Rural round-up

May 3, 2016

Rattling Fonterra’s governance is not enough – Keith Woodford:

Late last year, Fonterra’s farmers rattled the cage by voting for a change in governance rules. However, the voting majority was insufficient to change the rules. Fonterra’s Board has now responded with its own proposals for new governance structures.

To me, the new proposals look like a continuing meander towards corporatisation, without recognition of the special features of a huge co-operative conglomerate like Fonterra.

The proposal last year, led by former Fonterra directors Greg Gent and Colin Armer, was to reduce the number of directors. But would a smaller number of directors really make a difference? And what would it do in terms of further disconnecting the Board from the grassroots? . . 

Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly (NZ) – April 2016:

The Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments.

Key Highlights:

• Dairy – Global commodity prices continue to stumble along a market floor largely determined by the level of EU intervention support—and the ceiling for this support has just been approved higher. . . 

Time to plan ahead for droughts – Dan Satherley:

Improving water storage will be key to getting farmers through future droughts, according to one agribusiness expert.

Failing that, it might be time for beef, sheep and dairy to rethink their business model.

North Canterbury is into its second year of drought, with rainfall over the past few months only a third what it normally is. . . 

Kiwi-Owned Organic Rice Company Number One in South America:

Organic Latin America, an organic rice processing and distribution company in South America owned by kiwi company Ceres Organics and international partners, has risen to be the largest organic rice exporter out of South America in just five years.

Organic Latin America was founded five years ago by Ceres Organics and Thai, Danish, and Argentinian companies in order to provide South American organic rice growers with access to international markets.

Organic Latin America worked with growers in the Northern parts of Argentina and in Southern Brazil to help them improve processing systems and supply markets all over the world. . .

Fonterra says season-to-date milk collection down 3% in NZ, down 1% in Australia – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in both New Zealand and Australia in the first 10 months of the season, reflecting destocking in its home market in the face of low milk prices and unfavourable weather across the Tasman.

Milk collection across New Zealand fell 3 percent to 1.39 billion kilograms of milk solids in the 10 months ended March 31, with all of the decline coming in the North Island and no change in the south. . . 

New PGP Investment Advisory Panel Chair announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed John Parker as the new Chair of the Primary Growth Partnership’s independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

Mr Parker is a primary industry and governance specialist, and assumes his role as IAP Chair from 1 May 2016.  He replaces Joanna Perry whose tenure as Chair finishes on 30 April after nearly seven years on the IAP, including almost three as its Chair.

“IAP members use their expertise and judgement to advise on decisions about the investment of PGP funds, and to help ensure these investments achieve the aims of economic growth and sustainability,” says Mr Guy.

“Mr Parker has extensive experience in both governance and in the primary industries and he understands what is required to grow value in the sector. . . 

Northland Farmer gets top foodies on side:

A local specialist pork and beef producer has won a nationwide competition to have some of the country’s top experts help promote the business.

Amanda Hellier and her husband Wayne farm in Motutangi under the name Farm Gate Produce. They have been named as one of four winners of the Sustainable Business Network’s Good Food Boost competition. The family business produces Free Range pork cuts, sausages, salami and Chorizo and supplies it ‘from gate to plate’. . . 

Considering more days in milk?:

After a tough season many dairy farmers may be considering extending the milking period of their cows to create more cashflow.

For farmers in a position to do so, keeping cows in milk for an extended period can make strong commercial sense. A dry cow by contrast still incurs feed and grazing costs but without a corresponding milk income.

SealesWinslow Consultant Animal Nutrition Specialist, Paul Sharp, says that farmers weighing the costs and benefits of extending the milking period have several things to consider.  . . .

Waikato forum to unlock secrets to $3/kg MS farm systems:

Dairy farmer Gary Rowlands says running his farm at a cost of under $3/kg milksolids (MS) is thanks to a simple system.

Gary and wife Debra’s farm is among the 10-15 percent of New Zealand farmers who operate below $3/kg MS FWE (farm working expenses).

The Rowlands put their $2.21/kg MS FWE system down to simple farming – including an all-grass focus, basic machinery, doing their fertiliser application/silage/topping themselves and looking after their cows well.

“It’s a simple system. We just do the basics well and don’t spend if we don’t have to,” says Gary. “Every aspect comes into it.” . . 

Federated Farmers welcomes New Zealand Fire Services merger:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s announcement today that funding of $303 million will be used over four years to combine rural and urban fire services.

Federated Farmers rural fire spokesperson Anders Crofoot says the creation of the new organisation – Fire and Emergency New Zealand – will mean a more efficient delivery and a better service provided by one organisation. It also recognises the services other than fire which rural fire has often provided for many years, even though it was unfunded and outside their mandate.

“The government is showing a strong commitment to transition and we welcome the additional money to build capabilities in rural fire and supporting our rural volunteers,” he said. . . 

Westpac NZ seeks more agriculture market share despite dairy downturn – By Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Westpac New Zealand says it wants to lift its market share of agricultural lending over time to 20 percent from the current 12.6 percent.

The Australian-owned bank today reported a steady performance in its New Zealand unit with cash earnings of $445 million for the six months ending Mar. 31, up 2 percent on a year ago.

Overall lending rose 8 percent with a 9 percent lift in business lending to $26.6 billion. Its agricultural portfolio totals $8.1 billion, up from $7.3 billion a year ago with dairy accounting for more than two-thirds of that. Its market share in agricultural lending rose from 12.3 percent in the previous half to 12.6 percent, which chief financial officer Jason Clifton said went mainly to existing rather than new dairy operations. . . 

Water Accord demonstrates the importance of using qualified advisers:

The release of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord this week highlights the important role of talented people in delivering improvements in the environmental performance of dairy farming.

The report notes that the training and certification of nutrient management advisers hit a major milestone in the 2014/15 year with a total of 100 rural professionals completing the requirements for and achieving certification in the Nutrient Management Adviser Certification Programme (NMACP). This was accomplished with the ongoing support and commitment of the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand and its member companies, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd and Ravensdown Ltd. One of the Accord targets was that 50% of Fertiliser Association member company advisers would be certified by 31 May 2014, which was comfortably achieved. . . 

Contractors must do their bit:

Agricultural contractors around the country must play their part in helping to prevent the spread of the invasive weed velvetleaf, says Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet.

Mr Levet is reminding contractors about the importance of biosecurity and machinery hygiene practices on, and between farms, in controlling the spread velvetleaf and says rural contractors have an important role to play in this.

“Contractors need to be conscious of the potential of spreading velvetleaf when moving between properties, or between areas of the same property, and to take responsibility in managing these risks,” he says. . . 

Wool Industry Reacts to New Health and Safety Regulations:

The National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests Inc comprises associations and organisations involved in the domestic and international trading of greasy and scoured wool. The Council acts as the New Zealand member of the International Wool Textile Organisation, which represents the interests of the wool textile trade at the global level.

The National Council and its members are committed to providing a safe working environment throughout the wool industry. Increasing concerns relating to bales weighing over 200kg (which are estimated to cover approximately 6% of the national clip) have prompted the Council to address the issue. Bales weighing in excess of 200kg can contribute to workplace accidents and throughout the industry provide a significant problem during dumping and shipping. These bales have been assessed as hazards during transport and handling, with changes deemed necessary to comply with tougher Occupational Health and Safety laws being introduced in New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

April 13, 2016

Plan for the worst, hope for the best – Jackie Harrigan:

If you could bottle optimism and cheerfulness and spray it around, Ben and Belinda Price would be a great source.

The Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmers of the Year for 2016 could be forgiven for feeling a little down, with their feed wedge flatlining on their Waitotara sharemilking farm after a hot dry summer and the Fonterra payout forecast dipping to new lows.

But the indomitable pair have picked up many skills in their eight years of sharemilking and they put optimism and healthy thinking at the top of their list of useful habits, followed closely by budget monitoring and giving back. . .

Three years of low payouts for dairy farmers will build pressure – Jill Galloway:

Farmers are dealing with tough times.

Rabobank Feilding branch manager Asti Williamson said 99 per cent of dairy farmers were likely to survive the three-year milk payout downturn.

“Each case is different. It depends how much debt a farm has.  But we are supporting our farmers.”

He said bank economists thought New Zealand was about halfway through the payout downturn.

“And the impact of the low payout is on the banks, farmers and the whole country.” . . 

 

The hunt for the golden kiwifruit – Julian Lee:

Scientists in Te Puke are concocting bizarre and wonderful new types of kiwifruit.

The kiwifruit industry will bring in $1 billion next year, and scientists are on the hunt for the next golden kiwifruit.

The SunGold kiwifruit was developed in New Zealand in the 1990s but has its origins in China. It’s now a popular variety, both domestically and for export.

Zespri and Plant and Land Research are looking to replicate that success. . . .

NZ lamb angers British farmers after imports sold under Prince Charles’ label :

British farmers are dismayed to find New Zealand lamb being sold under Prince Charles’ brand Duchy Originals, which was meant to promote the best of British produce.

Duchy Originals products are sold only at UK supermarket Waitrose, which confirmed it does sell imported lamb under the Duchy brand when supplies from British farms were not available, the Daily Mail reported.

Welsh sheep farmer Gethin Havard said New Zealand lamb was ‘over-fat and over-priced’ compared with Welsh lamb. . . 

Fonterra board size in focus in first governance overhaul since inception –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra’s board and shareholders’ council successfully opposed a remit to shrink its board at last year’s annual meeting and the outcome of this week’s first-ever governance overhaul may hold that line while proposing other changes to ensure the best spread of boardroom skills.

New Zealand’s biggest exporter is scheduled to release a set of proposals to refresh its governance structures – both at board and shareholders’ council level – on Thursday, with the aim of putting any proposed changes to its structure before shareholders for a vote in May. Auckland-based Fonterra hasn’t changed its governance and representation arrangements since being set up 15 years ago although it undertook a full review in 2013. . .

NZ Wine Industry Embraces Automation –WineWorks and Sacred Hill lead the way with supply chain integration:

WineWorks, Sacred Hill, and Flow Software have taken a significant step towards integrating the New Zealand wine industry supply chain.

The organisations have just gone live with a new automated process that allows efficient management of the wine to bottling, warehousing, and distribution of Sacred Hill wine via WineWorks.

“We identified that if we could send our sales orders via EDI to WineWorks this would reduce administration processing costs, negate duplicate rekeying of orders, remove error input rates, eliminate stock from being allocated if not available and allow for more orders to be sent to WineWorks. ” says Cameron Sutton, Production Manager of Sacred Hill. “Flow worked closely with our specialist ERP provider UXC Eclipse, which was fundamental to the success of the project”, notes Sutton. . .


Rural round-up

April 8, 2016

Two new irrigation champions recognised:

Two New Zealand irrigation champions have been recognised with the awarding of the Ron Cocks Memorial Award to South Canterbury’s Robin Murphy and Central Otago’s Tony Banks.

Both men’s achievements were celebrated at IrrigationNZ’s biennial conference dinner last night in Oamaru. The event has drawn more than 400 people to the Waitaki District this week to tour local irrigation infrastructure, listen to global guest speakers address irrigation issues, attend technical workshops and view an industry expo with 52 exhibitors.

The former chairman of the Earnscleugh Irrigation Company, Tony Banks, was described as an outstanding leader in delivering the benefits of water to Central Otago. Tony has given 31 years of service to the scheme; more than half his working life and all in a voluntary capacity. . . 

Power to the people – Anee Hardie:

The power bill is a big expense for many farms. Anne Hardie talked to Franz Josef farmer Graeme Berry about using local resources to reduce that bill to zero.  

Water is an abundant resource around Graham Berry’s Franz Josef dairy farm, which prompted him to build a small hydro power scheme that now supplies all his electricity with enough extra to sell into the national grid and pay its cost.  

It was a lengthy exercise that took years to acquire the necessary consents and ended up costing nearly half a million dollars, but that extra power sold into the national grid pays the interest while the farm and dairy now pay zilch for electricity. . .

Carrfields wins Innovation Award for irrigator stabiliser:

Ashburton’s Carrfields Irrigation company has won 2016’s IrrigationNZ Innovation Award in association with Aqualinc for its innovative irrigator stabiliser.

The award was presented last night at the industry body’s national conference which has attracted more than 400 people to Waitaki District this week.

The HydroFix Irrigator Stabiliser System consists of a series of inflatable water tanks connected to a pulley and counterweight systems along the length of an irrigator. . . 

South America set to dominate beef trade – Allan Barrber:

Rabobank’s quarterly report on the global beef market maintains South American beef producers, particularly Brazil, will be the major influence on the beef trade in 2016.

The most notable features are expected to be an increase in China’s official imports which rose sharply by 60% last year, a decline in US imports and lower than usual Australian beef production. New Zealand’s cattle kill is forecast to be earlier and lower than 2015 because of the earlier dairy cull. Although the American beef kill is still at 20 year lows, high stocks of frozen product will continue to put a dampener on both prices and import volumes. . . 

Isolated negligence of one farmer does not reflect Colony farming practice:

Allegations by SAFE that Colony farming causes increased mortality and poor welfare among layer hens is being strongly rejected by the Egg Industry.

The Egg Producer Federation (EPF) has been working with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to investigate claimsmade by SAFE about one of its member farms.

SAFE broke into a member farm to obtain footage that the Industry said is an unacceptable, but isolated discovery.

“The welfare of the birds is our first priority, so this footage is most definitely disturbing. Investigations have shown this is the negligence of one farm, in an isolated incident that shows poor practice around cage checking and clearing. . . 

Judge Valley Dairies Judged Supreme Winner In 2016 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Puahue dairy farmers John Hayward and Susan O’Regan are Supreme winners of the 2016 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 7 (2016), the couple also collected the LIC Dairy Farm Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, Waikato Regional Council Water Protection Award and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award.

Based on 245ha of flat to steep contour east of Te Awamutu, their operation, Judge Valley Dairies Ltd, was described by BFEA judges “as a highly productive farm that works well in a challenging landscape while balancing environmental care”. . . 

IrrigationNZ and Feds ask for scientific integrity:

IrrigationNZ and Federated Farmers say greater scrutiny of claims irrigation causes increased ‘rumbly-gut’ is needed, as recent assertions by Alison Dewes are not scientifically sound.

The industry bodies have joined forces to ask for improved scientific integrity when making claims in the media as “the validity of the argument around increased pathogen losses resulting from irrigation or water storage are not sound,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Our understanding is pathogen contamination of a water supply generally occurs through a direct pathway – a point source contamination. Neither irrigation nor water storage create pathogen issues, except through natural means, the increased birdlife around a water storage lake for example. The main causes of pathogen contamination are poor water treatment from domestic discharges or inadequately protected well- heads. ” says Mr Curtis. . .

International Agri-Group Digs Deep for Farm Community • Raising Over $40,000 for Rural School:

A $5,000 donation for catering and serving lunch for 130 of Australasia’s leading agribusiness professionals turned into an impromptu fundraising event recently – with a rural school of 36 students receiving over $40,000.

As part of its annual conference in Wellington, the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group visited a sheep farm and a dairy operation in the Wairarapa. The school children welcomed the delegation with a Kapa Haka followed by the serving of fresh, local produce including paua fritters, whitebait and crayfish for lunch. . . 

Ideal conditions for sowing:

If you haven’t sown your new pastures yet, there’s no better time than now to get seed into the ground.

Soil temperatures in many parts of the North Island and upper South Island are still mild – over 15 degrees C which is ideal for establishing most pasture species.

Perennial ryegrass or any short term ryegrass can be sown through to about Anzac Day, so that gives you plenty of options.

Early April is however too late for sowing pasture brome or fescue, because these species are sensitive to low soil temperatures. . . 

Report Shows Strong Future for Organic Products:

There’s good news for New Zealand’s organic fruit and vegetable growers in the report released today showing Kiwis are buying more organic product from their local supermarket.

The Organics Aotearoa Organic Market Report 2016 shows continuing growth in markets for organic fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly in supermarkets, up 127% in four years.

“What is good about that figure for horticulture is it shows shoppers are thinking more about what they put in their shopping trollies.

“That’s a good trend for all the producers serving the New Zealand domestic market,” HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman says.. . 

Weaker Dollar Moves Wool Up:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the slightly weaker New Zealand dollar compared to last weeks’ sale helped lift local prices, aided by strong support for a more stylish South Island selection suitable for greasy wool orders.

Of the 9,400 bales on offer, 91.6 percent sold.

The weighted currency indicator was down 1.12 percent week on week.

Compared to the last time comparable wools were sold on 23rd March in the South Island Fine Crossbred Full Fleece and Shears were firm to 1.7 percent dearer. . . 

 

 

Farmers Are Awesome's photo.

Let’s also pay tribute to those farmers’ husbands/partners who work as hard or harder than their farmers.


Rural round-up

April 6, 2016

Marine farming rubbish removed during beach clean-up – Mike Watson:

Marine farmers have recovered almost 20 tonnes of rubbish, much of it non-industry related, from Marlborough Sounds and Tasman Bay beaches in the past five years.

The total tonnage from the marine farming industry-led environmental programme was the equivalent of more than two weeks work every month over the past five years by volunteers cleaning up the region’s beaches, a  review of the programme showed.

The programme had been operating since the early 1990s to help clean up beaches in the top of the South Island. . . 

Pondering life and death down on the farm – Joyce Wyllie:

“When you have livestock, you do have dead stock” is a saying I heard often when I was a vet.

It is a farmer’s laconic way of coping with disappointments, sickness and demise of both farm and pet animals. Death is something we face on farms regularly and rural families do learn to deal with it, although it should never become casual or frivolous. Our garden has a cemetery where the white mice are buried, there are RIP white crosses among flowers, and fruit trees planted on top of deceased dogs.

Our children have learnt that life does end. They have experienced grief, understand sadness of loss and have developed respect for death. . . 

Dairy forum focuses on challenges and opportunities:

The outlook for the wider dairy sector including support available for farmers were the focus of an event near Morrinsville attended by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today.

The event brought together farmers and others from the rural business community, including MPI, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trusts and the New Zealand Bankers Association who together launched a new brochure outlining various support available for farmers.

“While the medium to long-term outlook for the sector remains strong, our dairy farmers are doing it tough this season. Low global prices are having a real impact on cashflows and farmers are rightly focussing on their business decisions and on-farm costs,” says Mr Guy.. . .

Health and safety must be a priority:

WorkSafe NZ’s chief executive says farmers should place a high priority on health and safety plans rather than doing them at the end of the working week.

Gordon MacDonald’s comments come as the new Health and Safety at Work Act comes into force on April 4. He says the new act should come under the banner of ‘looking after my mates’ and become an important part of any business.

He adds the ‘she’ll be right’ approach has no place in the current environment and shouldn’t have had for the past 20 years under the previous act. . . 

MPI imposes tough restrictions on imported seed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has imposed tough new border restrictions to stop contaminated seed from entering New Zealand.

The move follows the discovery of velvet leaf in fodder beet seeds imported from Europe. MPI, industry bodies and regional councils are currently responding to an outbreak of the invasive weed in farm properties across the country.

“We already have strong border controls in place to stop contaminated seed from entering New Zealand. The new interim measures will provide another layer of biosecurity until we know exactly how the contaminated fodder beet seeds entered the country,” says Stephen Butcher, MPI Manager Import and Export Plants. . . 

Throw a chop on the barbie in Tokyo

JAPANESE shoppers are not normally known for their appetite for sheepmeat products, but changing consumer trends could see more lamb on their barbecues alongside Australian beef.

Food industry marketers say the world’s biggest importer of red meat (by value) is not only a cosmopolitan marketplace with plenty of scope for new taste trends among younger consumers, Japan also has a growing attraction to barbecued meat. . . 

Fifth Grand Finalist Confirmed in FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

James Hoban is the fifth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2016 FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

James is a 30 year old Sheep and Dairy Support Farmer and Farm Environment Consultant who took first place at the Tasman Regional Final in Rangiora on 2 April

Mr Hoban went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from FMG, Massey University, Ravensdown, Meridian Energy, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, STIHL and Vodafone. James also won the Massey University Agri-growth Challenge. . . 

LIC Jersey bulls make a strong comeback:

LIC’s Jersey Premier Sires bulls have cemented their position at the top of the national Jersey Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list, released at the weekend.

This is good news for dairy farmers who prefer to get their Jersey inseminations from their farmer-owned co-operative.

Among a range of positive statistics on the Jersey RAS list, LIC has all of the top 5 bulls. It also has 8 of the top 10 and 11 of the top 15 bulls on the Jersey RAS list. Of the 11, 9 are new graduates which illustrates the change in LIC’s momentum. . . 


Rural round-up

April 1, 2016

Nutritional Sales Underpin Half Year Underlying Profit of $12.3 Million:

Synlait has reported an underlying net profit after tax (NPAT) of $12.3 million for the first half of the 2016 financial year (HY16).

In contrast to $0.4 million in HY15, this improved performance is primarily the result of increased nutritional sales in canned infant formula.

“We’re glad to deliver a solid result for the first half of FY16. Our significant investment in customer and product development, people, plant and operating systems in recent years is beginning to transform our earnings,” said Chairman Graeme Milne. . . 

European market conditions depress Westland’s payout prediction:

Global market conditions for dairy products point to at least two more seasons of low milk payouts in New Zealand, Westland Milk Products told shareholders today as the co-operative revised its predicted payout for the 2015-16 season to $3.90 – $4.00 per kilogramme of milk solids, down from last month’s prediction of $4.00 – $4.10.

Westland CEO Rod Quin said the major driver of the revised payout remains the global oversupply of milk, compounded by the ongoing high availability and aggressive approach by the European dairy market.

Quin and Westland Chair Matt O’Regan have recently returned from Europe where they met with customers, farmers, processors, traders and industry advocates. . . 

Fonterra makes best of a bad job – Allan Barber:

The PR spin has been pretty active signalling a much improved half yearly result which was duly delivered this morning. The company confirmed a 40 cent dividend for the full year with the interim dividend being paid next month as usual and the final dividend being paid in two tranches in May and August instead of October.

This improvement in cash flow will do something, but not a lot, to comfort farmers labouring under a debt burden. Unfortunately it will do absolutely nothing to support sharemilkers who will have to rely on their share of the milk payout. Predictions for the rest of 2016 are notable for their conservatism, probably in recognition of a disappointing track record when forecasting the extent of the current downturn. . . 

Fonterra’s six-month results – good news but some underlying issues – Keith Woodford:

As expected, Fonterra has announced a greatly enhanced six-month profit for the period ending 31 January 2016. The profit of $409 million (NPAT; i.e. net profit after finance costs and tax) is up 123% from the same period in the previous year.

The expected full year profit of 45-55c per share implies an annual profit of about $800 million compared to $506 million for the full year 2014/15.

These figures are all very much in line with expectations . The reason for this is that when milk prices to farmers are low, then Fonterra has low input costs. Accordingly, there is more scope for corporate profit. . . 

Keep sharing the load by talking about it:

No matter which branch of farming you are in, you will face tough times, says Nelson farmer and Horticulture NZ President Julian Raine. When that happens, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

Speaking to the Farming Show’s Jamie Mackay as part of the Getting Through Adversity radio series, Julian said that even with the best planning, erratic weather events can cause mayhem. Jamie suggested that growing fruit crops is arguably one of the riskiest pursuits in farming: “One adverse event at the wrong time and suddenly your whole crop is wiped out. If you are a sheep farmer, for example, you at least have lambing spread over three weeks, or if you are dairy your risk is spread over nine months of milking.” . . 

Meat exporters ready to reap benefits of TPP:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement eliminates all tariffs on beef into our biggest market, the United States, within five years of coming into force.

Trade Minister Todd McClay, speaking at the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce this morning, says New Zealand exported meat products worth over $2.8 billion to TPP countries in 2015 and the gains once TPP comes into force will be significant.

“Our beef into Japan currently attracts a 38.5 per cent tariff. That has made it extraordinarily hard for our exporters to compete with other countries with lower tariffs. . . 

Ongoing market challenges weigh on New Zealand farmers, with confidence close to 10-year low:

The significant and persisting challenges in market conditions continue to weigh heavily on the nation’s farmers, with New Zealand’s rural confidence at the second lowest level recorded in the past 10 years, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

Completed earlier this month, the survey found more than half of farmers surveyed (53 per cent) had a pessimistic outlook on the agricultural economy over the coming 12 months. This was significantly up from 30 per cent with that view in the previous survey, in late 2015. . . 

Dairy downturn: councils prepare to tighten belts:

Councils in rural areas might be forced to cut spending if the dairy downturn lasts for a long time, Local Government New Zealand head Lawrence Yule says.

A Westpac-McDermott Miller regional economic survey has shown big falls in confidence in major dairy areas including Waikato, Taranaki, and Southland.

Mr Yule said the businesses in many rural towns were already hunkering down as farmers tightened their spending, and that could spread. . .

NZX to teach farmers about new milk contract:

NZX expects to receive regulatory approval for the new fresh milk futures and options product within two weeks.

Chief executive Tim Bennett said there was a demand for the fresh milk contracts product after Fonterra scrapped its guaranteed milk price product for the upcoming season. . . 

NZ helping to restore Fiji’s dairy sector after Winston:

The New Zealand government says it will help restore Fiji’s dairy industry which is losing thousands of litres of milk and was devastated as a result of last month’s cyclone.

New Zealand announced additional aid to help Fiji’s recovery on Wednesday.

A lot of that money is going into the continuing infrastructure rebuild led by the New Zealand Defence Force. . . 

Helensville Farmers First To Claim Supreme Title In Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

“Environmental champions” Richard and Dianne Kidd are Supreme winners of the inaugural Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 30 (2016), the Helensville couple was also presented with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

BFEA judges described Whenuanui Farm, the Kidd family’s 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, as “a show piece farm on the edge of Auckland city”. . . .

From paddock to packet: The family behind NZ’s most successful independent chips – Ryan Bridge:

You’re about to meet a family of potato farmers who beat the odds to grow one of the country’s most successful independent chip businesses.

The Bowans are from Timaru and not only do they grow spuds, they transport them to their own factory and make the chips too.

Together they are Heartland Potato Chips.

It all started when Raymond Bowan decided to grow his own potatoes as a teenager. His son James Bowan has taken over running the family potato farm and unlike his old man, he doesn’t do it by hand anymore, there’s a flash piece of kit to help. . . 

Food development facility opportunity for creative entrepreneurs:

Those looking to be innovative with their food are wanted at the FoodSouth food development pilot plant on the Lincoln campus, but there are no Heston Blumenthal creations on the menu.

The final part of a national food innovation network, the facility provides three purpose-built independent food safe development spaces along with a variety of processing equipment — an extruder, ovens, dryers, enrober, mixers, and a mobile product development kitchen among them.

It enables businesses to develop product prototypes for market validation, trial new equipment, carry out scale-up trial work and sample manufacture in 20L to 200L batch sizes, conduct process development and improvement, and validate quality systems. . . 

It’s in the family for new A&P Association President:

Sheep and beef farmer Warrick James has been elected as President of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association for 2016 at the Annual General Meeting at Riccarton Park Racecourse on 30 March.

Based in Central Canterbury near Glentunnel, Mr James was confirmed as President of the 154th Canterbury A&P Show in front of outgoing President Nicky Hutchinson and Association Members.

“It means a lot to be President of the Canterbury A&P Association. We host the largest and most prestigious Show in the country – it really is the pinnacle of the A&P movement. Having been involved from a young age with my family and seeing my own children take part over the years just makes this even more special.” . . .

Trio spread cheer on woolshed tour – Suzette Howe:

At a time when life’s a bit tough for rural communities, a trio of Kiwi performers are setting off on a woolshed tour to boost morale. 

They’re coming armed with their own stage curtain, a bar and plenty of laughs.

Over the next five weeks the talented ladies will transform more than 20 working wool sheds into live stages the length of the South Island.

They’re travelling by horse truck, carting hundreds of chairs, a bar, and full production set.

Farmer Georgie Harper says it’s hard to say no when the performance is brought to you. . . 

Itinerary and booking information at The Woolshed Tour.


Rural round-up

March 16, 2016

Whitestone blue wins silver in world champs – Sally Rae,

Whitestone Cheese has got the blues – but in a good way.

The Oamaru-based company has been awarded a silver medal in the blue vein division of the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest in the United States, the world’s largest cheese, butter and yoghurt competition.

The contest, hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, attracted a record 2948 entries from 25 countries. Judges came from all over the world and included Fonterra research technologist Andrew Legg. . . 

Bankers aren’t farmers – Offsetting Behaviour:

On Radio New Zealand this morning, Andrew Little argued the government should lean on the banks to prevent their foreclosing on dairy farms, warning of that foreigners might swoop in and buy distressed NZ farms. 

  • Banks do not want to run farms. If they foreclose, they have to find somebody to run the thing pending auction. There are cows that need to be fed. The bank or the receiver takes on all the health & safety, and animal welfare, liability. The most heavily leveraged ones are the ones that’d be first to go; those are the ones where the banks have the biggest stake, and where the banks would take the greatest share of the loss in a fire-sale. A receiver’s fees will include all the farm-running costs. . . 

Dairy industry needs to stay competitive – DairyNZ:

DairyNZ says it is time to look at how the dairy industry can stay competitive in the wake of a record low Farmgate Milk Price and mounting debt.

It is stepping up its support to farmers and is running workshops across the country this week focussing on sharemilkers and farm owners working with sharemilkers.

Chief executive Tim Mackle said Fonterra has done well since it formed in 2001, and the main challenge for farmers – compared to other tough years – was the mountain of debt that had grown.

“Ten percent of the highest indebted farms have 30 percent of the total dairy debt – that’s $11 to $12 billion or $10 million each. But that doesn’t mean all those farms are at risk,” says Dr Mackle. . . 

Dairy prices affecting over one fifth of NZ SMEs:

More than one-in-five small and medium enterprises across New Zealand are feeling the effects of falling dairy prices, according to leading accounting software developer MYOB.

A snapshot result from the latest Business Monitor research commissioned by MYOB and undertaken by Colmar Brunton, found that 21 per cent of the more than 1,000 SMEs surveyed stated their business’ revenues were negatively affected by the dairy price. Even more concerning is the 25 per cent of SMEs that said general consumer confidence has been directly hit.

Across the country, it means that approximately 100,000 businesses employing upwards of one million New Zealanders are facing reducing revenue because of the dairy downturn. MYOB General Manager James Scollay says that the results show a significant impact on the New Zealand economy. . .

Dairy farming: it’ll be survival of the fittest – Jamie Gray:

Bank analyst has confidence in the sector’s ability to adapt but says that some of those ill-prepared for the downturn will go to the wall, writes Jamie Gray.

The dairy sector may be in for a period of adjustment of an order not seen since the 1980s, when farmers were hit with high interest rates, a high New Zealand dollar, and the removal of subsidies, says Rabobank NZ’s head of country banking Hayley Moynihan.

As dairy farmers prepare to enter what may be their third season in a row of negative returns, Moynihan said there will be casualties, but she has confidence in the sector’s ability to cope. . . 

dairy graphic

Stellar vintage predicted for Hawke’s Bay winegrowers:

All signs are pointing towards 2016 being another stellar year for Hawke’s Bay winemakers.

Paul Ham, Managing Director of Alpha Domus Winery, says the 2016 vintage is shaping up to be one of the best yet.

As one of the first wineries in Hawke’s Bay to harvest their early Chardonnay grapes, Alpha Domus is in a unique position to assess the coming vintage. “We’re really excited about the remainder of the harvest,” says Mr Ham. “It’s been a superb season and the grapes are looking outstanding on the vine.” . . .

Quality of NZ wool clip leaves exporters scrambling to fill lower-grade fibre orders – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand wool exporters scrambling to fill orders for lower-grade wool have driven up the price of what are known as oddments in recent weeks because the season to date has delivered an unexpectedly high-quality clip.

Wool oddments are the shorter parts of the fleece, such as from the belly, second pieces, eye clips, necks and those parts stained or otherwise discoloured. They are often baled and sold separately, but a paucity of lower-quality wool has meant exporters are blending oddments with other higher wool grades to make up orders, said Malcolm Ching, an executive at New Zealand Wool Services International in Christchurch. . . 

China Resources buys stake in NZ’s biggest apple exporter – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – China Resources Ng Fung has acquired 15.3 percent of Scales Corp, New Zealand’s biggest apple exporter, for about $55.9 million from Direct Capital Investments.

The Hong Kong-based company today entered into an arrangement to buy the shares at $2.60 apiece, with settlement on about March 21. Scales said it welcomed China Resources “as a significant minority shareholder, and as a party who can provide support to Scales in its ongoing initiatives in China.” . . 

Social Media Stars Win Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Awards:

The 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners are active among a growing group of dairy farmers turning to social media to support, share and gain information to help progress their dairy career.

At the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Indian Hall in Pukekohe last night, Brad Markham and Matthew Herbert were named 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year, Hayden Kerr became the 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year and James Doidge the 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mr Markham, Mr Herbert and Mr Kerr are all active and well-known among dairy farmers on Twitter. “We enjoy connecting with other farmers, in New Zealand and overseas, on social media platforms like Twitter,” Mr Markham and Mr Herbert say. “It can be a great way to share ideas. . . 

Accountants Get in Behind New Zealand Dairy Farmers:

NZ CA Limited announces Gold Sponsorship of 2016 Dairy Business of the Year

Improving farm profitability and developing resilient and sustainable farming systems are two of the key drivers behind NZ Chartered Accountants Limited’s (NZ CA) gold sponsorship of this year’s Dairy Business of the Year (DBOY).

Sue Merriman, NZ CA’s chairperson and also partner in Greymouth chartered accountants Marshall & Heaphy Limited, says, “The group is delighted to be a Gold Sponsor of the 2016 Dairy Business of the Year. With so many of our member firms located in provincial New Zealand and having dairy farm businesses as clients, it’s a logical move for the group to be involved in supporting and further developing these businesses. With the continuing slump in milk solid prices this year and the effect of this on farm businesses, it’s more important than ever that dairy farmers get good independent business advice from their chartered accountants. . . 

Fertiliser Company Takes Industry Lead to Identify Fertiliser Efficiency:

Fertiliser Company Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate has taken an industry lead to identify fertiliser efficiencies for farmers

The company has invested over $1 million in research and is monitoring 12 sheep and beef farms totalling 16,500 hectares in the independent ‘Farming for the Future’ programme.

The programme set out to find how a lower nutrient input system can build both economic and environmental resilience within the farm gate. . . 

TECH Talks a highlight at national primary industry conference:

In two weeks Rotorua will be playing host to over 300 industry representatives from throughout the agriculture, horticulture and forestry sectors. MobileTECH 2016 is a two-day conference focusing on new technologies and innovations designed for our food and fibre industries.

As well as the New Zealand sector, MobileTECH has also attracted a solid contingent from across the Tasman. Some of Australia’s largest primary industry companies will be flying into Rotorua and joining the local industry for this event.

The strength of this programme, boosting over 36 speakers, is in bringing together under the one roof leaders from across a diverse range of primary industries with those who are developing, manufacturing and adopting these new technologies. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 22, 2016

‘Dryland specialists — not victims’ – Sally  Rae:

Coping with dry conditions on Otago farms and the ongoing implications is about taking action, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

Soul-destroying. That is how Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Pat Macaulay describes living through drought.

Mrs Macaulay, of North Taieri, knows first-hand exactly what it feels like, having farmed in the Strath Taieri where drought was a regular occurrence. . .

Bank on bright side but farmers sombre – Sally Rae:

Dairy farmers are facing another tough year but a ‘‘generally strong year” is being picked by Rabobank for most other sectors.

Solid demand in key offshore markets, recent progress in export development and generally tight global supply was likely to bring another good year for producers of beef, wool and horticultural products, food and agribusiness research general manager Tim Hunt said.

While beef prices had lost some ground in recent months, they remained well above multi-year average levels and were expected to receive support from a generally tight global market. .  .

Farmers look for exit as prices crunch – Gerald Piddock & Aaron Leaman:

More dairy farmers are looking to shut the family farm gate, some after generations on the land, as the milk price slump pushes rural households to breaking point.

A DairyNZ and AgFirst report on farm ownership pathways out in April is expected to show farm ownership stretching further out of reach of many  as growing numbers look for a managed exit from an increasingly unprofitable and stressful industry.

The looming dairy exodus has prompted a warning that some of the country’s best and brightest will be lost to a sector once considered the backbone of the New Zealand economy.  . . 

Lamb prices better than expected – Sally Rae:

Prices at last week’s Omarama lamb sale were stronger than anticipated, considering schedule pricing, agents say.

More than 70 buyers from throughout the South Island registered for the sale, which comprised a total yarding of just over 12,000 lambs.

The average price for PGG Wrightson’s offering of 7000 lambs was $54, up $8 or $9 on last year’s sale.

Tara Hills achieved the top price for merino wethers at $68, while prices ranged from $66-$31.50. Tara Hills also topped the merino ewe lambs, at $58.50, with prices ranging from $52-$24. . . 

Taranaki avocado shortage blamed on freak weather – Christopher Reive:

Freak storms caused by climate change are being blamed for a poor avocado harvest causing shortages around the country.

Taranaki avocado grower Steve Wright has an orchard of 230 avocado trees near Urenui, north of New Plymouth, and said while the fruit generally ran in a cycle of good crop-bad crop, this season had been particularly bad.

“It’s not just a mild wind that comes through, they come through and they just hammer your place and what happens is, because the avos hang on a stem, they just twist around and break,” Wright said. . . 

First Grand Finalist Confirmed In FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

Jake Thomson is the first Grand Finalist to be named in the 2016 FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

The 27 year old from Whangarei who manages a Dairy Farm took first place at the Northern Regional Final in Pukekohe on Saturday 20 February.

Mr Thomson went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from FMG, Massey University, Ravensdown, Median Energy, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, STIHL and Vodafone. He also won the AGMARDT Agri-Business Challenge, Meridian Energy Agri-Knowledge Challenge and the Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenge . . .

Farm Takeover!  The dirt on raising GMO corn: The Land – Uptown Farms:

“Tell your story!”  Anyone in the agriculture industry has been hearing it!  It is important and I’m the first to boast how much I love to tell my story.
 
But, if I am honest, I’m usually telling my husband’s story. He’s the farmer.
 
Well not this year!  Matt is sliding over into the buddy seat and turning me loose on my very own 60 acres!  And I’m taking you along for the ride by detailing the entire process of raising corn right here, all season long!

When it comes to land, farmers generally talk in acres.  One acre is 43,560 square feet – roughly the size of a football field. 
 
The first step for any crop farmer is the most obvious (and most expensive) one – find some land. . .


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,856 other followers

%d bloggers like this: