dairy products,” consumer prices manager Gael Price said. . . 


Rural round-up

January 2, 2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly — 2018 year in review – Rural News editorial team:

As we bid farewell to another year it’s time for the annual review of 2018 in the primary sector as seen by the Rural News editorial team.

The good:

The great start award: to outgoing Zespri chairman Peter McBride for his level-headed, down-to-earth approach on taking up Fonterra directorship. An independent thinker and experienced hand. Is he the next Fonterra chair in waiting?

Straight talking award: kumara grower and Vegetables NZ chairman Andre De Bruin for honest opinion on drugs and employment issues – rather than the usual PR massaged ‘never say anything controversial’ comment that does not face issues head-on. . . 

Sodden, mouldy fruit dumped after rainfall destroys Canterbury harvests – Maddison Northcott:

Southern berry growers are feeling the squeeze as hundreds of kilograms of sodden, mouldy fruits are thrown away after the most devastating season in decades.

Paul Tapper, from Tai Tapu’s Tram Road Fruit Farm, said the unseasonably heavy rain throughout November and December destroyed crops and caused up to 300kg of strawberries to go mouldy before they could be collected. . . 

Japanese farmers set to face-off against NZ imports :

Japanese farmers are set to compete with cheaper agricultural products imported from New Zealand and Australia as the first tariff cuts under the re-jigged Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal take effect tomorrow.

Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports that tomorrow Japan will axe tariffs on kiwfruit, grapes and melons, and cut tariffs on imported beef from the current 38.5 percent to 27.5.

It reports the number of stores selling New Zealand beef are likely to increase and a big company – Itoham Foods – is planning to sell more beef from its New Zealand subsidiary. . .

Fonterra strives for better year in 2019 – Samesh Mohanlal:

South Canterbury’s dairy industry has experienced a turbulent year with an increasingly “impaired” public perception adding to its woes, but Fonterra’s head of Farm Source for Canterbury, Marlborough and Tasman, Charles Fergusson plans to take the bull by the horns and clear the air in 2019.

The biggest hurdle of the year, the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis proved devastating for individual farmers, businesses and the wider community, and Fonterra posting its the first ever loss this year has also kept Fergusson busy.

“The year 2018 has been a tough one for the co-operative,” Fergusson says. . .

Extra production does not necessarily mean extra dollars – Pam Tipa:

The extra and hidden costs of bringing in feed can often mean increased milk production, but not increased operating profit.

In fact, sometimes producing the extra milk can cost money, DairyNZ research scientist Dr Jane Kay told a Northland Dairy Development Trust field day at Wellsford. . .

NFU brings industry together to discuss no deal Brexit:

The NFU brought more than 70 representatives from the agri-food supply chain together in London in December to discuss the impacts of the UK leaving the EU without a deal in place.

The NFU has been clear that the UK leaving the EU without a deal would be ‘catastrophic’ and is ‘not an option’ for UK agriculture.

The whole supply chain was represented – from seed to shop shelf – representing from pre and post farm gate. . .


Fonterra sent strong message

December 22, 2018

Fonterra has been sent a very strong message from shareholders:

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final result of the second 2018 election for the election of one Director to the Fonterra Board.

Shareholders voted to elect John Nicholls. John Nicholls received 53% support from shareholders, Jamie Tuuta received 37% support.

John Nicholls lives in Christchurch and has farming interests in mid-Canterbury. John was a previous Fonterra Shareholders’ Councillor and is currently Chair of MHV water, NZ’s largest inter-generational irrigation co-operative providing water to 50,000ha in Ashburton District.

John Nicholls takes up his position on the Board immediately.

The voting return was 64.10% by milk solids, being 5,324 votes cast from 9,347 shareholders of which 79.19% voted via the internet and 20.81% voted by post. . . 

This election was required after neither of these two candidates, and sitting director Ashley Waugh failed to gain 50% support in the first election.

Peter McBride, a board nominee, and Leonie Guiney, a former board member, were elected.

The board had nominated McBride, Waugh, who chose not to stand for the second vote, and Tuuta.

That McBride was the only one of those three nominees to get through is a very clear indication that shareholders are unhappy.

The new chair and chief executive have signalled a change of direction and the election results show that is what shareholders want.


Rural round-up

December 6, 2018

Dairy product prices climb as whole milk powder gains – Margaret Dietz:

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy product prices rose at the Global Dairy Trade auction, stemming a decline that began in May.

The GDT price index gained 2.2 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago. The average price was a US$2,819 a tonne, compared with US$2,727 a tonne two weeks ago. Some 36,450 tonnes of product was sold, down from 42,966 tonnes two weeks ago.

Whole milk powder climbed 2.5 percent to US$2,667 a tonne. . . 

Dairy bosses are best employers:

In the first-ever Primary Industries Good Employer Awards dairy farmers Ben and Nicky Allomes won the top accolade, the Minister of Agriculture’s Award for Best Primary Sector Employers.

Woodville dairy farmers Ben and Nicky Allomes have been named the Best Primary Sector Employers. 

The couple, who own Hopelands Dairies, also won the Innovative Employment Practices award. . . 

Fonterra reaches provisional deal with Beingmate:

Fonterra Cooperative Group has reached a provisional deal with Chinese partner Beingmate Baby & Child Food to unwind their Darnum joint venture in Australia.

The joint venture – 51 percent owned by Beingmate and 49 percent Fonterra – produced infant formula products at the Darnum plant in Australia for Beingmate’s Chinese customers, and was a key component of Fonterra’s plan to expand its reach into China’s second and third-tier cities. . . 

Voting for the 2nd Fonterra Directors’ Election is underway:

Voting is now open for the 2018 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Second Election.

Only two candidates from the first election, Leonie Guiney and Peter McBride, obtained more than 50% support from voting shareholders. The Rules of the first election state that if not enough candidates obtain more than 50% support, there must be a second election. . . 

Dairy loan done on a handshake, details to follow:

It beggars belief that the Government has dispensed a $9.9 million low-interest loan to a dairy company without having finalised the terms, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Minister in charge of the Provincial Growth Fund couldn’t tell the House what terms he had in mind when he undercut commercial lenders to provide debt funding for a new processing plant.

“I wouldn’t blame any business like Westland Milk for accepting a cheap loan from a secure lender. . . 

Apple producer’s underlying profit looks to be at top end:

Apple producer Scales has had a bumper year with a record export crop lifting profits to the top end of guidance.

The company’s underlying profit was likely to be at the top end, or slightly exceed, the current guidance range of $58 million to $65m, in the year ending December.

Managing director Andy Borland said it was an excellent performance for the group, with all business units performing well over the year. . . 

New Landcorp chair appointed:

Dr Warren Parker has been appointed as Director and Chair of Landcorp, the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and Associate Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Shane Jones announced today.

Dr Parker is a former Chief Executive of Scion (the NZ Forest Research Institute) and Landcare Research, and was previously Chief Operating Officer of AgResearch. He currently holds a number of board roles including on Predator Free 2050 Ltd, Farmlands Cooperative Society, Genomics Aotearoa and is the Chair of the Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group. Until recently he was Chair of the New Zealand Conservation Authority. . . 

Landcorp out of touch with real farmers:

Landcorp’s submission to Sir Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group (TWG) is a kick in the guts to rural communities, National’s Nathan Guy and David Carter say.

“Landcorp’s sneaky submission to the TWG proposing a water tax, nitrogen fertiliser tax and not opposing a capital gains tax proves how out of touch the state-owned company is with farmers on the ground,” Mr Guy says.

“With 6700 other submissions, why was Landcorp pressured to put in a submission that was more than a month late? The reality seems to be that the TWG are hell-bent on introducing environmental taxes and a capital gains tax, so they leaned on Landcorp to submit supporting more taxes and levies. . . 

New president and vice president elected to HortNZ board:

The Horticulture New Zealand board elected Barry O’Neil as its new President and Chairman at a meeting today. Mr O’Neil replaces Julian Raine, who has been President and Chairman for six years and who has made a significant contribution to horticulture for New Zealand. Mr Raine has stood down to pursue other business interests.

Bernadine Guilleux was elected Vice-President, with both positions effective from 1 January 2019. . . 

Busy orchardist advises small businesses start payday filing:

A Hawke’s Bay orchardist is advising fellow small businesses to be ahead of the game on payday filing.

This is the mandatory requirement from April next year for employers to file their payroll information to Inland Revenue every time they pay their staff.

Te Mata Figs owner Helen Walker has been paying her five staff fortnightly and sending across their details using the online entry method in myIR. . . 


Rural round-up

November 29, 2018

Hopping to the beat: drummer turned grower Trevor Courtney :

Trevor Courtney has always liked beer, and now the drummer for ’60s band Chants R& B is growing his own hops.

After a 40-year music career, Trevor and his wife Lyndsay now have a lifestyle block in North Canterbury where they grow hops plants, heritage apples and saffron.

Trevor and Lyndsay’s eight-hectare property is home to two flocks of Wiltshire sheep, but they’re pretty low-maintenance, Trevor says.

“In the spring they start to shed their fleece, so there’s no shearing,…you can leave their tails on. We only meet up with them a couple of times a year.” . . 

Alliance Group more than halves profit –  Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Red meat cooperative Alliance Group more than halved its net profit as it paid more for livestock and in tax, interest and administration costs.

Net profit for the year ended September fell to $6.6 million from $14.4 million a year earlier, the Invercargill-based co-operative said in its annual report. Revenue, however, lifted to $1.8 billion from $1.5 billion in the prior year and it paid more than $1.2 billion to its farmer-shareholders.

The group also paid $14.6 million in loyalty payments and another $31.6 million in advance payments to support farmers during periods of low cash flow. . . 

What it takes to win the Ballance farm environment award :

Trying different things, learning from mistakes, and working with Mother Nature are part of the ethos of this year’s national Ballance farm environment award winners.

As winners of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, Bay of Plenty kiwifruit growers Mark and Catriona White are officially ‘national ambassadors for sustainable farming and growing’.

During a round of meetings with agriculture agency representatives and MP Todd Muller in Wellington this month, the Whites dropped into Federated Farmers’ HQ to swap war stories on topics as diverse as workforce shortages, genetic engineering and whether farmers/ growers who repeatedly fail to heed sustainability messages should be left behind. . . 

 

Apple industry already growing jobs for new horticultural degree graduates:

New Zealand’s booming apple and pear industry is already promising great career opportunities for the first graduates of a new stand-alone Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture.

Recruitment is underway for the new three-year degree that starts in February 2019 with a fully industry-sponsored 4ha apple innovation orchard at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus.

New Zealand Apples & Pears capability manager Erin Simpson, who has been a driving force behind the new degree, said never before has there been a more exciting time for young people to enter the industry which is offering them a bright and rewarding future. . . 

Fonterra confirms second director election timing:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council has confirmed that a second election for the remaining vacancy on Fonterra’s Board of Directors will be held in December. Voting will open on 3 December and close at 1.00pm on 20 December, and the results will be announced later the same day.

Only two candidates from the first election, Leonie Guiney and Peter McBride, obtained more than 50% support from voting shareholders. The Rules of the first election state that if not enough candidates obtain more than 50% support, there must be a second election. . . 

Manawatū agricultural contractor lands deal supplying Auckland Zoo with feed:

Manawatū agricultural contractor Mike Hancock is helping to feed some of the world’s most stunning and endangered animals.

The 23-year-old is a joint operations manager for Bruce Gordon Contracting, north of Marton.

Earlier this year the company received a phone call from Auckland Zoo, almost 500 kilometres away. . . 

Knickers the steer, one of the world’s biggest steers, avoids the abattoir thanks to his size – Jacqueline Lynch and Tyne Logan:

At 194 centimetres high, WA-born steer Knickers is believed to be the tallest in Australia — and one of the tallest in the world.

To put it into perspective, the seven-year-old is almost as tall as NBA star Michael Jordan and weighs more than a Mini Cooper car at about 1,400 kilograms.

That’s double the weight of the average Holstein Friesian and half a metre taller — and could make more than 4,000 hamburger lovers happy.

But owner Geoff Pearson of Lake Preston in the state’s south-west said Knickers was not destined for the barbecue anytime soon. . . 

How we fell out of love with milk – Tim Lewis:

Soya, almond, oat… Whether for health issues, animal welfare or the future of the planet, ‘alt-milks’ have never been more popular. Are we approaching dairy’s final days? 

A couple of weeks ago, some eye-catching billboards began appearing around central and east London. Entire tunnels of the underground were plastered with the adverts; the sides of large buildings were covered. On one panel there was a carton (or, in some instances, three) of Oatly, an oat drink made by a cult Swedish company that favours stark graphics, a bluey-grey colour scheme, and which is a market leader – in a not uncompetitive field – in the tongue-in-cheek promotional messages known as “wackaging”. The adjacent panel, in large, wobbly type, read: “It’s like milk, but made for humans.” . . 

 Sprinklers help nourish refuge elk – Mike Koshmrl:

Each summer a massive $5.25 million irrigation system is cranked on at the National Elk Refuge, showering beads of water over nearly a fifth of the preserve’s 25,000 grassy acres.

With no crops growing and no livestock in sight, tourists and newcomers to Jackson Hole who catch a glimpse must occasionally be bewildered.

But there are actually many reasons for the refuge’s irrigation system, new as of 2010. . . 


Rural round-up

November 27, 2018

Only two left for new Fonterra vote – Hugh Stringleman:

John Nicholls of Canterbury and Jamie Tuuta of Taranaki and Wellington will contest the rerun of the Fonterra director election to fill the one remaining vacancy.

One-term director Ashley Waugh has decided not to run again though he came within a whisker of being re-elected in the first round of voting.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chairman Duncan Coull sent an email to all farmer-shareholders explaining the rerun process and the council’s reasons for not opening it up to new candidates.

The rerun was necessary because only two of five candidates for three seats received the required 50% approval of farmers, Peter McBride at 80% and Leonie Guiney at 63%.

Waugh got 49%, Nicholls 44% and Tuuta 40%. . . 

Dairy-farm price per hectare plunges – Sally Rae:

Farm sales across the country for the year to October were down more than 10%, while dairy farm  per-hectare prices have pulled back almost 30% during the past year.

In Otago and Southland, there was strong activity in finishing, grazing and arable properties, but dairy farm purchases in both provinces were affected, with restricted supply of capital.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said for the three months to October there were 263 sales, just two more than a year ago.

Across the country for the year to October 1475 farms were sold, a 10.5% decline on the same period last year. Dairy farm sales were down 7.7%, grazing farms fell 5.6%, finishing was down 13.2% and there were 22.5% fewer arable farms. . . 

Genetic changes will allow merino sheep come down from the mountains – Heather Chalmers:

Synonymous with the South Island high country, merino sheep may be farmed more widely as farmers are lured by high fine wool prices and genetic improvements. 

Merino woolgrower Bill Sutherland, of Benmore Station near Omarama, said it was boom times for the New Zealand merino industry. 

“In a time when strong wool prices are at a historical low, the prices for merino wool have rarely been better,” he told the New Zealand Grassland Association conference in Twizel.  . . 

New boss hears farmers:

Farmers delivered a stern message to new director-general of primary industries Ray Smith at a meeting in Ashburton on Wednesday – they want to be top of his list.

He attended the meeting, facilitated by Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers in response to desperate calls for help from local farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovi, off his own bat.

Farming leaders from across the country including national dairy chairman Chris Lewis and meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson also attended the closed session.

“This meeting was organised so these national leaders could hear from affected farmers and get their stories straight from the horse’s mouth,” Mid Canterbury dairy chairman Chris Ford said. . . 

Interest in competition suggests promising future for agriculture – Sally Rae:

McKenzie Smith grasps every opportunity to learn new skills.

Mckenzie (17), a year 13 pupil at Southland Girls’ High School, is chairwoman of the school’s TeenAg club.

TeenAg — which comes under the umbrella of New Zealand Young Farmers — is aimed  at introducing and promoting a positive picture of agriculture and agricultural careers to pupils from an early age. The club has organised an AgriKidsNZ competition at Southland Girls’ High School on Thursday, for years 7-8 pupils, and team numbers have more than doubled from last year. . . 

Jersey cows eat differently – Abby Bauer:

Each dairy cattle breed has its perks and its quirks, and Jerseys are no exception. On our Hoard’s Dairyman Farm, we certainly notice differences in personality and behavior between our Jerseys and Guernseys.

These breed differences are what led the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All Jersey Inc. to partner with university and industry experts to create a webinar series focused on the Jersey breed. One of their webinar topics was feeding the lactating cow, and the presenters were Bill Weiss and Maurice Eastridge from The Ohio State University.

The pair of professors pointed out that much of the research in the field of nutrition has been done on Holsteins. While many of these recommendations can fit other breeds, there are a few ways that Jerseys are unique. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 16, 2018

McBride to challenge everything – Richard Rennie:

Zespri chairman Peter McBride’s has not had time to put his feet up and catch his breath as he steps down from 17 years on the kiwifruit marketer’s board and becomes a Fonterra director.

But a glance over his career path indicates he has never been one to sit around for long and he ruefully acknowledges there will be more than enough to keep him busy again in his new post. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

Peter McBride’s time with Zespri has not lacked its share of roller-coaster moments and he is exiting his fifth year as chairman at something of a peak at the top of the country’s most acclaimed primary produce marketer. . .

Investment fund eyes Central cherry option – Sally Rae:

Central Otago cherries are being considered by a $250 million horticulture investment fund, but nothing has “lined up” yet, Craigmore chief executive Che Charteris says.

Craigmore Sustainables began fundraising for a new Permanent Crop Partnership in 2016, with a target of $250million. It was “quickly approaching” that target, and expected closing the partnership for new funds next month.

The strategy was to build a diversified business of the best of New Zealand orchards across a range of fruits for which the country already had an established reputation, including kiwifruit, apples and wine grapes, plus emerging crops such as cherries, citrus and avocado. . . 

NZ duck callers do well at world champs :

New Zealand duck-callers have done well against international competitors in the latest world championships.  

They took part in the World Waterfowl Calling Championships at Easton, Maryland, on the American East Coast.

The best results were from Hunter Morrow of Otago, who came second in the Live Duck category, fifth in the Live Goose category, and 3rd in the team events. . . 

CRISPR solves cotton bollworm resistance mystery – Ella Walla-Arizona:

Scientists have used genomics and gene editing to discover a genetic mutation that makes cotton bollworm caterpillars—one of the world’s most destructive cotton pests—resistant to genetically engineered cotton. 

The method may signal a new era in efforts to promote more sustainable pest control. Cotton, corn, and soybeans have been genetically engineered to produce pest-killing proteins from the widespread soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.

Non-toxic to people and wildlife including bees, these environmentally friendly Bt proteins are in sprays by organic growers for more than 50 years and in engineered Bt crops millions of farmers have planted worldwide on a cumulative total of more than two billion acres since 1996.

Consumers confused on nutritional value of milk alternatives  – Jacqui Fatka:

New research shows there is misunderstanding on nutritional values associated with milk alternatives compared to dairy milk. 

Dairy milk and plant-based milk alternatives are purchased with nutrition in mind, yet many consumers are not aware of nutritional distinctions between products, according to a new survey by IPSOS commissioned by Dairy Management Inc. 

Plant-based milk alternatives have grown in number and volume over the years, so understanding consumers’ expectation of “milk” is important, especially as the Food & Drug Administration is reviewing the standards associated with milk. The dairy industry has criticized the use of the term “milk” for plant-based alternatives, such as soy milk or almond milk, and asked FDA to restrict the use of the term if the product isn’t from a cow. . .

It’s cold! But don’t worry our soils are covered – Uptown Farms:

Whoa, it’s cold! But don’t worry, our soils are covered. 

Winter can be hard on soils and on the organisms that live in them. Our livelihood is dependent on healthy soils, and those soil bugs, so we take steps to keep them happy and comfortable all winter long.

🌱 We don’t till, or plow, our fields. No-till farming means less traffic across our field (less compaction) and less disturbance within the soil.  . . 


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