Rural round-up

April 11, 2020

Smart green growth requires investment :

An effective recovery from COVID-19 requires on the ground investment in projects that will bring immediate employment benefits and lasting environmental benefits.

Federated Farmer has written to Ministers outlining a range of practical, on the ground initiatives that could provide employment and environmental benefits post COVID19, building on existing work

“We need efficient and effective investment which provides both immediate benefits but also lasting environmental outcomes,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Our approach to improving the environment needs to recognise the importance of a robust and strong recovery from COVID-19, to mitigate the economic and social impacts.

“The situation has changed significantly since regulatory proposals in respect to freshwater, biodiversity and climate change were released. Our responses to these challenges need to reflect this new reality.  . . 

Foresters say Shane Jones’ all to preference domestic timber supplies can’t work:

Forest Owners Association President Phil Taylor says a harvest of just about any forest will produce higher grade logs for domestic construction, some logs for export and some lower value wood which is only suitable for domestic chipping.

“We just can’t go in and cut down some parts of a tree to cater to one market without harvesting the whole tree for other markets too. That was clearly shown up when forest companies were unable to export earlier in the year and how difficult it physically was to keep our local mills supplied,” Phil Taylor says.

“It’s not true either that we send all our logs overseas. In most years, the majority of the export value of our forest products comes from added value categories, such as sawn timber and pulp and paper.” . . 

An open letter to Shane Jones, Ministry of Forestry – Adrian Loo:

Dear Minister Jones,

Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Adrian. I am an employee in the forestry industry, a Future Forester, a graduate of Canterbury University and, albeit very small, a forest owner.

Since starting out in the forestry industry 4 years ago I have been lucky enough to experience your leadership first-hand and hear your passionate encouragement of the forest industry and forest owners within it. During this time, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to speak at the beehive and describe the amazing opportunities for people involved with forestry. For me the forestry industry represents a world of incredible opportunities, amazing people and is an industry that I am extremely proud to be a part of. . .

 

Kiwi fruit growers aggrieved by PSA outbreak decision:

Kiwifruit growers are aggrieved by today’s Court of Appeal decision that finds the Government was responsible for the 2009 PSA outbreak that devastated the industry but is not liable for the losses. The Kiwifruit Claim have confirmed they will appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

“The Court of Appeal held that MPI was negligent in allowing a high-risk shipment of pollen anthers infected with PSA from China into New Zealand. But they found the Government does not owe a duty of care to ordinary New Zealanders and can’t be held liable for its actions, simply because it’s the Government,” said John Cameron, Kiwifruit Claim Chairman. . .

Where there’s wool there’s a way:

With shearing gangs mostly stood down under the level 4 lockdown, farmers face some challenges, reports Jill Herron.

Shearers and wool-handlers across the country are “very keen” to get back to work once Covid 19 restrictions ease – and farmers will be pretty pleased to see them.

As Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Industry Group Chairperson Miles Anderson points out, a trained shearer could crutch around 600 or 700 sheep a day, but the untrained far fewer. And he’s not relishing having to do his own crutching at his Timaru property.

“It’s not impossible for some farmers to do their own but with feeding out and lots going on at this time of year it could be difficult and could lead to some very long days. Myself, if I had to do a full belly crutch I’d probably do 200 the first day but only about 50 the next. It’s something you have to get fit to.” . .

 

Coronavirus: Supply chain urged to play its part supporting British livestock farmers :

NFU and NFU Cymru are urging retailers and processors to support British beef and sheep farmers by promoting cuts of meat such as steaks and roasting joints in stores, which are now in high supply due to the complete loss of the food service market.

In an open letter, NFU livestock board chairman Richard Findlay and vice-chairman Wyn Evans said that the supply chain has a moral responsibility to act in the interests of both consumers and farmers.

They reiterated that British beef and lamb is in plentiful supply but warned that ongoing high demand for products such as mince would soon become unsustainable. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 17, 2018

’Cutest sheep in the world’ turns heads in Christchurch

A new breed of sheep debuting at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch is proving very popular with the crowds.

The Swiss Valais Blacknose, which are considered to be the “the cutest sheep in the world,” have a black head and black knees, and a fluffy white fleece.

Wairarapa farmer Christine Reed, along with several business partners formed Valais Blacknose NZ and imported the breed as embryos from the UK about a year and a half ago. . .

Biosecurity experience bears fruit :

When kiwifruit bacteria Psa-V appeared in New Zealand in 2010, it reshaped the industry’s biosecurity practices. Inside Dairy spoke to one grower about how dairy farmers facing Mycoplasma bovis can learn from his experience.

Kiwifruit growers Robbie Ellison and his wife Karen run Makaira Orchards in Te Puke, south east of Tauranga. When the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced in November 2010 that Psa-V had been discovered in a neighbouring orchard, the airborne disease was found on the Ellisons’ crops.

“We were right in the thick of it,” says Robbie. “I never want to go through another summer like that again. DairyNZ and dairy farmers were very supportive of kiwifruit growers during our crisis, so I’d like to return the favour now they’re dealing with Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).” . . 

Money saving tips shared – Ken Muir:

 Dairying can be a tough life for many farmers but it’s especially difficult if you’re a woman on your own with a family to raise.

However, Northland farmer Lyn Webster, who spoke to the Dairy Women’s Network in Gore last week, has turned a need to make best use of her resources into a publishing and online enterprise, sharing her money-saving practices with anyone who cares to listen.

She’s sold out the first edition of the story of her frugal lifestyle Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce and a new edition with a new title Save, Make, Do will be published by Random House next year.

Ms Webster was born and bred in Otago and went to Taieri College followed by university after a period of working. . . 

Nature’s power pack meat & veges :

 What is Nature’s Power Pack when it comes to eating? Is it meat? Is it vege? Is it superfoods? Is it a certain type of dietary regime? It’s probably no surprise for those omnivores that enjoy including meat in their diet, but to get a big bang for nutrition buck don’t look past a moderate portion of protein such as lean red meat with a good portion of veggies. Yep it’s that simple.

So here’s two reasons why animal protein should not be overlooked as a smart dietary choice.  . . 

Veganism was behind the ‘meat tax’ hype – so what happened to critical thinking? – Joanna Blythman:

Much media reporting of food and health is fatuous and lazy, but coverage of the proposed ‘meat tax’ hit a new low of ignorance, or if you’re less charitable, intellectual dishonesty.

Was it too much to ask that journalists who reported as unimpeachable scientific ‘fact’ the recommendations from the University of Oxford’s Oxford Martin School – which describes itself as ‘a world-leading centre of pioneering research that addresses global challenges’ – tempered their headlines with the fact that the lead researcher, Dr Marco Springmann, is a loud-and-proud vegan?

It’s naive to think that his beliefs didn’t influence the design of this number-crunching research. Mathematical modelling (the type used here) is about as weak and unreliable as research gets. It is based on highly debatable assumptions and doesn’t take full account of ‘confounding factors’, such as smoking, exercise, alcohol and class. . .

The enduring legacy of merino – Katrina Kufer:

Dubai Opera’s Sky Garden exclusively hosts the Loro Piana, in partnership with Tashkeel, Merino wool cloud installation that showcases the World Record Bale alongside a special commission by Calligraffiti artist eL Seed.

Under the royal patronage and support of H.H. Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, founder and director of Tashkeel, Italian luxury textiles brand Loro Piana’s The Gift of Kings and The Record Bale, The Noblest of Woolsinstallation comes to Dubai after premiering at Art Basel Hong Kong. Featured alongside a special commission by French-Tunisian street artist eL Seed — known for large-scale ‘Calligraffiti’ works — the immersive installation is created from the world record holding Merino wool in its raw form. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 3, 2018
Government blamed for pessimism – Neal Wallace:

Growing pessimism among dairy farmers has sent confidence plunging into negative territory for the first time since early 2016. The quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey of 450 farmers reveals confidence in the agricultural economy has fallen from plus 2% in June to minus 3% in September.

Those expecting an improvement in the next 12 months fell from 26% to 20% while those expecting conditions to worsen rose slightly from 23% to 24%. . .

Farmer group aims at land best practice  – Simon Hartley:

A farmer-led initiative covering six Aparima catchments in Southland is looking at ways to improve land management practices to benefit the environment and local communities.

The Aparima Community Engagement (ACE) project, which represents six local catchment groups, has been under way since March this year, and a fortnight ago briefed Environment Minister David Parker on its aims during his visit to the area.

The type of issues being tackled includes identifying best practice around the likes of buffer zones for wintering, and the use of crops and fertiliser. . . 

McDonald’s lauds Maori beef farm  – Hugh Stringleman:

Hapū-owned Whangara Farms, on the East Coast north of Gisborne, has been accredited to the McDonald’s Flagship Farmers programme, the first such appointment in the Southern Hemisphere. Under general manager Richard Scholefield for the past 12 years, the 8500ha group has become the 28th Flagship Farmer for the worldwide restaurant chain and the seventh beef supplier. . .

Hunting lobby wins concessions over tahr cull  – Kate Gudsell, Eric Fryberg:

The powerful hunting lobby has won concessions in the heated fight over the cull of thousands of Himalayan Tahr.

A meeting was held yesterday between Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and hunting groups including the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association and the Game Animal Council as well as conservation groups such as Forest and Bird, and iwi Ngāi Tahu with the hunting industry emerging confident at the outcome.

The hunting fraternity say Ms Sage has pulled back from positions which the industry had found unacceptable and forced her to re-think plans to cull 10,000 Himalayan Tahr from the Southern Alps.  . .

Seeka warns of possible PSA outbreak in Victorian orchard – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka, New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit grower, says it may have found the fruit disease PSA in an orchard it is developing in Australia.

It has notified Agriculture Victoria of unusual bacterial symptoms and is removing suspicious plant material pending further test results. . .

Pāmu releases first Integrated Report – returns to paying a dividend

Pāmu Farms of New Zealand (Landcorp) has released its first truly integrated Annual Report for 2018 today.

Chief Financial Officer Steve McJorrow said the 2018 EBITDAR[1] of $48.5 million, announced on 31 August, was very pleasing, and reflected good milk and red meat returns, along with revaluation of carbon holdings (NZUs).

“We are also pleased to be back to paying our shareholders a dividend, which will be $5 million for the 2017/18 financial year. . .

Dairy Hub farm reserach to be revealed at field day:  – Yvonne O’Hara:

Kale versus fodder beet, phosphorous supplementation and buffer widths will be the focus of the Southern dairy hub’s next field day at Makarewa on October 10.

DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said they would be updating those attending about the early results of the studies being carried out on site.

Farm manager Shane Griffin will be talking about the hub farm’s progress and Dr Ross Monaghan, of AgResearch, will discuss results of the nitrogen leaching study.

Dairy apprenticeship programme celebrates first birthday:

Federated Farmers is wishing happy birthday today to the Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy Programme on its first anniversary.

The pilot programme supported by MBIE, the PrimaryITO and Feds, was launched last year with the intention of finding more Kiwis keen to work in the dairy industry on farm, and keen to upskill into a farming career.

After almost a year Feds is proud to say we’ve had 193 employer expressions of interest, and 98 completed farm charters, enabling employers to enter the programme along with 180 eligible apprentice expressions of interest and 62 apprentices in the programme. . .

 

Rural round-up

July 26, 2018

Virgin Australia hunting for New Zealand’s best meat – Sally Rae:

Virgin Australia has taken a not-so-subtle dig at rival airline Air New Zealand by launching a campaign to find New Zealand’s “finest meat supplier”.

Earlier this month, Air New Zealand announced it would be serving the plant-based Impossible Burger as part of its business premier menu on its Los Angeles to Auckland flight.

That attracted ire from many in the rural sector, who believed the airline should be pushing the country’s premium products. . .

Young Vinnies show farmers their support – Sally Rae:

Otago Rural Support Trust chairman Gavan Herlihy was “blown away” to receive handmade cards from school pupils to be distributed to farmers affected by Mycoplasma bovis.

Members of the Young Vinnies at St John’s School in Ranfurly were to be congratulated for the caring gesture, Mr Herlihy said.

It was a very stressful time for those affected and he expected receipt of the cards – which he was distributing on the pupils’ behalf – would be both treasured and appreciated. . .

Dairy herds may change from black and white to brown and brindle – Keith Woodford:

In coming years, we are likely to see the colour of New Zealand dairy cows change from predominant black and white to a mix containing more brown and brindle.  It will be a response to changes in the relative price of protein and fat.

Black and white Friesian cows produce about 1.2 kg of fat for every kg of protein.  In contrast, the brown Jerseys produce about 1.4 kg of fat for each kg of protein. Jersey milk is also richer with less water.  Jersey milk is about 5.7 percent fat whereas Friesian milk is about 4.5 percent.

For many years, protein has been worth a lot more than fat, but in the last two years that has changed. Milk protein prices are the lowest they have been for many years whereas fat prices are at record highs. This is the reason why butter is now so expensive in our supermarkets. . .

Third world water restrictions may be introduced if Waimea Dam canned – Cherie Sivignon:

Water tankers may be needed on the streets of Brightwater during severe droughts if the Waimea dam project is shelved.

“We’ll be slipping into Third World provisions [in a severe drought],” said Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne. “I think, the community doesn’t realise that’s what we have ahead of us without the dam.”

Kempthorne said he expected to be accused of scaremongering but the rules for tougher rationing in dry spells were in place under the no-dam provisions in the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP). The rationing and related restrictions would affect rural and urban water users in the Richmond, Hope, Mapua, Brightwater and Redwood Valley areas including businesses and industry. . .

Govt to appeal landmark negligence finding in Psa case – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – The Crown will appeal last month’s High Court’s decision that the government was negligent in allowing Psa, the virus which devastated the kiwifruit industry, into the country.

Psa infected 80 percent of kiwifruit orchards nationwide and is estimated to have cost the industry up to $1 billion in lost exports. The growers’ group, called Kiwifruit Claim, sought more than $376 million in compensation. The group of 212 growers, led by Strathboss Kiwifruit and Seeka, claimed the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry – which was merged into the Ministry for Primary Industries in 2012 – was negligent under the Biosecurity Act. . .

Horticulture holds reduced levy

Horticulture growers voted to keep the levy at its current rate, at the Horticulture New Zealand Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Christchurch today.

“Last year, we proposed reducing the levy by 0.01% to 0.14% (14c per $100 of sales) and this year, we recommended maintaining that rate,” Horticulture New Zealand Board Chairman Julian Raine says. . .

Young Farmer event wins national award:

An event bringing the country to Wellington has won a national award

A ground-breaking event which brought the country to the nation’s capital has received a sought-after award.

Wellington hosted the Taranaki/Manawatū Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year in February.

The contest was organised by Wellington Young Farmers and has been named the country’s best regional final in 2018. . .


Rural round-up

June 30, 2018

Councils’ reliance on rating slammed as ‘abhorrent’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne says councils need new ways to diversify their funding and the reliance on rating is “abhorrent” and needs addressing.

In her report to the rural lobby organisation’s national conference, Ms Milne said that would be particularly helpful for councils with a small rating base.

Central government must also make sure councils were reasonable in how they rated “and not bleed the public for projects which may never get off the ground or pet ideas that only serve the ideologies of the few rather than the many”.

“There is a belief we are all rich farmers but this is just a myth,” she said. . . 

Government negligent over PSA claim:

A landmark decision released by the High Court today has found that the Ministry of Primary Industries (formally MAF) was negligent in allowing the deadly PSA disease into New Zealand in 2009, which devastated the kiwifruit industry.
Kiwifruit Claim Chairman John Cameron said that it was also hugely significant for the kiwifruit industry and other primary industries that the Court also established that MPI owed a duty of care to kiwifruit growers when carrying out its biosecurity functions.
“We completely agree with the Judge when she says that the wrong to the 212 kiwifruit growers should be remedied. . .
Psa Litigation:
MPI has received the High Court’s decision on the long-running Psa litigation and we are now carefully considering its findings and implications for current and future biosecurity activities.
The 500 page document traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the establishment of MPI, and requires a thorough examination. We cannot rush this process.
Once we have completed consideration of the judgment, a decision will be made on whether to appeal. That decision must be made by the Solicitor-General, not MPI.
Until then, we will be making no further comment. . .

Early winners are still leading – Hugh Stringleman:

Hugh Stringleman looks back on the initial decade of the Young Farmer Contest and catches up with some of those who took part.

Winning the Young Farmer Contest’s national honours opened many doors to farming success and primary industry leadership for champions from the first decade.

Between 1969 and 1978 competition was very keen among thousands of Young Farmers Club members nationwide to achieve a place in the four-man grand finals, as they were then.

Every member was encouraged to participate to build public speaking skills, increase their industry knowledge and try to progress through club, district, regional, island and grand finals. . . 

Fonterra says climate change policy shouldn’t reduce methane emissions to zero – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group said it supports a target aimed at mitigating and stabilising methane emissions, but not seeking to reduce them to zero, in its submission on the productivity commision draft report on transitioning to a low-emissions economy.

“Agricultural emissions make up approximately half of New Zealand’s emissions and we support policies being set to help transition agriculture to a low emissions economy,” it said in the recently published submission. Submissions on the commission’s draft report – presented in April – were open until June 8 and the commission aims to present a final report to the government by August. . . .

AgResearch purchases full ownership of Farmax:
AgResearch has taken full ownership of agricultural software company Farmax Ltd by acquiring the shares of Brownrigg Agriculture, and Phil Tither, of AgFirst.
Farmax has been operating for 15 years and has already been used to add value to more than 5000 farm businesses in New Zealand and overseas. The software is used by farmers and their advisors to analyse, monitor and review farm operations to determine the production and economic outcomes of various managerial options. . .

Gallagher’s takes supreme ExportNZ award:

Gallagher Group has taken out the supreme award for the 2018 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato regions.

Judges were impressed with the way the Hamilton-based business has become the leading technology company in animal management, security and fuel system industries over the past 80 years.

Founded in 1937, Gallagher’s was initially a 10-person business which designed and delivered New Zealand’s first electric fence solution. Today, it employs 1100 people across a global network of 10 countries through three business units. . . 

British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to deliver high quality food, says Michael Gove

NFU President Minette Batters has welcomed comments made by Michael Gove in his keynote speech at the NFU’s Summer Reception at the House of Commons on 25 June. 

Defra’s Secretary of State for food and the environment said he had ‘heard, received and understood’ the NFU’s call on government to uphold the high-quality produce that he said was a ‘hallmark of British agriculture’ in post-Brexit trade agreements.

He said that British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to fulfil the national and global demand for high-quality food. . .

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Rural round-up

February 19, 2018

Syrian lamb commands higher prices than ours; alternative proteins are next threat – Sam McIvor:

If you think our meat is premium, export boss Sam McIvor has a wake-up call. Fake meats and other lab-grown alternatives are threatening our farms. 

 The Stuff series “Meat under heat” has led to a robust debate among farmers. I speak with farmers every day and they tell me that while they understand the scale of challenges outlined in the series, they are excited about the future and the opportunities which lie ahead. Farmers certainly do not have their heads in the sand.

They can see for themselves the rise of alternative proteins and I know a number, like me, who have tried an Impossible Burger and other similar products.  I consider myself a bit of a meat connoisseur and cooked well, the Beyond Burger was a realistic substitute.

That’s why we’ve invested in a large research project to better understand the implications of alternative proteins. Early conclusions indicate that alternative proteins are likely to become major competition. It also showed, however, that the same forces driving investment and demand for alternative proteins, including concerns about industrial (feedlot) farming; health concerns arising from the use of hormones and antibiotics; environmental and animal welfare concerns, offer an opportunity to differentiate New Zealand red meat internationally.  . . 

 – Allan Barber:

The global market for New Zealand’s meat exports and exporters is undergoing quite a rapid change, judging by movements in the industry’s latest quota entitlements and market destinations. The differences between exporters and markets over a ten and five year period provide an interesting snapshot of the relative position of the meat companies and the impact of changing market dynamics.

A comparison of quota entitlements over 10 years illustrates some sizeable changes in market share, but also considerable industry rationalisation. A number of smaller exporters have either disappeared or been absorbed by a larger company, but for the most part the same companies still dominate the industry, but with some noticeable changes in share. . . 

My tips for 2018 – Allan Barber:

It’s the time of year for making predictions, some of which may turn out to be close to the mark, but most, like horse racing tips or economists’ forecasts, will end up looking slightly silly, if anybody takes the trouble to remember what they were. The luxury of writing a column is the ability to speculate without being held to account for any inaccuracies.

Before I make any predictions for the year ahead, it’s worth taking a moment to highlight some of the main features of the year that has just finished. Two events of major significance actually had their roots in 2016 – the US election and the BREXIT referendum – but nobody is much the wiser about how they will play out from a trade perspective. As is often the case, what appears to be a seismic event takes longer than expected to have any noticeable impact. . . 

PSA heroes rewarded – Richard Rennie:

Ground-breaking research that helped take the kiwifruit industry from zero to hero in the space of a few years in Psa’s wake has earned Plant and Food Research scientists the country’s richest science award.

The Crown research institute’s multi-disciplinary team collected $500,000 of prize money in the 2017 Prime Minister’s Science Prize for the intensive work they did after the Psa disease incursion in November 2010 as they battled to identify the strain of the disease, develop a test for it and determine replacement cultivar tolerance to the disease.

The disease ultimately laid to waste the original gold kiwifruit variety Hort16a, the up and coming hope for the industry’s future growth.  . . 

Rare sheep music to couple’s ears – Yvonne O’Hara:

Country music singers Ron and Kathleen Gallagher have a small flock of some of the rarest sheep in the country.

There are thought to be about 100 Stewart Island sheep left in New Zealand and the Owaka couple have about 30 on their 8ha lifestyle block.

The Stewart Island sheep are a coloured, feral version of the merino, and are descended from those released by sealers and whalers on to Stewart Island in the 1800s and those which escaped from sheep farming operations.

They look similar to Arapawa sheep and Pitt Island sheep, with black and brown-toned fleeces. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis eradication still on the table as milk testing results flow in:

Initial results from the first round of milk testing from all producing dairy farms for Mycoplasma bovis indicate eradication of the disease remains a viable option as work to contain it ramps up, says Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.

The first round of the joint industry MPI surveillance programme is near completion with no positive detections.

Tests have been completed on the tanker milk from 9100 dairy farms without a positive detection. The remaining tests will be completed early next week. . . 

DIRA Bill a good move for dairy industry:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill (DIRA) has finally made it through Parliament.

“I think most of the industry will agree this is long overdue and should have happened at least six months ago,” says Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry Chair.

The Federation was looking forward to working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the dairy sector on a comprehensive review. . . 

Image may contain: drink and text

Accept no substitutes. 8 0z of real milk contains 8g of protein. 

8 oz of almond beverage contains only 1g of protein.

Cavalier boosts first-half profit on benefits from restructuring – Rebecca Howard

Feb. 15 (BusinessDesk) – Carpet maker Cavalier Corp reported an improved first-half net profit on better margins, after restructuring the business to reduce costs and introduce a more efficient manufacturing system.

Net profit rose to $1 million, or 1.5 cents per share, in the six months ended Dec. 31, from $31,000 in the prior period. Revenue fell to $75.3 million from $84.3 million, reflecting reduced carpet sales in the first half due to market conditions as well as the materially lower wood prices which impacted the revenue of its wool buying business Elco Direct. . .


Rural round up

September 25, 2015

AgResearch confirms 83 lay-offs, hires 27 for new roles – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – AgResearch has confirmed speculation it is axing jobs, announcing plans to lay off 83 scientists and technicians because of declining investment in some areas of research and development, while hiring 27 for new roles.

AgResearch chair Sam Robinson said the Waikato-based crown research institute had to balance shifts in its sector’s research needs, and therefore revenue, with the need to respond to emerging science opportunities to maximise the impact for New Zealand’s pastoral sector.

“Declining R&D investment in some areas means that we are currently facing a significant and ongoing funding challenge in those areas,” he said. “While both private sector and government revenue is increasing in other areas, our net science revenue is forecast to be $5.3 million less for FY16 compared to FY15,” he said. . . 

Federated Farmers disappointed with AgResearch redundancies:

Further job cuts at AgResearch back up Federated Farmers concern that science capability in agriculture continues to be eroded through inadequate funding and a lack of strategic planning.

“Agriculture science is a long term investment which is difficult for governments on a short term three year election cycle, but we owe it to our future farmers, and all New Zealanders, to make the investments now, develop our capability and build the basic sciences which provide the necessary grunt to ensure commercialisation of innovation is optimised,” says Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston.

“We appreciate that AgResearch needs to ensure its capacity aligns with the work it has ahead of it, but the continual downsizing at AgResearch is a symptom of this bigger problem.” . . 

Napier road washout cancels wedding, isolates farmers – Simon Wong:

A wedding at a remote venue near Napier has been forced to cancel after heavy rain washed out the only road to the site.

McVicar Rd, which runs along the Mohaka River in Te Haroto, has cut off the 10 permanent residents including farmer and Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar.

The only road to his farm and the neighbouring Mountain Valley Adventure Lodge, where the wedding was to be held this weekend, has been completely washed out. . . 

Are microbes the key to geographical differences in wine?:

A new study of six of New Zealand’s major wine-growing regions has found that differences in flavour and aroma of wine from different areas may depend more on microbes than was previously thought.

Classically the reason that wine, and other agricultural crops such as coffee, from different places tastes and smells different was thought to be due to a range of environmental reasons such as climate and soil minerals. The idea that organisms such as microbes played a role in this was not appreciated until very recently.

Previous work by Associate Professor Mat Goddard and Research Fellow Sarah Knight from the School of Biological Sciences published in Nature’s microbial ecology journal ISME demonstrated that different regions of New Zealand have different types of the main yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that ferment juice into wine. . . 

Positive Psa-V result on Whangarei kiwifruit orchard:

Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) has received a Psa-V positive test result on Hort16A and male vines on a kiwifruit orchard in Whangarei. This is the first confirmed case of Psa-V on an orchard in the Whangarei region.

All growers in the region have been advised of the situation by KVH, including best-practice advice going forward. KVH will hold a meeting for Whangarei growers next week and will be carrying out extensive monitoring in the region over the weekend.

There are a total of 49 orchards in the Whangarei region comprising of approximately 144 canopy hectares.

KVH Chief Executive, Barry O’Neil, said this new find in Whangarei is very disappointing and will be particularly hard for local growers and the regional committee. . . 

Minister welcomes passage of Korea FTA Bill:

Trade Minister Tim Groser has welcomed the passing of the Tariff (Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the Republic of Korea) Amendment Bill in Parliament today.

“Under this FTA, approximately 98 percent of tariffs on New Zealand’s current exports to Korea will be progressively eliminated,” says Mr Groser.

“This FTA will play an important role in strengthening the relationship between New Zealand and Korea. It delivers significant benefits across a range of areas including goods, services, and investment by breaking down trade barriers, facilitating the movement of goods and services, and establishing a framework for resolving any trade-related issues in the future. . . 

Zespri looks forward to sales growth in South Korea following passage of Tariff Amendment Bill:

Zespri welcomes the passage of the Tariff Amendment Bill through parliament yesterday, which is a significant step towards the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea. The agreement will provide significant benefit for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

Ratification of the FTA this year would mean a 33% reduction in tariffs on exports of New Zealand kiwifruit to South Korea for next year’s kiwifruit season. During 2014, Zespri growers paid approximately $22 million in tariffs, with the rate set at 45 percent. The tariff for kiwifruit will reduce to zero over the next five years. . . 

Tariff Amendment Bill a Significant Win for Kiwifruit Growers:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) welcomes yesterday’s passing of the Tariff Amendment Bill in parliament – a positive step toward a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

NZKGI president Neil Trebilco said cutting the tariff is a big win for kiwifruit growers.

“The agreement will eliminate a 45 per cent tariff on New Zealand kiwifruit over five years, creating significant savings for growers.”

“The agreement will also bring about parity with Chilean competitors who have been on a zero tariff since concluding their own Free Trade Agreement in 2004.” . . 

Fastline's photo.
Not just during harvest and not just farmers – many who service and supply farmers and work in businesses which turn what comes off the paddock in to what’s put on the plate, also work long and irregular hours. And of course, lots of other people work long and irregular hours in lots of other jobs.


Rural round-up

July 23, 2015

Potential for dairy farmers to increase income from calves:

In a welcome departure from dismal news on the dairy front, farmers are being told that a simple change to their herd mating plans could increase their income from calves.

The advice is one outcome from the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Dairy Beef Integration Programme which is looking at the impact of using good beef genetics in a dairy beef supply chain.

The aim of the AgResearch managed research is to confirm the impact the strategy could have for dairy farmers and others in the supply chain. Early results show clear advantage – and potential additional profit – to dairy farmers from the use of proven beef genetics. . .

 Tiny mite a buzzkill for NZ’s wasps: – Nick Butcher:

A Landcare Research scientist says a tiny mite found on the back of wasps could be helping control the spread of the pests, which sting the country’s primary industries by about $130 million a year.

Wasps also pose a hazard to people and harm the native bird population by competing with them for food, including honeydew and other insects.

Dr Bob Brown discovered the unnamed mite in 2011. He said his studies showed wasp nests infested with the mites were 50 to 70 percent smaller than uninfested nests. . .

Efforts continue to get to the bottom of NAIT puzzle – Allan Barber:

The saga continues, as my Warkworth friend attempts to find out how NAIT intends to ensure correct reconciliation of livestock records, but as yet without a totally satisfactory answer. After further contact, NAIT’s acting Group Manager Sam McIvor replied with answers to the main points raised and I understand the conversation will continue, as both parties try to convince the other of their respective point of view.

At its most basic, the debate centres round the issue of ensuring 100% accuracy which is only possible, if there is 100% retention of tags at the time of stock movement or every animal has a second or reserve tag. At present NAIT estimates there is 98% retention. My friend who came through the mad cow disease disaster as well as FMD outbreaks in the UK is adamant the only acceptable position is 100% accuracy in the event of a disease outbreak. . .

Duncan Coull New Shareholders’ Council Chairman:

Duncan Coull has been elected unopposed to the position of Chairman of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council.

Mr Coull was first elected to the Council in 2010 to represent Fonterra Farmers in Otorohanga and served as the Council’s Deputy Chair for the past 12 months.

Mr Coull: “It is a privilege to be elected to lead the Council and I thank Councillors for the support I continue to receive. . .

 New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated Annual General Meeting:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) held its Annual General Meeting today, Wednesday 22 July 2015, updating growers on its key projects and reflected on a successful year.

NZKGI President, Neil Trebilco, says grower confidence and orchard values have continued to increase over the last twelve months.

“The main factors in this increasing optimism are the reduced effects of Psa and increasing OGRs per tray, particularly for Green. . .

 

Dairy farm prices stalling, lifestyle blocks strong, REINZ data shows – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm sales are down 9 per cent in the year to June and dairy farm prices have begun a slight downward trend, according to the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data.

There were 62, or 11.5 percent, fewer farm sales for the three months ended June, compared to the same period a year ago and the overall year to date is down 9 percent to a total of 1,737 farms sold.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to June was $29,141, compared to $26,634 in the same period the previous year, up 9.5 percent. But the All Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in farm size, location and farming type, rose by just under 1 percent in June compared to the same month in 2014. . . .

Expert’s visit fruition of relationship cultivation:

Feijoas and Kiwifruit have been on the menu as Lincoln hosted a plant specialist recently to initiate closer working ties around food production with a Chinese province of 90 million people.

Feijoa expert Dr Meng Zhang, of Southwest University of Science and Technology (SWUST) in Sichuan Province, spent a month with Lincoln University and the Bio-Protection Research Centre (BPRC) at Lincoln specifically to learn more about New Zealand horticulture production systems, biological protection and bio-control.

The visit comes a few months after SWUST’s President, Jun-bo Wang, and Director Guan-zhi Zhang, were in Lincoln as part of a large Sichuan trade delegation intended to further extend co-operation between the two institutes. . .

 

Weaker New Zealand Dollar Helps Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the weakening New Zealand dollar helped local prices this week with most types increasing by the corresponding currency change.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 2.04 percent compared to the last sale on 9th July.

Of the 7,900 bales on offer from the South Island, 88 percent sold with types suitable for in the grease shipments coming under strong competition. . .

New production quality accreditation for animal feed:

New Zealand animal feed manufacturers now have a quality of production accreditation.

FeedSafeNZ is a new accreditation available to New Zealand Feed Manufacturers Association (NZFMA) members who pass independent audit standards as to quality of feed production. The FeedSafeNZ accreditation has two main aims: to provide safe feed for animals and thereby to protect the safety of human food.

Michael Brooks, NZFMA Executive Director says, “High quality feed is vital not only for the health and wellbeing of animals but also for humans, so it’s imperative that feed is manufactured to strict guidelines and is packed and stored correctly to ensure its quality is maintained. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 15, 2015

FMG gets $3m flood, snow claims – so far:

The country’s largest rural insurer Farmers Mutual Group says it has received $3 million worth of claims related to the flooding and snow that hit the country last month.

FMG said the severe flooding in the lower North Island prompted 264 claims from the Manawatu-Whanganui and Taranaki regions, and snow damage in Canterbury led to 80 claims being lodged.

General manager of advice and insurance Conrad Wilkshire said most of the claims were for damage to houses, contents, sheds, and farm equipment.

In one case, a farm building was swept down a river. . .

Fonterra’s rivals tell DIRA review there is insufficient competition for dairy industry deregulation – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Competitors of Fonterra Cooperative Group, the country’s largest dairy processor, claim there’s still insufficient competition to deregulate the industry.

In submissions to the Commerce Commission, which is undertaking a government-ordered review of the industry’s competitiveness, rival processors either want the status quo or the regulations tightened.

Farmers lobby group, Federated Farmers, says the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001(DIRA) will need to be amended if it’s retained long-term. . .

 Kiwi Developed Sugar Substitute to Tackle Obesity Problem:

A new low-calorie sugar alternative made entirely from fruit and developed by Kiwis, is set to offer companies around the world a natural way to reduce sugar in everyday foods and beverages such as cereals, yoghurts and juices, without compromising flavour.

Developed by Kiwi and Chinese joint venture company Guilin GFS Monk Fruit Corporation, Sweet-Delicious is a natural fruit juice made from a small Chinese melon called monk fruit. As a natural low-calorie alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners it is a new way to tackle the growing obesity epidemic. . .

 ‘Drought man’ coming to Lincoln:

“Innovate or stagnate” will be the main message from Grassmere farmer Doug Avery when he visits Lincoln University next Thursday.

Avery’s talk about turning drought and desperation into sustainability and success will take place on Thursday, July 16 at 7pm.

Avery, also known as the ‘drought man’, says he understands the value of farmers learning from farmers. . .

Fonterra strengthens ties with the Netherlands:

Associate Minister of Trade Todd McClay says a new Fonterra ingredients factory in the Netherlands, opened yesterday by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, marks an exciting step forward in agribusiness collaboration between New Zealand and the Netherlands.

The state-of-the-art factory in Heerenveen, Friesland, has been developed in partnership with Dutch conglomerate A-Ware Food Group, which has built a major new cheese plant next door.

Whey and lactose, by-products of A-Ware’s cheese-making process, will be processed into specialty ingredients by the Fonterra plant. These will be used in high-value paediatric, maternal, and sports nutrition products for sale in the European Union and beyond. . .

Kiwifruit Claim Wins First Round:

The High Court at Wellington has ruled in favour of The Kiwifruit Claim and against the Crown on all substantial points, in a judgment released on 8 July.

Kiwifruit growers and post-harvest operators who were negatively affected by Psa have untilFriday 9 October 2015 to sign up to The Kiwifruit Claim, the court has ruled.

The court said growers and post-harvest operators should be allowed to bring the proceedings as a representative or class action, which had been opposed by the Crown Law Office (CLO). . .

Hemp seed food sales remain on horizon:

The adoption of a hemp seed food standard remains on the horizon, following work requested by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Ministerial Forum earlier this year says Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew.

“New Zealand supports a standard allowing the sale of hemp seed food products, and I am hopeful that the Ministerial Forum will be able to assess the proposed hemp standard again early next year,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The best available science shows us that hemp seed is safe to eat and has positive nutritional properties. However, the Ministerial Forum had some unanswered questions when it met in January. . .

 

Review of Hemp as a Food:

The NZ Grain and Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA) was pleased to learn today that the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) was continuing to address some concerns around the sale of hemp seed foods for human consumption.

Responding to the Forum’s communiqué issued from Hobart Thomas Chin, association general manager, said the industry realises that the NZ Minister and officials were supportive of hemp seed foods and they are continuing with strong efforts to help see the development of a new cropping opportunity for NZ primary producers and manufacturers. . .

 

Wool Market Slightly Easier:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the first wool auction of the 2015/16 season offering 6,800 bales comprising predominantly 80 percent short second shear wools, saw a 92 percent clearance with a slightly softer tone.

Despite a weaker New Zealand dollar compared to the last sale on 25th June, with the weighted currency indicator down 1.96 percent, the bulk of the offering was firm to 2 percent easier.

Mr Dawson advises that the seasonal slow-down in order, approaching European vacation period and well stocked supply lines in China are limiting new orders for wool temporarily. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 4, 2014

Award accepted as tribute to young farmer – Alison Beckham:

Southland dairy farmer Stefan Zeestraten should have been accepting an award at the 2014 Southland Environment awards on Thursday recognising the positive environmental practices he promoted on his family’s three central Southland farms.

Instead, there was a minute’s silence as the 300 people attending paid tribute to the 24-year-old, killed on Monday when his vehicle left the road and hit a power pole north of Winton, about 3am. . .

Young farmers there to support others – Nicole Sharp:

Waimea Valley farmers Andrew and Katherine Welsh are never ones to shy away from a challenge, especially when it comes to farming.

Moving to the Waimea Valley, near Mandeville, six years ago, the pair joined Balfour Young Farmers.

Mr Welsh had previously spent 11 years with the Thornbury club. But what they arrived to took them by surprise.

The Balfour club was nearly closed and had about five members.

It was in recession, and the task for the Welshes was simple: to get the club up and running again. . .

Biodiversity grant enables nursery at wetlands – Hamish Maclean:

A plant nursery should be the focal point for visitors to New Zealand’s largest privately owned wetland by this summer.

A biodiversity funding contribution of $9600 from the Clutha District Council means work can begin immediately on a nursery at Sinclair Wetlands (Te Nohoaka o Tukiuau), wetlands co-ordinator Glen Riley says.

Mr Riley said the wetlands had benefited from 1000-plus volunteer hours already this year. . .

In sheep farming for the long haul – Annette Scott:

Canterbury farmer Chris Allen grew up on a sheep-and-beef farm in Waikato.

He is a licensed aircraft engineer but 20 years ago the farming in his blood lured him back to the land.

He and wife Anne-Marie headed south and bought a 360ha sheep-and-beef property near Mt Somers.

Despite the growing challenges behind the farmgate Allen is upbeat about the red-meat sector’s revival.

“Either you do what you do or you sell out,” he said.

“Dairy is a whole new level of investment that doesn’t interest me, so I do this.  . .

Taking the sting out of honey cowboys:

Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett is hopeful new labelling rules for manuka honey will flush out what he says are cowboys who are giving the product and industry a bad name.

The interim labelling guidelines, which come into effect in January 2016, will ensure New Zealand is producing quality manuka honey for export.

Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett said good brands had been using a quality standard, the Unique Manuka Factor, for a number of years but rogue elements within the industry had put it in jeopardy. . . .

Viability of G9 kiwifruit under question:

There are fears a newly developed kiwifruit variety could be a lemon.

An industry leader said there were concerns about the long-term commercial viability of the gold kiwifruit variety known as G9.

G9 was first commercialised, along with another gold variety, G3, in 2010 in response to the bacterial disease PSA which has virtually wiped out the former variety of gold kiwifruit.

About 150 hectares of G9 is grown, much less than G3’s 4000 hectares. . .

Realignment of Fonterra and Nestlé’s Latin American Alliance Takes Effect:

The first step in the realignment of Fonterra and Nestlé’s Latin American alliance has taken effect.

As announced in May this year, Fonterra and Nestlé have revised their 10-year-old Dairy Partners Americas (DPA) joint venture to better reflect each company’s respective strategies.

Fonterra now has a 51 per cent controlling stake in DPA Brazil, with Nestlé holding the balance; and, together with a local partner, Fonterra has taken over Nestlé’s share of DPA Venezuela.

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Latin America, Alex Turnbull, says: “This is an exciting next step for Fonterra and the people in these businesses as they are formally welcomed to the Co-operative.” . . .

 


Rural round-up

July 25, 2014

Federation wins rates remission against urban sprawl:

Federated Farmers is thrilled that common sense has prevailed in the Horowhenua District Council’s unanimous decision to adopt a rates remission for farms being rezoned as urban.

“Due to the urban sprawl, farmers are increasingly being rezoned as urban, and consequently being faced with enormous rates bills, but thankfully the Council listened to us and has taken a more common sense approach,” says James Stewart, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“Federated Farmers suggested a similar rates remission policy to its neighbouring Kapiti Coast, in order to avoid unnecessary costs to farming businesses, which would reduce their competitiveness with other farmers in the region. . .

Council and farmers work together – Chris Lewis:

As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”. This is now evident in the Waikato as we see comparative data in effluent compliance, prepared by the Waikato Regional Council, pre the collaborative process and to now.

With farm inspections on the ground having increased by just over 200 farms since 2012, we are seeing a conscious effort to work alongside farmers rather than be a distant enforcer. Every successful business or individual knows that their achievement depends on a community working together, with a shared vision or goal. . .

Focus on farm-exit water quality :

The Otago Water Plan’s Plan Change 6A (PC6A) was not about the Otago Regional Council using a ”big stick” to ensure compliance for water quality, chief executive Peter Bodeker said.

He said the council did not wish to dictate to land owners, farmers, horticulturists and forest owners how they managed their properties.

The council decided to take an ”effects-based approach” to controlling discharges from properties, rather than regulating operational methods, and to encourage management practices that ensured water leaving the property was of sufficient quality. . .

Gold surge tipped for Zespri – Richard Rennie:

An impending avalanche of Gold kiwifruit will present as many challenges as opportunities for growers over the next two seasons and returns are expected to ease as a result.

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager used this year’s annual meeting to caution growers about the prospect of moving from a post-Psa famine in gold fruit to a feast by 2018.  

The latest harvest yielded the lowest volume yet of the high-value fruit, at 11.1 million trays, reflecting the grafting change from the disease ravaged Hort16a variety to the more Psa-tolerant Gold3 and associated varieties. . .

Ag scientist’s career marked by contrasts  – Sue O’Dowd,

Agricultural science has provided a Taranaki man with a career marked by contrasts.

There’s been the ice, snow and dry valleys of Antarctica and the desert of Saudi Arabia. Malcolm Macfarlane has also worked for the New Zealand Fire Service and in the hillcountry of the North Island’s East Coast, where he’s undertaking forage research.

Although he lives in Inglewood, where wife Rosie Mabin is Inglewood High School’s principal, he’s a scientist for Hastings-based On-Farm Research. . . .

The latest dairy farm syndicate spurns debt as investors focus on risk – Greg Ninness:

Roger Dickie NZ has launched a dairy farm investment syndicate that will have almost no debt.

The company is best known for putting together forestry investment vehicles, but its latest offering, Eastbourne Dairy Farm Ltd, will be its third dairy farm offering and it has also previously syndicated a sheep and beef property.

Eastbourne has been set up with a company structure in which investors will buy shares, with 11 million shares on offer at a dollar each and the minimum investment being $25,000.

The proceeds will be used to buy an established 241ha dairy farm in Southland and a 520 cow herd. . . .

 


Rural round-up

May 15, 2013

Government approves kiwifruit Psa plan:

A national management plan for dealing with the kiwifruit Psa virus has been formally approved by the Government, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“This plan means that the primary responsibility for managing Psa is now moving to the industry themselves as they are best placed to co-ordinate and lead the response.

“As part of this, the Government has approved a levy rate on exported kiwifruit equating to one cent per tray for green fruit and two cents a tray for gold fruit. This will help cover disease management, monitoring, plant material movement and dealing with unmanaged and abandoned orchards.

“The levy has been voted on by growers and will have a shortfall until yields return to pre-Psa levels. Therefore Cabinet has agreed that $3.5 million remaining from the initial Government funding of $25 million will be passed to Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) to implement the plan. . .

Enrolments to close for leading farm business management programme:

Applications are to close at the end of this month for this year’s Rabobank’s Executive Development Program, Australasia’s leading agricultural business management course for leading primary producers.

Now in its fourteenth year, the prestigious Rabobank Executive Development Program gives leading New Zealand and Australian farmers, from a range of agricultural sectors, the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Rabobank CEO New Zealand Ben Russell said the Executive Development Program is designed to assist farmers improve primary producers’ ability to manage the challenges of agriculture and plan for the growth of their farming businesses. . .

Farm Environment Ambassadors Study Marketing of New Zealand Produce in Asia:

An industry-backed trip to Asia has given Otago farmers Blair and Jane Smith a deeper understanding of the challenges facing marketers of New Zealand meat and dairy products.

National winners of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Smiths recently returned from South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore, where they visited a number of key markets for New Zealand sheep, beef and dairy products.

The purpose of the 16-day trip was to learn more about offshore markets, exchange views on topics of crucial interest to New Zealand farmers and to showcase New Zealand’s stance on agricultural sustainability. . .

Announcement of Intention to IPO:

Synlait Milk Limited (Synlait Milk) advises that it is considering an initial public offering (IPO) of shares and to list on the NZX Main Board.

Synlait Milk is currently 49% owned by Synlait Limited and 51% owned by Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd (Bright Dairy).

Prior to any shares being allotted under ny IPO, Synlait Limited has advised Synlait Milk that it intends to distribute to its shareholders, on a pro-rata basis, the shares it holds in Synlait Milk. . .

PGG Wrightson annual earnings to fall by up to 27% on drought, lower livestock values:

PGG Wrightson, the rural services company which fell out of the NZX 50 Index this year, expects annual earnings to fall by as much as 27 percent as dry conditions on both sides of the Tasman and lower livestock values erode prices.

The Christchurch-based company expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between $40 million and $48 million in the 12 months ended June 30, down from $55 million in 2012, it said in a statement. The decline was put down to the dry climate in Australia and New Zealand, lower livestock value and falling earnings from its Agri-feeds unit after disposing of its 4Seasons Feeds joint venture. . .

Irrigation Event Needs More ‘Owner Operator’ Irrigator Support:

The irrigation industry is rapidly moving away from a ‘No 8 wire mentality’ as next week’s Great Irrigation Challenge in Ashburton will demonstrate, says IrrigationNZ – but more ‘owner operator’ irrigators need to rise to the challenge.

On May 23 and 24 at Ashburton Racecourse, IrrigationNZ, with the support of principal sponsor Aqualinc, will host a series of hands-on workshops aimed at up-skilling and professionalising both irrigators and their support industries.

While more than 100 irrigators, irrigation scheme representatives and industry advisors from across New Zealand have signed up, IrrigationNZ wants to see more ‘owner-operator’ irrigators attend. . .

Southland’s Morning Milking Roll Call:

Georgia Donaldson discovered some ‘udderly amazing’ facts when she came face to face with about 500 cows on Fonterra Shareholders Allan and Ann Black’s farm in Invercargill this morning.

Each Jersey cow can produce at average 4100 litres of fresh milk a year – enough for more than 20,000 packs of Fonterra Milk for Schools milk.

Georgia was one of several children from 12 Invercargill schools invited to learn about the source of their daily dose of nutrition, and how it can help them concentrate in the classroom and, in this case, outside of it. . .


Rural round-up

January 12, 2013

Big changes ahead for kiwifruit industry – Andrea Fox:

The western Waikato could become a more important kiwifruit growing region to the country after the ravages of Psa-V disease in the kiwifruit capital Bay of Plenty, says a local grower.

Richard Glenn, who has just stepped down after 18 months as regional co-ordinator for Psa-V action management agency Kiwifruit Vine Health, said the Waikato, particularly the western side, has less rainfall than the Bay of Plenty.

Psa-V thrives in wet conditions, and has now affected 69 per cent of New Zealand’s kiwifruit hectares. . .

Careful planning saved milk from dumping – Annette Scott:

Contingency planning by Westland Milk Products has saved thousands of litres of milk from being dumped following the New Year weather bomb that hit the West Coast.

The event also highlighted the importance of dairy farmers ensuring they have their own insurance to cover on-farm milk losses.

With potential to lose more than two million litres of milk, the actual loss of just 400,000 litres has been praised by farmers and the milk company. . .

Mealworms could be tucker of future – Jon Morgan:

Some Dutch researchers have come up with a novel idea (at least to Westerners) to save the planet – eat worms. Mealworms, to be precise – they’re actually beetle larvae, or worms with legs.

Mealworms have much more protein than animals, are low in fat and cholesterol and high in minerals. They take up less room and use fewer natural resources. And they’re edible.

It’s an intriguing idea. And seeing this is what we in the news world call the silly season, when the usual newsmakers are on holiday, I’m in the mood to give it some consideration. . .

Farmers’ Market a plum part of job – Jon Morgan:

Tom Chambers loves to see what he calls the “chocolate face”. It’s when a browser at his farmers’ market stall tries a chocolate filled with syrupy damson plum liqueur.

“You can’t just take a bite or the syrup will dribble everywhere. You have to put it all in your mouth and then bite it,” the Hastings grower says.

“Then the intense damson flavour explodes in their mouth and they get the chocolate face. They are lost in the moment – their eyes sparkle and a big grin spreads across their face. Seeing that is what makes my job worthwhile.”

He is an owner, with wife Margie and their friend, Catherine Rusby, of The Damson Collection, a three-year-old Hawke’s Bay business making a variety of products from the 400 damson plum trees on their Hastings orchard. . .

Beef exporter bonanza – Hugh Stringleman:

United States imported beef prices are at record levels and are expected to go higher during 2013, into bonanza territory for New Zealand beef exporters and producers.

High feed grain prices, the smallest US cattle herd in 50 years and limited supplies from Australia, NZ, Canada and Latin America have driven import prices sky-high.

Bull beef (95CL) is at US 223c/pound and cow beef 212c/pound, both prices slightly higher than the previous records, set in March last year.

The US prices are 7% higher than January last year but the 5c appreciation of the NZ dollar has absorbed all of that lift. . .

Agri-scientist pushes limits – Ali Tocker:

A Waikato dairy industry scientist has made history as the first woman to conquer New Zealand’s most extreme road-cycling challenge.

Chris Couldrey, a molecular biologist from AgResearch’s Ruakura campus, cycled eight times around Lake Taupo, the equivalent of cycling from Hamilton to Dunedin. It took her three days and three nights. She clocked in at 72 hours, 21 minutes and 30 seconds, during which she slept for only seven hours altogether.

The 38-year-old was one of only two people to cross the finish line at this year’s Extreme Enduro race, part of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. . .


Production up, conditions tough

December 13, 2012

Pastoral production has been strong so far this season but global economic conditions are tough for business the Ministry of Primary Industries said in its half-year update to its  annual Situation and Outlook report.

The update shows there has been strong pastoral production so far in the 2012/13 season. “This is partly due to favourable climatic conditions during the previous season which left breeding stock in good condition, and also ongoing expansion of the dairy herd,” says Chris Jones, the Manager of Economic Information and Analysis for MPI Sector Policy.

However, MPI reports the continuing economic slowdown, particularly in the traditional markets of the European Union, is causing weaker demand for some New Zealand products such as lamb.

And the strengthening of the New Zealand dollar against most major trading currencies in recent months is having a dampening effect on farm-gate returns for primary produce.

As a result, total primary sector export revenue for the year to June 2013 is forecast to be around $27.5 billion, down 5 percent on the previous year’s income ($29.2 billion).

Key points for the main sectors:

  • International dairy prices are expected to recover over the remainder of the 2012/13 dairy season and beyond.
  • Lower lamb prices are expected, resulting from weaker demand in key European markets.
  • Beef prices are expected to remain firm over the next two years, following a major drought in North America affecting production there.
  • The forestry sector will remain squeezed over the next few years, due to subdued demand from major export markets – export volumes are expected to hold up, but some product prices will not.
  • Horticultural exports are on track to reach $3.5 billion in export earnings in the year to March 2013, with higher in-market prices expected to offset lower volumes of kiwifruit and wine.
  • The bacterial vine-killing disease Psa-V has spread to nearly all kiwifruit growing regions, and will adversely impact gold kiwifruit exports in the year to March 2014.

Although winter wasn’t particularly tough North Otago experienced a cold spring with slow growth.

However, reasonable rainfall resulted in good growth now the temperature is improving.

This week’s announcement of an increase in Fonterra’s forecast payout has provided a boost for dairy farmers.

But wool is in the doldrums and sheep farmers know that meat works won’t be paying the high prices they enjoyed last season.

The full MPI report is here.


Rural round-up

December 6, 2012

Innovative Wellington Entrepreneurs Identify Massive New Wool Markets

A small Wellington company The Formary has a plan that will help China reduce its air pollution, while at the same time creating a potentially massive new market for New Zealand wool.

After China’s rice crop is harvested in the paddy fields, millions of tonnes of rice straw are burnt, causing massive air pollution, closing airports, shutting out the sun and creating health issues for millions of people. Working with Massey University in Wellington, The Formary has developed a rice-straw-wool fabric prototype that could lead to a multi-million dollar business.

The Formary is owned by Bernadette Casey of Wellington and Sally Shanks from Gisborne and the idea is an extension of another product they developed, when they identified the potential of using waste fibre from Starbuck’s vast amount of unwanted coffee sacks and blending it with New Zealand crossbred wool to create fabric they called WoJo®. . .

Government to assist kiwifruit growers:

A package of support measures is to be made available to North Island kiwifruit growers affected by the Psa-V vine disease, Primary Industries Minister David Carter announced today.

Mr Carter has declared Psa a medium-scale biosecurity event under the Government’s Primary Sector Recovery Policy, triggering further assistance for growers dealing with the impacts of the disease. 

“The Government has worked closely with kiwifruit industry representatives to ensure that this declaration is timed to give maximum possible benefit to growers,” says Mr Carter. . .

Help for Kiwifruit Growers as Psa-V Declared an Adverse Event:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) welcomes Government approval for a financial and recovery support package, for kiwifruit growers hit by the vine-killing disease Psa.

NZKGI President Neil Trebilco says the organisation has worked very closely with the Government, to firstly extend the coverage of existing adverse events recovery provisions to include incursions on pests and disease, and then get the Psa-V support package approved for kiwifruit growers.

“This will give some growers most affected by Psa a level of financial and welfare support to help them through the impact of this disaster.” . .

Equity raising and change of listing to the NZX Main Board

Today, A2 Corporation Limited (“A2C” or “the Company”) announces that it is undertaking an equity raising to provide additional funding to accelerate the global growth initiatives outlined in the recently announced strategic review.

The Company will issue NZ$20 million in new equity and the Company’s three largest shareholders have resolved to sell a percentage of their holdings in the Company to new and existing investors (together “the Transaction”) at a fixed offer price of NZ$0.50 per new share (“Offer Price”) to provide additional liquidity, contemporaneous with a change in listing to the NZX Main Board, thus facilitating inclusion in the NZX50. . .

Commitment needed by wool growers to ensure sustainable, profitable wool future:

A key objective of Wools of New Zealand is to build the company, evolving within five years to be a fully commercial grower-owned sales and marketing business.

Wools of New Zealand has spent considerable time meeting with all sectors of the industry in New Zealand and internationally building strong collaborative relationships and is now pursing commercial opportunities with supply chain participants for mutual benefit. The Directors are pleased with the cooperation and progress made to date. Wools of New Zealand is, for example, very supportive of the New Zealand scouring industry which underpins the quality and integrity of our fibre which supports the Company’s branded, market-pull strategy. . .

ANZCO Foods’ new Foodplus programme – comments by Sir Graeme Harrison:

ANZCO Foods Chairman, Sir Graeme Harrison, who has worked in the meat industry in various roles since 1973, is enthusiastic about the potential of the new Foodplus programme to enhance business opportunities for the sector.

ANZCO Foods and the Ministry for Primary Industries announced joint funding for the $87million Foodplus programme earlier this week. MPI Director-General Wayne McNee approved funding from the Primary Growth Partnership, which is administered by MPI.

Sir Graeme says it will give a vital boost to the meat industry. . .


Rural round-up

October 28, 2012

Fonterra to sell up to $525m of units at indicative price of $4.60-$5.50, accounting for 7% of shares:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund will raise as much as $525 million selling shares in an indicative price range of $4.60 to $5.50 apiece, giving outside investors exposure to up to 7 percent of the dairy cooperative’s equity, offer documents show.

The final price will be set by a bookbuild among institutions and NZX firms on about Nov. 27.

Fonterra unveiled the prospectus for the fund aimed at providing liquidity for the Trading Among Shareholders scheme, one of the biggest overhauls of the dairy giant’s capital structure since its inception in 2001. . .

Rural pulse a worry in National bank confidence survey:

The agriculture sector is the least confident in the October National Bank Business Outlook which shows overall business confidence flat-lining.

A net 17 percent of respondents expect business conditions to improve in the year ahead, unchanged from last month. A net 25 percent in the agriculture sector are pessimistic, the lowest reading in the survey.

“The agriculture sector is the nucleus of our income generating capacity. So when the rural pulse keeps getting weaker we take note,” chief economist Cameron Bagrie said in his report.

Sentiment in the agriculture sector has been sliding for months because of the high New Zealand dollar, a lower dairy payout, nervousness about environment regulation and the leveling out of a production boost from good weather, he said. . .

Turners and Growers pulls out kiwifruit vines near Kerikeri:

Turners & Growers is removing about 20 hectares of kiwifruit orchards in the Kerikeri area after the bacterial vine disease Psa-V was detected on a single male “baker graft” vine in one of its orchards in the area.

Kiwifruit Vine Health has established a controlled area, which includes 102 orchards in the region.

Kerikeri is the eleventh region to be infected since PSA was first discovered in New Zealand two years ago. . .


Rural round-up

October 14, 2012

Alarm as PSA confirmed in the Bay – Patrick O’Sullivan:

Hawke’s Bay kiwifruit orchardists are on heightened alert after an outbreak of the devastating vine-killing disease Psa-V in an orchard near Taradale.

A positive test result was confirmed yesterday and industry organisation Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) has established a controlled area that includes 43 kiwifruit orchards in the Hawke’s Bay region. . .

New Zealand Pinot Noirs Triumph at Major International Competition:

New Zealand Pinot Noir shone at this year’s International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC). Over half of the country’s Gold Medals were awarded to wines made from the variety, while the Valli Gibbston Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010 beat all other Pinot Noirs entered from around the world to win the Competition’s coveted Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir Trophy. . .

Further success for Gibbston Valley Winery in their 25th year of winegrowing

A Central Otago Winery is celebrating as it received results overnight from the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London (IWSC).

The IWSC has awarded Gibbston Valley Winery a Gold Medal for its 2010 Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir. This was one of only 12 Gold Medals awarded to New Zealand wines across all varieties, and one of five Pinot Noirs. . .

Eye-opening visit to Canada – Jill Galloway:

Peter Fitz-Herbert has just been absent from his farm at Hunterville, on a trip to British Columbia in Canada, to talk beef cattle.

He won the Beef and Lamb scholarship to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and the Young Ranchers programme.

Fitz-Herbert is stock manager on the family farm in Upper Pakihikura Rd, near Hunterville. He manages 2400 ewes and 220 breeding cattle on 600 hectares. . .

Industry Training for the Primary Industries:

Federated Farmers welcomes the new Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO), following the formal merger launch yesterday of the AgITO and Horticulture ITO. This follows July’s merger of the Seafood ITO and the NZITO (meat and dairy sectors).

“What we are seeing is the natural alignment of the primary industries training organisations ITO’s),” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers spokesperson on education and skills.

“So far this year, we have seen four related ITO’s announce intentions to become just two. This not only reduces duplication but provides a more seamless offer to trainees. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Workshops to Kickstart the Conversation Around Farm Succession:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is holding a series of workshops in Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay to help farming families plan for the future.

A succession plan can help to avoid family rifts further down the track, ease the transition from one generation to the next, and ensure a fair go for all involved.

It’s a big issue for the sheep and beef sector. We’re told that more than 60 per cent of farm businesses are owned by over-60s – the majority of whom want to pass the family farm on to the kids. . .

Award-winning ‘super farm’ goes on the market for sale

One of the biggest dairy farms in the Bay of Plenty – and the recipient of an award for environmental best practice policies – has been placed on the market for sale.

“Lake Farm” near the townships of Matata and Kawerau encompasses some 373 hectares of land – milking 850 cows and producing 306,644 kilogram’s of milk solids over the 2011/12 season. This was forecast to grow to 320,000 kilogram’s of milk solids over the current year.

The farm is owned by former New Zealand Dairy Board deputy chairman Doug Bull, who also held senior roles at the Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Company and which became a part of the single merged Bay of Plenty dairy company known as Bay Milk Products. This year the farm won the environmental section of the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards. . .


GFC far from over

September 6, 2012

It hasn’t been a week for good news in provincial New Zealand.

Solid Energy has suspended workers at its Spring Creek mine on the West Coast, threatening the jobs of 250 staff and 130 contractors which will have a flow on impacts on the wider community.

Then New Zealand Aluminium Smelters announced it’s accelerating plans to axe 100 jobs from its Bluff smelter as depressed global metal prices continue to challenge the aluminium sector worldwide.

And yesterday tests confirmed that the kiwifruit vine killing disease Psa has been found in a Coromandel orchard.

It’s only a single orchard but the ease with which the disease spreads will be causing justifiable concern in the area and the industry.

The disease has devastated orchards further north and that in turn has hit packing houses, job opportunities and the wider community.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is making good progress in implementing the recommendations of the recent independent review of imports of kiwifruit plant material.

This will go a long way to ensuring a similar incursion doesn’t happen again.

But that will be of little if any comfort to the people whose jobs, livelihoods, businesses and retirement plans have been affected so badly by the disease.

All in all provincial New Zealand could be excused for feeling a bit gloomy and it’s all due to circumstances beyond local control. The GFC is not over and won’t be for some time.

Thank goodness the milk price increased in yesterday’s GlobalDairyTrade auction.

The country – in both the rural and national senses of the word – really needs something to give us some optimism.


Rural round-up

August 28, 2012

More milk. less impact achievable – Hugh Stringleman:

The technology exists to lift milk production and manage the environmental impacts of dairy industry development, according to soil scientist Ross Monaghan and environmental consultant Ciaran Keogh, both frontline speakers to the annual Environmental Defence Society conference session called Greening Farming.

Farmers need clear signals from industry leaders and strong extension networks to adopt best practice for environmental sustainability, according to AgResearch senior scientist Ross Monaghan.

“As a technocrat, I believe we have good management options and systems to manage our resources, grow our industries and yet reduce our environmental footprints, he said. . .

Ministry Formally Warns Growers Following Misuse Of Chemical Spray

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has completed an investigation into the misuse of the antibiotic streptomycin on kiwifruit, and 26 growers who admitted using the chemical outside the strict use conditions have been sent a formal warning letter.

The misuse of the compound constitutes a technical breach of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997.

MPI Director Compliance Dean Baigent says MPI approved the use of streptomycin on kiwifruit under strict use conditions to avoid any possibility of chemical residues occurring in fruit. The conditions included a maximum of three spray treatments onto leaves prior to vine flowering. . .

Hunterville Farmer Is The 2012 B+LNZ Young Rancher

Hunterville farmer Peter Fitz-Herbert has been awarded a Beef + Lamb New Zealand agricultural scholarship that will take him to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and Young Ranchers Programme being held in British Columbia, Canada next month.

Peter, who is the stock manager on the Fitz-Herbert family farm, will accompany Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island Director, James Parsons to the Five Nations Beef Alliance. It is made up of producer organisations from Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States and meets annually to discuss global issues and opportunities for the beef sector. . .

Risk expert: banks left farmers in dark –  Rob Stock:

Risk and derivative experts say banks, including ANZ National Bank and Westpac, should not have sold complex interest rate swaps to farmers.

Claims are also emerging that though swaps were sold as “interest rate risk management” tools, unsophisticated farmers lacked the expertise and tools to monitor their position, and were provided with little or no ongoing support or advice to manage their interest rate risks.

One of New Zealand’s best-known risk advisers, Roger Kerr from Asia-Pacific Risk Management, said he believed at least a proportion of the swaps were sold to farmers who did not know what they were buying. . .

Farmers’ bid to revisit divorce deal rejected – Matt Nippert:

A New Plymouth farmer has lost a Court of Appeal bid to recalculate his divorce settlement after judges ruled his sudden recovery from a brain injury and a rapid rise in farm property values could not have been anticipated.

Neil Johnston had been appealing a decision ruling against his claim against a law firm and his court-appointed property manager claiming a five-year delay in settling his divorce left him $780,000 out of pocket. . .

Kiwifruit executive has his hands full – Jamie Ball:

Not even six months in the job but it’s been a week of reckoning for Barry O’Neill, Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) chief executive.

But, cometh the hour cometh the man. The discovery ofPsa-V in two Waikato orchards last week might have taken the wind out of many a sail, but not Mr. O’Neill. It is, after all, what the independent pan-industry organisation was established to minimize in 2010.

With a lengthy career in the biosecurity sector within New Zealand and overseas behind him, Mr. O’Neill, is taking the Psa challenge head-on. . .

Data to be shared in sheep measles’ fight

Confidential information about sheep and deer farmers collected for stopping the spread of sheep measles is about to be shared to strengthen biosecurity in New Zealand.

Ovis Management project manager Dan Lynch said 20,000 sheep and deer farmers’ contact details were obtained from meatworks and held in a confidential database to help control the spread of sheep measles.

The Primary Industries Ministry managed FarmsOnLine and wanted the database details so there could be a swift response in the event of an exotic disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth, he said. “The benefits far outweigh the issues.” . . .

Poppy crop trials continuing – Gerald Piddock:

Australian company Tasmanian Alkaloids is still two to three years away from deciding whether to push for growing pharmaceutical poppies on a commercial basis.

The company has conducted trials of several varieties of the poppies in Canterbury at an undisclosed location, beginning in 2009.

The trials are moving slowly and that decision was still being evaluated, Tasmanian Alkaloids operations manager Rick Rockliff said. . .

Many queries still over plan – Gerald Piddock:

A group of South Canterbury farmers have been left with plenty to ponder as they come to terms with the implications of Environment Canterbury’s Land and Water Plan.

The plan would see new limits brought in on water quality established at a regional and sub-regional level through the zone committees of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.  . .

Rain enough for all but Southland – Annette Scott:

Paddling a kayak out to check on cows has been just one of the challenges faced by southern farmers coping with the rain deluge over the past couple of weeks.

While many regions of the South Island, including Southland, were facing drought conditions following the extreme dry of June and July, that has been rectified at least in Canterbury and Otago.

With up to 300mm of rain recorded in North Otago over the past three weeks, 250mm in South Canterbury and 200mm in Mid Canterbury, most farmers are ready for the sun to dry up sodden farmlands. Southland has capacity for more rain with just 3mm recorded in Gore and 7mm in Invercargill. . .


Rural round-up

August 25, 2012

Wet winter helping to spread killer kiwifruit infection – Jamie Morton:

The wettest winter some kiwifruit growers have seen is hampering efforts to stop Psa-V, at a time when the vine-killing disease is attacking New Zealand’s most popular variety.

The disease, which has ravaged gold kiwifruit orchards throughout the country since its discovery in Te Puke two years ago, is now being seen in a spate of serious cases among the green variety that makes up the bulk of the industry.

More than 60 orchards have notified industry group Kiwifruit Vine Health of possible Psa-V, and it is feared the disease could eventually reach up to half of New Zealand’s green kiwifruit growers. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand working for farmers to get more Americans eating lamb

Two Beef + Lamb New Zealand farmer directors are meeting with the project partners involved with the Tri-Lamb Group which has a goal to get more Americans eating lamb.

Central South Island Director, Anne Munro and Southern South Island Director, Leon Black are in Idaho, representing New Zealand sheep farmers alongside their fellow Tri- Lamb Group representatives from Australia and the United States.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion said the collaborative promotion by the three sheep producing nations is built around the understanding that the profitability and sustainability of the lamb market in the US is important for farmers in all three countries. . .

Unlike humans, fat bees are healthy bees:

Federated Farmers is highlighting how everyone can make a difference to whether bees are healthily ‘fat’ or sickly skinny.

“Just like with all livestock, the health of bees reflects the protein and energy sources available to them,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees spokesperson and an exporter of bee products.

“Good protein and nectar produces fat bees and in nature, fat bees are healthy bees. Federated Farmers I guess is standing up for the right of bees to become fat.

“We are keen to work with anyone and everyone to provide positive environments for the honeybee to flourish. 

“After several years’ work, Federated Farmers Trees for Bees now has ten regional planting guides available for anyone to create a bee friendly space.  While they are available from a number of websites, all you have to do is type “trees for bees” into Google. . .

Varroa is not the only threat to our honey bees – Bruce Wills:

In 2000, the sum of all fears for New Zealand’s beekeepers took place when the Varroa Destructor Mite was confirmed in Auckland.

A mere six years later, Varroa had jumped the Cook Strait to reach Nelson and progressively, over the past six years, has spread south.

This year it reached as south as you can travel in mainland New Zealand; Bluff. If it wasn’t for human intervention, the economic and agronomic effects of Varroa would be like Foot & Mouth disease.

Our economy and farming system depends on honeybees and a pollination workforce involving some 430,000 hives.

While people may judge the bee industry by the honey they purchase at a farmer’s market or the supermarket, that is a drop in the bucket.

The real value of honeybees is as pollinators par-excellence. . .

Varroa spreads but the battle for bees goes on:

By reaching Bluff in the 12 years since the Varroa Mite was first confirmed in Auckland, one of the world’s worst bee threats is close to completing its colonisation of New Zealand.

“Has Varrora had an impact on New Zealand? Absolutely,” confirms John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees chairperson and a major exporter of bee products.

“If it wasn’t for human intervention, the economic and agronomic effects of Varroa would be like Foot & Mouth disease. Our economy and farming system depends on honeybees and a pollination workforce involving some 430,000 hives. . . .

“That should give pause for thought as we celebrate the Honey Bee this week and the massive contribution this mighty insect makes to us all. The value of pollination alone is conservatively estimated at $5 billion each year.

Forest industry transforming itself

The forest and wood processing industries are moving quickly on a strategy to transform the sector.

The Wood Council (Woodco) has just given the go-ahead to a $400,000 research-based initiative which aims to get the highest value out of every cubic metre of timber harvested. Known as Woodscape, it is modelled on a major study carried out for the Canadian forest products industry in 2009.

“In the next decade we will see an increase in the harvest. We are determined to extract the best value we can from this resource and reinvigorate our sector,” says Woodco chair Doug Ducker. . .

PGG Wrightson reports $55m turnaround in bottom line profits

Rural services leader PGG Wrightson Limited (NZX: PGW) has announced an improved operating performance with earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBITDA) for the year ended 30 June 2012 at $55.2m compared to $49.4m in the year ended June 2011.

Operating revenue was up 7.2% at $1,336.8m compared with $1,247.2m for 2011, while net profit after tax (NPAT) was at $24.5m, a $55.2m turnaround from the 2011 loss of $30.7m. A substantial turnaround in net operating cash flow to $58.6m (2011: $4.9m) reflected a strong focus on working capital and particularly debtor management, while enabling the company to reduce bank debt. Net interest costs were reduced to $13.8m from $28.1m for the prior period . .

New Zealand’s first Albariño wine awarded a Trophy on debut:

In 2011 one barrel of New Zealand’s first Albariño wine was made by Coopers Creek Vineyard and praised by wine critics. The second vintage has just been released and in its very first outing has been awarded a Trophy at the prestigious Bragato Wine Awards, held during the wine industry’s annual conference. The Select Vineyards Gisborne Albariño 2012 is available in restaurants and fine wine stores nationally. . .


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