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. . .


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