Rural round-up

April 14, 2018

The Polsons breed the best through artificial insemination at Mangamahu – Iain Hyndman:

The sheep industry is a constantly moving feast and Donald and Liz Polson have entered a joint venture with Focus Genetics in an attempt to stay ahead of the game.

The innovative Whanganui farmers joined with the 100 percent-owned Landcorp company to carry out an AI (artificial insemination) programme to improve the performance of their elite commercial Waipuna flock.

The composite breed was created from an original base using Romney, Finn and Texel stock on the Mangamahu hill country farm. . . 

Company faces up after swede  mix up – Nicole Sharp:

Compensation will be paid to farmers who are tied up in the PGG Wrightson swede mix up.

At the end of February, after the bulbs of swedes started appearing, the company learned 556 farmers were sold HT-S57 white-fleshed swedes after paying for a new seed variety, Hawkestone yellow-fleshed Cleancrop swede.

The HT-S57 swede had been discontinued last year.

At a public meeting in Gore last week, organised by Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker with support of industry bodies Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ, PGG Wrightson seed and grain group general manager John McKenzie, PGG Wrightson Seeds New Zealand general manager David Green faced farmers. . .

Happiness comes before success – Pam Tipa:

The dairy industry has been successful, now it needs to be happy, says 2018 Dairy Woman of the Year Loshni Manikam.

And the former lawyer and human behaviour and leadership expert hopes a profile of the prestigious Dairy Womens Network national award will enable her to help get that conversation started.

The industry needs to shift from only one way of measuring success,” she told Dairy News.

“At the moment the one way of measuring success is financial success. Having that culture that measures our success purely on financial success or failure is a big contributor to the increasing rates of depression and suicide that we have. . .

Gore sheep farmers win Otago Ballance Farm Environemnt Awards:

A love of family, farming and the land has seen the successful succession of Waipahi sheep farm from Ross and Alexa Wallace to their son Logan… and also helped the family win the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Their win was announced at a dinner at the Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka, on Thursday night (April 13).

The judges said the Wallace family was a supportive, close family unit with clear vision, great goal setting and financial discipline. “They have incredible enthusiasm and a passion to learn – taking on ideas, good use of external advice and analysing data for the best outcomes. They have a strong environmental focus; land and environment plan, nutrient budgeting, wetland construction, retention of biodiversity and water quality emphasis, as well as an outstanding commitment to community and industry.” . . 

Time to stengthen up your balance sheet as farming economy looks to be cooling – Pita Alexander:

The bottom line in any farm business is that our net farm profit needs to be at least 50 per cent higher than personal drawings.

Anything less than this and over time we will end up knowing our bank manager’s cell phone number off by heart, which is a bad sign. It would be much better to curb our spending.

There are other worrying signs that should have us thinking hard of the consequences.

Personally, I don’t like the feel of the whole palm kernel issue. There is a real risk, I feel, with the amount involved in New Zealand farming and the certification process and in particular the potential impact on our border security. The problem really is that it may take several seasons to replace this feed gap with other options such as fodder beet, maize, management and working capital. It is our fault though for letting the issue develop to its present state. What is the biggest single risk for us and the government? It must be border security because we are so dependent on our exports. . .

Birds call out 1080 silent forest claim:

The use of 1080 for pest control is supported by a range of conservation and farming organisations, but opponents claim forests fall silent when the poison is dropped, saying this is evidence of harm to native bird communities.

To investigate, Roald Bomans used bioacoustics to listen to the sound of native bird species in the Aorangi Ranges in June and the Rimutakas in July.

Bomans, a Victoria University Masters student, set up recording units in the forests five weeks before and after the 1080 aerial drops.

In the Aorangi area, there was no increase in the periods the forest was silent, and in the Rimutakas there was more birdsong after the toxin drop than before. . .

Rookie title last thing on bullrider’s mind – Nicole Sharp:

Ask 23-year-old Matt Adams why he started bull riding.
”I’ve always been in to adrenaline sports,” is the reply.

But when he started bull riding last rodeo season, it was purely for the adrenaline and he never thought only two years down the track he would be crowned the 2017-18 New Zealand Rodeo Cowboy Association National Rookie Bull Riding champion.

Starting bull riding last season (2016-2017), it was a homecoming of sorts for Mr Adams, as he had wanted to compete for a few years. . .


Rural round-up

December 14, 2017

Out of pocket by hundreds of thousands – Sally Rae:

A South Otago farmer who estimates  he has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak remains concerned about the future of his main income earner.

It was not just the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group — on whose farms the disease was first detected in the Waimate district — that was affected, Ross Clark said.

“A lot of other people are hurting because of this,” Mr Clark, who farms at Glenore, 5km southwest of Milton, said yesterday while in the middle of weaning lambs on his father’s farm near Lovells Flat.

He said the main part of his income was from providing service bulls to the dairy industry, either by lease or sale.

The business, built up over the past decade, had about 600 bulls destined for properties throughout the South Island.

In June, he bought 52 calves from a property in North Otago that later tested positive for the bacterial disease. . .

We will always be here’ – a young farmer’s passionate message to animal rights activists – Alison Waugh:

Animal rights activists have been staging protests at livestock auction marts across the UK over the last couple of months.

Young farmer and student Alison Waugh, 20, has seen enough…

I, like many of my contemporaries, am proud to be part of British agriculture. Farming is the oldest way of life, and the only way we know.

Practically born wearing wellies, I grew up jumping in puddles and feeding pet lambs. My teens were spent perusing science, eyeing up the strapping great young farmers at the shows, and gaining a voracious appetite for all things agriculture. . . 

Dairy farmers clean up act in response to public pressure – Pat Deavoll:

Public pressure is working and Canterbury’s dairy farmers are knuckling down and making an effort to improve the state of the waterways, says a dairy leader.

There has been a “significant shift” in the attitude of dairy farmers towards water quality over the past couple of years, said Mid Canterbury farmer Tom Mason, a member of the DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Network.

“The lead up to the last election reminded anyone who was a bit reluctant in shifting their practices that they didn’t have much choice – that’s public pressure,” he said. . . .

Farming needs to cultivate a positive image – Peter Burke:

Telling the real dairy story is crucial in being able to attract the next generation of farm staff, scientists and rural professionals, says DairyNZ consulting officer Anna Arrends.

Arrends gave Wellington secondary school teachers, attending the agri-teachers’ day out, insights into the range of career opportunities in dairy science and business.

The teachers also learnt about future farm systems and the range of skills that will be needed as the dairy sector maintains and increases productivity and profitability, while meeting animal welfare and environmental expectations. . .

Botulism poisonings spark warnings over homekill sold on social media

The increasing amount of hunted and homekill meat being offered for sale illegally over social media is causing concern in Ruapehu.

Phoebe Harrison, environmental health officer for Ruapehu District Council, referred to a recent case of a Waikato family falling gravely ill after eating wild boar.

She said the meat was suspected to be contaminated with the potentially fatal botulism toxin.

“This highlights the dangers in eating meat that had not been prepared properly. . . 

When poor listening, financially phobic and wheel-loving farmers go bad – Pita Alexander:

A few weeks ago I referred to the characteristics of top New Zealand farmers, and the response to that has been both encouraging and strong.

To get some balance here, I need to refer to characteristics that people exhibit who do not survive well in business.

Towards that end, here are some less than desirable traits. All going well, you should tick very few of them. . .

 


Popular but

November 30, 2017

Would-be foreign buyers of rural and forest land will face tougher requirements under new government directives to the Overseas Investment Office :

Today’s announcements will apply from Dec. 15 and will catch any land sale applications already before the OIO that have not been approved by that date. They do not change the rules regarding acquisitions of significant business assets, Parker said in a statement.

Buyers claiming they intend to move to New Zealand will need to do so within 12 months of purchase rather than the current five years and buyers’ donations to local causes to ease their applications will be treated as a less significant factor than in the past. Criteria for consent do not change although today’s statement notes that can be achieved “by amending the (Overseas Investment) Act”.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones would shortly make announcements to strengthen the requirement of foreign investors in forestry assets to “support New Zealand wood processing and manufacturing, which will also support regional communities”.

Parker said the existing directive to the OIO was “too loose”, applying only to “very large farms more than 10 times the average farm size”.

“In practice this meant restrictions in sales generally applied to sheep and beef farms over 7,146 hectares or a dairy farm more than 1,987ha. This new directive tightens how we assess overseas investment in New Zealand to ensure authorised purchases provide genuine benefits.

“Too often we see investors buy a New Zealand farm, and then use existing systems, technology and management practices which don’t substantially add anything new, or create additional value to our economy.

“We want to make it clear that it is a privilege to own or control New Zealand’s sensitive assets, and this privilege must be earned. We campaigned on these changes and they won’t come as a surprise to potential investors,” said Parker.

All applications which are being assessed by the OIO at, and from, Dec. 15 will be subject to the new directive letter, with all applications not determined by that date being given a “fair opportunity to make additional submissions under the new approach”. . .

This will be popular with those who don’t like foreign ownership of land.

It will also be popular with those wanting to purchase farms if, as is likely, it depresses prices, at least in the short-term:

. . . A specialist farm accountant based in Christchurch, Pita Alexander, said he supported the rules but warned the move was likely to affect the farm property market.

“In principle I’m not against the main thrust of the new directive, I think it tightens up the existing arrangements and I’m not uncomfortable with that.

“But if you take these overseas buyers out – and let’s face it, they’re not completely out or banned – but if you take them out of the system you’ve got less purchasers so it would have a downwards effect probably on values over time, on the bigger farms in particular.”

He said having fewer potential buyers would affect the land value.

“It would be a downwards effect [on the values] because they are the ones who bring in bigger money.” . . 

A real estate agent told us there are 60 Southland dairy farms on or coming on to the market soon. That number alone is likely to depress prices. Taking potential buyers out of the market will have an even more depressing affect on values.

While those wanting to buy a farm will be happy about this, the move will be unpopular with anyone wanting to sell a farm, especially any whose equity was low.

It will certainly make a difference to how much they get and, if prices drop too far, could be enough to leave some sellers with nothing or even owing money.

The directive will also be unpopular with those who have signed up to sell to foreigners under the old rules for whom the goal posts have been moved.

The OIO process was already a difficult and time-consuming process with no certainty about the outcome.

This change will make the process more difficult and even less uncertain.

Whether it will have any longer term impact on prices and sales is doubtful.

The number of sales to people from overseas isn’t known but it was estimated as being only about 2% of total sales, and that would have included sales from foreigners to foreigners.

But it will mean less foreign exchange comes in to New Zealand, and some sellers will be forced to accept less for their farms and therefore have less to invest elsewhere.

It also opens the country up to accusations of hypocrisy.

Individuals and businesses own farms in other countries, amongst them is the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

If it’s fine for our pension fund to own farmland in foreign countries, why is it wrong for foreign pension funds to own farms here?


Rural round-up

November 1, 2016

Heartland: Grass is greenest for environment – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Streams of traffic at Labour weekend, with boats, jet skis and trail bikes loaded on or behind four-wheel drive vehicles, heralded the start of the summer outdoor life, part of the New Zealand heritage. 

The fact that fossil fuel consumption was involved, thereby increasing the contribution to global greenhouse gases (GHG), was probably not considered by most people as they took to the road. Nor was the decision to make 1.09 million overseas holiday trips in the September 2016 year. Statistics New Zealand data indicated residents took 71,200 more holiday trips than in the September 2015 year. 

But, overall, New Zealand produces less than 2% of the global GHG emissions, so people are getting out there and enjoying life. . . 

MP Chester Borrows says hidden camera footage threatens New Zealand’s economy – Sue O’Dowd:

Hidden-camera footage of on-farm practices not only breaches farmers’ security but also threatens New Zealand’s economy, says politician Chester Borrows. 

The Whanganui MP and one-time police officer turned lawyer is urging Taranaki farmers and rural residents to attend the rural crime prevention national roadshow – a joint police, FMG and Federated Farmers initiative – when it visits Stratford and Tikorangi on November 10. 

Figures presented at FMG’s annual meeting in Taranaki in September showed rural crime cost the company $21 million in claims in the last five years. . . 

From the Lip – bobby calves and Big Brother – Jamie Mackay:

The latest bobby calf cruelty video released by Farmwatch is yet again another salutary reminder of how careful farmers and farming have to be, in an age where social media rules and where the consumer is king.

I have to be bit careful when dishing out advice from behind the safety of a keyboard because I’ve never loaded bobby calves on to a truck, save for a few we bought and reared as kids on to the back of a car trailer.

But I have spent many years, in a past life, working with livestock and can understand the pressures and fatigue farmers and farm workers face in the course of a 14 hour working day at calving or lambing time. . . 

More tertiary graduates needed to grow a savvy agri-industry – Pat Deavoll:

The agricultural and horticultural industry will need more than 60,000 more workers by 2025 to be sustainable.

The Ministry for Primary Industries estimates horticulture will need an extra 7800 workers and meat and wool 16,500 fewer unqualified workers through the natural attrition of the industry but will need 11,400 with tertiary qualifications. The arable sector will need another 4700 workers and dairy 2300 more workers.

However, the biggest demand will come from the support area with as many as 30,000 more jobs required. . . 

Global Farmer Network ‘amazing’ – Sally Rae:

When Jane Smith headed to the Global Farmer Roundtable discussion in Iowa earlier this month, she was not sure what she should expect.

But it turned out to be an “amazing’ character-building trip for the North Otago farmer who was the sole representative from New Zealand.

The Global Farmer Network is a non-profit advocacy group led by farmers from around the world who support global expansion of trade and a farmer’s freedom to access the technology they need to be productive and sustainable. . . 

Farmers praised for ability to cut costs:

Not surprisingly, the 2015-16 dairy season has been officially declared the most challenging year yet for dairy farmers.

The $3.90 kg/ms milk price was the lowest in more than a decade and affected farmers who were, on average, operating at a break-even cost of $5.25 kg/ms, figures released at DairyNZ’s recent annual meeting in Ashburton showed.

Despite an obvious shortfall in farm income, farmers made positive steps in reducing their costs of production, chairman Michael Spaans said.

In August, DairyNZ revised the average farm’s break-even cost down to $5.05 kg/ms for 2016-17.‘‘This is a rare positive from a period of low milk prices and something farmers should be immensely proud of. . . 

Good points about US farming trumped by low profits – Pita Alexander:

In the middle of a fascinating election campaign any prayers you have would be reserved for the American people rather than their new president

Some years ago a reporter asked Pope XXIII about how many people worked at the Vatican.  His reply was: about half.  The sooner the United States election is over the sooner about half the population can get back to work.

Many years ago Mahatma Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civilisation.  His reply was: he thought it was a good idea.  Yet I counted 22 serious confrontations around the world on October 28 where lives were being lost every day.  Mr Gandhi would not be happy about this.  I did not include any of the internal US confrontations in my total.

At the farming level, do not get the idea that the typical US family farm has a good net income.  The median figure for this year is estimated to be about $109,000 (US$76,282), but most of this  comes from off-farm income. . . 


Rural round-up

July 31, 2016

World trends that will influence future farming – Pita Alexander:

The oldest son in a farming family has returned home from a trip overseas after completing his degree at Lincoln University.

Before coming back to the farm and making a career of farming the son spent a year in Australia, North America and Europe. He wanted to obtain a picture of where farming might be heading during his tenure.

Among his many observations in a report he prepared for his family were the following:

– A formal licence to farm is looking like a certainty for New Zealand within the next 10 – 15 years and the banks may lend at lower interest rates with this certificate.

–  Killing farm animals before they are fully grown is getting some air time in some countries.

– Traceability from the farmer to the eating and buying consumer is already present, but is going to get more complicated and will hopefully bring more value to the farmer.

–  About 25-30 per cent of the world’s food production ends up being wasted and not eaten  – this will have to be improved upon well before 2050. . . 

ASB punts on Fonterra sticking with $4.25 milk price – Jamie Grey:

ASB Bank is punting on Fonterra leaving its 2016/7 farmgate milk price forecast unchanged at $4.25 a kg of milk solids when the co-operative releases a market update on Monday.

However the risks were “skewed” to a figure as low as $3.90/kg because of a consistently strong New Zealand dollar, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said in a research note.

Penny said it was still early days in the season, which started on June 1, and that there was plenty of time for dairy prices to rise. . . 

More research is needed if farming is to progress – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Climate variability, farm gate prices for food and fibre, and increased concerns about the environment are combining to create unsustainable farm systems.

Alternatives need careful evaluation before decisions are made in an attempt to avoid unintended consequences.

The latter can be worse than the current state – Brexit, for example. 

Increased warm temperatures, drought, floods and long cold springs mean that farmers are adapting systems to cope. Use of supplementary feed has been part of the development of resilient farm businesses, but the urban perspective is that costs have increased without an increase in income. . . 

Resistance or resilience – which best characterises the red meat sector? – Allan Barber:

The Red Meat Sector Conference held in Auckland on Monday did not have one single theme, but a series of themes across the day, starting with the question ‘resistance or resilience?’ Past history suggests the answer might most logically be both rather than a choice between the two options.

In his introductory remarks MIA chairman John Loughlin said the volatile global situation contrasted with a relatively stable environment at home with a predictable meat industry, while Beef + Lamb chairman James Parsons highlighted the need to reduce on farm costs while achieving incremental gains across the supply chain. . . 

Queenstown tracks to get ratepayer funding:

Queenstown’s council has agreed to pay to maintain 11 walking and biking tracks being developed across two high country stations.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday agreed to pay $10,000 a year to maintain the existing and planned tracks, which will go across Glencoe and Coronet Stations.

The land is partially owned by the Crown under pastoral lease, and partially by Soho Properties, which has entered into an agreement with the Queen Elizabeth II Trust to protect the land. . . 

Better baits and better trapping – Kate Guthrie:

Peanut butter has long been used as a lure for rats. Possums have a fondness for the scent of cinnamon. But are they the all-time favourite foods of rats and possums? Researchers at Victoria University of Wellington used chew cards to check out what really tickles the tastebuds of two of our more common urban pest species. Home trappers might like to give these food lures a go too…

Many tests of trap lures are done with laboratory animals, but in this project the researchers compared food-based products on free-ranging, wild rats and possums. They assessed the chew card results for attractiveness and consumption and found that wild rats preferred cheese, milk chocolate, Nutella and walnut to the peanut butter standard. Possums statistically preferred apricot and almond to cinnamon. . . 

Farmers need to be bank ready:

With the dairy pay out remaining stubbornly low and equity positions becoming more precarious many farmers are seeing more of their bank manager, according to Crowe Horwath’s Head of Corporate Agribusiness, Hayden Dillon.

Dillon is quick to point out that this increased level of contact isn’t always a bad thing and proactive discussions between banker and farmer are an important step to take in dealing with the current financial pressures both parties are facing.

However, it can be intimidating for some and a recent Federated Farmers’ survey found that one in ten farmers were feeling an ‘undue’ level of pressure from their bank. . . 

#431AM top ten calving tips:

We asked our #431AM farming community how to get through #calving16.

Here are some of our farmers’ top tips for the calving season. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

We’d love to hear your #calving16 tips – hit us up on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #431AM. 

 

  • Eat well, sleep well, know your body’s limits. Good communication amongst your team and don’t let things get to you. It’s farming, it’s life and things go wrong. It’s how you manage the situation that counts. Being negative will make time go so much slower, and above all think of our girls. We get days off during the season but they don’t, without our girls we are grass growers. Richard H
  • We have 3 meetings a day. We have a work safe meeting to work out what safety gear we will need before we’re out the door. Yesterday with snow on the ground it was too dangerous for workers to leave the house. You have to have more meetings. 1 a day is not enough. Ann-Maree G
  • Take time to get off farm, even for an hour. Keep in touch with others, especially when things are at their toughest. Chances are others are also feeling the burn. Sue M
  • Set a roster, keep the fridge stocked with food snacks, have morning meetings with coffee and snacks and last thing at night after milking. Ask what people want to discuss at tomorrow’s meeting and what was their highlights and/or best achievements for the day. Geoff M . . .

 

South Island Wool Bounces:

New Zealand Wool Services International LTDs CEO Mr John Dawson reports that despite a strengthening NZ dollar, the varied selection at this week’s South Island auction attracted strong support.

Of the 7700 bales on offer 85 percent sold.

The weighted currency indicator was up 2.06 percent compared to the previous week’s auction.

Mr Dawson advises that a selection ranging from 21 micron merinos to 42 micron coarse wools with a cross section of styles and lengths provided attractive options to buyers which overrode the possible negative impact of the stronger dollar compared to the similar South Island offering on 14 July. . . 

Fine wines of New Zealand revealed:

Six of the nation’s leading independent wine experts have come together to create “The Fine Wines of New Zealand” – a list of the country’s most prestigious wines.

A selection panel comprising Masters of Wine Alastair Maling, Michael Brajkovich, Sam Harrop, Simon Nash and Steve Smith along with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas has agreed on the list for 2016 which includes 47 wines representing seven varietals.

This group of leading New Zealand wine experts met several times in late 2015 and in the first half of 2016 to define the criteria that had to be met for a wine to earn the prestigious Fine Wine of New Zealand status. One of the key criteria is consistency, with a wine having had to have been produced to an exceptional standard for a minimum of five consecutive years. . . 


Rural round-up

July 28, 2015

Rural professionals asked to be vigilant for signs of personal drought pain – Tim Fulton:

Men have a habit of carrying forward problems in the recesses of their mind, farm accountant Pita Alexander has come to believe.

Most of his career has been social work with accountancy on the side, he quipped to peers at the Railway Tavern in Amberley.

Stock agents, bankers, accountants and farm advisors were offered the customary round of sandwiches and savouries at Wednesday’s mini meeting, but the mood was subdued. One speaker labelled the drought – not to mention the crash in dairying – a “precipice”.

That’s financial – millions upon millions in lost income – and very personal. . .

Forest safety director appointed:

A National Safety Director, Fiona Ewing, has been appointed to advance the work of the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC).

This is a key role in the recently-formed Council, set-up to lead safety culture change and to drive improvement in safety performance across the sector.

Ms Ewing has 30 years’ experience as a health and safety professional in a wide range of industries including energy, engineering, construction, agriculture and forestry in the United Kingdom. Her most recent position was Group Manager Health Safety Environment and Quality for Powerco. . .

Hurunui irrigation project on hold:

A company developing an irrigation scheme in North Canterbury has put plans on hold while it waits for the Environment Court to give a final ruling on consents.

The board of the Hurunui Water Project has decided to not continue spending money on the $400 million Waitohi Irrigation Scheme, to conserve funds it might need for potential legal costs.

The proposed water storage is planned to sit along the length of the upper Waitohi River and provide irrigation around the Hawarden area. . .

New Māori aquaculture agreements signed:

New regional agreements for Māori commercial aquaculture have been signed by Government Ministers today, including Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Three regional agreements have been signed with iwi from the Auckland, Tasman, and Marlborough regions following successful negotiations between the Crown and regional Iwi aquaculture organisations.

The agreements are the result of the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, which requires the Crown to provide Iwi aquaculture organisations with 20% of new commercial aquaculture space consented since October 2011, or anticipated to occur into the future.  . .

King Salmon looks at Southland expansion:

The world’s largest king salmon farmer is looking to move into Southland once space for a new fish farm can be found.

New Zealand King Salmon says the project would be worth $100 million a year and create 150 jobs.

But first it has to find a place to put its new farm.

The company’s chief executive, Grant Rosewarne, said the company was ready to expand so searched around New Zealand and decided south was the way to go. . .

New seafood and marine centre welcomed:

The decision by Plant & Food Research to invest with Port Nelson in a new purpose-built research facility in Akersten Street is great news for Nelson, says local MP Dr Nick Smith.

“This investment helps lock in Nelson’s status as the seafood capital of New Zealand. The industry already contributes $300 million per year in GDP and 3,000 jobs to the regional economy but the future depends on an ongoing investment in science and technology to generate more value, maintain high food standards and ensure sustainability of the resource,” Dr Smith says.

The total investment of $7.5 million, including shared facilities, specialist fit-out and tenant fit-out is to be built by Port Nelson but leased by Plant & Food for a term of 25 years to house the government research company’s 38 science and support staff. . .

 


Rural Round-up

March 9, 2014

Agriculture sector asked for input on health and safety:

WorkSafe New Zealand has released a suite of draft health and safety guidelines for those working in the agriculture industry for public consultation.

WorkSafe NZ’s National Programmes Manager, Francois Barton said that the draft guidelines are based on accepted best practice and have been developed in partnership with industry bodies and subject experts to ensure they meet the needs of New Zealand farmers.

“Good guidance is critical for farmers to know what safe work looks like, and these guidelines will play an important role in helping farm owners and managers understand and comply with their obligations and duties,” Mr Barton said.

“This is a really important opportunity for those most affected to have their say about agricultural health and safety. These are the people closest to the dangers and their views are very important. . .

West Coast cutting rights sold:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has today announced the sale of 22,800 hectares of Crown forest cutting rights on the West Coast to Ngāi Tahu Forest Estates Ltd (NTFE).

“The Crown’s forests are being sold to NTFE under a first right of refusal dating back to Ngāi Tahu’s 1997 Treaty Settlement,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The land the forests are on was previously purchased by Ngāi Tahu as part of their Treaty Settlement.

“Since 1990, government policy has been to exit from commercial forestry on commercial terms. The sale of forests to Ngāi Tahu is consistent with this policy.” . . .

Invermay vital for the sheep industry:

The Southern Texel Breeders Association has called on the AgResearch Board and management to attend a meeting to explain what science will be left at the Invermay campus following the proposed restructure to Lincoln.

Tom Richardson (CEO of AgResearch) and Sam Robinson (Chair) will be attending the public meeting to be held at the Heartland Hotel in Gore at 1.30pm on Wednesday 12th March.

The association says that the retention of Invermay fits with Government strategy in all aspects of regional development, economic growth and knowledge transfer. . .

Upper North Island dryness a concern:

Federated Farmers is increasingly anxious over soil moisture deficits in Waikato, south Auckland and the West Coast of Northland.  In some areas, the effects are worse than last year’s record-breaking drought.

“We are keeping a very close eye on the next few weeks,” says James Houghton, Federated Farmers Waikato provincial president.

“We’re hoping to get some rain relief but the MetService’s Monthly Outlook doesn’t give me much hope.

“Farmers know summer means sunshine, heat and a lack of rain.  We can cope with that, but what we can’t cope with is when autumn fails to deliver its essential dose of rain. . .

Four pillars of wisdom – a farm accountant’s take– Pita Alexander:

Pita Alexander is a specialist farm accountant at Alexander’s Chartered Accountant in Christchurch. He shares his thoughts with NBR ONLINE on how the agricultural commodity cycle, capital gains tax, escalating volatility and New Zealand’s debt quagmire may affect the economy in the coming years.

12.15 on the clock of the agricultural commodity cycle

“I find that five to seven years is the average cycle over the last 40 years. It just cycles. It’s nobody’s fault. I will be very surprised if those cycles change much. Maybe they will get a bit shorter, such as four to six year, but who knows.”

“Thinking of it as an economic clock, I would suspect right now we are about 12.15 o’clock. It’s a matter of opinion, of course but we are close to the top.

“Within three years, for various reasons, things will turn on us and we need to be ready for it. We need to make money when things are going up on this side of the cycle but we need to make sure we are building our reserves. . .

Barrys Bay Cheese wins New Zealand’s supreme award:

Storms may have lashed Banks Peninsula over the last week with power blackouts common, but the spotlight was on Barrys Bay Cheese as it took out 11 medals including six golds and the coveted Countdown Champion of Champions Award at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

The hand-crafted Aged Gouda was described by judges as boasting tropical fruit flavours and was a favourite with the entire panel. Barrys Bay also won golds for its Maasdam, Peppered Havarti, Gouda, Aged Gouda, Gruyere and Nettle Gouda.

The judging panel was made up of 28 of the country’s most experienced cheese connoisseurs and included over 430 New Zealand specialty cheeses. Judge Smith rated New Zealand cheese as “ranking with the best in the world, with certain styles indisputably world class.” . . .


Rural round-up

January 20, 2014

EU economist predicts fall in meat consumption – Carmen Paun:

Meat consumption will never reach previous levels, Tassos Haniotis, director of economic analysis at the European Commission’s directorate general for agriculture said on Tuesday. . .

Taking a shot at NZ farming’s next seven years – Pita Alexander:

Can we really forecast accurately what might happen with agriculture over the next, say, seven years and what the key issues may be for New Zealanders?

The answer is no, but in honour of Nostradamus and other great crystal bowl devotees let’s take a shot at what lies ahead.

Over the next two columns I will lay out 26 points for farmers and others to mull over. Who knows, 70 per cent of them might come to pass in some shape or other.

1 – There will be more volatility in the next seven years than there has been in the past seven on all fronts. You must include this, and cope with this, in your business plans.

2 – The importance of Fonterra for New Zealand will increase – it is important now but expect a further increase. . .

 

Farm cropping for the love of it – Jacquie Webby:

Nigel Wilson has been a cropping farmer pretty much “since he can remember” and for this South Canterbury farmer, it’s a full-on occupation with a serious array of equipment to help keep the wheels of his farming operation turning.

“I knew I didn’t want to be a dairy farmer and my parents had run a cropping operation, so here I am,” he says.

One of Nigel Wilson’s most productive (and picturesque) crops is white clover and he has about 100 hectares which is in full flower.

“White clover is grown for export to the United Kingdom,” says Nigel. . .

International Year of Family Farming in 2014:

A United Nations organisation is running the International Year of Family Farming in 2014 with the aim of raising the profile of family farmers and smallholders in developing and developed nations.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation is running the International Year of Family Farming in 2014 with the aim of raising the profile of family farmers and smallholders in developing and developed nations.

One of the New Zealand ambassadors for the year is Lake Grassmere sheep and beef farmer Doug Avery who says family farms are incredibly important as they provide people with what they need to exist – food.

He says worldwide families are responsible for most of the world’s food production which gives meaning to the slogan ‘every family needs a farmer’. . .

Dairy farmers from across the nation oppose supply management – The Bullvine:

Dairy producer groups from around the country have teamed up to urge Farm Bill conferees to oppose Supply Management. Dairy Farmers do not want a dairy Supply Management proposal known as the Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP). A letter has been signed by following dairy farmer associations; The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association (DBA), California Dairies Inc. (CDI), National All Jersey, the Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative (DBMMC), the Dairy Policy Action Coalition (DPAC), the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA), and the Kentucky Dairy Development Council.
The letter urges conferees to follow the lead of the House of Representatives, which rejected this controversial new dairy program to impose milk quotas on dairy farmers by a more than two to one margin — 291-135– and replaced it with language that allows farmers to participate in a margin insurance program without being required to participate in the DMSP. “It simply is not factual when Representative Peterson states that all dairy farmers want the government to control the milk they produce on their farms through the (DMSP). Many dairy farmers from all over the country are aligned and opposed to Supply Management,” said Laurie Fischer, Executive Director of the Dairy Business Association. . .

A young dairy farmer with a passion for cows and education – Art 4 Agriculture:

I love educating the youth in the dairy industry and the youth about the dairy industry.

Let me introduce myself, I’m a dairy farmer with a passion for education.

Yes, that’s right, I milk cows on my family farm, 10 minutes from the beach on the mid-north coast of NSW, and I’m about to commence my career as a teacher.

My name is Emma Polson, I’m 24 years-old and I love being a farmer. . .


Rural round-up

October 26, 2013

CHB dam supporters back Wilson – Marie Taylor:

Ruataniwha dam supporters filled the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council offices to over-flowing to back Fenton Wilson’s re-election as chairman last Wednesday.

At the council’s meeting in Napier Wilson was returned for a second term as chairman by the narrowest of margins – only one vote – in a meeting which was testy at times.

Wilson, from Wairoa, won the vote 5-4 against new councillor and former Labour MP Rick Barker.

About 150 farmers turned up to this first meeting of the new nine-person council, which has six new members. Only Wilson, deputy chair Christine Scott and Alan Dick from Napier were returned. . . .

One share ruse fails – Alan Williams:

Would-be board candidate John Monaghan says Alliance Group should have had an independent authority decide on his eligibility to stand for election as director.

“There shouldn’t be any hint of interference from the board,” the Fonterra Co-operative Group director said after Alliance ruled he did not qualify as a candidate.

Monaghan called for Alliance to separate governance from representation, as Fonterra has done, to ensure fair and transparent elections. . .

Pita Alexander tells dairy farmers to ‘make financial hay’ before milk prices fall; and sheep farmers turn to shine is coming:

It struck me the other day that within five years it’s more than likely that Australia and New Zealand will be able to sell more lambs than they will have available.

It’s no secret that our lamb flock has been on the wane and we are another couple of million down from last summer’s drought.

The law of supply and demand would indicate that better prices will result.

Scarcity is a marketing tool of a type, but it is not the whole answer. . .

Molesworth Station road opening early:

A 200 kilometre road through New Zealand’s largest high country station is opening to members of the public early this year.

Molesworth Station in Marlborough is opening Acheron Road from Labour Day Weekend (October 26) to Easter Weekend (April 21).

Previously the road had opened from December to April.

The 207km unsealed road, which runs between Blenheim and Hanmer Springs, will be open to four-wheeled-drive vehicles from 7am to 7pm subject to safety and weather conditions, the Department of Conservation says.  . .

Raise a Glass to Success Campaign 2013:

Raise a Glass to Success is an exciting new online campaign being launched by one of New Zealand’s premier wine brands to celebrate six everyday Kiwis whose passion inspire us all.

The six finalists will be individuals who demonstrate innovation perseverance and a determination to succeed in their chosen field – even when those around them said it couldn’t be done.

They can be involved in any area including the arts, fashion, design or hospitality or they could be up and coming innovators in sustainability or science research. . . .

Mortgagee sale a crushing finale for winery:

A boutique winery and hospitality operation in the Hawkes Bay has been placed on the market for sale by mortgagee tender.

Park Estate located at 2087 Pakowhai Road comprises a winery, restaurant and function centre located next to the expressway, linking Hastings and Napier. The property, in two titles, is being marketed by Bayleys Hastings by salespeople Glyn Rees-Jones and Hadley Brown.

Park Estate was started in the mid 1990s, and produced several varieties under the label of the same name. However, in recent years the business has diversified production into an organic fruit juice and beverage operation currently leasing the land and building. . .


CGT would hamper farm succession

August 1, 2011

Two of the country’s most respected farm advisors, Andy Macfarlane and Pita Alexander,  say a capital gains tax would hamper farm succession and lead to larger land holdings owned by fewer people.

The founder of Macfarlane Rural Business in Ashburton said a CGT would make succession very difficult and there would be fewer families able to pass on land to their children.

“We have seen that in the UK where intergenerational transfer has been extremely difficult. What families tend to do is hold onto the land until they are very old, but they stop farming it and you get big corporates farming land owned by multiple families.” . . .

It would also deter the next generation of farmers striving for farm ownership, Mr MacFarlane said. When retiring farmers sold their farm, the price they received would be the only superannuation they received and the price equivalent was often no better than a good super scheme.

Land values responded up and down to the availability and cost of credit, optimism to the future and investment that increases productivity.Those three things drove land prices and were more important than the tax impact on land as a storer of value, he said.

“The perception that putting a CGT on is suddenly going to make big behaviour changes, I don’t think is necessarily correct.”

A CTG hasn’t kept land prices down in other countries. If anything it has boosted them by making owners more reluctant to sell.

Labour’s policy would slow down farm succession, increase the price of land and encourage both absentee ownership and sale to foreigners who would be better able to pay.

It would help the rich pricks they despise and hurt younger, less wealthy people.

Well-known Canterbury farm accountant Pita Alexander said a CGT had been promoted as being easy to manage but it would not be.

“It will be complicated, slow to produce much real tax income for the Government and will increase incomes for all accountants and solicitors, probably indefinitely.”

New Zealand had three world class industries in dairying, tourism and sheep and beef farming. It was unfortunate that all three of those industries involved substantial land values in terms of a potential CGT, Mr Alexander said.

He doubted, based on worldwide evidence that a CGT would improve the distribution of capital so that it would improve productive investment for New Zealand as a whole.

He also doubted it would fix New Zealand’s farmland and housing shortage.

“Is a CGT going to fix these two key areas? Hard to see with one being a physical shortage and the other going to be exempt.”

The absence of a such a tax had not held down production on New Zealand farms, he said.

“New Zealand farmers’ production output has been affected by climate, prices received and costs. Lower interest costs which a CGT may bring about in time may improve profitability, but the production output is already high and still increasing gradually.”

Real care was required in ascertaining what effect a CGT would have on New Zealand’s land based export sector. Very few of other developed countries with a CGT would have this particular export and economy `mix’, he said.

New Zealand is the only developed country with such a reliance on primary production.

Anything which got in the way of productivity and made it more difficult for people to enter wouldn’t just be bad for the primary sector, it would have a negative impact on the whole economy.

Massey University professor Jacqueline Rowarth  puts it simply: farms need more capital not more tax.

Hat tip: Tony Chaston


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