Beyond the Top End

June 26, 2015

The theme for this year’s PPP’s 10th  conference was Beyond the Top End.

This was chosen because it was held in Darwin in Australia’s top end,  but the conference also aimed to:

 . . . explore just how we extend ourselves – in business and in our personal lives. We’ll take a look at how we push through the boundaries, hurdle over the barriers and go beyond where others have gone before. And we’ll ask (and hopefully answer) the question of ‘what does it take?’.

It did all that and more.

Chatham House rules applied which enabled everyone to speak freely but constrains what I can report. However, I can say it gave us the opportunity to hear from a variety of speakers who educated, entertained, informed and inspired us all.

We also visited the world’s newest meat plant and an outback station which gave those of us from other places an insight into the challenges which face those farming in the Northern Territory – crocodiles, dingoes, distance, dust,  drought, floods . . .

We had plenty of opportunity to network and learn from each other too.

An undoubted highlight of the conference was the presentation of the inaugural Zanda McDonald Award.

This honours its namesake, an Australian agri-business leader who died in an accident on his farm aged just 41.

Nominees were expected to demonstrate similar leadership and visionary characteristics to the late Zanda McDonald, including respect, passion, innovation, motivation, dedication, determination, curiosity, a strong work ethic and a desire to improve their industry.

The three finalists were:

* Emma Hegarty who grew up on a merino property in Queensland. She has worked in animal nutrition, and is a Beef Extension Officer with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. She also teaches agriculture at her local school, received a UNE Young Distinguished Alumni Award and was listed as one of the 100 most influential women in Australian Agri-business.

* Athol New who is the farm business manager for Purata at Dunsandel Dairies. He is responsible for 4000 cows on two farms with four sheds. He was a regional finalist for the ANZ Young farmer competition this year.

* Luke Wright who is manager of Orr Lake Elk in Quebec, specialising in genetics for antler production. He was manager of Landcorp Farming’s Stuart Farm, a 3000ha deer, sheep and beef property. He and his partner own a small deer farm near Te Anau.

All finalists gave polished presentations which showed how difficult a job the judges must have had to choose the winner.

It was Emma who won and was presented with a bronze award trophy, $1,000 cash, a place on the 2016 Rabobank Farm Managers’ program and an expenses-paid tailored mentoring package.

Rabobank also gave places on the Farm Managers’ programme to Athol and Luke.

You can listen to Shane McManaway, chief executive of Allflex Australasia, speaking to Jamie Mackay about the conference here and Ben Russell GM of Rabobank NZ also spoke of the conference in his interview with Jamie here .

The conference brought together 137 farmers and agri-business professionals from Australia and New Zealand.

We found we had shared concerns for the importance of animal welfare, food safety, recruitment and retention of staff, encouraging young people to consider agri-business careers, environmental protection and enhancement, bridging the rural-urban divide . . .

We also learned about different challenges Australian farmers face. One station in Queensland is in its third year of drought and has received only 65mls of rain this year. On top of that its plagued by wild dogs which kill stock and kangaroos which eat pasture.

This helped us appreciate the gentler conditions at home, even if it was a little harder to wake up to a frost this morning than it had been to wake up to 30 degrees in Darwin.


Rural round-up

February 27, 2015

TB testing reductions another step in eradicating the disease:

Farmers and OSPRI continue to make good progress in their fight against bovine tuberculosis (TB) as high risk areas are reduced.

More than 3190 herds across 937,100 hectares will benefit from reductions in both Movement Control Areas (MCA) and cattle and deer bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests from 1 March 2015.

Herds throughout parts of North Canterbury, Otago and Southland will no longer require pre-movement TB testing, but will continue to be tested annually.

Dunsdale dairy farmer Kelvin Brock is moving out of the Hokonui MCA. He said the progress made by OSPRI’s TBfree programme through movement restrictions and possum control has been particularly satisfying. . .

 

Beef and lamb environment plan approved :

Environment Canterbury has approved a farm environment plan template for the beef and lamb industry under the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan.

Acknowledging the quality of the template, Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield said Beef + Lamb New Zealand had met all the requirements of Schedule 7 of the proposed plan.

“We hope the farm environment plans that come from this template are valuable both for farmers and for Beef + Lamb,” Bayfield said. . .

Tagged stock have added value – NAIT – Gerard Hutching:

The move towards tagging and registering all cattle and deer will be a significant boon to farmers and the New Zealand economy, says the agency administering the system.

Farmers have a deadline of July 1 this year to ensure all their cattle are tagged and registered. Deer will have to be up-to-date by March 2016.

Dr Stu Hutchings, head of the OSPRI’s National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme, said there were three main benefits of tagging: for biosecurity; food safety/market access; and farm management.

“The dairy sector thinks about biosecurity implications from a disease perspective such as foot and mouth, so for them it almost becomes an insurance policy,” he said. . .

Nation’s Top Lamb Finalists Announced:

The finalists of the 2015 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies, have been announced.

Following stringent scientific testing, over 150 entries have been narrowed down to 20 in the search for the nation’s most tender and tasty lamb.

Carne Technologies General Manager, Nicola Simmons says the tests they run look at yield and the attributes which are relevant to the end product.

“We analyse each lamb leg entry using objective measurements for tenderness, colour and succulence as these are ultimately factors which affect the consumer’s eating experience,” says Nicola. . .

 

The evolution of Fonterra – Keith Woodford:

[This is the first of a series of five articles on Fonterra that I have been writing for the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times. This one was published on 1 February 2015.]

It is now a little more than 13 years since Fonterra was formed. In that time, all of the foundation directors have moved on. There have also been three Chief Executive officers (CEOs) and at least four Chief Financial Officers. None of the current top level management team that reports to the CEO were there at the start.

Fonterra itself is a very different company to those early days. It started off as a traditional co-operative, in which members owned shares in proportion to their production. These shares were purchased directly from the co-operative at a price which the co-operative determined. If a farmer ceased production, then the shares were sold back to the co-operative at the current buy/sell price as determined by Fonterra. Given that production and ownership were aligned, any apportionment between what was paid for the milk and what was paid as a dividend on invested capital, was of no material consequence. . .

Synlait Farms rebrands as Purata:

Synlait Farms – the former subsidiary business of Synlait Ltd – has rebranded as Purata.

With Latin and Maori origins meaning ‘clear, bright – like a beautiful morning,” Purata’s name reflects the company’s new vision post ownership change, says Purata CEO Juliet Maclean.

Accompanied by the tagline ‘Farming for Tomorrow’, the Purata brand embodies the company’s focus on innovation, sustainability and creativity.

Juliet Maclean says changing the brand name, tagline and colour palate will help Purata reinforce its separate identity since leaving parent company Synlait Ltd. . .

 

Positive forecast for PGG Wrightson – Alan Williams:

PGG Wrightson is forecasting a very solid increase in annual earnings after reporting its strongest interim result in seven years.

The after tax profit for the six months ended December 31 was $19.7 million, up from $13.4m in the same period a year earlier.

Though there were still several months of trading and the risk of lower farmer spending because of drought conditions, managing director Mark Dewdney said the group was now forecasting operating earnings (Ebitda) of between $62m and $68m for the full year to June 30, up from $58.7m last year. . .

A weather eye on the climate – Pete Mailler:

A FEW years ago my oldest daughter came home from school in a state of high agitation. I quizzed her on what was concerning her, to which she replied angrily that I was killing the polar bears.

Apparently she had learned at school that our collective continued use of petrol and diesel was causing global warming and this was threatening the bears. In her young mind this was interpreted as the fuel use on our farm was directly and singularly the cause of the problem.

“My agricultural science training compels me to rely on good science in forming my own opinion”

I was more than a little disgusted that climate activists were able to terrorise my daughter in such a way. However, as much as it pains me to say so, it did cause me to check my own assumptions and attitudes to climate change. . .

"Bales as far as the eye can see :-D<br /><br /><br /> #Baling #RounBales"


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