Rural round-up

May 31, 2019

Employment model tipped on head – Richard Rennie:

As dairy farmers struggle to hire and keep staff Woodville farmer and DairyNZ director Ben Allomes has tipped his farm employment model on its head. 

He and wife Nicky aim to attract and retain people in an environment that recognises effort and nurtures potential while recognising a work-life balance.

The challenges in attracting and retaining good people and a need to restructure their business two years ago presented the Allomes with a chance to look at how they employ people on their 750-cow operation.

“It also came from a realisation that if I was in this industry for the long haul and was relying upon key people then I had a duty to make it work for them.  . . 

Wellbeing Budget should have worked with farmers on conservation:

The 2019 Budget has left Federated Farmers questioning why the Government’s first Wellbeing budget has left a critical gap in its commitment to conservation.

There is no additional funding for the QEII National Trust or the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund. Plus, woefully inadequate funding for the control of wilding conifers, Feds Arable and Biosecurity spokesperson Karen Williams says.

The extremely modest increase in funding for the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme means its work will be going backwards in terms of managing this out-of-control pest.  

“We hoped to see the wilding conifer programme receive more like $25 million per year.  . . 

Farmers milk new technologies – Luke Chivers:

Winton dairy farmers Billy and Sharn Roskam believe tapping into modern technologies is the key to an efficient dairy operation. They spoke to Luke Chivers.

It is 7am.

As daylight breaks on the Southland Plains, Winton dairy farmers Billy and Sharn Roskam’s morning milking is well under way.

Their 36-bail rotary is filled with the steady hum of modern machinery – from automated cup removers to automated teat sprayers and heat patches. 

“It’s all about labour and efficiency,” Sharn says.  . . 

Taieri couple can stay and seek residency – Sally Rae:

A Taieri couple’s future in New Zealand is looking much more certain after they were told they can apply for residency.

Last year, nurse Pawan Chander faced deportation to India after her application for a work visa was declined by Immigration New Zealand, as her husband Harrie’s employment as herd manager on a Woodside was deemed “lower skilled”.

Following publicity about the couple’s plight, Mrs Chander was granted a 12-month visitor visa to line up with Mr Chander’s work visa, which expired this month. . . 

Innovation rewarded – Yvonne O’Hara:

John Falconer’s hydraulic, remote-controlled deer crush, which he designed, was one of the reasons he and wife Mary won the Gallagher Technology and Innovation Award at the 2019 Deer Industry Environmental Awards last week.

“The crush has been a game-changer for us,” Mr Falconer said.

Mr and Mrs Falconer, of Clachanburn Station, Puketoi, won the award for their use of “farming technologies to improve productivity and manage resources”.

They also won the Duncan New Zealand Award for “vision and innovation while mastering a demanding environment”. . . 

Costs up as farmers reinvest back into business:

DairyNZ’s newly-released Economic Survey 2017-18 shows farmers have taken advantage of increased milk income to catch up on deferred farm maintenance and revisit capital expenditure, previously delayed due to lower milk prices.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman said the annual farmer survey shows the largest increases in spend during 2017-18 (1 June 2017 to 31 May 2018) were on feed, repairs, maintenance and labour. But, it is likely expenditure has increased further in 2018-19.

“The 2017-18 season was difficult due to a dry spring/early summer for all regions. That affected pasture growth and peak milk production. It’s also the season that Mycoplasma bovis was discovered,” said Matthew. . .

Living off the grid for almost 80 years – Ciara Colhoun:

Margaret Gallagher has lived off-grid for almost 80 years.

When she was was born – near the Irish border in County Fermanagh in 1942 – it was not unusual for families to live without electricity and running water.

Margaret’s neighbours only began to update their homes in the late 1940s and 1950s.

But her family missed the opportunity to join the trend due to her mother’s death, when Margaret was 10, and her father’s ill health. . . 


Rural round-up

March 30, 2019

Farmers share tax reform fears but don’t back beneficiary bashing – Jennifer Eder:

Farmers say they are not worried about becoming the Government’s “ATMs” for beneficiary payments through tax reform, as a regional representative has claimed.

But they are anxious about proposed taxes and suspected Federated Farmers Marlborough president Phillip Neal was speaking out of frustration when he described beneficiaries as “useless”.

Neal made the comments in a newsletter earlier this month, saying a series of taxes proposed last month including a capital gains tax, emissions tax, water tax, and fertiliser tax were unfairly targeting farmers. . . 

Finding the balance between long and short term – Allan Barber:

Every business has to find an appropriate balance between long and short term planning and farming is no exception. But, given farmers are very capable of planning and implementing their annual farm strategy, the long term offers the greater challenge. Forward planning involves a high degree of risk assessment, because decisions must take into account several critical factors over which the farmer has little or no control.

Four obvious areas are government policy, climate effect, changing consumer attitudes and market access. A business can seek advice on all these from industry bodies, consultants, accountants, economists and lawyers, but in the end the buck stops with the farmer who must assess every factor which affects farm policy and performance without any certainty about the decisions being more right than wrong.  . . 

2019 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winner in the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards aims to look after his people, pasture, cows and environment through sustainable best practices and increase profit through innovative business culture.

Ruwan Wijayasena was announced winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Wigram Airforce Museum. The other major winners were Matt Redmond, who was named the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Nicola Blowey, the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

Result of QEII National Trust 2019 Director elections:

Members of the QEII National Trust have elected Donna Field and Graham Mourie to serve as Directors on the QEII Board. Both candidates will serve a three-year term, effective immediately.

“We are pleased to welcome Donna Field back to the Board and Graham Mourie as a new director” said James Guild, Chairperson of QEII National Trust.

Donna Field has been re-elected to serve a second term on the Board. Her background includes resource management, director of Cleardale Station, a sheep and beef property in Rakaia Gorge and retiring chair of the Whitcombe Landcare group. . . 

Approval sought for new fungicide:

Public submissions have opened on an application to manufacture a fungicide in New Zealand for use in the control of a disease which affects wheat.

Dow AgroSciences (NZ) Ltd is seeking approval to manufacture GF-3308, for control of speckled leaf blotch (Septoria tritici) and also to suppress brown leaf rust (Puccinia triticina).

The applicant proposes that GF-3308 would be applied by ground-based and aerial broadcast spray methods. . . 

Good time to check plans for winter crops and grazing:

Winter grazing practices have improved over the past few years, but Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will continue to monitor livestock farms and their land use practices this winter.

Poor performers are now more in the minority says the Regional Council’s Central Catchment Manager, Brendan Powell.

“Many people aren’t aware that farmers are already well into their planning and operations ahead of winter, with winter crops in the ground and growing. The approach they take with their grazing management of crops and stock is an important part of good farming practices,” says Mr Powell. . . 


Rural round-up

August 19, 2018

Supreme Court issues victory for private land conservation:

The Supreme Court has delivered a historic decision to protect covenanted land against a land developer who bought the property with the intention of carving it up, developing on the beautiful and protected bush and then selling the land for profit.

QEII National Trust Acting CEO, Paul Kirby says “this is a victory for conservation on private land in New Zealand and a blow for those who think that they can overturn QEII legal protection of the land. The Supreme Court has reinforced that QEII covenants protect natural spaces against the people who buy a property to divide and develop the land. We are proud to have lead the fight to protect the land against this kind of development. . .

Foresters fear carbon auction’s implications – Richard Rennie:

Forest Owners Association president Peter Weir is troubled by Government proposals to use an auction system to allocate extra carbon units under a revised Emissions Trading Scheme.

The proposal is for a sealed-bid, single-round auction where bidders submit their bids simultaneously. 

Each bidder can submit multiple bids, ultimately creating a demand curve ranking all bids from highest to lowest. A clearing price is then determined, where supply and demand meet.

But Weir is concerned the proposal is going to cause more problems than it solves.

Fonterra pauses to take stock – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra dropped another bombshell with the appointment of an interim chief executive, Miles Hurrell, to take over immediately from departing Dutch dairy industry veteran Theo Spierings.

The internal promotion of Hurrell came as Fonterra’s directors reconsider the company’s direction of travel and its needs in a chief executive.

An external recruitment process, started in November last year, is suspended in the meantime, chairman John Monaghan said.

Hurrell has the right mix of talents and experience needed at this time and he will not be paid what former chairman John Wilson called the eye-watering salary and bonuses that Spierings received. . .

 

Sheep wool can help cats’ diet:

Proteins from wool can be added to the diets of animals to improve their health, AgResearch scientists have shown.

Researchers say the positive findings in the diets of domestic cats open up exciting possibilities for new uses of sheep wool to improve digestive health for a broader range of animals, and potentially human beings.

The findings have just been published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Food & Function journal, and are available here . . 

NZ blister protection company, Walk On, names first CEO:

Walk On, the blister protection company known for its luxuriously soft Hyperfine merino wool product, has appointed Dr. Mark Davey as its first CEO.

Walk On Founder and Chairman Lucas Smith made the announcement as part of a 2018 initiative to carry the momentum of Walk On’s initial domestic success into international markets. Walk On recently secured a national distribution deal with outdoor and adventure sports multi-channel retailer Torpedo 7, and is also available in 10 retail stores nationally.

“Mark Davey’s experience as a New Zealand apparel innovator will be pivotal to the company as we embark on the next steps of the Walk On journey during our capital raise and international market development efforts,” remarked Lucas Smith. “Mark has experience with both, and we are excited to have him on board.”. . .

End of a family dynasty on Gunningbar Creek – Peter Austin:

A useful grazing block in the tightly-held Gunningbar Creek area north of Nyngan will go to auction later this month, ending nearly a century of ownership by the local Green family.

The 2668 hectare (6594ac) “Belarbone” has been listed for sale by Phil Wallace of Landmark Nyngan on behalf of Gavin and Jenny Green, who are selling in their lead-up to retirement.

Gavin took on the management of “Belarbone” in the early 1980s, at which stage it was an undeveloped block with no electricity connection, no buildings and no infrastructure. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 15, 2018

Water schemes left high and dry – Annette Scott:

The canning of Crown funding for water schemes is a “kick in the guts” for rural communities, especially when six regions have been declared in drought this year, National Party agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy says.

“This Government has now raided $100 million and effectively pulled the plug on any lifeline for rural communities,” Guy said.

“These projects, such as Hunter Downs and Hurunui, are about rural communities providing for much wider regional development and what needs to be remembered is that this Crown funding is not a grant. It’s a loan and it’s all paid back. . . 

Jeff Grant becomes Kiwi meat’s Brexit rep:

OSPRI and AgResearch chairman Jeff Grant has been appointed at the meat industry’s Brexit representative to be based in London.

On behalf of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association the former National MP will provide the red meat sector’s response to Brexit.

Grant will work closely with B+LNZ’s Europe representative, the Government and commercial interests to help strengthen the red meat sector’s ties with the United Kingdom and safeguard NZ’s exports to the key market. . . 

Ploughing with horses luck of the draw – Nicole Sharp:

Straight and steady is the aim of the game, but it is no easy task with Anna and Nugget, who have minds of their own.

The two Clydesdales are part of Sean Leslie and Casey Rae’s horse ploughing team, from Middlemarch, which will be competing at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Thornbury this weekend.

They are one of six horse teams competing in the event and they will attempt to plough the straightest, neatest and tidiest plot, but a lot of it was luck of the draw, Mr Leslie said.

“It does depend on soil conditions and being able to tackle it and master it.” . . 

Auckland Council rates policy fails to value private land conservation:

Auckland Council is proposing to remove rates remission for privately owned land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “we are submitting against Auckland Council’s proposed policy. This policy discourages landowners from protecting natural heritage areas on their properties and fails to support protection of biodiversity on private land in the region.”

“QEII covenants often protect the habitat of threatened indigenous species, and provide corridors linking larger areas of private and public land set aside for conservation. The work landowners do in protecting their land, like excluding stock from the protected area, is critical in encouraging regeneration of native vegetation.” . . 

NZX targets ‘natural advantage’ in primary industries with new index, dairy derivatives expansion – Paul McBeth;

(BusinessDesk) – NZX wants to capture New Zealand’s “natural advantage” in the primary sector with a new index tracking listed industry players and build on the early success of its dairy derivatives market, says chief executive Mark Peterson.

The Wellington-based company is in the process of refocusing on its core market business to revive investor interest in the capital markets. Among those initiatives is a drive to capture New Zealand’s comparative advantage in agriculture and horticulture, and Peterson told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Christchurch a new index will be launched in the second quarter including stocks such as a2 Milk Co, Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, Comvita, New Zealand King Salmon, Scales Corp, Sanford, and Seeka. . . 

Working Lands: A Missouri farmer saves prairie and grassland birds – Joel Vance:

Tom Smith’s anthem could be “Don’t Fence Me In,” except that he has a fencing company. His customers can be bizarre; one wanted a 10-foot fence to protect his garden from starving mobs fleeing Kansas City and St. Louis, which, he was convinced, would burn to the ground within two years.

But most are more ordinary landowners to whom Smith, a 63-year-old cattleman, preaches the value of native grass. Smith raises about 90 grass-fed feeder calves on 627 leased acres of Hi Lonesome Prairie, a state-owned property near his Cole Camp, Missouri, home. “When I found a neighbor was planning to plow a patch of big bluestem,” Smith says, “I told him, ‘Oh, man, don’t plow that. What you’ve got there is native prairie.’ . . 

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Rural round-up

August 24, 2017

Shortened calving proves its worth for Manawatu farmers – Gerard Hutching:

Manawatu dairy farmer Peter Bailey has discovered the merits of shortening his calving period in a trial that is believed to be a New Zealand first.

DairyNZ said farmers with an average sized herd could add about $20,000 extra income to the business through the system.

Peter and his wife Merrin, who farm at Newbury on the outskirts of Palmerston North, synchronised their herd at mating to try and get as many as possible to calve down in one day. It was an experiment he had been thinking about for a while.

“Our vets were keen to trial herd synchrony and I had been talking the talk so it was time to walk the walk.” . . 

Ingham’s posts 2.5% gain in FY earnings in NZ, cites improved trading from second half  –  Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Ingham’s Group, which is the number two poultry producer in New Zealand behind Tegel Group, reported a 2.5 percent gain in New Zealand earnings, saying trading improved in the second half after a weak first half and the trend has continued into the 2018 year.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation at the company’s New Zealand unit rose to A$36.2 million in the 53 weeks ended June 30, from A$35.3 million a year earlier, according to the Sydney-based company’s annual results. New Zealand revenue climbed to A$361 million from A$353.5 million. . . 

Bobby calves: the game changers within NZ’s supply chain – Andrew Jolly:

Executive Summary:

There is significant potential for New Zealand to increase its ability to utilise more bobby calves therefore making them a more valued product. It is important that we have a sustainable, viable, ethical and PR friendly value chain. It is also important that NZ Inc. gets this right to maintain farmers/producers’ ‘social licence’ to farm and maintain our positive worldwide perception.

While difficult to calculate, it is estimated that more than $1 billion is on offer, if we can capture the full value of underutilised bobby calves. . . 

Become a political snowflake – voting’s a big responsibility – Joyce Wyllie:

Making two small marks on a paper is simple. Freely turning up at a polling booth to place ticks in a box is a big responsibility, an enormous privilege and not something we should ever take for granted.

Low voter turn out at elections amazes me. No snow flake blames itself for an avalanche, but every one of those beautiful uniquely created flakes contributes to the resulting winter scene. Just as every one of our precious individual votes contributes to the resulting political “landscape” .

My vote is always cast seriously after carefully considering party policies and electorate issues. I detest the influence so much media exerts by focussing on drama, negativity and rehashed irrelevant issues. . . 

Dispatch from NZ. No.1 covenants and the QE II Trust – Jonathan Baker:

There is a lot to say about my time in New Zealand but, I’m not yet sure or how to say it. So to start it off here is something relatively straightforward and interesting – the work of the Queen Elizabeth the Second National Trust (QE2 Trust).

The QE2 Trust was set up in 1977 by kiwi farmer, Gordon Stephenson and other farmers who were increasingly concerned that pro-production subsidies were destroying much of the remaining natural habitat of New Zealand. They saw that as bush was cleared and wetlands drained there were few options available to kiwi farmers and landowners who wanted to hold the tide back. . .


Rural round-up

September 5, 2016

Research breakthrough to boost native forestry – James Morton:

A scientific breakthrough could replenish vast expanses of our countryside with lush native forest – and offer a lucrative new forestry industry for New Zealand.

Scion researchers have discovered how to grow native trees, including rimu and totara, from cuttings taken from parent trees instead of seeds, enabling them to grow much faster and in larger amounts.

The new technology will be used a multi-million dollar nursery site opening near the Bay of Plenty village of Minginui this weekend, in a partnership with local iwi Ngati Whare. . . 

Sports awards to be ‘rural Halbergs’:

 Brand new awards celebrating sporting excellence among New Zealand’s rural athletes were launched today with organisers positioning the event as the “Halbergs for the rural sector”.

Rural sports associations are invited to nominate athletes for the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards presented by the New Zealand Rural Games Trust together with strategic partner, Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
 
An awards ceremony and gala dinner will be held at Awapuni Racecourse, Palmerston North on March 10, 2017, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games at The Square in the city centre, where many nominees will be competing. . . 

More farmers under bank ‘pressure‘ – Sally Rae:

More farmers are experiencing “undue pressure” from their banks and sharemilkers remain the most vulnerable in the sector, the latest Federated Farmers banking survey shows.

Overall satisfaction remained strong, with 80% of all farmers and 78.4% of dairy farmers either very satisfied or satisfied with their banks.

The survey showed sharemilkers were least satisfied. Given the current economic climate, it was no surprise they were the most exposed, Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said.

In relation to overdrafts, 15.8% said they experienced “undue pressure” and 22.2% experienced “undue pressure” concerning mortgages. . . 

The art of the covenant – Guy Williams:

Two years have passed since we learned four high country stations between Arrowtown and Lake Wanaka would be placed under protective covenants, effectively creating New Zealand’s first national park in private hands. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams finds out what is happening on the stations and asks whether the land will be protected and cared for forever.

They are called Mahu Whenua, meaning “healing the land” — four protective covenants covering 53,000ha across four high country stations: Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak.

Their leases were bought between 2003 and 2011 by British record producer and songwriter Robert “Mutt” Lange — in the earlier years with then-wife, Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain.

Two years ago, the QEII National Trust announced Lange would place 95% of the stations’ area under open space covenants, a decision then-Minister of Conservation Nick Smith hailed as an “extraordinary act of generosity”. . . 

North Canterbury farmer frustrated by mobile technology – Heather Chalmers

Do you have access to high-speed broadband?

If you live in the country then you probably don’t. Cellphone coverage is also probably patchy. And that is significantly holding back farmers, says North Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Dan Shand.

As a former Sydney IT worker and a Nuffield scholar he knows more than most in the agricultural sector about what is possible with mobile technology. He believes it holds the key to a whole wave of advances, both in on-farm decision-making and productivity and in adding market premiums. However, for a number of reasons this potential is being missed. . . 

Happy Valley to set up new A2 milk plant:

South Waikato dairy farmers wanting to join the A2 milk bonanza might have their chance as a new dairy company seeks consent to build a plant near Otorohanga.  

The Happy Valley Milk company was seeking resource consent for the project that would ultimately include two milk driers.  The first would be an eight tonnes an hour drier capable of producing multiple types of milk powders including A2 infant formula.

Project manager Grant Horan said the company was optimistic it could get the consent process through by the end of the year, with an estimated completion date of mid-2018. . . 

 

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Farming noun [fam -ing] the art of losing money while working 400 hours a month to feed people who think yare are trying to kill them.


Rural round-up

January 13, 2016

Alliance moves to deepen cooperative culture as Silver Fern sells stake – Tina Morrison:

Alliance Group, New Zealand’s second-largest meat processor, plans to entrench its cooperative status, encouraging farmers to ‘share up’ at a time larger rival Silver Fern Farms is watering down its cooperative by tapping a Chinese investor for capital to repay debt, upgrade plants and invest for growth.

Farmer groups failed last year to force a mega-merger on the country’s two large South Island-based meat cooperatives. Both changed chief executives last financial year and Dunedin-based Silver Fern is now awaiting regulatory approval for the $261 million sale of half its business to Shanghai Maling Aquarius, while Invercargill-based Alliance is moving its business model further towards a cooperative system. . . 

Milking sheep has potential to earn billions of dollars for NZ –  Jill Galloway:

Isobel Lees did a veterinary degree at Massey University and is now in Grenoble, France, doing a post graduate study in sheep milking.

She says her research investigating if New Zealand can establish an internationally competitive sheep dairy industry might shed light about how farmers might set up the industry.

“This research focused on the lessons learnt from France, a world leader in sheep dairy.”

Her studies indicate there is vast potential for New Zealand to establish a sheep dairy industry and for it to be a billion dollar contributor to the economy.

“New Zealand has a competitive advantage and superior performance. It has pasture-based agricultural production systems, leading innovations from the dedicated agricultural research community and market leading standards for sustainability, animal welfare and food safety.” . . .

Turangi Maori land trust brings in Chinese partners for sheep milk expansion – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Waituhi Kuratau Trust, the Turangi-based Maori land trust, has teamed up with Chinese interests to develop its sheep-milking interests as part of a plan to sell into the world’s most-populous nation.

The trust sold a leasehold interest in 490 hectares of land in Kuratau to Maui Milk for $1.2 million, which has been slated for development into a sheep dairy farm, according to the Overseas Investment Office summary approving the transaction. The trust owns 40 percent of Maui Milk, with the remainder held by four Chinese nationals. . . 

Govt happy with farm conditions monitoring:

The Government is ruling out an an inquiry into the pay and conditions of farm workers in New Zealand, saying standards are already in place.

Former Council of Trade Unions head Helen Kelly made the call, saying many farm workers were working up to 70 hours a week for low pay, and that was leading to high staff turnover. 

She said fatigue was a major cause of workplace accidents, and an official inquiry was needed to introduce regulations.

But Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said the Labour Inspectorate already monitored non-compliance with minimum employment standards in the dairy sector. . . 

Right attitude key to $70k jobs – Tamsyn Parker:

A farm worker with the right attitude could take fewer than five years to get to a $70k-plus salary, says an industry leader.

Andrew Hoggard, a farmer who is on the board of farming body Federated Farmers, said Seek data showing a 14 per cent rise in the average salary for the sector was probably a little high as it was based only on jobs advertised through that business. . . 

Federated Farmers mourns the loss of life member Gordon Stephenson:

Federated Farmers expresses their deepest sympathies to the family of farmer and environmentalist Gordon Stephenson who died on Boxing Day.

A stalwart of Federated Farmers, Mr. Stephenson served as national chairman of the dairy section from 1973 to 1977 and instigated the Farm Environment Awards in 1991.

“Gordon was instrumental in the formation of QEII National Trust and the legacy he’s left behind can be seen all around the country in the land and native forests now voluntarily protected by farmers through the Trust,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . 

Farm Environment Awards Founder Leaves Lasting Legacy:

The passing of Farm Environment Awards founder Gordon Stephenson is a huge loss for New Zealand agriculture, Simon Saunders, chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET), says.

“Gordon was a farsighted and inspirational leader. As a passionate advocate for conservation he was steadfast in his belief that good farming and good environmental management go hand in hand. This message is still very much at the heart of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) today.”

Mr Saunders says the establishment of NZFET and the success of the BFEA programme are legacies of Gordon Stephenson’s drive and vision. . . 

Federated Farmers grieves loss of former Chief Executive:

Federated Farmers is saddened by the death of former Chief Executive Tony St Clair.

Mr. St Clair served as Chief Executive between 1997 and 2005 following several years as Executive Director of the Victorian Farmers Federation.

“Tony was an inspirational and passionate advocate for agriculture and farming and he had an intimate and detailed knowledge and understanding of Federated Farmers,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . .

 

Fonterra Announces Record Export Volumes in December:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced it has exported record volumes for the month of December 2015.

Export data for the Co-operative in December confirms the new record for a single month’s volume, with more than 300,000 MT shipped to its global markets.

December’s volume was approximately 10 per cent higher than Fonterra’s previous record month in December 2014. . . 

NZ honey exports double in November on manuka demand – Tina Morrison::

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand honey exports doubled in November as the country benefited from demand for high-value manuka honey.

The value of honey exports jumped to $27.4 million in November from $13.6 million the same month a year earlier, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand data. That helped boost the annual value of honey exports in the 12 months through November by 45 percent to $281 million, the figures showed.

New Zealand is the world’s third-largest exporter of honey by value, behind China and Argentina. However it is only the 16th biggest global supplier on a volume basis, reflecting the premium price garnered for manuka honey, which accounts for as much as 80 percent of New Zealand exports and is prized for its health benefits. . .

Final report into killer swedes released:

The group investigating the fatal poisoning of hundreds of animals by swedes in Southland has issued one last warning to farmers not to feed herbicide tolerant swedes to cows in the spring.

The Southland Swedes working group today released its final report into the incident which left hundreds – if not thousands – of sheep and cows dead across the region.

In 2014 farmers across Southland reported sick, dead and dying livestock – after they’d been fed on swedes – mostly a new herbicide tolerant variety developed and sold by PGG Wrightson Seeds.

Farmers were subsequently warned by industry experts not to feed the HT Swede variety to cows when they were heavily pregnant or with calves – because the chemically mutated HT swedes were producing unnaturally high levels of glucosinolates that are toxic to livestock. . . 

 Recreational fishing parks proposed in Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds as part of Marine Protected Area reform:

The Government has today launched a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

“We are proposing a new system of marine protection that will include marine reserves, species-specific sanctuaries, seabed reserves, and recreational fishing parks. This more sophisticated approach with four different types of marine protection is similar to the graduated approach we take to reserves on land that vary from strict nature reserves to those for a specific or recreational purpose,” says Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“We want to improve community and iwi involvement in marine protection and develop a comprehensive network of areas that better protects marine life and which enhances New Zealanders’ enjoyment of our marine environment.” . . 

Seafood industry supports sustainable fisheries:

The seafood sector supports effective marine conservation, its Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst said today.

He was commenting on today’s release of a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

The proposals would cut commercial fishing in the proposed areas. . . 

Easing NZ Dollar Helps Lift Local Wool Market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the first sale after the Christmas break of approximately 13,700 bales from the North Island saw a generally firmer market in local terms with 98.5 percent selling.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies eased 1.3 percent compared to the last sale on 17th December, however compared to the US dollar the New Zealand was back 1.9 percent. This weakening NZ dollar underpinned the market for most types. . . 

Grow Food, Not Lawns's photo.


Rural round-up

September 7, 2015

Drones monitor Fiordland’s rainbow trout – Hamish Clark:

Fish & Game is using drones to monitor prized rainbow trout spawning at one of the world’s top fishing spots.

The remote location is the Upper Waiau River, which runs from Lake Te Anau and borders Fiordland National Park.

At the moment fishing is off-limits, as the trout are busy spawning and burying their fertilised eggs. . . 

World-first Kiwi technology can be a big boost to lucrative forestry industry:

A Christchurch company believes it can add tens of millions of dollars to the multi-billion forest industry by cutting-edge hi-tech testing to find out which trees are suitable for the booming housing and building construction markets.

Fibre-gen has produced a world-first harvester head mounted sonic tool, the HITMAN PH330, which measures the strength of trees to see if they are suitable or not for high-end building construction. There are no known direct competitors in the global market as yet.

Fibre-gen is the leader in forest wood segregation sonic technology tools and was a finalist at the 2015 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards. It has entered the New Zealand Innovators Award, with finalists being named next week on September 10. It is also a finalist in the 2015 Champion Canterbury Business Innovation Awards with winners being named in Christchurch on September 16. . . 

New Chairman leads New Zealand Young Farmers into the future

Jason Te Brake has been elected the new Chairman for New Zealand Young Farmers. Mr Te Brake takes the helm after Cole Groves stepped down after two years in the role.

Mr Te Brake has served on the Board as an elected member since May 2013, in this time he has taken on the role of Vice-Chairman and the Chairman of the National Committee of New Zealand Young Farmers. Mr Te Brake joined Young Farmers in 2010, and while he first joined with social intentions, Jason quickly found his way into governance. . . 

Community groups receive $918,000 in War on Weeds funding:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has announced a $918,000 commitment to the War on Weeds through this year’s round of Community Conservation Partnerships Fund grants.

$500,000 will go to a significant joint programme run by Weedbusters NZ and the QEII National Trust, and will be used to fund voluntary weedbusting efforts by community groups, alongside regional and local councils.

An additional $418,000 will go to other projects tackling problem plants such as old man’s beard, banana passionfruit and other members of the Dirty Dozen weeds launched on August 27. . .

‘Young Hort’ winner calls for more primary industry diversification:

The downturn in prices confronting dairy farmers is a timely reminder to those in horticulture to consider crop diversification now, while kiwifruit, pipfruit and wine exports are booming.

Outgoing New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year (YHOY) title holder and Whangarei kiwifruit grower, Patrick Malley, believes local farmers can learn from the diversification practices of their Californian counterparts.

Malley was speaking after just having returned from a fact finding travel scholarship to the United States, which was part of his prize for winning the NZ Young Horticulturist of the Year 2014 competition.

While the dairy industry is at the bottom of its commodity cycle, the kiwifruit and pipfruit industries arebooming, making it a good time to think about diversifying crop types to spread risk and create stability through commodity cycles. . . 

Let Ballance get your career started:

Soil scientists, engineers and farmers to vets, bankers and regulators, there are a wide range of careers which Ballance Agri-Nutrients is proud to support with its annual scholarship programme.

Warwick Catto, Science Strategy Manager at Ballance said the co-operative was always excited to see student talent interested in primary industry careers.

“The recent unprecedented interest in our dairy and red meat sectors sets the backdrop for the importance the sector has on New Zealand’s future growth and our place in the world.” . . 

Zespri launches new $15,000 scholarships:

Zespri has announced two new $15,000 scholarships to encourage New Zealand’s top secondary students to pursue a career in New Zealand’s fast-growing kiwifruit industry.

Zespri General Manager Grower & External Relations Dave Courtney explains that Zespri is looking to support and encourage tomorrow’sleaders into the horticulture sector.

“Kiwifruit is a global business; our industry earned $1.6 billion in sales revenue last year and we’re set to grow strongly over coming years. . . 

Canterbury Dairy Farmers Thrive On Environment Competition Experience:

Ashburton sharemilkers Sara and Stuart Russell have always strived to make their dairy operation as sustainable as possible. Entering the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards helped them confirm they were on the right track.

“We wanted to see how our business compared with others, and we wanted to find out what we could do to improve in future,” says Sara.

She and Stuart, a former builder, 50:50 sharemilk 700 cows on 252ha (effective), south of Ashburton. The farm is owned by Sara’s parents Rick and Diana Bourke via the Bourke Family Trust.

The Russells entered the 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) and won the LIC Dairy Farm Award in their first time in the competition. . . 

Free service boosts feed efficiency for dairy farmers:

In a bid to help dairy farmers in tight times, GrainCorp Feeds has announced that 150 clients nationwide will receive free access to a feed forecasting, tracking and monitoring service.

GrainCorp Feeds is working with technical specialists DairyClub to provide additional on-farm assessment, monitoring and technical support alongside Tracker™, an online tool which measures current milk production and shows how the farmer can use supplementary feed to achieve maximum return.

GrainCorp Feeds general manager Daniel Calcinai says to increase income from milk production, farmers have to feed strategically, which means the right feed at the right time. . . 


Rural round-up

August 29, 2015

Leave Fonterra to sort itself (or not) – Stephen Franks:

The amalgamation/monolith structure of Fonterra was a mistake. But it is what we have and pulling it to bits now could compound the mistake.

The Fonterra monopoly came from a conjunction of  dairy politics with the instincts of a leftist Clarke Cabinet, at a time when they needed to rebuild trust with business. The Fonterra ‘capture the value chain’ slogans appealed to a Cabinet nurtured on coop=good/big battalions/commanding heights socialism. So they legislatively outflanked the Commerce Commission, relegated official reservations, and created the monolith.

The Herald has an excellent review of the reasoning and the outcomes by Tony Baldwin, an official at key times. But his recommendations could be used to support those who’d like now to pull levers the other way, and impose new structures, equally well meant, equally sloganistic,  and equally without knowing the future any more reliably. . . 

Why hasn’t Fonterra worked? – Tony Baldwin:

Created in 2001, Fonterra was heralded as a ‘breakthrough idea’ meant to help New Zealand ‘catch the knowledge wave’. 14 years on, there’s been no economic transformation, writes Tony Baldwin.

“Potentially better than an oil well,” boasted Fonterra’s founding chairman, John Roadley, in 2002.

“White gold” is another favourite label.

Over many decades, New Zealand has invested massively in raw milk as a pathway to economic prosperity. It’s why Fonterra was formed. . . .

Landcorp strategy of dairy investment over dividends at odds with government’s surplus goal – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, which is taking on debt to convert former forestry land into dairy farms, won’t pay a dividend this year, highlighting the friction between the state-owned farmer’s long-term strategy and the government’s demand for regular payments in preference to investment.

New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer posted an 84 percent decline in annual profit to $4.9 million, in line with its forecast of $1 million to $6 million, as revenue fell 12 percent to $213.5 million on weak milk and lamb prices.

Debt rose 25 percent to $222 million, mostly to fund dairy conversions on the 26,000 hectare Wairakei Estate north of Taupo, slated to become the biggest milk producer in the southern hemisphere. Landcorp is 12 years into a 40-year lease to operate and develop the estate. . .

Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards Recognise ‘Labour Of Love’:

Entering the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) proved a thoroughly enjoyable experience for Northland farmers Ian and Sandy Page.

The Pages own Tahere Farm near Whangarei in the Pataua North district. Previously a run-down unit, the couple has spent many years developing the 162ha farm into a model of sustainability. With the whole title area under QEII National Trust covenant, BFEA judges said Tahere was like a privately owned regional park, farmed in the public interest.

“By entering an open space covenant, Ian and Sandy have invited the world to share their dreams.”

Tahere has about 62ha of indigenous forest. Another 59ha runs sheep and beef and the balance is in production forestry. . . 

Diabetes nutraceutical wins 2015 Proof of Concept grant:

A team developing a nutraceutical that could help regulate blood glucose levels thereby support the treatment of type II diabetes has won the University’s 2015 Proof of Concept grant.

The $50,000 grant, offered by the University’s commercialisation arm, Otago Innovation, is aimed at transforming novel research at Otago into a marketable idea, product or service.

Dr Phil Heyward and Dr Alex Tups of the Department of Physiology are working on the nutraceutical, which involves a plant product. They are collaborating with Associate Professor Nigel Perry of Plant and Food Research and Pat Silcock, the Manager of Food Science’s Product Development Research Centre, who each bring essential expertise to the project. . .

Wine awards recognise top drops from the Bay:

Some of the country’s best viticulturists and vineyards have been recognised for their grape growing skills.

The Bragato wine awards were announced in Hawke’s Bay last night as part of the New Zealand Winegrowers Romeo Bragato conference.

A Villa Maria chardonnay, with grapes grown by Brett Donaldson, won the Bragato Trophy.

And a Villa Maria cabernet sauvignon merlot, made from grapes grown by Phil Holden in Hawke’s Bay, won the champion domaine wine.

Chair of the judges, Ben Glover, said the competition recognises the grape growing behind a top drop. . . 

Inaugural New Zealand Young Winemaker crowned:

A night of nerves, skill and finesse surrounded the all-female finalists of the inaugural Tonnellerie de Mercurey 2015 New Zealand Young Winemaker competition last night.

Hawke’s Bay Winemaker, Lauren Swift took the inaugural title after she battled it out following three days of winemaking challenges at the Romeo Bragato conference.

Lauren says, “It was an extremely tough competition, I’m really thrilled with the result. It’s been such a great opportunity for me, and has already opened a number of doors and given me so much confidence. . . .


Significant gift to nation from foreign owner

March 9, 2015

The largest private land protection is a significant gift to New Zealand and its come from a foreign owner:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says today’s opening of the Mahu Whenua covenants under New Zealand’s largest ever private land protection agreement, is a significant gift to the nation.

53,000 hectares of land in central Otago has been gifted by philanthropist and music producer Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange of Soho Property Ltd, through a partnership with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.

“This is indeed a great day for New Zealand conservation. We are very grateful for Mutt Lange’s extraordinary generosity and vision in securing permanent protection for this unique and special landscape,” says Ms Barry.

The four open space covenants cover land on Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations, bordered by the Shotover River and the Cardrona Valley.

“The agreement not only permanently protects the natural values and human history of this landscape, but also allows for public access with 21 tracks and trails for all visitors to enjoy,” says Ms Barry.

“Congratulations to the QEII National Trust, which has been working alongside private landowners for nearly 40 years helping them protect special natural and cultural heritage places throughout the country.”

This year the National Trust will register its 4,000th open space covenant and since it was established in 1977 it has secured more than 178,000 hectares of private land to be held in trust for the nation.

The covenants were formally opened by Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, on Saturday.

Sir Jerry, in a speech on Saturday, said: ”New Zealand’s isolation has seen us as a nation develop a very strong sense of place.

”For many of us, even those who live in cities, the landscape of our country, especially the high country, captures our sense of home.

”Those rugged hills and valleys, formed over the millennia, are as representative of New Zealand as the silver fern.” . .

Trust patron Sir Jerry described the covenants as a ”significant gift to New Zealand”.

He said while humankind’s presence is certainly visible now, the landscape will be here long after we are gone.

”This Maori proverb captures that idea: Toitu he whenua, whatungarongaro he tangata? The land remains while people disappear.”

Trust chairman James Guild said protection of such a large tract of private land would not have been possible without the vision and generosity of Mr Lange.

Mr Guild said: ”Mr Lange has instigated the protection of an extensive landscape that is rich in natural and cultural heritage.

”He has in effect created New Zealand’s first private national park.

”We celebrate his tremendous philanthropy and the legacy he leaves on this landscape with his covenants.”

Mr Guild said the land’s scenic and intrinsic values and the opportunity for people to get out and enjoy it are safeguarded forever.

The covenants protect the landscapes, the habitat of unique native plants and animals, important historic and cultural sites, public access, and recreation values.

Mr Guild emphasised that covenanting land is voluntary and not a requirement of the Overseas Investment Office or the Government. . .

This is a huge area of land and the covenanting is an act of extraordinary generosity on the part of its owner.

Locals have covenanted large tracts of land through the QE II Trust, although none on this scale.

The significance of this gift coming from a foreign owner is that it shows land sales to foreigners should be judged on their merits and there should not be, as some would wish it, a blanket ban on foreign ownership of land.

 


Rural round-up

January 22, 2015

Fuel price falls should mean lower farm costs:

The continuing fall in fuel prices should be reflected in lower farm input costs Federated Farmers believes.

Petrol and diesel pump prices have declined by more than 40 cents per litre since October.

Federated Famers transport spokesperson, Ian Mackenzie says he expects the persistent decline in the cost of fuel to be reflected in farm expenses.

“The direct expenses of running machinery are accounted for with a lower fuel bill for the farmer. But there are other high fuel use industries, in particular transport, where we would expect to see some reduction in the costs from now on,” he says. . . .

Court case reconfirms QEII covenants’ clout:

For the second time in less than 12 months the durability of QEII National Trust covenants has been confirmed by the High Court.

The first case was considered by the High Court earlier in 2014 when a landowner wanted to subdivide and build 20 houses on an area of covenanted indigenous forest land he had bought on the Coromandel Peninsula. He challenged the legal status of the covenant agreement because it prevented him from developing the land.

The High Court decision declared that the National Trust’s covenant agreements were ‘indefeasible’, meaning the covenant cannot be annulled. . .

 

Stock theft affects us all – Chris Irons:

Around Christmas time stock rustling seems to rear its head and this holiday season has been no different. Concerns are mounting around stock rustling and the ability to stop it. Ironically, the morning of writing this I was actually out hunting down one of my own heifers, which in the end I found but it gets the heart pumping when you think it has been stolen.

Following the event where a farmer’s cows were shot with a crossbow at the southern end of the Hunua Ranges, questions are being raised as to what rights farmers have to stop a poacher or thief on their property? Not only do farmers have limited rights to stop people stealing their stock, but we’ve got to ask whether the penalties imposed are serious enough to be a deterrent for either rustling or poaching?  Based on the Federation’s experience to date they are not. . . .

DWN conference heads to Southland:

Dairy Women’s Network is excited to be holding its 2015 annual conference in one of New Zealand’s fastest growing dairy regions.

The Network’s key annual event is sponsored by Lifetime Insurance and Travel Advisors, and is taking place in Southland on 18-19 March at the ILT Stadium in Invercargill.

Network chief executive Zelda De Villiers said the 2015 conference theme ‘Entering tomorrow’s world’ would be evident in the eight workshops offered, comprising financial management, sustainable environments, a presentation by High Performance Sport NZ psychologist David Galbraith, farmer wellness, animal lameness, legal liability and more. . .

MBIE report backs primary sector careers:

Lincoln University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Business Development, Jeremy Baker, has welcomed the findings of a Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) report which shows particularly favourable prospects for those exploring primary sector and associated land-based careers.

The Occupation Outlook 2015  report is a comprehensive industry document designed to provide key information for those contemplating study and career options. The report rated the job prospects for agricultural scientists as very high, and projected an annual growth for the profession of 4 percent for 2013-18 and 3.2 percent for 2018-23.

Identical figures are listed for environmental scientists and food technicians, while the job prospects for farmers and farm managers is also rated as very high.

“The report lends weight to the message Lincoln University has been making for some time. Namely, that there are many exciting career opportunities in the primary sector for those who are prepared to open themselves up to the possibilities,” says Jeremy Baker. . .

Boosting food production through phosphorus: Lincoln works with Chilean university:

Lincoln University is joining forces with a prominent Chilean university research institute to address pressing issues involving the essential role of phosphorus in global food production.

Professor Leo Condron, of Lincoln University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, recently spent six weeks at the Scientific and Technological Bioresources Nucleus (BIOREN) of the Universidad de La Frontera in Temuco, Chile, as part of a Biological Resource Management Fellowship funded by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“The fellowship involved bringing together the complementary skills of Lincoln University and Universidad de La Frontera to investigate ways of improving the usability of phosphorus in agricultural systems,” said Professor Condron.

The productivity of ecosystems is largely determined by the presence of phosphorus in soil. However, the world’s known phosphorus reserves are steadily being depleted, and demand is expected to exceed supply within 100 years. . .

Primary industry sector on verge of a technological revolution:

While farmers and other rural industries have always been innovators and pioneers, many city dwellers still think of them as tough, hardworking people who do without ‘modern’ technologies such as smart phones, tablets and big screen TVs.

Times have changed. The reality is something quite different. These and an array of new and innovative technologies are now a vital component of most rural businesses.

City dwellers can use their latest mobile gadget as they make their way into work. Modern farmers would rather use their latest UAV (drone) for a spin around the property or set up their new driverless tractor for the day’s operations – all while tracking everything via their tablets using GPS and wireless networks. . .

Manuka Health – recognised for excellence in International Business Awards

Manuka Health is delighted to be recognised as a finalist in the 2015 New Zealand International Business Awards (NZIBA) in the $10 – $50 million General Award Category. This signals the extraordinary growth experienced by Manuka Health over the past eight years and is also an acknowledgement of recent investment in a multi-million dollar plant in Te Awamutu.

Opened officially in November 2014, the Manuka Health facility is a high tech, internationally accredited laboratory, honey processing factory and global distribution centre which enables the Company to produce award-winning innovative natural healthcare products.

“We are honoured to have been recognised for our success in international business,” says Kerry Paul, CEO Manuka Health. “This comes on top of an exciting year with the opening of our world-class facility and a prestigious Gold Innovation Award for our ManukaClear™ Intensive BB Gel in the USA. . . .

 


Rural round-up

August 7, 2014

The other face of foreign ownership:

The generosity of foreign investors has created New Zealand’s largest ever private land protection agreement at 53,000 hectares; equivalent to 240 Cornwall Park/One Tree Hill Domains.

“It is exciting that a Queen Elizabeth II covenant now covers the iconic high country over most of Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak stations,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers President.

“This is the other face of foreign ownership, perhaps best explained by dual Federated Farmers/Forest & Bird life member, Gordon Stephenson, who commented: “this is the first time a whole landscape is being put into a covenant”.  . .

Sheep Industry Excellence Celebrated:

The important role ram breeders play in New Zealand’s sheep industry was celebrated at the third annual Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Sheep Industry Awards.

About 230 people attended a dinner in Napier, where 10 genetics-based awards and five sector excellence awards were presented. Results of the genetics-based awards were calculated based on ram breeders’ performance in SIL-ACE (Advanced Central Evaluation) – the large-scale, across flock and breed genetic evaluation of more than 300 ram breeding flocks. . . .

GlobalDairyTrade not ‘milk and disaster’:

The latest decline in the benchmark GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) online auction continues a trend expected by Federated Farmers. 

“We’d love to see a plus sign for a change but at least it seems to be tracking in the direction Rabobank has projected,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson.

“I don’t expect this latest result will affect the payout forecast in the near term.  What will be critical is the expected market recovery in the New Year.  . .

–  Allan Barber:

It’s wonderful what a bit of buoyancy in the market for beef and sheepmeat will do for morale, especially when it coincides with a solid drop in the predicted dairy payout. It isn’t just about absolute price returns, but also a reduction in the gap which has opened up this year between red meat and dairy prices.

MIE’s chairman John McCarthy has already characterised the improved mood among processors and exporters as signalling a desire to preserve the status quo which is why he and MIE are thrilled to have obtained the funding required to produce a business plan. This is intended to ‘deliver a definitive roadmap for farmer profitability’ through committed supply, coordinated marketing and best practice. . .

Global animal protein trends become more complex – Allan Barber:

At the Red Meat Sector Conference Luke Chandler, General Manager of Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research Advisory group in Australasia, presented an interesting perspective on global protein trends and the increasing complexity required to feed the world’s growing population.

He observed three main trends: demand from emerging markets and market access, competitiveness between proteins and the complexity of the supply chains.

Briefly stated there is a surplus in the west and a shortage in the east with 70% of growth occurring in Asia, predominantly in China, India and Indonesia. Australia and New Zealand provide 6% and 3% respectively of imports of agricultural products into Asia and are therefore high value, niche exporters rather than providers of high volume production. . .

Ravensdown to pay farmer rebate as profits surge – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Ravensdown Fertiliser Cooperative will resume paying farmers a rebate this year after its earnings jumped some 161 percent after it quit an unprofitable Australian business.

Profit before tax and rebate from continuing operations rose $73 million in the year ended May 31, from $28 million the previous year, the Christchurch-based cooperative said in a statement. Trading profit rose to $46 million from $6 million a year earlier, which was impacted by the cost from quitting Australia. Ravensdown will pay shareholders $37.78 per tonne, made up of $15 in rebate and fully imputed bonus shares worth $22.38. . . .

Third International Accolade in Three Months for Yealands:

Yealands Family Wines (YFW) has been awarded a trophy in the 2014 Green Apple Awards for Environmental Best Practice. This award is the third international award that the Marlborough Company has won for its high quality sustainable wine growing practices in the past three months.

Yealands were awarded “Green Company of the Year” by the UK’s leading drinks publisher, Drinks Business on April 30 and crowned the Gold Medal Winner in the Most Socially or Environmentally Responsible Company of the Year category at the 2014 International Best in Biz Awards last month.

The company competed against more than 500 global nominations in the Green Apple Awards, and they will be presented with their trophy and certificate at a glittering presentation ceremony in The Houses of Parliament, in London on November 10. . .


Rural round-up

December 5, 2013

Trade access into Peru great news for meat industry:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming the approval of New Zealand meat exports to enter Peru.

Peruvian authority SENASA has approved the listing of all New Zealand exporters currently interested in exporting beef, sheep meat and offal into the country. The listings are valid for three years and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has the option to request the addition of further exporters.

“This approval to export beef and sheep products to Peru is great news for the meat industry. It gives our exporters access to a market with a value (based on 2011 imports) of at least US$19 million, with significant potential for growth.

“This is more good news, following the Chinese Taipei economic agreement which will phase out beef tariffs in 2015. . .

Trust backed for taking court action – Marie Taylor:

The courts should throw the book at anyone causing damage to covenanted land, Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills says.

Wills was speaking after the QEII National Trust decided to take a Canterbury dairy farmer to court, alleging damage to covenanted kanuka woodland.

Netherlands Holdings director Roelof Wobben is alleged to have cleared 2.5ha of protected kanuka woodland on his dairy runoff just north of Eyrewell Forest to create room for irrigators. . .

Farmers asked to be on watch after more Chilean Needle Grass found:

Farmers and landowners are being asked to keep an eye out for the Chilean Needle Grass (CNG) plant pest which flowers and seeds at this time of year.

The number of affected sites has risen to 14 in recent weeks after plants were found on roadsides near known sites and two plants were found on a property adjoining an affected site.

Environment Canterbury is working to prevent further spreading of the pest, which has the potential to infest an estimated 15 million hectares on the east coasts of the north and south islands. . .

How onions recognise when to bulb:

New research will help to breed new onions tailored to grow in specific conditions.

Onions, the third largest vegetable crop in the world, form a bulb in response to lengthening days, however the molecular mechanisms controlling this response were not previously known. Research undertaken by Plant & Food Research and the University of Otago has identified the gene controlling bulb development, the first step in discovering genetic markers that can be used as tools to screen conventional breeding programmes for new onion varieties with the right genetic profile.

The research is published in the prestigious online journal Nature Communications with related research published in Theoretical and Applied Genetics. . .

Ballance passes price benefit to farmers:

Farmers stand to benefit from a global oversupply of plant nutrients and weak international demand, with Ballance Agri-Nutrients leading the domestic market down in its latest round of price cuts.

Ballance is reducing the price on many of its fertiliser nutrients on Friday 6 December, with a significant price reduction for potash to follow in the New Year.

The price reductions follow an earlier cut made in July to help farmers get a head start with spring nutrient applications. . .

Kiwi Manufacturer Answers Call for Healthier Meat Products for Children:

One of New Zealand’s leading food manufacturers has created a new range of meat products for kids with a view to securing the all important children’s meal market share.

Beak NZ, a New Zealand operated company has launched an innovative range of sausages – including a Watties tomato sauce flavoured sausage, meatballs and burger patties to appeal to both parents and children alike.

The products which contain herbs, spices and premium beef or chicken are designed to appeal to the growing number of families who are asking for a more natural meat product. . .


QEII Trust under pressure

February 20, 2013

The QE II National Trust which helps private landowners protect areas with high conservation values is under pressure:

About a tenth of New Zealand’s farming businesses are now protecting land under QEII covenants.

Chairman James Guild says that’s putting pressure on the limited funding which the trust has available to run the scheme and help with costs such as fencing.

He says the number of farmers and other rural landowners with sites of environmental, ecological or cultural significance already under covenant or approved, has doubled in the past 10 years to more than 4000.

Mr Guild says about 10% of farming businesses now have covenants in place which protect 120,000 hectares of land. . . .

The Trust is becoming a victim of its own success.

It has a very good name among farmers and QEII covenants are usually the preferred choice for landowners who want to protect special areas on their property without losing ownership or control.


Rating DoC land shifts costs from ratepayer to taxpayer

June 7, 2011

Federated Farmers is asking for private land which is protected by covenants to be accorded zero-rating status  like DOC land:

Following World Environment Day, Federated Farmers is to ask the Government to put protected areas on private land, such as QEII National Trust type covenants and Significant Natural Areas, on the same footing as the Department of Conservation (DoC) for council rating purposes.

“Since 1977, when Federated Farmers was a driving force behind the QEII National Trust’s formation, well over 111,000 hectares have been voluntarily protected by farmers and landowners,” says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.

“The scale and determination behind this is equivalent to around the area of Egmont and Tongariro National Park’s combined. It’s that significant and it’s completely voluntary.

A great deal of this land could have been surrendered back to the state under tenure review at cost to the taxpayer and benefit to the pastoral leaseholder. It would then not be rated and the cost of weed and pest control, fencing and maintenance would fall on the taxpayer. Since it is privately owned, landowners protect the areas under covenant, control weeds and pests and maintain fences around it to protect biodiversity at their own cost and the land is rated as it its productive.

While covenants are voluntary, councils, under the Resource Management Act, have been requiring landowners to do more or less the same with Significant Natural Areas, or SNA’s.“While many councils have policies for remitting rates on voluntarily protected land, it hinges on a successful case-by-case application and does not apply to SNA’s.

“Time has come to shed light on what landowners are doing and that could easily come by Government backing covenant holders and those landowners with SNA’s.

“That’s as easy as putting protected land on the same footing as DoC land for council rates. Alternatively, if DoC paid council rates on the same basis as everyone else, it would greatly help reduce the financial burden on the rest of the community.

While there is a case for not rating covenanted land as if it is productive, the cost of rates would just be spread over less land if its rating value was reduced or zero-rated.

Rating Doc Land might be a better idea.

Opponents to rating Doc land say that all that would do is shift the cost from ratepayers to taxpayers and it would. But generally the ratepayers are those of large but sparsely populated rural authorities and a lot of the pressure to keep high country land in public hands come from urban people.

If DoC land was rated the cost of looking after it would fall more on those who want it in public ownership than the neighbouring community and Feds would have a much weaker case for calling for zero rating of land under covenant on private property.


Farming and conservation not mutually exculsive

April 7, 2009

High Country farming and conservation aren’t mutually exclusive a report into enivronmental stewardship and tenure review  by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright.

The report  recommends that a High Country Commission be established to provide oversight and strategic direction and it questions the ongoing expansion of the DOC estate.

The only high level strategy for the high country is DoC’s plan for the creation of 22 high country parks. Yet much of the land going into those parks has no special biodiversity value, and comparatively few people will be hardy enough to use them for recreation. With the addition of each park must come the need for significant ongoing Crown expenditure on pest and weed control, access roads, fences, tracks and huts. It is hard to see how this strategy yields the best national value for the conservation dollar.

Farmers and local bodies have been saying this for some time but went unheard because the previous government failed to recognise that farmers had been and could continue to be stewards of high country land and that farming and conservation aren’t mutually exclusive.

Labour’s antipathy to private property rights drove the purchase of large tracts of South Island high country which few if any members of the public will ever see and has left taxpayers with an on-going bill for weed and pest control, repairs and maintenance.

Public funding for conservation will always be limited. Other models that sit between the extremes of unfettered private ownership and management on the one hand and pure DOC ownership and management on the other should be used more widely. Covenants and possibly performance-based fi nancial incentives as well as local authority rules can all be used to support farmers and other owners in the stewardship role many already play.

The previous government gave a directive that leasehold land couldn’t be protected with QEII National Trust covenents, preferring to buy land back from pastoral lessees, saddle DOC with its management and the public with the bill.

Land purchase and fencing alone has already cost the public $120 million.

Agriculture Minsiter David Carter has welcomed the report and says it:

. . . recognises that farmers already play a ‘stewardship’ role, a role which lessees have long argued and which has been overlooked.” 

Mr Carter says that high country runholders can be just as effective stewards as the Crown. 

“We also support the questioning by the Commissioner of the ongoing expansion of the DOC estate. 

“The Government has made it clear that it supports the principle of tenure review, but believes a new approach is needed to restore confidence in the process.  Voluntary, good faith negotiations between lessees and the Crown are at the heart of this.   

This is a welcome change from the anti-farmer view which the previous government subscribed to and should see better economic and environmental outcomes.


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