Rural round-up

September 19, 2020

Fonterra back in the black :

Fonterra has posted a $659 million profit and will pay farmers $7.19/kg milksolids for the 2019-20 season.

It has held the forecast for the 2020-21 season at $5.90-6.90/kg MS.

The dividend for the 2019-20 season is 5c a share.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says 2019-20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and a strong milk price.

“We increased our profit after tax by more than $1 billion, reduced our debt by more than $1 billion and this has put us in a position to start paying dividends again,” he says. . . 

Farmers and growers call for help with labour shortages – Katie Todd:

Farmers and growers say if agriculture is going to drag the country’s economy back into shape, they will need help to fix labour shortages.

While urban centres went into a strict lockdown in April and May – contributing to a 12.2 percent tumble in gross domestic product – agriculture, forestry and fishing saw only a marginal drop of 2.2 percent.

The pandemic has done little to disrupt business on Damien Roper’s south Taranaki farm, home to 420 dairy cows.

He said even in the throes of the level four lockdown, his classification as an essential worker made it almost business as usual. . . 

Urgent government intervention required for horticulture industry Finance Minister told :

Industry representatives met with Finance Minister, Grant Robertson in Hawke’s Bay earlier this week to discuss challenges facing the regional fruit and wine industry. The main item of discussion was around labour pressure for the coming grape, summerfruit and apple harvests – pressure that will see more than 10,000 seasonal workers needed.

Industry welcomed the Minister’s positive message that the government understood the issue facing these industries.

“With backpackers and Pacific seasonal workers down by 50,000, the industry is facing an incredibly difficult task across New Zealand this season,” says New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI) chief executive Alan Pollard. . . 

‘Languishing’ Jobs for Nature process leave tourism operator fearful – Tess Brunton:

A South Island tourism operator says he could have prevented redundancies if wasn’t for delays to a nature-based job creation scheme.

More than $1 billion was earmarked for the Jobs for Nature programme in May as part of the government’s cross-agency Covid-19 recovery package to run over four years.

Today, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced an extra $19.7 million for kiwi conservation aimed at reversing the decline of the species.

While the funding has been welcomed, some applicants have been waiting months in limbo unsure if they will get a green light. . . 

Agricultural policy must incentivise innovation:

Agcarm calls on the government to introduce managed risk to legislation. Its chief executive Mark Ross says that the rural sector faces many, and often conflicting, demands. “Our farmers and growers are faced with the challenges of growing more food and fibre in reducing hectares of available space. They are also being asked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, keep up with international best practice, minimise residues and manage resistance.

“To support our farmers and growers to meet these challenges, we must allow them to have access to the latest technology and the most effective and sustainable animal medicines and pesticides to protect animals and crops from devasting losses,” he says.

In its election manifesto, Agcarm asks the new government to modernise the regulatory environment for new product approvals and base scientific decision-making on facts and evidence, not political popularity. . . 

Rural market poised for spring:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 121 more farm sales (+45.7%) for the three months ended August 2020 than for the three months ended August 2019. Overall, there were 386 farm sales in the three months ended August 2020, compared to 341 farm sales for the three months ended July 2020 (+13.2%), and 265 farm sales for the three months ended August 2019. 1,252 farms were sold in the year to August 2020, 7.2% fewer than were sold in the year to August 2019, with 22.9% less Dairy farms, 14.1% less Grazing farms, 15.3% less Finishing farms and 6.1% more Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to August 2020 was $25,657 compared to $25,346 recorded for three months ended August 2019 (+1.2%). The median price per hectare increased 10.8% compared to July 2020. . . 


Rural round-up

April 30, 2020

Farmers ask government to align domestic, international emissions target – Eric Fryberg:

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand’s domestic policy with its international promises on climate change.

Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb said it did not make sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

Domestically, the government has legislated a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, compared with a short-lived gas like methane. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year finalists reflect depth and diversity in the industry:

Three woman contributing to the dairy industry in very different ways are this year’s finalists in the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Ngai Tahu Farming Technical Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell from Christchurch, Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay are all in the running for the prestigious dairy award managed by the Dairy Women’s Network being announced early next month.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said all three finalists came from such different directions and perspectives which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand. . . 

Ag exports a ‘godsend’ – Pam Tipa:

Primary product prices will fall further this year but remain at reasonable levels before some improvement in 2021, according to BNZ senior economist Doug Steel.

However, the falls – so far this year – have not been as much as might have been expected, he says.

“The defensive qualities of NZ’s food-heavy export mix may well be a Godsend for the economy as a whole during the current turmoil. If nothing else, it is easy to imagine a new-found appreciation for where our food comes from,” Steel told Rural News. . .

Ritchie instrumental in driving positive change for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

Tim Ritchie came into the Meat Industry Association as CEO at the end of 2007, initially intended to be for an 18 month period, and retired earlier this month over 12 years later. His first task was the planned merger of the processor representative organisation with Meat & Wool, the forerunner of Beef + Lamb NZ, which was strongly promoted by Keith Cooper, then CEO of Silver Fern Farms, and Meat & Wool chairman, Mike Petersen.

The merger was doomed to fail after dissension among the processors, some of which failed to see how the two organisations, one a member funded trade association and the other a farmer levy funded body, could possibly work as one. History has clearly shown the logic behind the eventual outcome which has seen MIA and B+LNZ each carving out a clearly defined role to the ultimate benefit of the red meat sector. . . 

Cautious optimism over apple exports – Peter Burke:

NZ Apples and Pears says while it’s early days yet, apple export volumes for this year are only slightly behind last year.

Alan Pollard, chief executive of NZ Apples and Pears, says so far there has only been 25% harvested, but the signs are encouraging and he’s cautiously optimistic.

He’s predicting that it may be a reasonable year, but not a great year. . .

An historic month:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 less farm sales (-15.1%) for the three months ended March 2020 than for the three months ended March 2019. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months ended March 2020, compared to 329 farm sales for the three months ended February 2020 (-14.6%), and 331 farm sales for the three months ended March 2019. 1,216 farms were sold in the year to March 2020, 15.9% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2019, with 32.6% less Dairy farms, 14.3% less Grazing farms, 26.1% less Finishing farms and 14.1% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2020 was $21,130 compared to $23,383 recorded for three months ended March 2019 (-9.6%). The median price per hectare increased 2.7% compared to February 2020. . . 


Rural round-up

March 21, 2020

Coronavirus: Fonterra, New Zealand is counting on you now like never before – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra chairman John Monaghan in his opening remarks about this week’s strong half-year result said against the backdrop of coronavirus turmoil, the big dairy company’s news “may sound somewhat trivial”.

We knew what he meant, but he couldn’t have been more wrong.

The financial performance of New Zealand’s biggest company and the world’s fourth-largest dairy company assumes towering new importance because of that turmoil.

Dairying was an economic sword for New Zealand against the GFC. . . 

New Zealand’s food supply needs protecting:

The animal medicines and crop protection lobby group Agcarm applauds the government’s efforts to protect the health of New Zealanders in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, buts asks that support is extended to the farming community for maintaining essential food supplies.

Agcarm chief executive says “our rural communities are needed more than ever to ensure that this health crisis doesn’t turn into a hunger crisis”. Food production must be prioritised as an essential part of the COVID-19 response.

“We must maintain the uninterrupted movement of animal medicine and crop protection products, seeds and feed so that our farmers can keep healthy livestock and maintain an abundant supply of meat, fruits, vegetables and grains.” . . 

Still in business – Annette Scott:

Rural people are urged to band together in keeping safe as they ride the tough times of the coronavirus pandemic.

Social resilience is key and if everyone works together “we will get through this,” the Mental Health Foundation says.

Agriculture is still in business and likely to lead the bounce back, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

“Farming is likely to be the quickest to rebound from the fallout from coronavirus. . . 

Drought starting to bite hard – Colin Williscroft:

Drought shouts organised by North Island rural support trusts have been put on hold by restrictions on gatherings.

Rural Support Trust chairman Neil Bateup says the social events bringing farmers together to deal with the drought and take their minds off some of its problems are no longer an option as the focus goes on keeping farmers and trust staff safe from covid-19.

It does not affect the trust’s other services.

“We’re absolutely determined to continue with the one-on-one support and advice to farmers.

“That will not be interrupted but we’re putting some protocols in place to keep everyone safe.” . . 

Dairy farm sales low but recovering – Maja Burry:

New figures from the Real Estate Institute show dairy farm sales remain slow, with only one dairy farm changing hands in Canterbury in the last nine months.

Data released yesterday shows 1253 farms were sold in the year to February 2020, 14.8 percent fewer than were sold in the year to February 2019, with 37 percent less dairy farms, 10 percent less grazing farms, 27.9 percent less finishing farms and 9.9 percent less arable farms sold over the same period.

The institute’s rural spokesperson Brian Peacocke said the data reflected a rural industry under pressure in terms of volumes and values, particularly the dairy sector. . . 

Synlait Milk’s first half profit drops 30 percent :

Synlait Milk has reported a 30 percent fall in its first half profit as its costs rose despite higher revenue.

The dairy company’s net profit for the six month ended January was $26.2 million, compared with $37.3 million the year before.

Revenue rose 19 percent, but its depreciation and financing costs offset that as the company expanded for future growth. . .


Rural round-up

February 20, 2020

West Coast man decries government’s ‘blatant attack on property rights’ :

An elderly West Coast man has appealed to the government not to take his land, after more than 70 percent of it was classed as a Significant Natural Area.

Tony Barrett, 86, lives alone on his 607ha block on the Arnold Valley Road, east of Greymouth.

Barrett’s grandparents first leased the land near Notown from the government in the 1930s after it was cleared of trees, dug over and mined for gold by returned servicemen.

The Barretts left much of it undeveloped, and a large chunk of the formerly gorse-covered block is now regenerating native bush. . . 

Wild rabbit sellers say cost of audits driving them out of business:

Those trying to make a living from selling wild rabbits to restaurants and for pet food say they are being driven out of business by high compliance costs.

Shooters and processors spoken to by RNZ said audits up to every six weeks were over the top and they should not be treated in the same way as a large scale meat works.

Bob Thomson has run a sole operator rabbit processing plant on the outskirts of Christchurch for the past two decades, supplying wild rabbits to high end restaurants around the country and for pet food.

But he is drowning under a tsunami of paperwork. . .

Helping farmers tell their stories – Colin Williscroft:

There’s an increasing awareness of the need for farmers to tell their stories to help explain to urban New Zealanders the realities of life on the land and the contribution the primary sector makes to the country. Lisa Portas of Palliser Ridge is determined to help get those stories across, as Colin Williscroft found out.

 For farming stories to truly connect with an urban audience they not only have to be told well, they need to be authentic and that means they have to come from farmers themselves, Wairarapa farmer Lisa Portas says.

If that’s going to work farmers need to become more comfortable being their own narrators and not be afraid to use a range of channels from social media to open days to encourage a wider understanding of agricultural industries, the people involved, the processes and the reasons why decisions are made. . .

Around world and back to Synlait – Toni WIlliams:

Lachie Davidson has travelled to the other side of the world, been crowned a world champion egg thrower and has just embarked on a career with an internationally recognised company which prides itself as being an outside-the-box thinker.

The 22-year-old former Ashburton College head boy is one of four to gain a place in the Synlait Future Leaders Programme. More than 300 people applied.

Under the three-year accelerated development programme, developed by Synlait organisational development manager Tony Aitken, he will undergo leadership training as he learns different facets of the company. . .

LIC to seek shareholder approval to acquire 50% stake for $108.7 million in Israeli agritech company Afimilk:

    • The investment will strengthen LIC’s ability to deliver superior herd improvement services and agritech to its farmers.
    • The proposed 50% stake in Afimilk will help LIC keep its world-leading edge in pastoral dairy farming data while broadening access to new information to meet future needs and challenges.
    • Afimilk is profitable, has no debt and has historically paid dividends to its shareholders. . .

Rural market reflects external volatility:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 57 less farm sales (-13.6%) for the three months ended January 2020 than for the three months ended January 2019. Overall, there were 363 farm sales in the three months ended January 2020, compared to 345 farm sales for the three months ended December 2019 (+5.2%), and 420 farm sales for the three months ended January 2019. 1,277 farms were sold in the year to January 2020, 14.7% fewer than were sold in the year to January 2019, with 40.3% less Dairy farms, 3.9% less Grazing farms, 28.4% less Finishing farms and 9.8% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to January 2020 was $21,221 compared to $27,087 recorded for three months ended January 2019 (-21.7%). The median price per hectare decreased 7.7% compared to December 2019. . .


Rural round-up

January 26, 2020

New policy might limit farming – Neal Wallace:

Farmers fear new biodiversity policy could force councils to make them restore areas of indigenous flora and fauna on their land.

The Government has released its proposed draft National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, which leans heavily on councils to identify, monitor and manage areas with significant indigenous biodiversity.

Within five years councils will have to identify and map significant natural areas using standard national criteria, manage any adverse effects on those areas and survey native wildlife in and outside the areas to determine if they are threatened or affected by land use activities. . .

Sarah’s Country: Are we fit for a better world? – Sarah Perriam:

Sarah’s Country’s debut episode focuses on the key elements of this vision for New Zealand that includes a swing towards regenerative agriculture, capturing the value of the billion-dollar plant protein trend and offsetting our carbon emissions with environmental integrity, not ‘thin air fake’ credits.

Sarah Perriam, the host of Sarah’s Country, is this week joined by guest co-host Kate Scott. Kate is a director of LandPro and a 2018 Nuffield Scholar living in Central Otago. . .

Farm sales start to look up:

Farm sales were down 21.6% for the three months ended December 2019 versus the year prior ­— but sales look to be lifting.

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows that farm sales increased by 22.3% in the three months ended December 2019 compared to the three months ended November 2019, with 345 and 282 sales respectively. . .

$8 payout possible – Peter Burke:

The guessing game has begun to predict what dairy farmers will get for their milk this season.

The consensus in the sector is that the price will be positive: numbers ranging from $7.15/kgMS to $7.50/kgMS, although ASB rural economist Nathan Penny is sticking his neck out and suggesting it could reach $8/kgMS.

Fonterra says its forecast is in the range of $7.00 to $7.60 with the midpoint being $7.30.

Dr. Mitloehner issues warning on increasing herd sizes – Charles O’Donnell:

While there is not necessarily a need to cut herd sizes for the purpose of climate change mitigation, increasing numbers is also not the way to go, according to Dr. Frank Mitloehner.

Dr. Mitloehner, a well-known professor and air quality specialist, was speaking at an event called ‘Climate Action in Agriculture: A Balanced Approach’ in Dublin today, Tuesday, January 21, which was organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The German-born Californian-based professor spoke out against the perceived necessity to cut herd sizes. However, when asked about the growing numbers of animals in the dairy industry, he warned that going in the opposite direction by increasing numbers would pose a climate issue. . . 

Government urged to block high carbon food imports :

Britain cannot risk importing food with a higher carbon footprint than food which has been produced in the UK, a new report says.

Released by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), it says British farming produces some of the most sustainable food in the world and that emissions from UK beef is half that of the global average.

Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UK presents a detailed range of options to drive emissions reductions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 23, 2019

Wairoa farmland sold for forestry angers 50 Shades of Green as Shane Jones extends olive branch – Zane Small:

Shane Jones is extending an olive branch to the pro-farming community after the Government approved more farmland to be sold for forestry, saying he wants to hear their concerns. 

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) – a Government agency – has approved the sale of 1065 hectares of land in Wairoa from Craigmore (Te Puna) Limited, a company that manages various farm and forest investments in New Zealand.

The land being acquired is currently run as a sheep and beef cattle farm, with small plantings of radiata pine and manuka. The OIO approved the sale of land on the understanding it’s erosion-prone and better suited to forestry. . . .

Skills will help grow careers – Sally Rae:

From fitness to farming, Luke Fisher is relishing his career move into the primary industries.

English-born Mr Fisher, a business manager for Farmlands at its Motueka branch, has been in Dunedin for six weeks as one of two interns in the AGMARDT-AbacusBio international internship programme.

He is joined by Emma Hinton, who is business manager at Farmlands’ Leeston branch in Canterbury.

Sales Slump in the dairy sector:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 54 less farm sales (-16.1%) for the three months ended November 2019 than for the three months ended November 2018. Overall, there were 282 farm sales in the three months ended November 2019, compared to 260 farm sales for the three months ended October 2019 (+8.5%), and 336 farm sales for the three months ended November 2018. 1,295 farms were sold in the year to November 2019, 12.8% fewer than were sold in the year to November 2018, with 44.4% less Dairy farms, 1.6% less Grazing farms, 23.4% less Finishing farms and the same number of Arable farms sold over the same period. . .

River clean-up energises farmer :

Invests $18,000 of his own money to help restore river after realising the impact on waterways.

He’s a “townie” turned dairy farmer and is enthusiastically embracing the clean-up one of New Zealand’s most degraded rivers.

Gerard Vallely, a 65-year-old who, with his wife Ann, runs two dairy farms in west Otago, has set aside a sizeable chunk of his property to be developed into a wetland – and has so far spent $18,000 of his own money doing so.

The farms border two streams, tributaries of the Pomahaka River, and the land he has ‘donated’ is part of an overall project in the district to restore the river, long considered one of the country’s best fishing locations, back to health. . .

Christmas market short of peas, strawberries – David Hill:

Locally grown strawberries and peas could be missing from the Christmas dinner menu.

As he prepares for the seventh annual Sefton Christmas Harvest Market on his farm near Rangiora, North Canterbury grower Cam Booker said Christmas strawberries, raspberries and peas were in short supply.

He said there would be no homegrown strawberries on the Booker Christmas dinner table this year . . .

New Zealand Hops confirms Craig Orr as new Chief Executive:

Food and beverage industry leader, Craig Orr, is confirmed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of New Zealand Hops Ltd (NZHL).

New Zealand Hops is a contemporary grower co-operative, based in Nelson, Tasman, the only region commercially growing hops in New Zealand. The co-operative represents the interests of 28 growers, many of whom are intergenerational families, having grown hops in the region for more than 150 years.

The co-ordination of the industry was first initiated in 1939 with the inception of the New Zealand Hop Marketing Board. . .


Rural round-up

July 25, 2019

Federated Farmers has questions over firearms register:

Misgivings about the practicality and cost of a firearms register is likely to dominate feedback from rural areas on the second round of proposed Arms Act amendments, Federated Farmers says.

The proposals feature a range of tighter controls on firearms ownership and licensing and Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson Miles Anderson anticipates support for many aspects of the changes.

“When firearms are used irresponsibly or illegally in New Zealand, it is often farmers who suffer the consequences through the theft of livestock, poaching of wild animals or the risks of dangerous behaviour. Hopefully some of these proposed changes will help to prevent that,” Anderson said. . . 

The environment comes first – Andrew Stewart:

Running a big station with 3500 owners is a big challenge. But Parengarega Station’s new farm manager Kathryne Easton is adding to the task, with her vision of starting with the environment then working back to the farm with her best-use-of-land philosophy at the same time as coping with pest, pasture and weather issues. She told Andrew Stewart her 
environmental and biosecurity plans include not just the farm but the entire Far North.

It’s fair to say many Kiwis forget how far the country stretches north past Auckland. 

The reality is they can travel another six hours before reaching the tip of New Zealand at Cape Reinga and the further north they go the more diverse and challenging the land becomes. 

Just half an hour south of the Cape lies Parengarenga Station, a diverse, nearly 6000-hectare operation that stretches between both coasts of the country.  . . 

Banks’ caution stymies farm sales – Alan Williams:

Farm sales are at their lowest in the last four to six years, Real Estate Institute figures show.

Turnover for the three months to the end of June was down 24.6% on the corresponding period a year earlier and down 15.3% on the three-month period to the end of May.

The latest June tally was 322, compared with 380 in the May period and 427 for June last year.

The non-dairy farming sector is holding value more strongly than the dairy sector, the institute’s rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

Its All Farm Price Index showed a 2.4% rise from May to June and for the year the gain was 7.3%.  . . 

LIC annual result reflects performance, profitability turnaround :

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) (LIC) announces its financial results for the year ending 31 May 2019.

Reporting a significant increase in profitability, as well as new records in strength of balance sheet, operating cash flow, and total revenue, the co-op will return $15.6 million in dividend to shareholders. This fully imputed dividend equates to 10.98 cents per share and represents a yield of 12.2% based on the current share price of 90 cents. This dividend is up from 1.71 cents last year and is the largest dividend the co-op has paid since 2013.

Board chair Murray King said the result was in line with expectations and reflects a turnaround in the co-operative’s performance and profitability. . . 

Feeding 10 Billion People Will Require Genetically Modified Food – Deena Shanker:

Like it or not, genetic modification is going to be an important tool to feed the planet’s growing population.

If we want to feed 10 billion people by 2050, in a world beset by rising temperatures and scarcer water supplies, we will need to dramatically change the way we produce food. Increased public investment in technologies like genetic engineering is a vital piece of that, according to a report published Wednesday by the World Resources Institute.

Not only must crops be more productive, but the agricultural challenges of climate change—including disease, pests and periods of both drought and flooding—mean they must be more resilient as well. . . 

Future drought fund passes final hurdle in senate – Mike Foley:

After delaying the vote and criticising the policy, federal Labor has provided the necessary support to pass the federal government’s Future Drought Fund through parliament.

The Bill to enact the the Coalition’s rural showpiece policy made its way through the Lower House last night, and today Labor has agreed to approve the legislation in the Senate.

With seed funding of $3.9 billion, the drought fund would grow to $5b by 2030. . . 

 


Push pause til cost benefit known

June 14, 2019

50 Shades of Green is urging the government to pause the carbon zero legislation until a cost benefit analysis is done:

As it stands experts believe it will cost a lot and achieve little.

Conservation group 50 shades of green is asking the government to immediately hit the pause button, check the policy settings and have a full cost benefit analysis.

50 shades of green spokesperson, Mike Butterick said that the legislation as it stood was a recipe for financial and environmental disaster.

“The legislation is estimated to cost the economy up to $12 billion a year or $8000 for every household,” Mike Butterick said. “Try finding another $160 a week to support political ideology when you’re on the minimum wage[1].

“The way the government is trying to mitigate its carbon emissions is nothing more than a band aid which will achieve nothing long term.

“It is incredibly short sighted by our current politicians. Their legacy for future generations will be tarnished.

“50 shades of green want to work to mitigate the effects of climate change but the Zero Carbon Bill won’t do it. It’s not just the opinion of the group but also that of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

“Time now for a pause and a move towards a lasting and long term solution,” Mike Butterick said.

Government incentives are distorting the market, incentivising sales for forestry over farming:

The median price of forestry farms across New Zealand has increased by 45% over the last year from $6,487 per hectare to $9,394 per hectare according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) source of the most complete and accurate real estate data in New Zealand.

This increase may be largely the result of the Government incentives to plant trees making forestry land more desirable and leading to increased sales of sheep and beef farms.
Interestingly, the North Island is seeing a greater impact on forestry prices than the South Island.

Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ says: “Over the last few months there has been a growing voice from the rural community that the Government’s incentives towards planting trees are favouring forestry sales and leading to increasing sales of beef and sheep farms. With the price of forestry farms across New Zealand increasing by 45% when compared to the same time last year, the data tends to suggest that the rural community is correct in its assertions. . .

They are also correct about the detrimental impact on rural communities:

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little is nervous.

In the last eight months 10,000ha, 7% of his district’s remaining pasture land, has been sold for forestry and he estimates it will cost 60 direct and indirect livestock farming jobs while creating 15.

Little’s primary concern is the impact on local communities and services but also on the district’s largest employer, Affco’s Wairoa meat works, which gets a third of its stock locally.

“More forestry planting threatens our sheep and beef industry, our local economy and the district’s largest employer.” . .

Little says the pace of land use change worries him and his community and is the unintended consequence of Government incentives for its Billion Trees programme.

The land use change cannot be considered a gradual redistribution of land use as claimed by Forestry New Zealand chief executive Julie Collins in the Farmers Weekly last week, he said.

“For us it is an alarming rate.

“If they keep going at that rate we’ll have no farmland left.”

A briefing paper Little prepared for a meeting this week with Government ministers says 2017 agricultural census figures show 1000ha of forestry directly and indirectly employs 1.5 people. For the same area of sheep and beef farming the figure is 7.6 people.

While supporting the Billion Trees programme Little says the scale and scope of forestry planting poses a catastrophic risk to rural communities like Wairoa. . .

There is a place for forestry but it’s not on productive farmland which threatens food production, export income and the jobs and social fabric for which they provide a foundation.

Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis fears the cumulative impact of fewer children at schools, the loss of volunteers and the impact on local retailers as people leave the area when trees replace livestock.

Collis respects the right of landowners to sell to whoever they wish but the speed of change has surprised her.

In the 2017-18 year four Tararua farms were sold to forestry but in 2018-19 it was 12.

“It’s a large increase very, very quickly.”

Forest companies are buying land with easy access and better quality soils, which is not consistent with the Government mantra of right tree, right place, right time. . .

It’s also not consistent with the Paris Accord which states that climate change mitigation measures should not come at the expense of food production.

If you care about this issue please sign 50 Shades of Green’s petition asking that legislation which incentivises the blanket afforestation of farmland be rejected.

 


Rural round-up

April 9, 2019

Intensive forestry creates ‘too many environmental risks’ – lawyer – Kate Gudsell:

The rules governing forestry are too light and need to be reviewed, environmental groups say.

The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry came into force in May last year but are about to be reviewed by the government.

The Environmental Defence Society and Forest and Bird decided to conduct joint analysis because of increasing public concern about the impacts of commercial forestry in light of events like Tologa Bay last year.

An estimated one million tonnes of logs and debris was left strewn on properties and roads on the East Coast during two bouts of heavy rainfall in June last year.

Farmers put the cost of the damage in the millions of dollars. . . 

Overseas Investment Office approves Craigmore $52m apple orchard investment – Gerard Hutching:

Foreign investors headed by New Zealand management have been given the green light by the Overseas Investment Office to buy two horticultural properties after being rebuffed last year over a bid to buy a kiwifruit and avocado orchard.

Craigmore Sustainables has received permission to buy 479 hectares of sensitive land inland of Waipukurau in Hawke’s Bay and 59 ha near Gisborne. They will invest $52 million to develop apple orchards on the properties. . . 

Mustering tradition continues – Sally Rae:

The likes of helicopters and, latterly, even drones, have replaced horses for mustering on many properties in New Zealand’s back country. But in remote South Westland, traditions remain alive and well, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports. 

Mustering in the remote and beautiful Cascade Valley in South Westland can come with its challenges.

But for Haast-based farmers Maurice and Kathleen Nolan, those challenges were amplified as they prepared for today’s Haast calf sale.

The sale is a major calendar event for the Nolans, a name synonymous with South Westland since the family arrived at Jackson Bay, south of Haast, in 1876. . . 

DairyNZ Schools website launched:

DairyNZ has launched a new website for teachers, giving them free, curriculum-based learning resources to help children learn about dairy farming.

The new website, called DairyNZ Schools, is part of DairyNZ’s in-school education programme. The programme is designed to ensure New Zealand school children get the opportunity to learn about dairying.

Learning resources

The website has learning resources for teachers of children from Year 2 to Year 11. The resources are free to download and teachers can filter resources by year level or subject area. . .

Course closures make farming a tough industry to crack – Esther Taunton:

Young people looking for farm jobs are being hampered by dwindling training options but farmers can help fill the void, Federated Farmers says.

Taranaki teenager Braydon Langton said on Friday he had been turned down by dozens of potential farm employers because of inexperience.

He said it was frustrating to hear farmers repeatedly complaining about a worker shortage but being unwilling to invest time in eager young people.

Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers’ spokesman for tertiary and workplace skills and training, said he sympathised with Langton and other young people in his situation. . . 

Sales of Southland dairy farms down on past years

While there is still a good selection of dairy farms available in Southland, there have only been a limited number of sales in the province compared to previous years, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

Despite this, the REINZ said in its March monthly sales data release that two sales in Southland of larger dairy units were significant in terms of total price involved and there was a good level of activity on finishing properties

In Otago, there was restrained activity in the drystock sector where prices eased 10% to 15%, with reports of capital constraints from banks making finance difficult to obtain and therefore harder to get transactions together. . . 


CGT would hit middle hardest

February 22, 2019

It there’s such a thing as a fair tax, it’s not one based on misplaced envy as the Tax Working Group’s capital gains tax appears to be.

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Fairness is desirable but not at any cost and  it’s best achieved by helping the poor up not pulling the better-off down, especially when those who will be hit hardest are those with modest investments, not the really wealthy, and worse still, they’d be hit by one of the most penal CGTs in the world:

The Tax Working Group’s report released today proposes a broad-based top rate of 33% capital gains tax (CGT).

The New Zealand Initiative argues in a new policy note, The Pitfalls of CGT, that headline rate would immediately push New Zealand to the top of the international CGT rankings among industrialised economies, just behind Denmark and Finland.

“The proposal is conspicuous by a lack of exemptions and concessions around business investment, so a full rate would arguably qualify New Zealand’s CGT regime as one of the harshest in the world,” said Dr Patrick Carvalho, Research Fellow and author of the note.

“Worse, given New Zealand’s recognisably low-income tax thresholds by international standards, a new CGT would disproportionately hit middle-income earners already struggling to invest for retirement.”

“New Zealand should be cautious about siren calls for a top-ranking CGT. Trying to punch above our weight can sometimes place us in the wrong fight category,” concludes Dr Carvalho.

A good tax would foster investment that would help businesses grow, produce more and employ more.

A good tax would encourage and reward thrift and delayed gratification.

A good tax would improve productivity and promote growth.

The CTG as proposed would do the opposite.

New Zealand needs foreign investment because we don’t have enough of our own capital. The CGT would aggravate that by making investing overseas more attractive than investing domestically:

The Tax Working Group (TWG) proposals released this morning would skew New Zealand investors away from local assets, distort the KiwiSaver market and mangle the portfolio investment entity (PIE) regime if introduced, according to the founder of the country’s largest direct-to-consumer managed fund platform.

Anthony Edmonds, InvestNow founder, said while the TWG final report includes some welcome reforms, overall the capital gains tax (CGT) recommendations would add cost, complexity and confusion to New Zealand’s relatively efficient managed funds market.

“For example, the TWG’s plan to increase tax on New Zealand shares by applying CGT while leaving the fair dividend rate (FDR) tax for offshore shares unchanged would naturally drag capital offshore at the expense of local assets – at a time when New Zealand needs to fund major infrastructure projects,” Edmonds said. “In trying to discourage people from investing in residential property, the TWG has created a tax disincentive for Kiwi shares, which can only distort investment allocation decisions.”

Essentially, the TWG recommendation to tax unrealised capital gains on PIE funds marks a return to the ‘bad old days’ when Kiwis paid more tax on managed funds than direct share investments. . .

Concern over the housing shortage is one of the motivating factors for a CGT but It won’t improve home affordability in the long term:

Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ says: “In the short-term there may be some initial relief in house price affordability as investors look to sell their property to avoid paying CGT. This may create opportunities for first home buyers.

“However, in the long term it’s likely to push house prices up as people look to invest more money in the family home, as there will be less incentive to invest in rental properties or other forms of investment e.g. equities.

“This will also have a flow on effect for the rental market with fewer rental properties available for tenants, thereby further pushing up weekly rental prices when they are already at an all-time high.

“The report even recognises that any impact on housing affordability could be small, therefore, we question whether all of the administrative burden and cost to implement GCT is worth it? Especially as CGT coming at the end of a raft of legislative changes the housing market has faced recently including the foreign buyer ban, ban on letting fees, insulation, healthy homes and ring fencing. . .

A tax that results in fewer and more costly rentals and more expensive homes is not a good one.

Nor is a tax that is fatally flawed:

Today’s Tax Working Group report recommendation for a new capital gains tax will not address residential housing affordability but it will penalise business owners and create costly complexity in our tax system, meaning it is fatally flawed, according to Business Central.

“New Zealand’s tax system is envied worldwide. The proposed capital gains tax increases compliance costs without boosting productivity,” says Business Central Chief Executive John Milford.

“Business Central agrees with the conclusions of the minority view on the Tax Working Group.

“A capital gains tax is just another cost on business, nothing more. . .

It would hit small and medium businesses hardest:

Key areas of the Tax Working Group Final Report released today were disappointing, says Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson. . . 

Ms Watson says the proposed capital gains rules should not be implemented because of the significant impact on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“We support the Government’s review to ensure that our tax system is fit for purpose for a changing business environment. However, there is very real concern that taxing both shares and business assets under a comprehensive capital gains tax regime would create double taxation.

“This could disadvantage New Zealanders owning shares in New Zealand and create inconsistencies around overall taxation on investment.”

Ms Watson says a capital gains tax would be unlikely to achieve the desired outcome for business.

“There is concern around the effect for capital markets in a capital constrained economy with a long-term savings deficit. Adding further tax on the savings and investment of those New Zealanders in the middle-income bracket won’t drive the deepening and broadening of the capital base that we need for business investment, which is higher productivity and wages.

“While the impetus behind the changes are aspirational, there is little to indicate they would significantly reduce overinvestment in housing or increase ‘tax fairness’. In addition, there is concern that additional administration costs and investment distortions could outweigh any benefits and potentially discourage much-needed investment and innovation by locking businesses into current asset holdings.

“It is vitally important that we remain competitive as a country and are not continuing to add further compliance for business and in particular small business, who represent 97% of all businesses in our economy.”

Ms Watson says there needs to be a viable business case for any changes to the current tax system.

“There seems to be a real focus on ‘fairness’ in the system design, as opposed to revenue-building, so we need to be careful that any tax changes are for the right reasons and are backed by a clear, practical and sustainable business case. We currently have a fairly simple and efficient tax system that should be kept and better enforced, with changes to specific rules where needed.” . . 

The costs of a good tax would not outweigh the benefits:

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) says the key issue in the Tax Working Group’s proposal released today is that the cost of its capital gains tax rules will outweigh any benefits.

Chief executive Brett O’Riley says any gains from such a broad-based capital gains tax would be eaten up by administration and other costs, leaving little revenue.

“Fundamentally the proposed capital gains rules don’t address the Tax Working Group’s objectives of reducing over-investment in housing and increasing tax fairness,” he says.

Mr O’Riley is also concerned that capital gains tax on business assets could discourage investment and innovation, locking businesses into their current asset holdings. He says there are other policy settings that could be changed to increase investment in different asset classes, away from property.

“I also fail to see how taxing growth on the value of assets from the proposed commencement date of 1 April 2021 would work, because it would be open to conflicting valuations,” he says. “It could also act as a further disincentive to growth when New Zealand already has issues with business not growing from SME’s into larger scale operations and a CGT may also limit the availability of capital to reinvest in businesses as smaller businesses face an additional tax bill.

“It’s difficult to see any benefits for the business community from implementing the proposed capital gains tax rules, as taxing both shares and business assets appears to be double taxation,” says Mr O’Riley.

It is relevant to note that a number of the Tax Working Group do not favour its recommendations on capital gains tax. The minority view summary is available here

One reason for dissension was compliance costs:

Former IRD Deputy Commissioner Robin Oliver was one of the 11 in the Tax Working Group.

Along with two others from the group, he believes the costs and bureaucratic red tape involved in adopting all the capital gains options outweigh the benefits.  

“We didn’t agree that this was in the best interest of the country to go the full extent, particularly in the business area, taxing share gains which result in double taxation,” he said.

“To get a valuation for all business assets in all parts business and all business will easily cost over a billion dollars in compliance costs. The amount of revenue you’ll get is relatively minor.”

As for taxing shares, Mr Oliver said it would result in New Zealanders who invest in New Zealand companies paying more tax when foreigners investing in New Zealand companies will pay no more tax. Furthermore, New Zealanders investing in foreign companies will pay no more tax.

“The obvious conclusion is New Zealanders will own less New Zealand companies and more foreign companies, and foreigners will own our companies,” he said. . . 

The proposed tax is no panacea for fairness:

Deloitte tax partner Patrick McCalman warns that a CGT is not a panacea for tax fairness.

“At one level, there is an attractiveness in the argument that a ‘buck is a buck’ and everyone should bear the same tax burden on every dollar earned. However, when one delves into the detail of the design, other issues of fairness emerge,” says Mr McCalman.

“For example, is it fair that property could pass on death without an immediate CGT cost, while gifts made during one’s life would be taxed? For family businesses, wouldn’t it be more productive to be able to pass assets from generation to generation before death,” he says.

“Accordingly, we need to be cautious as to how much ‘fairness’ a CGT will introduce. It may simply change where the ‘unfairness’ is perceived to sit within the tax system, creating new tax exemptions that would distort where investments are made.”

Complicating matters further is the political dimension. And MMP only exacerbates the political difficulty and increases the likelihood of whatever ultimately sees the light of day being less coherent from a policy perspective. . . 

The Deloitte paper raises several questions about fairness:

At one level there is an attractiveness in the argument that a “buck is a buck” and everyone should therefore bear the same tax burden on every dollar earned. However, when one delves into the detail, other issues of fairness emerge including new tax exemptions which would distort where investments are made – in effect, in seeking to create fairness, the proposal creates a number of layers of unfairness. For example:

    • With a CGT applying at full rates with no inflation indexation, is it fair that someone who buys an asset is taxed on the full amount of any gain when part of that gain is simply inflation? How will they be able to re-invest in a new asset if the inflation element is taxed?
    • Is it fair that the family home and artwork are excluded but most other property is not? Consider a plumber who has a $500,000 house and a $500,000 commercial building who would be taxed on the disposal of the commercial building. Should they have instead bought a $1,000,000 house, rented a business premise and enjoyed a tax free capital gain?
    • Is it fair that that investors in New Zealand shares would pay tax on capital gains but investors in foreign shares would continue to be subject (as they are presently) to the 5% FDR rate (even if gains are less or more)?
    • Is it fair that small business (turnover less than $5 million) could sell assets and defer the CGT bill if they reinvest the proceeds, while medium and larger size business cannot?
    • Is it fair that property could pass on death without an immediate CGT cost but gifts made to children during one’s life would be taxed?
    • Is it fair that there are proposed tax reductions for KiwiSaver to compensate for CGT but not for other forms of investment?

At one level, true fairness can only exist if all asset classes and forms of remuneration are subject to the same tax rate. But even then, anomalies will always arise. . . 

The proposed tax would be especially bad for farming and farmers:

Federated Farmers has said from the outset that a capital gains tax is a mangy dog, that will add unacceptably high costs and complexity.

“There is nothing in the Tax Working Group’s final report, released today, that persuades us otherwise,” Feds Vice-President and Commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“A CGT would make our well-regarded tax system more complex, it will impose hefty costs, both in compliance for taxpayers and in administration for Inland Revenue, and it will do little or nothing to ease the housing crisis.”

It is notable that even the members of the working group could not agree on the best way forward, with three deciding a tax on capital gains should only apply to the sale of residential rental properties and the other eight recommending it should be broadened to also include land and buildings, assets, intangible property and shares.

“Federated Farmers believes that the majority on the tax working group have badly under-estimated the complexity and compliance costs of what they’re proposing, and over-estimated the returns.”

The recommended ‘valuation day’ approach to establishing the value of assets, even with a five-year window, will be a feeding frenzy for valuers and tax advisors, “and just the start of the compliance headaches for farmers and other operators of small businesses that are the driving force of the New Zealand society and economy. . .

Farm succession is difficult enough as it is.

A CTG would make it harder still and encourage older farmers to hold on to their farms. That would lead to more absentee ownership and leasing with less investment in improvements as happens in other countries.

New Zealand doesn’t have a lot of many wealthy people and while those relatively few would pay more with the CGT as proposed, if their accountants and lawyers didn’t help them find ways to minimise their liability, they’d still be wealthy.

The many small business owners and more modest investors would not. They’d have the reward for their hard work and thrift cut back and lose enough of the value of their investments to hurt – unless they’d invested in art, cars or yachts which would be exempt.

That sends the message that such luxuries are good while investing in businesses and productive assets is not.

Where’s the fairness in that?


Rural round-up

November 27, 2018

Only two left for new Fonterra vote – Hugh Stringleman:

John Nicholls of Canterbury and Jamie Tuuta of Taranaki and Wellington will contest the rerun of the Fonterra director election to fill the one remaining vacancy.

One-term director Ashley Waugh has decided not to run again though he came within a whisker of being re-elected in the first round of voting.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chairman Duncan Coull sent an email to all farmer-shareholders explaining the rerun process and the council’s reasons for not opening it up to new candidates.

The rerun was necessary because only two of five candidates for three seats received the required 50% approval of farmers, Peter McBride at 80% and Leonie Guiney at 63%.

Waugh got 49%, Nicholls 44% and Tuuta 40%. . . 

Dairy-farm price per hectare plunges – Sally Rae:

Farm sales across the country for the year to October were down more than 10%, while dairy farm  per-hectare prices have pulled back almost 30% during the past year.

In Otago and Southland, there was strong activity in finishing, grazing and arable properties, but dairy farm purchases in both provinces were affected, with restricted supply of capital.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said for the three months to October there were 263 sales, just two more than a year ago.

Across the country for the year to October 1475 farms were sold, a 10.5% decline on the same period last year. Dairy farm sales were down 7.7%, grazing farms fell 5.6%, finishing was down 13.2% and there were 22.5% fewer arable farms. . . 

Genetic changes will allow merino sheep come down from the mountains – Heather Chalmers:

Synonymous with the South Island high country, merino sheep may be farmed more widely as farmers are lured by high fine wool prices and genetic improvements. 

Merino woolgrower Bill Sutherland, of Benmore Station near Omarama, said it was boom times for the New Zealand merino industry. 

“In a time when strong wool prices are at a historical low, the prices for merino wool have rarely been better,” he told the New Zealand Grassland Association conference in Twizel.  . . 

New boss hears farmers:

Farmers delivered a stern message to new director-general of primary industries Ray Smith at a meeting in Ashburton on Wednesday – they want to be top of his list.

He attended the meeting, facilitated by Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers in response to desperate calls for help from local farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovi, off his own bat.

Farming leaders from across the country including national dairy chairman Chris Lewis and meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson also attended the closed session.

“This meeting was organised so these national leaders could hear from affected farmers and get their stories straight from the horse’s mouth,” Mid Canterbury dairy chairman Chris Ford said. . . 

Interest in competition suggests promising future for agriculture – Sally Rae:

McKenzie Smith grasps every opportunity to learn new skills.

Mckenzie (17), a year 13 pupil at Southland Girls’ High School, is chairwoman of the school’s TeenAg club.

TeenAg — which comes under the umbrella of New Zealand Young Farmers — is aimed  at introducing and promoting a positive picture of agriculture and agricultural careers to pupils from an early age. The club has organised an AgriKidsNZ competition at Southland Girls’ High School on Thursday, for years 7-8 pupils, and team numbers have more than doubled from last year. . . 

Jersey cows eat differently – Abby Bauer:

Each dairy cattle breed has its perks and its quirks, and Jerseys are no exception. On our Hoard’s Dairyman Farm, we certainly notice differences in personality and behavior between our Jerseys and Guernseys.

These breed differences are what led the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All Jersey Inc. to partner with university and industry experts to create a webinar series focused on the Jersey breed. One of their webinar topics was feeding the lactating cow, and the presenters were Bill Weiss and Maurice Eastridge from The Ohio State University.

The pair of professors pointed out that much of the research in the field of nutrition has been done on Holsteins. While many of these recommendations can fit other breeds, there are a few ways that Jerseys are unique. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 25, 2018

Consistent performer helps others – Hugh Stringleman:

The Cookson family are at the true heart of Northland’s beef finishing industry beside State Highway 1 at Kawakawa and consistently producing carcaseweight yield and financial results well above the provincial average. Their pursuit of knowledge from hosting trials and research projects energises the Cooksons and draws hundreds of farmers to their field days. Hugh Stringleman went along.

Former New Zealand Spearfishing champion and international representative Geff Cookson has an impressive record in the water and on the land.

He has hit target after target and inspired many fishers and farmers over a lifetime of sports activities and on the Kawakawa hill country home farm he took over from his father in 1970.. .

Farm sales quiet but resilient – Alan Williams:

The rural real estate market remained resilient through the quiet June trading period, especially for drystock farms even though prices were lower overall.

Despite a positive pricing outlook for most sectors, the Mycoplasma bovis virus is a worry in dairy and beef farming zones and early spring is likely to be a test for the Government and industry animal eradication programme, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said. 

Sales turnover was lower for the three months to the end of June compared to the three months to the end of May, with 32 fewer sales. . .

1080 drop to kill rabbits – Tom Kitchin:

A Manuherikia Valley farmer is making a last-ditch effort to rid his land of rabbits by dropping 1080 for the first time in three decades.

Ophir farmer Sam Leask, who owns the Booth Rd farm, said it was the first time a 1080 drop had been done on  his land in about 30 years.

“The rabbits have just got away … I’ve never seen rabbits like this in my life. It’s just got out to the stage that there’s so many rabbits we have to go back to the old methods. We hate to have to drop 1080 but we have no other choice.”

He had used pindone pellets, and completed shooting day and night but wanted something more effective . .

Mutual aid helps us survive winter – Bryan Gibson:

A mate of mine posted a picture on Instagram last night of the first three calves born on her dairy farm. For her, and for countless other dairy farmers around New Zealand, it has begun.

Calving is an intense period for dairy farmers. There are long hours, late night outings, sleep deprivation and bad weather to contend with. Of course, most farming families also have children to attend to, households to run and cows to milk again.

There were new lambs in the fields on my drive to work this morning too, a reminder this time of year is equally as stressful for sheep and beef farmers who are nurturing this abundance of new life. . .

Grape harvest up; season warmest in decades – Tom Kitchin:

The weather for this year’s Central Otago wine vintage was the warmest since 1956 and tonnage was up, on trend with the rest of the country.

A statement from New Zealand Winegrowers said New Zealand benefited from ”a warm summer” and 419,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested in the country’s vintage this year.

This was up 6% on the 2017 tonnage, but still lower than first anticipated, due to an early start to the season. . .

What are the challenges facing modern farming around the world? – Mary Boote:

Kenya is on the brink of embracing biotechnology in agriculture. On the brink. Now I’m ready to say something new. We’ve been on the brink for too long.”

These words, offered by Gilbert arap Bor, a Kenyan smallholder farmer and lecturer at the Catholic University of East Africa- Eldoret, illustrate the frustration shared by many farmers -smallholder and large across Kenya and much of the African and Asian continents. With the safety of GE crops confirmed and supported by scientists, approved by every regulatory agency around the world, based on thousands of reports and 21 years of data, why does the war regarding the safety of these often life-changing crops continue to rage?

Have no doubt: The impacts of this ‘war’ are real, and they challenge farmers in the developing and developed countries around the world. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 21, 2018

Crop biotech 3.0: a farmer’s perspective – Craige Mackenzie:

Here in New Zealand, we did not participate in the GE Gene Revolution. Farmers like me see an advantage in making sure that we do not miss the next one. 

You’ve seen the statistics. Farmers around the world have planted and harvested billions of acres of genetically engineered crops. Not long ago, we used to talk about GMOs and conventional crops as if they belonged in different categories. Increasingly—and especially in North and South America—GMOs are the new conventional. They’ve become an ordinary part of agriculture. 

Some nations, of course have resisted the use of GMOs, starting with members of the European Union. New Zealand has taken its own wait-and-see approach, turning it into a sort of permanent delay. The science on GMOs safety to human health and our environment may be settled but my country has wanted to preserve its clean-green image in food production, in the belief that this gives us a competitive advantage as we market ourselves to the world.  . . 

Eradicating cattle disease M. bovis in New Zealand may be costly, even impossible, but we must try – Riachard Laven:

In May this year, the New Zealand government decided that it would attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a bacterial disease that affects cattle.

A phased eradication means that an additional 126,000 livestock will need to be culled, at an estimated cost of NZ$886 million.

Here’s what we know, what we don’t know and what’s at stake.

How do we know this is a new incursion?

M. bovis causes mastitis and arthritis in adult cattle and pneumonia in calves. It is found around the world, but New Zealand was one of the last disease-free countriesuntil the detection of infected cows on a dairy farm in July 2017.  . .

Career path judged correctly – Sally Rae:

Brooke Flett never intended a career in farming.

But now, settled on the family dairy farm at Scotts Gap in Southland, it was “working out all right”.

“Most of the time, I love it,” she laughed.

Miss Flett (26), who is chairwoman of Thornbury Young Farmers Club, was recently named Young Farmers national stock-judging champion.

She grew up on the farm and boarded at Southland Girls’ High School before studying at Victoria University for a bachelor of arts in education.

But it “never really clicked” and she did not pursue a career in that area. .

Farm sales and prices ease on year June but horticulture farms shine –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm sales fell 7 percent on the year in the three months to June and the median price per hectare was down 16.3 percent although horticulture farm prices continued to push higher, according to the Real Estate Institute.

Overall, 427 farms were sold in the three months ended June 30 from 459 farms in the same period a year earlier. Some 1,480 farms were sold in the year to June, down 17 percent on the year. . .

Software to keep containment’s out:

Fertiliser co-op Ballance will commercially launch a new farm environment planning tool, MitAgator, by spring.

Developed by Ballance and AgResearch, MitAgator measures the loss of four main farm contaminants — nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E. coli.

New Zealand-wide trials are pointing to a launch by late September. . .

Deer velvet looking good in Asia

Long-term prospects for NZ velvet in the major Asian markets are looking positive says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) Asia manager Rhys Griffiths.

“There has been an explosion in consumer demand for consumer-ready velvet-based products in Korea. Ten years ago this product category didn’t even exist,” he says.

“In the past six months, 23 new velvet-based healthy food products have been launched in Korea; the majority of them using NZ velvet. . .

Importers snap up cheap U.S. soybeans as China stops buying – Karl Plume:

China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans, threatened for weeks and enacted Friday, have driven down prices and triggered a wave of bargain shopping by importers in other countries stocking up on cheap U.S. supplies, according to a Reuters analysis of government data.

Chinese buyers have so far this year accounted for just 17 percent of all advanced purchases of the fall U.S. soybean harvest – down from an average of 60 percent over the past decade, the analysis found. They are instead loading up on Brazilian soybeans, which now sell at a premium of up to $1.50 a bushel as U.S. soybean futures have fallen 17 percent over six weeks to about $8.50, their lowest level in nearly a decade. . .

The rise of soil carbon cowboys – Peter Byck:

Ranching is a rare occupation. Rarer still are the ranchers pioneering new ways to graze cattle, transforming their ranches and farms into vibrant ecosystems, producing black ink for their bank accounts and giving their incredibly robust animals a great life (with the exception of one bad day).

These new grazing methods have many names — mob grazing, managed intensive grazing, holistic management. Our group of scientists and ranchers call it Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) Grazing.  . .


Rural round-up

June 22, 2018

Chinese eggs not all in one basket – Fonterra – Sudesh Kissun:

China’s digital world is second to none, but Fonterra isn’t putting all its eggs in one basket in selling fresh and packaged food.

Fonterra chief operating officer global consumer and foodservice Lukas Paravacini says the co-op is embracing e-commerce and traditional brick-and-mortar as its sales strategy.

Speaking at a recent New Zealand China Business Council conference in Auckland, Paravacini outlined lessons Fonterra has learned over the last five years while building a $3.4 billion business in China. . .

Communication seen as key in eradication – Sally Rae:

A Mycoplasma bovis-affected farmer’s heartfelt plea for communication brought a round of applause at a meeting in North Otago yesterday.

About 100 people attended the MPI roadshow at Papakaio, including Waimate farmer Martyn Jensen, who described himself as “farm No39 infected”.

He addressed the meeting reluctantly, as a dairy support farmer who was grazing heifers for a farmer whose herd was confirmed with having M. bovis.

In April, the farmer contacted Mr Jensen to tell him of the infection and, several weeks later, he was contacted by MPI.

What made it harder was they were “perfectly good” heifers and there had not been one clinical sign of the disease. . . 

‘M. bovis’ concerns aired at MPI meeting – Tom Kitchin:

Government officials say they are doing all they can to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis but there are still major concerns from farmers in the Central Otago region.

About 80 people attended a meeting held by the Ministry for Primary Industries in Alexandra yesterday.

A woman in the audience said she thought the ministry was “struggling”. . .  . . 

Rabbits not dying like flies – Nigel Malthus:

Scientists say although the new rabbit calicivirus is working as expected, farmers are not seeing the knockdown they may have hoped for.

The new strain of rabbit haemorrhagic virus disease, RHDV1-K5, was released several weeks ago at 150 sites.

Manaaki Whenua (Landcare Research) has monitored release sites since then. . .

Comvita buys 20% stake in Uruguay’s Apiter for US$6.25M to secure propolis supplies – Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita said it has acquired 20 percent of Uruguay’s Apiter for US$6.25 million and signed a long-term supply agreement to secure another source of propolis for sales into Asia.

The purchase price is comprised of US$5.65 million in cash and milestone earnouts and US$600,000 of Comvita shares, with settlement due on July 2, Te Puke-based Comvita said in a statement. Propolis is made by bees from plant resins to protect and sterilise their hives. . .

New Zealand’s ultimate steak connoisseur judging experience:

We found New Zealand’s Ultimate Steak Connoisseur, Gretchen Binns and brought her along to help determine the country’s tastiest and most tender steak at the PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin competition. Here is her experience of the day:

Foul weather, farmers, red bands galore, Field days 2018!

The ultimate day of all days…well it was for this steak connoisseur.  And no doubt for a nervous farmer or three whose paddock to plate skills were being put to the ‘taste’.

PGG Wrightson/Beef and Lamb NZ’s Steak of Origin finals time. . .

Steady volume at end of season:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) shows there were 71 fewer farm sales (-13.8%) for the three months ended May 2018 than for the three months ended May 2017. Overall, there were 443 farm sales in the three months ended May 2018, compared to 418 farm sales for the three months ended April 2018 (+6.0%), and 514 farm sales for the three months ended May 2017. 1,453 farms were sold in the year to May 2018, 18.8% fewer than were sold in the year to May 2017, with 4.0% more finishing farms, 1.7% fewer dairy farms, 36.3% fewer grazing and 34.3% fewer arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to May 2018 was $26,219 compared to $27,212 recorded for three months ended May 2017 (-3.6%). The median price per hectare fell 4.0% compared to April. . .

 Get out of farmers’ way: In the end government interventions end up sustaining, not reducing, rural poverty – Sanjeev Sabhlok

While most other sectors were liberalised in 1991, agriculture was not. Indian farmers arguably remain among the most unfree in the world.

Some claim India won’t be able to feed itself without the government playing a hands-on role in agriculture. But countries like New Zealand and Australia with liberalised agriculture have become more productive. Each Australian farmer produces enough to feed 600 people, 150 at home and 450 overseas. Liberalisation of agriculture in 1991 in India could well have made us a middle-income nation by now. Instead, our small farmers remain under chronic stress.

Another argument, sometimes made, is that farmers are frequently seen to agitate for government support. That’s not necessarily true. Farmer organisations like the Kisan Coordination Committee and Shetkari Sangathana have for decades opposed government intervention in agriculture. After their leader Sharad Joshi passed away in 2015, new leaders like Anil Ghanwat have vigorously argued for the government to leave farmers alone. . .


Rural round-up

March 22, 2018

NZ led study reveals DNA of cattle and sheep bacteria – Eric Frykberg:

International scientists led by New Zealanders have identified the genetic makeup of over 500 species of bacteria found in the gut of cattle and sheep.

Previously the genomes of just 15 rumen microbial genomes were available to the scientific community.

The project was led by the former AgResearch scientist Bill Kelly and a current AgResearch scientist Sinead Leahy.

They were joined by nearly 60 scientists from 14 research organisations across nine countries. . . 

Organic dairy dreams backed by science – Fritha Tagg:

Fritha Tagg meets an organic dairy farmer who has the science to make his dreams come true.

Ged Goode is not shy when it comes to improving his herd. “We want to produce the tastiest, healthiest milk in the world,” he says with a big grin.

Dreams don’t get much bigger but this organic dairy farmer who has farmed south of Tokoroa for 26 years has the track record to back it up and the determination to keep forging ahead. His 800ha (500ha effective, the rest is native bush and forestry) farm is home to 680 organic milk-producing cows.

Now he is embracing A2 milk production and establishing a polled herd. . .

Wetlands hold secret ingredient of future water quality – Aslan Wright-Stow, Tom Stephens, David Burger, DairyNZ, Kit Rutherford, Chris Tanner, NIWA:

Wetlands are the kidneys of the land – filtering, absorbing and transforming contaminants before they can affect streams or lakes. DairyNZ’s water science team and NIWA experts share how wetlands benefit water quality.

A NIWA review of research into seepage wetlands in New Zealand over the past two decades showed wetlands are remarkably effective at stripping nitrate, a problematic form of nitrogen, through a process known as denitrification.

The review offers robust evidence into ‘how’ seepage wetlands benefit water quality. DairyNZ commissioned the NIWA work because it firmly believes that seepage wetlands offer a unique opportunity to reduce nitrogen loss and should be prioritised for stock exclusion and protected against further drainage. The independent research commissioned certainly supports those claims. . . 

Federated Farmers pays tribute to John O’ Connor:

Federated Farmers offers its deepest condolences to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and family after the passing of his father, West Coast dairy farmer John O’Connor.

Mr O’ Connor ONZM was a passionate advocate for the dairy industry and was regarded as a pioneer for introducing dairy to the Buller district on the West Coast.

He was a Nuffield Scholar, Federated Farmers National Dairy Chair, West Coast Provincial President and served for 48 years as a director on the Buller Valley, Karamea and Westland Dairy Companies. . .

Rabobank New Zealand announces new board appointment:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Jillian Segal AM to its board of directors.

Ms Segal, a respected Australian company director with extensive regulatory and legal experience, joins the boards of Rabobank New Zealand Limited, as well as Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group’s other major operating entities – Rabobank Australia Limited and Rabo Australia Limited.

Announcing the appointment, Rabobank’s Australia & New Zealand chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said Ms Segal’s extensive board experience across the private and public sectors, including in financial services – coupled with a career-long background in governance and law – made her an “ideal fit” for Rabobank’s New Zealand and Australian boards. . . 

Mammoth kiwifruit property portfolio placed on the market for sale:

One of New Zealand’s biggest privately-owned kiwifruit orchard portfolios has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio consists of three separate mid to large-sized productive blocks at Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty – the centre of New Zealand’s highly lucrative kiwifruit-growing industry.

Combined, the three blocks comprise some 98 canopy hectares – on track to produce between 1.2 million – 1.3 million trays once all in mature production, and with the potential to increase production even further. . . 

An easing in the late summer market:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) shows there were 52 fewer farm sales (-11.9%) for the three months ended February 2018 than for the three months ended February 2017.

Overall, there were 384 farm sales in the three months ended February 2018, compared to 396 farm sales for the three months ended January 2018 (-3.0%), and 436 farm sales for the three months ended February 2017.1,524 farms were sold in the year to February 2018, 13.5% fewer than were sold in the year to February 2017, with 20.3% more finishing farms, 19.0% more dairy farms and 32.4% fewer grazing and 36.2% fewer arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2018 was $27,523 compared to $27,395 recorded for three months ended February 2017 (+0.5%). The median price per hectare fell 2.6% compared to January. . . 


Rural round-up

January 26, 2018

Big drop in Otago farm sales, NZ sales down 21% – Simon Hartley:

Otago has recorded the largest decline in farm sales across the country, down by 27 on a year ago while nationally sales dipped 21%, down by more than 100 properties.
Ten of 14 regions recorded declines in farm sales for the quarter ended December, with Otago booking the most substantial decline, down 27 sales followed by Northland down 25 sales, while Southland was one of only three regions with an increase, up three sales.

Overall, farm sales nationally for the quarter plunged 105 from 499 for the same quarter last year to 394, according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data.

REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said the sales were a reflection of two key factors which impacted on the rural sector – weather and prices. . .

Is the 20-year white gold rush over for dairy industry? – Andrea Fox:

The country’s second biggest dairy manufacturer and exporter Open Country Dairy believes New Zealand milk production growth has peaked and a long run of muscular annual rises is over.

Chairman Laurie Margrain said the privately-owned company did not believe overall milk production would rise much higher than it is today.

“There will be seasonal variances due to weather of course but it’s not realistic to think New Zealand milk production will go through the growth curve it’s had in the past 10 years.” . . .

Warning after homekill prosecutions rise:

A spike in prosecutions for illegal homekill has prompted officials to warn people not to sell homekill on social media.

Information released to Radio New Zealand showed seven people were prosecuted in 2017, compared to one the year before.

And 44 sales of homekill on Facebook were reported to the Ministry for Primary Industries last year, 30 more than 2016.

Selling homekill is illegal, with fines of up to $75,000 for individuals and $300,000 for businesses. . .

Local rider chosen for trip to Texas – Tom Kitchin:

Ranfurly girl Amanda Voice says she feels lucky to be named in a team to represent New Zealand in Texas for western performance horse riding.
Amanda (15) will travel to the Texas city of College Station to compete in the American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup from June 28 to July 8.

”I’m just so happy with how it’s all gone,” she said.

”I’m very excited to represent New Zealand once again.” . .

How one dairy farmer works just 20 hours per year for every cow in his herd – Seán Cummins:

David Kerr milks a herd of 155 cows under a spring-calving system in Ballyfin, Co. Laois. He’s at the top of his game when it comes to efficiency and works just 20 hours per year for each cow in his herd.

When compared to his peers, David fits firmly within the top 5% of efficient farmers. The 20 hours per cow figure is more than 50% lower than the average number of hours worked by farmers surveyed in a recent Teagasc labour study.

At this week’s Irish Grassland Association Dairy Conference, David outlined the efficiency practices undertaken on his farm. . .

How does a show get its local community involved?

Country shows are a window into a community, showing how close knit its people are, and that community’s values.

However, bringing people together, organising judging events and entertainment takes some time and know-how. So it’s no surprise that as country town populations have taken a hit, the local show has also suffered.

A successful show requires involvement, and inclusion. But sometimes a show seemingly just happens because it has had a long established committee. The local community doesn’t necessarily understand what it can bring to the table, nor what goes into putting the event on. . . 


Rural-round-up

January 21, 2018

Perendale tops sale at $8,600 – Sally Rae:

South Otago farmers Howie and Marion Gardner topped the South Island ram fair in Gore this week, selling a Perendale ram for $8600.

It was bought by the McKelvie family, from Wyndham, and Mike McElrea, from Edievale.

It was a solid sale for Perendales as 37 rams sold for an average of $2686. Richard and Kerry France, from Moa Flat, achieved the second-top price, $8500, for a ram sold to Fernvale Genetics.

Carrfields Otago genetics representative Roger Keach said the  two-day sale was sound but not spectacular, with a lot of good rams not finding homes. . . 

Increase in farm sales bucks trend – Nicole Sharp:

Southland was one of two regions with increased farm sales at the end of 2017.

Data released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) showed for the three months ended November 2017, Southland had seven more farm sales than in the same period in 2016.

Taranaki was the  only other region to record an increase, with one more farm sale for the three months ended November 2017 than for the same period in 2016.

REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said while the sales volume for the three-month period ended November 2017 showed a significant easing from the same period in 2015 and 2016, the figures, except for Southland and Taranaki, reflected the anticipated increase in volumes from the previous month of October for dairy, finishing and grazing properties. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: David Clark – Claire Inkson:

Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Mid Canterbury Proud Farmer David Clark.

1. How long have you been farming?
I grew up in the North Island and left school at the end of the 6th Form at a time when farming in New Zealand was very tough coming out of the ’80s downturn. I was very fortunate to be employed by the Cashmore Family at Orere, SE of Auckland. It was during this time that my employers showed me by example that there was a future in farming if you worked hard and did things well, this set me on my course.

2. What sort of farming were you involved in?
My parents had been both Town Milk Dairy and Sheep and Beef Farmers and I was determined to make a start for myself so started contract fencing which then led into a wider range of Agricultural Contracting activities. In 1994 my parents sold their farm and I sold my contracting business and we pooled our resources and purchased a dryland sheep property at Valetta, inland Mid Canterbury. . . 

Barn farmer got the very best advice – Nigel Malthus:

Pareora dairy farmer Peter Collins has paid tribute to the man at the centre of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in helping him set up his huge new dairy barn system.

“I was very lucky to have Aad Van Leeuwen to help me with it,” says Collins.

Collins converted his 800ha farm 10km south of Timaru about three years ago and built the 1200-capacity freestall barn two years ago. The farm now milks 1200 cows, including some winter milkers, and supplies the Oceania Dairy milk powder plant at Glenavy.

With the efficiencies afforded by the barn they are on track to produce 600kgMS/cow this season. . .

Record temperatures bring challenges for livestock and farmers:

With New Zealand experiencing record-breaking heatwaves this summer, AgResearch scientists say farmed animals can be susceptible and the pressure is on farmers to manage it.

The extreme temperatures across the country include the hottest recorded temperature in Dunedin and Invercargill over recent days. The increased heat and humidity raises issues of not only the welfare of livestock, but also production from those animals.

Fortunately extensive research over the last 15 years at AgResearch into dairy cows, and how they cope with the heat, has provided important insights for animal management, says senior scientist Dr Karin Schütz. . . 

Fonterra welcomes research findings that milk matters for healthy Kiwi kids:

Fonterra welcomes the findings of a Massey University that show a high proportion of young Kiwi kids are getting the goodness of dairy nutrition by drinking milk.

The research, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, showed 88 per cent of young children in New Zealand regularly consume cow’s milk and there was no relationship between full-fat milk consumption and the risk of children being overweight from drinking it.

Fonterra General Manager Nutrition Angela Rowan said the Co-operative supports the Ministry of Health guidelines which recommend reduced and low fat varieties for those two years and older. . . 

ASX-listed Bod Australia signs deal to produce hemp-based mānuka honey – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bod Australia has signed an agreement with mānuka honey producer Manuka Pharma to produce a hemp-based honey product line.

Bod, a developer and distributor of cosmetics and natural medicines, is aiming to develop a range of over-the-counter and therapeutic products using cannabis extracts. It says it’s building a sustainable, multi-faceted cannabis business through a deal with Swiss manufacturer Linnea Natural Pharma Solutions. The honey agreement will see Manuka Pharma source, develop and manufacture the product, with Bod then importing the honey to Australia and packaging it for sale. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 22, 2017

Diversity in a variable climate – Blair Drysdale:

Surprised and shocked would accurately describe my reaction to being asked to pen a column for a publication I love and have read from front to back for more than 20 years. It’s somewhat daunting given the calibre of the other columnists.

Along with my wife Jody and three children Carly (9), Fletcher (7) and Leah (5) we farm 325 hectares in Balfour, northern Southland with my parents Fiona and Ken still living on farm. Our farming operation consists of arable, beef, dairy grazing, sheep and land leased out to tulip growers annually.

It’s a diverse operation which spreads our risk across both our variable climate and commodity cycles, neither of which we can control or influence. We can have wet winters and very dry summers, with all four seasons turning up the same day occasionally just for a laugh. Like all regions it has its challenges, but if it were easy every man and his dog would want a crack. . . 

Difficult conditions constrain rural market:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) shows there were 131 fewer farm sales (-29.3%) for the three months ended November 2017 than for the three months ended November 2016. Overall, there were 316 farm sales in the three months ended November 2017, compared to 261 farm sales for the three months ended October 2017 (+21.1%), and 447 farm sales for the three months ended November 2016. 1,577 farms were sold in the year to November 2017, 12.5% fewer than were sold in the year to November 2016, with 29.8% more finishing farms, 29.2% more dairy farms and 34.6% fewer grazing and 32.5% fewer arable farms sold over the same period. . . 

Westpac NZ offers relief to farmers affected by drought-like conditions:

Westpac is offering to assist its hardest hit customers, as drought-like conditions grip large parts of the country.

Westpac’s Head of Commercial and Agribusiness, Mark Steed said the impact of a severe weather event can be stressful for those affected, particularly in the dairy sector in recovery from the payout slump in 2015/16.

He said the bank is offering financial assistance and is encouraging farmers experiencing hardship to talk to Westpac about how the bank can help them. . . 

Recent graduates doing well in forestry sector:

Recent tertiary graduates are earning good incomes from their employment in the forest industry, according to a recent survey by the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF).

A survey of 600 NZIF members indicates recent graduates in the forestry sector are attaining a median gross salary of $58,520, which increases to $62,725 for a total remuneration package.

NZIF spokesperson Tim Thorpe says many of the graduates would have a degree from the University of Canterbury Schools of Forestry and Engineering. But he says others would be included in the recent graduate category as holders of New Zealand diplomas in forest management or similar, from Toi Ohomai in Rotorua, NorthTec in Whangarei or EIT in Gisborne. . . 

No reindeer here, but MPI says sleigh vigilant – Kate Pereyra Garcia:

There are currently no reindeer in New Zealand, not even in zoos.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) readiness group manager Melanie Russell said there was an attempt to import a reindeer 10 years ago for the filming of the Narnia movie.

“But the reindeer that had been trained for the role tested positive for an exotic disease, so the importation never happened.”

The reindeer in the movie was computer generated instead. . . 

Synlait Partners with Foodstuffs South Island to supply fresh milk and cream:

Synlait Milk is partnering with Foodstuffs South Island Limited to become the Cooperative’s exclusive supplier of its private label fresh milk and cream from early 2019.

Synlait intends to invest approximately $125 million in an advanced liquid dairy packaging facility to supply Foodstuffs South Island.

The investment establishes a platform for Synlait to pursue a range of dairy-based products for domestic and export markets in the future. . .

Commission releases final report on annual review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission has released its final report on its annual review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual for the current dairy season.

The manual sets out Fonterra’s methodology for calculating the price it will pay farmers per kilogram of milk solids for the current dairy season, ending 31 May 2018. Our review is part of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). The regime incentivises Fonterra to operate efficiently while providing for contestability in the market for the purchase of farmers’ milk.

“The Commission’s conclusion is unchanged from its draft report released in October, which finds the manual is largely consistent with the purposes of the milk monitoring regime,” Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said. . . 

Three million more chickens added to meet New Zealand’s record levels of consumption in 2017:

Fresh chicken sales are soaring higher than the mercury currently with the highest levels of consumption seen by the Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand (PIANZ).

The Poultry Industry has produced 118,000,000 birds this year to meet demand, three million more than 2016.

“We are are eating more fresh chicken than ever before. On average, Kiwis have devoured over 41 kilograms of fresh chicken per person this year, and we’re only just hitting peak poultry season,” says PIANZ Executive Director, Michael Brooks. . . 

Winemaker awarded World Pinot Noir trophy and New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year trophy in first ever wine competition entered:

In what surely must be the biggest upset in any wine competition in 2017, New Zealand winemaker Andy Anderson, on entering his first ever wine competition, has beaten wines from the best in the world at London’s prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) to take out two trophies. Anderson was first awarded the world’s best Pinot Noir trophy for his 2012 Takapoto Bannockburn Single Vineyard Pinot Noir and then secured the 2017 New Zealand Producer of the Year trophy.

These trophies are usually reserved for the powerhouses of the industry at the glamorous award ceremony held in London, not a winemaker entering his first competition.  . . 

Regional growth supporting global success of Kiwi wine industry:

• 2017 wine industry financial benchmarking survey shows profitability and strengthening balance sheets

• Wine industry makes diverse contribution to regional communities across New Zealand

• Opportunities exist for wine businesses of all sizes through new and emerging export markets as well as through tourism and online channels . . 


Rural round-up

July 20, 2017

Woman of the land counts herself lucky – Rose Harding:

Kate MacFarlane has always known what she wanted to do.

She grew up on Waiterenui Angus Stud at Raukawa so is a farm girl “to her DNA” and considers herself lucky in her life.

Lucky that her parents, Will and Viv, told her to follow her dreams, lucky she was able to travel and gain experience overseas, lucky she got the jobs she wanted and lucky with all the “amazing people” who have helped her. . . 

The mysteries of grass-fed milk – Keith Woodford:

Here in New Zealand, we live the notion that milk from grass-fed cows is superior to milk from cows fed other rations. Supposedly it is better for health. And supposedly the cows are happier if they can dance around in the sunshine doing what comes naturally. And supposedly it makes us more cost-efficient than our international competitors.

There is an element of truth to all of the above notions. But more often than not there is lots of myth intertwined with truth. Here, I want to tease out what is truth, what is myth, what depends on specific context, and some things that are still unknown. . . 

Sunless season dries up olive oil production – Susan Murray:

New Zealand’s olive oil producers have had a tough production season.

Harvesting is just ending, and for some growers their fruit volume and oil production is less than half last year’s.

Andrew Priddle is a Wairarapa olive grower and harvester and said there has been a lack of sunshine hours in summer and autumn, and the crops had matured three weeks later than usual.

He said the late crops led to more bird damage and coincided with an “off” year for the biennially producing trees. . . 

“Nightmare’ kumara season for farmers:

A kumara famer has described this year as a nightmare, with horrendous weather cutting the yield of red kumara by up to 45 percent.

The low yield of all varieties has had a big impact on prices as Statistics New Zealand reported kumara hit a high of more than $8 a kilo last month.

John Adolf from the kumara co-operative Delta Produce, said this year had been a shock for farmers after last season’s bumper crop.

A wet, cold spring, a long dry summer and heavy downpours through autumn caused major headaches for farmers, he said. . . 

$300,000 to help preserve native bush and fauna:

The Forest Bridge Trust has been awarded $300,000 from the Community Environment Fund, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson announced today.

“The vision of The Forest Bridge Trust is to create a connected landscape of healthy forest and flourishing indigenous wildlife from the Kaipara Harbour in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. They plan to achieve that vision by connecting up bush remnants, fencing, planting and doing weed and pest control throughout the area,” Mr Simpson says. . . 

CropLogic plans A$8 mln IPO in ASX listing – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – CropLogic, the agricultural technology company, has launched its prospectus and is planning an A$8 million capital raising before listing on the ASX.

The Christchurch-based company is offering 40 million shares at 20 Australian cents each with a minimum subscription of 25 million shares, or A$5 million. The capital will be used to fund market development, research & development, ASX listing costs and working capital, it said. In May, it completed an A$2 million pre-initial public offering funding round. . . 

Polluted waterways issue widens town and country divide:

The contentious issue of our polluted waterways is deepening a country and town divide, with many farmers saying they are being unfairly blamed by city folk.

“We get lambasted by these allegations for polluting the rivers when in Canterbury we have very few polluted rivers whatsoever,” Canterbury dairy farmer Willie Leferenk said.

Further north sheep and beef farmer Lydia Murchison has noticed that townies seem to have lumped all farmers together. . . 

Farm sales and prices inch down in three months to June on year – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – The number of farms sold in the three months inched down on the year as did the median price per hectare for all farms, pointing to a softening tone in the rural real estate market, the Real Estate Institute said.

There were 459 sales in the year ended June 2017, 13 fewer than the same period a year earlier, or a decline of 2.8 percent. The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to June 2017 was $25,992 versus $26,361 in the same period a year earlier, a decline of 1.4 percent.

Eight regions recorded increases in sales volumes on the year in the three months ended June. Otago recorded the largest increase in sales, with 13 more sales, followed by Gisborne where nine more farms were sold. . . 

Nominations for Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election Open Monday:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election open Monday, 17 July with an election to be held for three farmer-elected Directors.

The Independent Nomination process will be run first with nominations needing to have been received by the Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp of electionz.com by 12 noon on Monday, 7 August 2017.

The Returning Officer will announce the Independent Nomination process candidates on Monday, 11 September 2017. . . 

Autogrow announces global first API Solution for indoor agriculture:

Autogrow has become the first of the established players to launch an API (Application Programming Interface) for indoor agricultural growers; greenhouses, vertical urban, containers, plant factories, offering access to data traditionally not available to them.

Called MyData(v0.2), this is the first release in a series of cloud-based solutions offering a universally accessible API to recent and historical growing data including light and relative humidity, wind speed, pH and EC. With a 24-hour data refresh and 180-day historical data available, growers will be able to utilise their information to discover operational insights or even custom-build or develop their own data solutions, services or apps without limitations. . . 

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Oh you did 20 reps at the gym? Cool story Bro. #AgProud


Rural round-up

June 22, 2017

Consumers must be the focus: report – Sally Rae:

The need to create New Zealand provenance brands has been ranked by primary industry leaders as one of the top priorities for 2017.

KPMG’s latest Agribusiness Agenda, released last week, again ranked biosecurity as the highest priority.

It had ranked first in every survey completed, although the priority score was at its lowest level since 2012. . . 

Agri hub now open for business – Nigel Malthus:

Never mind the bricks and mortar, the Lincoln Hub is now open for business, says its recently appointed chief executive Toni Laming.

The Hub, or He Puna Karikari, brings several agricultural research and commercial entities together, to collaborate on basic and applied agricultural science.

It has five founding shareholders – Lincoln University, AgResearch, Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research and DairyNZ – and expects to attract others as it grows and develops. . .

First bull sale for Murray family since quake – Alexa Cook:

The Murray family in Clarence Valley have had their first big bull sale since the earthquake in November.

Because the road is closed to the south, the 65 buyers were flown in from Kaikōura on four different helicopters.

Over 100 bulls were up for sale from the Murray’s Matariki Hereford stud and the neighbouring Woodbank Angus stud. . . 

‘Trojan Female Technique’ could sterilise pest populations – Alexa Cook:

A new technique that could be used to eradicate pests like mice and wasps has just been proven in the laboratory on fruit flies.

The “Trojan Female Technique” is where females pass on genes that make male offspring infertile.

The head of the University of Otago’s Department of Anatomy, Neil Gemmell, said it was not a new idea to release sterile males, but creating and releasing females that produce sterile offspring was a first for pest control. . . 

Fieldays reflects positive outlook for Primary Sector:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has congratulated the National Fieldays Society for another successful event at Mystery Creek in Waikato.

“This year’s Fieldays was another success thanks to hard work from Peter Nation and his team, but also in part due to the positive outlook for the primary sector,” says Mr Guy.

“Many farmers and growers have dealt with some challenging past seasons, so it was great to feel a really positive mood across the many thousands who entered the gates. There’s a strong sense that many will be looking to use their extra forecast revenue to reinvest in their businesses. . . 

Rural confidence lifts with early frosts – Dene Mackenzie:

As early frosts and snowfalls signalled the approach of winter, confidence within the rural sector continued to build, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said yesterday.

Farmers were anticipating improving incomes during the forthcoming season.

Demand for quality properties and the shortage of supply remained constant, he said.

Figures released by the institute showed there were 25 more farm sales for the three months ended May than for the three months ended May 2016. . . 

Kūmara costs double in disastrous season:

Kūmara prices are nearly double what they were a year ago due to disastrous weather this season, growers say.

Kaipara Kūmara manager Anthony Blundell said the crop was down about 35 percent on normal years due to the wet weather that hit in March.

Mr Blundell said the season didn’t start off well with a wet spring but the biggest damage was done by the cyclones that swamped kumara fields in March. . . 


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