Rural-round-up

June 26, 2018

New Zealand primary sector nervous over prospect of trade wars – Jamie Gray:

New Zealand’s primary sector is viewing the rising tide of global trade protectionism with trepidation, but escalating trade tensions between the United States and China have yet to spill over into this country’s main exports.

Primary sector and trade representatives welcomed last week’s launch of trade talks with the EU as positive step.

At the time, European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström voiced concerns about trade issues that have plagued markets in recent weeks after the US Donald Trump administration imposed steel and aluminium tariffs and the US and China stepped up their war of words. . . 

Guy Trafford traces the implications for agricultural trade flows from the game of poker the US is playing with China. All sides are vulnerable, even those not directly involved – Guy Trafford:

President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping are involved in a high stakes game of poker. Trump played the first hand with a $5 0billion tariff card. Xi Jinping immediately matched it with a similar call and put tariffs on US products, namely sorghum and soya beans.

Trump then matched and raised the stakes by increasing the tariffs to another $200 billion with the threat that if China matched this then another raise to $450 billion would be played.

This threat would put tariffs on over 90% of China’s exports to the US. . . 

Clampdown on foreign farm buyers scares off investors with ‘tens of millions’ in funds, agents say – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The government’s directive to the Overseas Investment Office to raise the bar in overseas applications to buy sensitive New Zealand land has scared away tens of millions of dollars in investments in rural property and will hurt farm values, real estate firms say.

The ministerial directive in a letter from Finance Minister Grant Robertson last November to Land Information NZ chief Andrew Crisp said the government is concerned to ensure any benefits from overseas investment in rural land “are genuinely substantial and identifiable” and economic benefits must be considered alongside environmental, social and cultural goals. Owning sensitive New Zealand assets was “a privilege, not a right.” The directive came into effect on Dec. 15 last year. . . 

Foreign farm buyer applications withdrawn in the past 12 months have tripled, OIO figures show – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The rate at which potential foreign buyers of New Zealand farms subsequently withdrew their applications to the Overseas Investment Office tripled in the past 12 months, OIO figures show.

The data captures the period since the government’s directive to the OIO to tighten rules for overseas applications to buy sensitive New Zealand land (which means any farmland over 5 hectares). The ministerial directive in a letter from Finance Minister Grant Robertson last November to Land Information NZ chief Andrew Crisp said the government aims to ensure any benefits from overseas investment in rural land “are genuinely substantial and identifiable” and economic benefits must be considered alongside environmental, social and cultural goals. Owning sensitive New Zealand assets was “a privilege, not a right.” The directive came into effect on Dec. 15 last year. . . 

Bayer Hawke’s Bay Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018 announced:

Congratulations to Jonathan Hunt from Delegats, Crownthorpe Vineyard, who became the Bayer Hawke’s Bay Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018 on Thursday 21st June.

This is the third year Hunt has competed and he is thrilled to have won the title and to be going on to represent Hawke’s Bay in the National Final.

Congratulations also goes to Nick Putt from Villa Maria who came second and Grace Petrie from Trinity Hill who came third. . . 

Creative tea and coffee trends good news for NZ dairy:

It’s tea, but not as you know it. Right now people are adding more than just milk and sugar to their cuppa’s and Fonterra is set to meet the demand for adventurous tea and coffee drinks around the world.

Beverages made with yoghurt, topped with cream cheese and mixed with cream are growing in popularity, leading Fonterra to establish a new channel within its Global Foodservice business, Beverage House.

Almost 600 million cups of tea and coffee are consumed out-of-home daily in the Asia Pacific region, a 22% increase on five years ago. . . 

Report Provides Zero Carbon Solution:

Smoke free, plastic free but, more significantly, tillage free.

A report to the Productivity Commission is recommending “bold action” to eliminate tillage or ploughing within the next five to 10 years and replace it with low disturbance no-tillage.

Every time soil is tilled through conventional methods, it releases huge quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere which contribute to global warming.

While the government has introduced a Zero Carbon Bill, it has overlooked the impact of cultivation which causes up to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and the report challenges the Minister, James Shaw, through the Productivity Commission, to do something about it. . . 

In dairy, a cutthroat U.S. business versus a Canadian cartel – Jerry Zremski:

A little comparison shopping goes a long way toward explaining why President Trump decided to wage a trade war with Canada.

A gallon of milk cost $2.89 at the Tops Friendly Supermarket on Niagara Street last week, while the same product at the Avonmart on Garrison Road in Fort Erie cost $3.35 in American dollars. And Fort Erie shoppers are getting a bargain: According to Numbeo, a crowd-sourced comparison price guide, the average cost for a gallon of milk throughout Canada is $6.32 in American dollars, nearly twice the U.S. price.

And it’s all because the United States and Canada operate their dairy industries in ways that are as different as a bald eagle and a maple leaf. . . 

World Desertification Day: Stories of Resilience from Somalia :

In observation of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, delve into four stories of resilience from desert lands in Somalia. Meet two farmers and two female entrepreneurs, who—supported by the Somalia Emergency Drought Response and Recovery Project (SEDRP)—share their experiences of grit, hope, and resilience despite years of drought and famine risks.  Together with partners, particularly the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the project aimed to scale-up drought response and recovery in Somalia.

1. An impressive harvest, a happy farmer

The story of Saed Mohamud may not typically be expected from Somalia in 2017, two years into a severe drought that put the country in a nationwide state of natural disaster and famine—yet Mohamud is not alone. In 2017, thousands of families beat the odds and produced good yields, thanks to concerted efforts from government and partners, and solid donor investment in building farmers’ resilience against drought. . .


Rural round-up

May 5, 2016

Cheese-maker happy with the blues – Shannon Gillies:

Pursuing her goal of becoming a businesswoman in the highly competitive world of cheese-making has led Frenchwoman Pauline Treillard to Oamaru.

Originally trained as a sommelier, Ms Treillard (25) left that job to pursue her interest in cheese and became a cheese-maker in her home province of Bordeaux.

After years of trying to get further in the male-dominated industry, she decided to take a chance on the southern hemisphere and left France in 2013.

She arrived in Oamaru in March 2016, after her visa application to stay in Australia with her partner was declined. . . 

China Links paying dividends – Hugh Stringleman:

A week-long trip to China with Prime Minister John Key’s recent government and business delegation enabled Fonterra chairman John Wilson to view first-hand his co-operative’s engagement with its biggest and most-important market. Hugh Stringleman got a debriefing.

Vertical integration of Fonterra’s activities in China position it well for dynamic markets, regulatory changes and government approval, Fonterra chairman John Wilson says.

President Xi Jinping commented on Fonterra’s $1 billion-plus investment in China and the creation of 1600 jobs, Prime Minister John Key had reported. . .

Hard times swell Gypsy Day moves – Hugh Stringleman:

Sharemilkers and other dairy farm staff will be moving in greater numbers this Gypsy Day because of tough times in the industry.

Federated Farmers sharemilkers’ section leaders said more of the annual end-of-season moves would be from necessity and were not improvements in jobs.

“Higher-order sharemilkers will be moving for financial and structural reasons while the lower-orders and contract milkers may be taking a step backwards, unfortunately,” section chairman Neil Filer of Dannevirke said. . . 

Genetics could help combat FE – Sudesh Kissun:

An outbreak of facial eczema (FE) on the West Coast is driving home the need for FE-tolerant genetics, according to a farmer.

Andrew Bruning and Tracey Herrick are first year dairy farming in Karamea, where the whole district has been hit hard with FE — unusual for the area, Bruning says.

They milk 180 cows, mainly Friesian with some crossbred; a quarter of the herd have clinical symptoms of FE. Bruning believes the rest of the herd is suffering with sub-clinical symptoms. . . 

 ‘Gutless’ thieves butcher cow in field – Liz Wylie:

Kaitoke farmer Tony Skews said thieves who shot and butchered his prize cow on Monday night are “gutless pieces of junk”.

Mr Skews, who keeps just 15 cows on his property near Lake Wiritoa, said the animal had been shot with a .22 rifle and badly butchered by “amateurs”.

“They have taken the back steak and four legs and just left the rest,” he said.

“She was the fattest cattle beast on the property and this loss has cost me about $1500.” . . 

 

John Key's photo.

I back our farmers, our manufacturers, our ICT companies and in fact all our export industries to succeed.

If we can get an equal crack at world markets, we’re up there with the best in the world. John Key.

John Key's photo.

This deal matters to individual businesses and workers ine very region of the country.

The orchardist in Hawkes Bay, the windegrower in Marlborough, the dairy farmer in Waikto, and the IT provider in Auckland all stand to benefit. – John Key.


Rural round-up

November 27, 2014

New agriculture centre of excellence meets key barrier to growth in sector – BNZ CEO:

BNZ chief executive, Anthony Healy says the Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Science and Business programme, launched today at St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton addresses a significant and ongoing issue with the talent pipeline in one of New Zealand’s most important growth industries.

The programme, which is a joint venture between St Paul’s Collegiate and the private sector, including BNZ, will develop and roll out a national secondary school level agribusiness programme as well as serving as a venue for profiling agribusiness as an exciting career choice.

Healy says that while 60 per cent of all the money New Zealand earns through exports comes from agriculture there is currently no structured programme at secondary school level to encourage students to take up careers in agricultural science and business, resulting in a lack of students undertaking training in one of New Zealand’s most significant industries. . .

 

Methane consuming microbes combat climate change:

A Lincoln University scientist is thinking small to help solve a big problem—climate change.

Dr Sally Price, a senior researcher at the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is looking to raise funds so she can develop a set of guidelines for farmers to encourage the growth of naturally occurring methane-consuming soil microbes, called methanotrophs.

Methane is expelled by cows and other ruminant livestock through flatulence, and is a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.

She has been undertaking periodic research over the last 15 years into the role the microbes play, and has found the root systems of trees and shrubs help to break up the soil and allow the methane to travel down to the microbes. . .

Lincoln finds new partner in China:

 Exploring innovative technologies for improving processing, manufacturing and quality assurance in dairy across the whole value chain is the overarching goal of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed this week between Lincoln University and Yili Industrial Group.

The MoU is the first step in a business relationship considered to be of notable value to both parties, its significance reflected in the document having been witnessed by China’s President Xi Jinping at the Agri-Tech Industry Showcase in Auckland today.

Yili is one of China’s largest processers and manufacturers of dairy products. The company has previously entered into a similar relationship with Wageninigen University in the Netherlands, which has since advanced to include the establishment of a research and development centre on the Dutch University’s campus. . .

NZ Racing Board Appoints John Allen as New CEO:

The NZ Racing Board has appointed experienced Chief Executive Officer John Allen as its new CEO.

Allen is currently CEO at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and prior to that held the top job at New Zealand Post. He is also an experienced company director.

NZ Racing Board Chair Glenda Hughes says this is an outstanding appointment for the organisation and indeed the wider racing and sports industries. . .

 

Westland Milk Products Annual Meeting – Director elections and appointments

Westland Milk Products shareholders re-elected two long standing directors (including chair Matt O’Regan), voted in a new director for a casual vacancy and ratified the appointments of two independent directors at their company’s annual meeting today.

Existing directors O’Regan and Frank Dooley were re-elected for a four year term. Hugh Little was elected for one year to fill the casual vacancy left by the resignation of director Mike Havill. . .

Ballance farmers elect von Dadelszen for Ward B:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients farmer shareholders have elected Sarah von Dadelszen as their new Ward B director.

Mrs von Dadelszen brings a wealth of agricultural knowledge to the role with a mix of practical farming experience and specialist education and training.

David Peacocke, Ballance Chairman said he was pleased to have von Dadelszen join the board of directors.

“We had a record number of candidates for the Ward B election and the solid voter turnout shows that the co-op is in good heart, with farmers taking an active role in who represents them on the board.” . .

 


Rural round-up

March 22, 2014

Chinese trade target sky-high – Hugh Stringleman:

Prime Minister John Key and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to aim for $30 billion of bi-lateral trade between New Zealand and China by 2020.

That would be an increase of 65% over the total of two-way trade last year, when NZ sold China almost $10b of exports, mostly from the primary sector, and imported $8.2b.

In a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing they also agreed to modernise the free-trade agreement between the two countries.

“We have great confidence that the coming years will see trade between us increase at a very fast pace,” Key said. . .

No time to penny-pinch on TB – James Houghton:

Looking at the week that was, we have seen Fish & Game come out with a survey full of leading questions, three of our top agricultural science centers lose Government funding, and the Ministry for Primary Industries taking Fonterra to court. One might take that as a bad week, but this is a standard one for agriculture.

What is important to note is that we deal with a lot of negativity on a day-to-day basis and part of that is because we hold ourselves to a very high standard. However, looking at an average week you can get drowned in the negativity and lose sight of the bigger picture. All these things that are happening around us can seem like a blur of madness, some are but some things are for the big picture, for our children, and theirs.

Locally, we are dealing with the Waikato regional draft Annual Plan, which the council are looking to withdraw their direct funding from the national strategy of pest eradication. The National Pest Strategy, funded by the Animal Health Board, has been focusing on high-risk areas, such as Waikato, to rid the country of TB. The work is achieved by eradicating possums, with TB, from the province, and is spear headed by TB Free New Zealand and OSPRI. . .

The nitty gritty of the nitrate debate –   Lynda Murchison:

We are a part of the water quality discussion in some shape or form, and we get our information from many sources.  A major focus has been on nitrogen losses from farming. If nitrogen is one of the key ingredients in this national conversation, it ought to be explained beyond the notion that it is all about cows in streams.  The science can be complex and the explanations mind-boggling; here’s my simple geographer-farmer take on it.

Why should we care how nitrogen loss is managed? Farmers care because their future flexibility and thus viability is at stake, and like most New Zealanders they want a sustainable future that allows for agricultural growth whilst enjoying healthy waterways. The rest of the population should care because the flexibility and productivity of farming, our ability to feed the world, is what makes New Zealand tick.

Recently, the Ministry for Primary Industries revised their projections for earnings in the primary sector for the 2013-14 year, up another $4.9 billion to $36.5 billion. From that, the direct economic contribution farmers make to the Christchurch economy is estimated at $750 million per year, an impressive feat. One can only assume that contribution is even more significant in smaller provincial cities and towns. . .

Let’s Broadcast Rural New Zealand – Jamie Mackay:

It was the only option available but watching the excellent on-line live stream of the Golden Shears Open final was yet another salutary reminder of how  mainstream media in this country, most notably television, pays lip service to farming and rural New Zealand in general.

Country Calendar is an institution on New Zealand television, only bettered by Coronation Street for longevity. Heck, its most loved voice Frank Torley would probably give Ken Barlow a run for his money for length of tenure on the telly.  

I don’t wish to sound dismissive about the iconic Country Calendar because it is a rural flagship and rates well in its 7pm Saturday spot.  However, I would argue it’s a show designed more for townies than rural folk, as can be attested by the prevalence of quirky lifestyle stories it features.

But what Country Calendar does prove is there’s an appetite out there for television featuring rural New Zealand.  However, this message is not getting through the solid craniums (euphemism for thick skulls) of television programmers. . .

Homewood Run – Lashings of meat right way to eat -Alan Emmerson:

Those who have read my columns will know my philosophy of not getting to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

I can remember, as a relatively young journalist, of the panic over saturated fat, the health risks associated with eating meat and dairy products.

Back then the doomsayers were trying to convert the world to mung beans and the like, for the good of their health of course.

Fortunately few listened and we continued eating meat, butter, and cheese.

Now, according to an article in the New York Times, the myths have been dispelled. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef with Chipotle (Part 1)  – Greg Peterson:

Many have probably seen or heard about Chipotle’s commercial, “The Scarecrow” and their recent video series, “Farmed and Dangerous.” Chipotle claims these spots are shedding light on the “inhumane” and “unsustainable” nature of “industrial farming.” They try to use the videos to inform people of the perceived problems with the current food system, such as the difference between meat that is ethically raised and meat that isn’t. Their approach seems genuine and sincere at first and is attracting a lot of attention from consumers. I’m certain that Chipotle is doing a lot of positive things with their “food with integrity” approach and to be clear, I do agree with the general ideals Chipotle claims they are supporting:

  • The consumer does deserve healthy meat from humanely raised animals
  • The family farmer is who should be raising their food
  • Ethical behavior should be of greater concern than profit.

What I don’t agree with is Chipotle’s definitions of family farmers, humanely raised animals, and ethical behavior. . .


Front page news

March 21, 2014

It’s not unusual for Prime Minister John Key to be front page news in New Zealand.

It is something of an accomplishment, and an honour, to be front page news in China, a country with a population of 1.3 billion.
Making front page news in China – not bad in a country with 1.3 billion people

The Prime Minister also had a dinner with President Xi Jinping and the visit has helped strengthen links between our countries:

Prime Minister John Key says agreements entered into with China at his meeting with Premier Li Keqiang highlight the continuing strength of the relationship between our two countries.

Mr Key and Premier Li Keqiang met at the Great Hall of the People. Mr Key’s visit to China marks the third time the countries’ top leaders have met in less than 12 months.

The meeting emphasised the value both countries place on the political, trade and economic relationship which, has continued to grow rapidly.

New Zealand and China are well on track to achieve a shared goal, agreed by the Prime Minister and Premier Wen Jiabao in 2010, to double two-way trade to NZ$20 billion by 2015. Two-way trade is currently worth over $18 billion.

“My meeting highlighted the mutually beneficial nature of the bilateral trade, with China becoming our number one goods export market, and remaining the number one source of imports for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

The Prime Minister said that he was pleased to see the particularly strong growth in dairy exports to China, which reached nearly NZ$5 billion in 2013, an increase of 75 percent.

“My meeting provided the opportunity to brief Premier Li on the outcomes of the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident Government Inquiries, emphasising that they underline that New Zealand is a producer of high quality food, with world class regulatory systems,” says Mr Key.

The Prime Minister and Premier Li discussed New Zealand and China’s shared interest in strengthening financial sector cooperation, as well as cooperation in the areas of agriculture and food safety.

Six new initiatives have been agreed at the meeting, including:

  • The launch of direct trading of the New Zealand dollar against the Chinese Renminbi.
  • Agreement to renegotiate the 1986 Double Tax Agreement.
  • Implementation of an electronic equipment Mutual Recognition Agreement that will enable New Zealand to become the first country in the world to test, inspect and certify electrical products outside of China.
  • Enhanced agricultural cooperation in dairy herd improvement, agricultural management, veterinary training scholarships and professional development exchanges.
  • Improved food safety cooperation including the launch of a scholarship programme in food safety and risk management.

“The financial sector offers great potential for further cooperation between New Zealand and China. Today’s announcements will make doing business with China easier by reducing compliance costs and contribute to the wider expansion of the economic and financial cooperation between the two countries,” says Mr Key. . .

This visit and a stronger relationship will bring benefits to New Zealand:

China is important to New Zealand. We are on track to achieve the goal of doubling two-way trade to $20 billion by 2015. This week President Xi Jinping and I set an ambitious new goal for trade to reach $30 billion by 2020.

Our growing trade with China is a shot in the arm for New Zealand exporters and industry. It is one of several reasons the New Zealand economy continues to grow strongly.

Figures released today showed GDP increasing by more than 3 per cent in the past year – making New Zealand one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

This is great news for families.

A stronger economy means more jobs, higher incomes, and more opportunities for young people. It means we can invest more in important public services like schools and hospitals.

If we continue with National’s successful programme, New Zealanders can lock in the economic gains we’re starting to see.

That if depends on another National-led government because as  Bill English said during Question Time yesterday, the job isn’t finished:

. . . New Zealand’s growth rate is better than that of quite a few developed countries, but, of course, the real measure of its success is whether it is providing more jobs for New Zealanders and higher incomes for New Zealanders. The good news is that forecasters are generally expecting that New Zealand’s growth rate will be maintained through 2014. This, however, is no cause for complacency or for a fiscal lolly scramble. This country has a lot of work to do yet to ensure that every New Zealander who can work can get a job, and that all those New Zealanders who have a job are paid in a manner that they regard as appropriate. . .

The economy is growing and the free trade agreement with China, has played an important role in that.

With growth improvements in other indicators which depend on that including education, employment and health  are following.

But there is more to do.

The government has laid a strong foundation and it needs another term to build on that.


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