Rural round-up

August 2, 2017

Survey shows big jump in number of farms making a profit:

A few weeks of winter remain but the Federated Farmers July Farm Confidence Survey shows there’s a spring in the step of those who work the land.

The responses to Research First from nearly 800 farmers show the highest level of confidence in current general economic conditions since 2014. Dairy and arable farmers are the most optimistic looking forward and all regions are demonstrating more optimism compared to the last survey, in January this year. . . 

Milk testing for tankers to stop cattle disease spread – Alexa Cook:

Bulk milk tests will be done on tankers across the country to see if the cattle disease outbreak has spread any further than South Canterbury.

The disease, mycoplasma bovis, has been found on two separate properties owned by the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group in South Canterbury, who have 16 farms in the region.

Ministry for Primary Industries’ Director of Response Geoff Gwyn said it had decided to do a national bulk milk survey. . .

Protesters block Canterbury irrigation project:

Greenpeace protesters have locked themselves to construction equipment to try to block the construction of a multi-million dollar irrigation scheme in central Canterbury.

The second stage of building the Central Plains Water (CPW) scheme began in May. The scheme is intended to irrigate 60,000 hectares of dairy, horticulture and stock between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers. . .

Captive workforce for hort sector – Pam Tipa:

A pilot scheme helping ex-prisoners and other offenders to find work in the horticulture industry is succeeding and will be expanded, says Corrections Minister Louise Upston.

Corrections and Horticulture NZ have seen the first year of a pilot scheme succeed in Hawkes Bay and now plan to expand it into Bay of Plenty. It trains prisoners to be work-ready for employers and sets up horticulture work opportunities for their release.

“Corrections appreciates the support and leadership of the horticulture sector, which is helping change the lives of offenders and giving new hope to their families,” Upston says. . . .

Medium scale adverse event declared for Otago flooding:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today officially classified the flooding in Otago as a medium-scale event for Dunedin City, Clutha District, Waitaki District and Central Otago District.

“This is recognition of the damage caused and the challenges faced by the region, and triggers additional Government support,” says Mr Guy. . .

Flood hit Otago farmers appreciate Government assistance:

Federated Farmers applauds the Government’s decision to declare a medium scale adverse event in flooded parts of Otago.

The region was hit by extensive flooding last month with many paddocks especially on the Taieri Plains still under water and reports that supplementary feed has been lost to raging flood waters.

“Farmers are still doing it tough so this should bring some light to the end of the tunnel in what has been a grim week as the extent of damage has become clear,” says Federated Farmers’ Otago Provincial President Phill Hunt. . .

Greenpeace report dies a death by qualification – Doug Edmeades:

 Greenpeace recently released a report entitled Sick of Too Many Cows. In summary, it claims that intensive dairy is endangering our health and ipso facto the Government should stop all the proposed irrigation schemes and that the dairy industry should adopt a new ecological model.

Federated Farmers called it “sensational rhetoric”. Another commentator, Allan Emerson, described it as: “……. hysterical, unfounded allegations by a lunatic fringe group desperate for donations”. Amanda Larsson, a Greenpeace campaigner, retorted that such criticism was cavalier, adding, “I’m happy to have a conversation about the science. Examination and interrogation is central to the scientific process.”

Let’s take her at her word and do a little “examination and interrogation”. . . 

Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers appoint new Executive Director:

Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers is pleased to announce the contracted appointment of Liz Read to the role of Executive Director for the next twelve months.

Liz runs her own consultancy called Reputation Matters, helping organisations to grow, maintain and save their reputation. She advises clients on stakeholder relations, issues and risk management, communications strategy and sustainability strategy. Her clients span the public and private sectors, industry organisations, not-for-profits and social enterprises. Liz’s corporate experience included ten years as External Relations Director for Lion New Zealand.  . . 


Rural round-up

May 17, 2016

Venison outlook positive – Sally Rae:

New Zealand invested in a second venison processing plant because it was confident about the future of New Zealand venison, marketing general manager Glenn Tyrrell says.

The company, previously known as Duncan and Co, bought out the other shareholders of Otago Venison 18 months ago, to become the sole owner of the Mosgiel-based processing facility.

Mr Tyrrell, who has been involved with venison marketing for 30 years, told those attending the recent deer industry conference in Dunedin that the outlook was “very positive”. . . 

Fonterra advised to better inform – Sally Rae:

Fonterra’s milk price signalling needs to “drastically” improve for its farmers.

That is the message from Federated Farmers Otago dairy chairman Stephen Crawford, who says many need the information sooner to make decisions regarding wintering options and discretionary spending options.

“I understand farmers are sending a clear message to Fonterra this must improve,” Mr Crawford said in his annual report. . . 

Excluding stock from waterways concern for farmers – Sally Rae:

Stock exclusion from waterways may prove more contentious for meat and fibre farmers than the implications of the Otago Regional Council’s 6A water quality plan, Federated Farmers Otago meat and fibre chairman Simon McAtamney believes.

Late last year, the Land and Water Forum published its fourth report on water management and one of its key recommendations was to exclude all large livestock from waterways to protect the water quality of rivers and streams.

In his report to the branch’s annual meeting in Balclutha, Mr McAtamney said while sheep were exempt, it got “a little more complicated” with cattle and deer. . . 

Regulations among most challenging matters – Sally Rae:

Water quality, water quantity and local and regional government remain the principal challenges the collective agricultural industry faces, Federated Farmers Otago president Phill Hunt believes.

In his report to the branch’s annual meeting, Mr Hunt said the Otago Regional Council’s water quality plan 6A was still in its initial stages.

Implementation was ‘‘always going to be a challenge” and he was pleased compliance rates seemed to be increasing. . .

Biodiesel plant ready to fuel NZ cars – Adam Hollingworth:

Bits of beef and lamb we’d otherwise throw away are about to be turned into fuel by New Zealand’s first commercial biodiesel plant.

The plant will soon go online — and it’s hoped it’ll offset the carbon produced by as many as 17,000 diesel cars.

Ninety percent of what goes into the plant will come from cows and sheep, while the fatty bits will be melted into a green slush called tallow.

“It’s not used as a food source. A hundred percent of its produced here in New Zealand so there’s no deforestation associated with the production of tallow — it’s a by-product,” Z Energy biofuels manager Steve Alesech explained. . . 

Livestock Improvement flags proposal to split into two, allow outside investors – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement Corp, the farmer-owned cooperative that focuses on dairy herd genetics, farm software and automation, has proposed splitting into two businesses and allowing outside shareholders to invest for the first time.

LIC, as the business is known, will embark on a nationwide roadshow starting on June 7 to discuss proposed changes to its capital structure. The split would create a genetics/farm management cooperative, working with New Zealand’s dairy farmers, and a new agri-technology company that would put LIC’s existing agri-tech activities into a new corporate structure and “invest in new and innovative products, servicing customers in New Zealand and offshore.” . . .

Fonterra confirms early final dividend payment:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today confirmed it will pay part of its forecast final dividend earlier, to support farmers during a time of extremely tight on-farm cash flows.

Chairman John Wilson said a solid performance during the nine months to 30 April in the current financial year enables the Co-operative to declare the 10 cents per share dividend today. Payment will be made on 7 June, bringing dividend payments so far this year to 30 cents per share.

“While the milk supply and demand imbalance continues to impact global milk prices and our forecast Farmgate Milk Price, the business is delivering on strategy and has maintained the good performance levels seen in the first six months of the financial year. . . 

Fonterra’s milk collection takes a dive – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in New Zealand and Australia — its two largest markets — in the first 11 months of the season, during a period of weak dairy prices.

Milk collection across New Zealand fell 3.3 percent to 1.499 billion kilograms of milk solids in the season through to April 30.

The decline came exclusively in the North Island, while good weather conditions kept South Island production unchanged, Fonterra said in its Global Dairy Update. . . 

#431AM – Ansering the farmers of Fontterra’s call to “Tell Our Story“:

Our 10,500 farming families do amazing work – taking the purest of dairy from New Zealand to the world. They’re also proud of the Co-op they own and their contribution to our country.

It’s a great story that we see every day but the rest of New Zealand doesn’t always get to see it or hear about it.

While the rest of NZ sleeps, some people are up and at it – including the farmers of Fonterra. We want to celebrate the people who get the country up and running. . . 


Rural round-up

June 11, 2011

Women are “half the equation” – Sally Rae:

Women play a crucial role in farming operations, Eloise Neeley [Otago Federated farmers junior vice-president] says.

They were often overlooked yet they made a very valuable contribution, Mrs Neeley said, describing them as “half the farming equation”.

Frequently, their work was behind the scenes, either in administration or organising what was happening on the farm, and they were also “bringing up future farmers”, she said. . .

New president after “fair deal on farms” – Sally Rae:

Richard Strowger [North Otago Federated Farmers president] wants to see farmers get a “fair deal”.

Although New Zealand had a population of four million, there were just 45,000 farmers who produced “the wealth of the country” and Mr Strowger wanted to represent the farming community to help “give them a fair shot”.

He has been a longtime member of the farmer lobby group, saying it was the voice for farmers and he was pleased to see membership growing. . .

Partnerships contribute to global picture of sustainability:

BusinessNZ and Landcare Research have partnered with the producer of the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), to provide an accurate and complete sustainability reports database for New Zealand.

BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly said consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of products and services. “Businesses providing transparent and comparable reporting on how they manage their economic, environmental, social and governance impacts is a valuable way for them to respond to consumers’ concerns and demonstrate their commitment to sustainable development.” . . .

Contest winners entered to learn – Sally Rae:

It’s all about teamwork for New Zealand ewe hogget competition winners Phill Hunt and Lizzie Carruthers.

Ms Carruthers does the stock work on Fork Farm at Maungawera, near Wanaka, while her husband looks after the maintenance, tractor work and book work.

They give each other a hand when required – “not book work, though”, Ms Carruthers quickly quipped. . .

Bees working under radar

A TINY creature that plays a major role in the production of $5 billion worth of primary exports was recently celebrated by way of ‘Bee Week’.

The bee makes its greatest contribution by pollinating crops, but New Zealand also exports $100m-worth of honey products.

Daniel Poole, of the National Bee Keepers Association, says for many years bees have flown underneath the radar with people failing to recognise their value. He says this is now changing and people are starting to appreciate just how important bees are. . .

Why the Bee team is the A team

Since 2000, Varroa has seen the loss of at least 200,000 bee colonies.  Federated Farmers believes it doesn’t matter what hat farmers wear; sheep, kiwifruit, mohair or dairy, all farmers are on the bee team, which is actually, New Zealand’s A team.

“Last week, Bee Week celebrated the honey bee and the massive contribution it makes to our economy and farm system,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees spokesperson.

“While our direct income as an industry sits at around $100 million, modest in the much larger agricultural scheme of things, bees enable almost all sectors except fisheries and forestry. . .

Federated farmers High Country conference  chair’s opening address:

The theme for this year’s High Country Conference is “Sensible Solutions”.

This could be viewed by some as being a bit optimistic. After all, this sector has been seeking sensible solutions for nearly 70 years and has found it an uphill struggle, particularly when faced with bureaucratic reticence and political ideology.

However, I believe we have seen more forward progress in the past 12 months in a variety of issues, than has been evident for many years. There is still much work to be done on a number of matters, but the fact that many people are constructively involved in that work is a positive sign . . .

Wet mowing kills weeds – Taranaki Daily News reports:

Research has provided evidence to show that mowing californian thistle in the rain really does help get rid of the weed.

It will come as no surprise to many farmers, but there is now evidence that mowing pasture in the rain helps to reduce the abundance of Cirsium arvense.

It is the most destructive pastoral weed in New Zealand.

Research has provided quantitative evidence that mowing in the rain really works, as well as uncovering a potential biological basis for the effect. . .

SC Finance receiver sued by Fonterra director – NZ Herald:

Dairy Holdings shareholder and director Colin Armer and his wife Dale have filed a High Court claim against their fellow shareholders, including South Canterbury Finance (SCF) receivers and government representatives Kerryn Downey and William Black of McGrathNicol.

They allege the receivers efforts to sell the company breach a shareholders’ agreement and that attempts to force the Armers out have stooped to blackmail. . .

Third milk inquiry looming – Andrea Fox:

A third official investigation could be imminent into how dairy giant Fonterra sets the price of milk for New Zealand after the chairman of Parliament’s commerce select committee said an explanation by government officials left her with more questions than answers.

Competition watchdog the Commerce Commission is due to report any day on whether a full price control inquiry into retail milk is warranted after official complaints, including an allegation from the processing industry that Fonterra is artificially inflating the price of milk. . .

Dags and fibre make grass grow – Owen Hembry:

An Auckland firm has rolled out an ingenious use for the byproducts of an unlikely combination; sheep and coffee.

Woolgro mixes dag wool – which is often exported for low grade products – and jute fibre from used coffee sacks to create a seed-infused mat to be rolled out over ground ready for a lawn.

Geoff Luke is a co-founder and director with a background in residential architecture and had struggled with different methods of laying lawns.

“The beauty of the mat is that it does create the perfect germination environment for the seed,” he said. . .

Success: funding helps make most of milk – Christine Nikiel:

Angel investors’ $500,000 aims to boost sales of dairy-based health products.

The word mastitis can strike fear into the heart of even the staunchest dairy farmer. The painful udder infection is the most common disease in dairy cows and can have a huge impact on milk production.

Antibiotics are the most common treatment, but using them means the cow must be isolated, sometimes for weeks, and the milk thrown away. . .

Honour shocks TB expert – Jon Morgan:

When Paul Livingstone opened the letter with the New Zealand Government seal on it he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“I had to check the envelope to see if it had my name on it,” the Animal Health Board expert in tuberculosis in possums says.

The letter told him he was to be awarded the Queen’s Service Order for services to veterinary science. “I was astounded. It never entered my head that I could get an award like that.”

But it had entered the heads of many other people. Farming, ministry and veterinary leaders in New Zealand and overseas wrote in to back the recommendation of the award and Dr Livingstone’s name was included in the weekend’s Queen’s Birthday honours . . .

 Preserving for posterity’s sake:

The region has already lost 97 per cent of its wetlands, and 75 per cent of its forest cover. JILL GALLOWAY talked to He Tini Awa trustees about how they are helping to change the balance a bit.

The project we visit is an eight-hectare wetland near Pohangina village.

It is owned by Gordon and Anne Pilone and is home to dabchicks, mallards and paradise ducks – and lots of pukeko. . .

 Raising chooks and cash –  Terry Tacon:

 New Zealander bidding to double the size of his Australian-based broiler chicken business was back in familiar territory last week.

This interview with Max Bryant, executive director of ProTen, was conducted in what was his former office in the Agribusiness Centre in Weld St, Feilding, these days occupied by NZX Agri editorial manager Tony Leggett.

Bryant was a sheep and beef farmer on a 120ha property at Halcombe when in 1982 he “virtually went broke” from a failed kiwifruit venture in which he had invested. . .

Merino farmers given chance – Gerald Piddock:

Merino growers have a watershed opportunity to take ownership of their marketing business from the sale of PGG Wrightson’s 50 per cent shareholding of New Zealand Merino (NZM) to Merino Grower Investments Limited (MGIL), NZM director Ross Ivey says.

The sale of the shareholding valued at $7.625 million, is subject to approval by MGIL’s 630 grower shareholders who own 50 per cent of NZM.

Mr Ivey, who farms merinos at Glentanner Station near Aoraki Mt Cook, said he would be very surprised if MGIL’s shareholders rejected the proposal. . .

More to bees than honey – Gerald Piddock:

The New Zealand bee industry is in good heart and in good health, but there are challenges ahead, according to an industry representative.

Although varroa was widespread throughout the country, diseases such as European foulbrood, small hive beetle and Israel acute paralysis virus were present in Australia, but have not yet been found in New Zealand, National Beekeepers Association (NBA) joint chief executive Daniel Paul said.

“That’s one of the reasons why we don’t want Australian honey imports, because they have the potential to bring in threats that could potentially undermine the health of the industry.” . . .

 


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