Rural round-up

August 13, 2019

Ground-breaking milestone for Waimea Community Dam project – Tim O’Connell:

There was excitement in spades for backers of the Waimea Community Dam with Friday’s ground-breaking ceremony signalling the start of excavation on the controversial $104.4 million project.

It will take twice as long as initially expected and cost four times as much to construct, but for those who travelled to the Lee Valley site, about 36 kilometres south-east of Nelson, there was a sense of relief and determination to see a successful outcome for the future of Tasman. 

The $104 million Waimea Dam project was rubber-stamped in November after a lively six-hour meeting where Tasman district councillors voted 9-5 to proceed. . .

Gums swallow up prime land – Terry Brosnahan:

Forestry has ripped the heart out of a small Southland community.

In the mid-1990s Waimahaka near Wyndham was one of a number of areas where farms were sold and planted out in eucalypt trees.

It was good money for those selling but the three-teacher school was the heart of a thriving community both of which were devastated.

Waimahaka school had a roll of 70 and three teachers before the trees came. When the farms sold the families left the district. It had only four pupils by the time it closed in 2013. . .

Community or carbon? – Rebecca Harper:

Like many small rural communities in New Zealand, Tiraumea has been declining for years. De-population has been exacerbated by farm amalgamations and technology, and concerned locals fear the recent flurry of farm sales to
forestry may prove the final nail in the coffin. Rebecca Harper reports.

Blink and you might miss it. There’s not much left in Tiraumea, located on Highway 52 between Alfredton and Pongaroa, in the Tararua District. Once a thriving rural community, mostly sheep and beef farmers and their families, numbers are dwindling.

The school closed in 2012, though the lone 100-year oak stands proudly in what used to be the school grounds. The hall is still there, along with the rural fire service shed and domain, but that’s about it.

In the last year a number of farms have been sold, either to forestry or manuka, with no new families moving in to replace those lost, and those left are concerned about the impact of mass pine tree plantings. . . 

Deer role challenging and rewarding – Sally Rae:

Challenging and rewarding – “probably in that order” – is how Dan Coup describes his tenure at Deer Industry New Zealand.

Mr Coup is leaving DINZ in October, after just over six years in the role, to become chief executive of the QEII National Trust.

When he joined the organisation, confidence among producers was generally low and farmers were leaving the industry, frustrated at the state of profitability.

Looking at the state of the industry now, it was “definitely better” and that was due to several factors. . .

Hawke’s Bay apple industry invests in accommodation for seasonal workers

The Hawke’s Bay apple industry says investing tens of millions of dollars in housing for staff will also help the hundreds of people in the region needing emergency accommodation.

It’s aiming to have 1592 new beds ready for next year by extensively renovating existing dwellings and building new accommodation.

The region needs enough places to house the 5400 seasonal workers it needs from the Pacific to work in next year’s harvest.

Gary Jones from the Hawke’s Bay Seasonal Labour Group said the industry was spending nearly $40 million at $25,000 a bed to house all its workers. . . 

Are cattle in the US causing a rise in global warming? – Alan Rotz & Alex Hristov:

Over the past decade, we have seen the media place blame for our changing climate on cattle. Scientific evidence does not support this claim though for cattle in the United States.  

Cattle produce a lot of methane gas, primarily through enteric fermentation and fermentation of their manure. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that, along with nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and some other compounds in the atmosphere, create a blanket around our planet. This is good; without this atmospheric blanket, the earth would be too cold for us to survive. The current problem is that concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere are increasing, which is thickening our blanket. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 23, 2018

P kicking out dope in the provinces – Richard Rennie:

Rural New Zealand is playing host to a wave of methamphetamine (P) lab production and consumption that has knocked cannabis off its pedestal as the recreational drug of choice in the provinces.

Research by Massey University associate professor Chris Wilkins has highlighted that contrary to popular belief it is rural New Zealand, not large metropolitan centres, where P’s availability has resoundingly surged.

His research work has revealed small towns and rural areas where gang influence predominates are targeted specifically for P use to maximise gang drug revenue. . . 

Heading for a TB-free future – Barry Harris:

Ospri Chairman Barry Harris says New Zealand farmers can be proud of the progress of the TB Plan towards eradicating the infectious livestock disease bovine tuberculosis.

Among the most important challenges facing New Zealand agriculture is managing and eradicating diseases that threaten our dairy and meat exports. 

While Mycoplasma bovis has hogged the headlines recently, the progress of the TBfree programme to eradicate bovine tuberculosis has been quietly progressing as planned.

TB, caused by the similar-sounding Mycobacterium bovis, has been a problem for farmed livestock since they arrived in the 19th century.  . . 

Push for authorities to subsidise farmers’ use of dung beetles to help reduce environmental impacts – Gerald Piddock:

A company that grows and supplies dung beetles to farmers wants to partner up with local government to lift the insect’s uptake across New Zealand.

The insects are another tool to help pastoral farmers mitigate their environmental impact, according to Dung Beetle Innovations director Shaun Forgie​.

Forgie, along with business partner Andrew Barber and Peter Buckley, outlined to Waikato Regional Councillors at a recent committee meeting why it would be economically and environmentally beneficial for landowners and local government to include the beetles in steps for improving water quality and soil health. . . 

Stud stock agent judge of qualities – Sally Rae:

Among the hordes of exhibitors and visitors through the sheep pavilion at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch last week, there was a familiar face.

Stud stock agent Roger Keach is a well-known figure within the New Zealand stud stock industry and  regular show attendee for many years.

This year, he was tasked with judging the Hampshire sheep section and  all-breeds wool ram hogget class. . . 

Getting in behind – Rebecca Harper:

A lack of practical experience made it hard for Ashley Greer to get a foot on the career ladder in the sheep and beef industry, but she refused to take no for an answer. After years of trying, she has landed her dream job shepherding on a progressive sheep and beef farm near Masterton. Rebecca Harper went to visit her.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. It’s an old proverb, but one that is particularly relevant for 28-year-old Ashley Greer.

Ashley set her heart on a career in the sheep and beef sector and began studying towards her Bachelor of Science, majoring in agricultural science and minoring in animal science, at Massey University. In her holidays, she needed to obtain placements on farm. . .

North Otago meat plants ‘flat out’ – Sally Brooker:

North Otago’s two major meat processing plants are working flat out.

Alliance Group Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker said the site just north of Oamaru was operating three chains, processing both beef and sheep.

”Lamb is continuing to come through strongly, with the plant having just completed a very busy period processing chilled Christmas orders for the important United Kingdom market. . . 

Thriving horticulture sector behind new degree at Massey University – Angie Skerrett:

A booming horticulture industry has prompted the introduction of a new degree course at Massey University.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) quarterly outlook figures for New Zealand’s primary sector estimates growth in the horticulture sector for the coming year will be 13.1 percent, a $0.7 billion increase on the previous year.

A three-year Bachelor of Horticultural Science degree is set to begin in February to cope with the expected growth. . . 


Rural round-up

July 19, 2016

Tool for easy environment planning – Rebecca Harper:

Onfarm environmental planning has just got easier with the launch of a new cloud-based software programme, AgFirst Landbase.

AgFirst consultant Erica van Reenen developed the programme in conjunction with FarmIQ after being asked time and again whether an online tool to help with land and environment planning existed – it didn’t, until now.

Using van Reenen’s knowledge and FarmIQ’s information technology capability was a perfect match. . .

Greenpeace’s deadly war on science – Bjorn Lomborg:

Is Greenpeace committing a crime against humanity?

A letter from 110 Nobel laureates suggests as much. It urges the environmental group to drop its campaign against genetically modified foods, particularly so-called “Golden Rice,” which could help prevent millions of deaths in the developing world.

Calling GMOs food “Frankenfood” is a brilliant scare-mongering term, heavily promoted by Greenpeace. But it has no basis in reality. . . 

Let’s not leave Silver Fern Farms stranded – Stephen Jacks:

As I take time to consider my vote in the upcoming Silver Fern Farms special general meeting on the 50-50 joint venture with Shanghai Maling, my thoughts are around what the future may look like either way.

What we know is that the challenges facing farmers are large.  The challenges of profitably negotiating our way through the physical, climatic, financial and market vagaries appear to be amplified of late.   I don’t envisage the scale of excellence and adaptation required to survive and thrive to diminish anytime soon.

We have a choice before us: To join with Shanghai Maling or not.  . . 

School paddocks nurture future farmers – Rob Tipa:

Senior pupils of Waitaki Boys’ High School’s primary production course see their future in farming, so attending one of the country’s few schools with its own farm is a definite attraction.

Seven out of 10 senior students who spoke to the NZ Farmer were boarders at Waitaki, mostly from sheep and beef farming families from around Fairlie, Methven, Mayfield, Millers Flat and the West Coast.

Waitaki Boys has a proud history and reputation as a fine school but several students said the school farm was a key factor that brought them to boarding school in Oamaru. . .

How we are innovating our way to cheaper land prices – James Pethokoukis:

They aren’t making any more land, at least on this planet. But technology is, in effect, increasing the long-term supply of land. Robert Shiller:

This 20th-century miracle in agricultural science greatly improved crop yields per acre. From the standpoint of farm output, there was no need for new land. This revolution involved the discovery by Fritz Haber of a cheap process to produce ammonia for fertilizer at the beginning of the century and the discovery of new high-yield strains of wheat by Norman E. Borlaug at midcentury. Both men won Nobel Prizes for their work. These innovations permitted multiplication of yields per acre and very likely saved hundreds of millions of lives from starvation worldwide. . . 

Leading exporter sets benchmark for food safety and brand protection:

New Zealand’s largest vertically-integrated grower, packer and exporter of twenty-five per cent of this country’s apples has taken a bold step to scientifically guarantee the integrity of its produce.

Mr. Apple has signed a three year contract with Dunedin-based Oritain to combat what has become a proliferation of food fraud in the export industry, and safeguard the security of its supply-chain.

Mr. Apple CEO Andrew van Workum says that having his apples 100% traceable from orchard to store is a lynchpin of the Mr. Apple brand, and adds critical value to the relationship it has with growers, suppliers and consumers. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 24, 2015

Farming at 17: Cheviot teen raises sheep, cattle – Beck Eleven:

Louisa McClintock is just 17 but with her 80-year-old grandfather by her side, she’s taking on a dry North Canterbury farm. BECK ELEVEN watches two generations work together.

For a teenage girl, she’s got a decent pair of lungs.

It’s another dry day in Cheviot, North Canterbury and Louisa McClintock is driving a couple of hundred sheep through a race, funnelling the corriedales towards the shower dip to stave off lice and fly strike. . .

Rural Broadband extension secured:

The passing of the Telecommunications (Development Levy) Amendment Levy Bill underscores the Government’s commitment to extending enhanced connectivity to regional New Zealand, says Communications Minister Amy Adams

The Bill passed last night with support from all parties, other than Labour.

“The extension of the Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL) will fund the $100 million expansion of fast, reliable broadband to the regions. It will also establish a $50 million fund to extend mobile coverage in black spot areas such as along main highways and in popular tourist destinations,” says Ms Adams. . .

Farming women band together – Rebecca Harper:

A gap in the market for a women’s progress group focusing on sheep and beef has been addressed by the new Wairarapa Rural Women’s Initiative. 

Sheep and beef farmer and Baker & Associates agribusiness consultant Ellie Meadows cottoned on to the need for such a group after speaking to other like-minded farmers, Lynley Wyeth and Lucy Thorneycroft.

Both women had taken part in the Understanding Your Farm Business course run by the Agri Women’s Development Trust and wondered “what next”? . .

 Seeing green – Sandra Taylor:

Seeing a bulk of greenfeed in a scorched landscape was enough to make any farmer salivate this summer and growing bulk is what forage maize does best.

A number of dryland farmers in Canterbury have been growing forage maize and while it generates a bulk of feed at a time of the year when little else grows, as a feed it is not suitable for every class of stock.

Charlotte Westwood, an animal nutritionist and vet with PGG Wrightson Seeds, cautions against feeding it to young stock such as newly weaned beef calves. . .

Budget funding boost welcomed:

A 20 per cent increase in tertiary funding for agriculture announced in today’s budget is being welcomed by Lincoln University Deputy Vice-Chancellor International and Business Development Jeremy Baker.

The increase is part of an $85.8 million boost over four years for targeted increases in tuition rates at degree level and above, which also includes a 7.5 per cent increase for science.

Mr Baker described the announcement as recognition of the vital role agriculture plays in the New Zealand economy, and for institutions like Lincoln University, with its specific land-based focus, in providing world-class graduates to meet the growing demand in the sector for highly-trained workers.

It shows the area is a priority for the Government and for New Zealand, he says, as it needs to be. . .

Resilient farmer Doug Avery will lead a tlak on drought in North Canterbury – Kim Nutbrown:

North Canterbury farmers are being urged to heed the advice of Doug Avery who will visit the drought-stricken area next week.

Farmers in the Cheviot area are experiencing record low rainfalls, putting their businesses under extreme stress.

Many are searching for a stress-relief valve. . . .


Rural round-up

March 29, 2014

Land leasing lessons – Rebecca Harper:

Getting started farming in your own right can be a challenge and leasing is a great first option. Rebecca Harper investigates how it works and what you need to know about leasing.

David Skiffington has five lease blocks and has developed his own philosophy and system for leasing, building up to a viable farm business for him and his young family.

He got his first lease block in 2008 and is now leasing land from four Maori trusts and one private landowner in Manawatu, with about 100 hectares all up.

David is dead set against paying market price for a block. “I feel like the market rate is often set by the guy next door who has an advantage. Market price is set at a price where not much is economic.” . . .

Dairy prices may dip as record payouts prompt farmers to boost milk production

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy prices will probably decline over the last few months of the New Zealand season as farmers ramp up milk production to benefit from record payouts.

Prices generally hold up on lower volumes heading into the end of the season in May, however volumes will be higher than normal this year as farmers had favourable growing conditions in the lead-up to the main producing season and bought extra feed to increase milk production in anticipation of higher prices, said ASB Bank rural economist Nathan Penny.

Auckland-based Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, last month raised its payout to farmer suppliers to a record level on the back of strong global demand. New Zealand dairy farmers will probably produce 11 percent more milk this season than last season, which will equate to around a 9 to 10 percent increase in volume for Fonterra, ahead of the dairy group’s forecast for a 7.5 percent increase in volume, ASB says. . .

Bovine Blackmailers and half a kennel – Mad Bush Farm:

The cows know I have a bag of feed just inside the door right now. It’s not theirs to have of course; it belongs to the old man. Sometimes, though, I do give them some of it, even though right now they don’t really need feeding much more than some hay.  Trouble is they’ve cottoned on that I feed the old man twice a day. They have it all figured out, along with how to muck up my recently cleaned windows (forget that now!) . . .

Apples and applesauce – Cabbage Tree Farm:

It’s apple season here on CTF. I am steadily working my way through mountains of apples. OK ‘mountains’ might be a slight exaggeration, but there are certainly quite a few kilos!
Here is a big box of delicious ‘Reinette du Canada’ apples – a French heirloom apple – that I picked yesterday. This variety is great for cooking, but it can also be eaten as a dessert apple. We usually cook it.


Some of these apples get quite big. The biggest one I picked was 500g (18 oz)! . . . 

Good as green for top crop:

A Bay of Plenty kiwifruit orchard has posted a top orchard gate return based on its production of Hayward green in the 2013 season.

Last season it produced an average of 15,109 trays per hectare with size 33 fruit, with an orchard gate return (OGR) in excess of $90,000 compared to the industry average of $43,000. It was the highest OGR recorded for 2013 by the orchard’s management company, Direct Management Services (DMS).

The orchard is owned by the Owen St George Family Trust and managed by Matt Greenbank of DMS. Owen’s daughter, Jackie, also works on the orchard.. . .

Hastings centre stage for next Regional Final:

The East Coast Regional Final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest is set to be held in Hastings next weekend Saturday 5th April at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Showgrounds.

Eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Christchurch 3-5 July and their share of a $14,000 prize pack including products, services and scholarships from ANZ, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.

There is a wide range of competitors for this round of eliminations, with a variety of backgrounds, ages and skill sets. . . .

Value Added Products Get First Taste of Tomato Crop:

Wattie’s value added products are the first to benefit from the company’s 77th annual tomato crop, which is just passed the mid-point of the harvest.

In producing the country largest tomato crop Wattie’s carefully selects tomato varieties to meet and thrive in the Hawke’s Bay climate.

Wattie’s agronomist Jonny La Trobe who is responsible for the tomato crop, says the season is going well, and with half the harvest completed, the fruit quality and yields are good.

“While we may not pip last year’s exceptional volumes, favourable spring weather – which also benefited our peach crop – gave us an excellent start on which to build.” . . .


Rural round-up

January 6, 2014

Top 10 reasons being a farmer rocks – Fastline:

In case you ever need a reminder as to why you have the best job in the world as a Farmer, check out our list we put together! Think we forgot one? Let us know in the comments with your favorite part of being a Farmer.

10.Outdoors – there’s nothing like the smell of fresh air, or even better, the smell of fresh cut hay!

9.Fun Equipment – What other job do you get to drive large tractors, combines, sprayers or anything else?

8. Weather – You always know the weather, even when you don’t want to.

7. You’re your own boss – Well besides mother nature – but she’s another story. . .

New proposals for red meat industry – Stephen Bell:

Copying Uruguay’s meat industry and Anzac alliance and a north-south hemisphere collaboration are among “pick and mix” proposals Federated Farmers has put up for reform of the red meat section.

Uruguay’s system involves its National Meat Institute (Instituto Nacional de Carnes or INAC) being responsible for all meat processing including beef, sheep, poultry, swine, rabbits, horses, goats and game.

“We promote, co-ordinate and monitor the whole process from production and processing to marketing, storage and transportation,” Inac chairman Luis Alfredo Fratti Silveira says. . .

Diagnosing mycotoxicosis a challenge – Anne Boswell:

Leading animal nutrition consultant and researcher Dr Lucy Waldron says one of the biggest challenges when dealing with mycotoxicosis in farm animals is simply making a diagnosis.

Dr Waldron, who has been involved with mycotoxin research in grazing animals since 2002, said there were many challenges facing practitioners seeking to make field diagnosis, including the non-specific nature of many of the symptoms, and that mycotoxins almost never present as single toxins.

Mycotoxins are substances naturally produced by moulds and fungi that are normally present as some form of defence for the organism. . . .

 Farming a passion for Massey’s top student – Collette Devlin:

A Southland student who won the top agriculture student award at Massey University plans to continue his studies to research water quality for sheep and beef farmers.

Cameron Black, 21, who completed a bachelor of agricultural science at Manawatu, was awarded the accolade for his high academic achievement and was also judged by staff and his peers to have made the largest contribution to the wellbeing and reputation of their fellow students in agriculture.

Mr Black will now complete an honours degree in agricultural science, which will focus on a soil agronomy research project for sheep and beef farmers in hill country. . .

Constable survives his first wacky race – Jo McKenzie-McLean:

The experience of bolting down a racetrack with nothing to hold on to but a saddle was almost like confronting an armed offender, a Queenstown constable says.

Constable Feleki Urhle was a reluctant participant in the Double Banking Race at the Glenorchy Races on Saturday, where thousands turned out for the annual 10-race event run by the Lakeside Rugby Club.

The day includes the long-standing tradition for the most junior-ranking police officer on duty to ride with seasoned jockey Callum Grimmer – also a St John Ambulance paramedic.

Mr Urhle said his only experience on a horse had been a slow-paced trek ride about 10 years ago.

“So to ride behind someone, not in a saddle and without my feet in stirrups bolting down a track was pretty freaky stuff. It compares to confronting an armed offender almost.” . . .

Year in review – July – Rebecca Harper:

Heavy snow in the South Island caused sleepless nights for many farmers as they battled to get feed and water to stranded stock and free those trapped by the snow.

Precision agriculture propelled Canterbury arable farmers Craige and Roz Mackenzie to the top of the class for sustainability, proving intensive land use can be sustainable, in taking out the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Award. . .

Year in review – August – Rebecca Harper:

Fonterra directors said they intended to even out dividends paid on milk supply shares and listed fund units by looking beyond the current year’s earnings expectations and to give more market commentary.

The aim was to provide a longer-term view on any potential volatility in earnings.

Silver Fern Farms started to collect the blood protein from bobby calves processed at its Fairton plant in a bid to add value to a co-product and fruit and berry grower Julian Raine was named as the new president of Horticulture New Zealand at its annual conference. . .

 

 


Rural round up

December 29, 2013

Wool rice product developed:

A Wellington company which has developed a new upholstery fabric blended from wool and rice straw is expecting to start commercial production next year.

The Formary, a textile design and development company, is proposing to use 70% New Zealand mid-micron wool and 30% rice straw in the fabric, which will be manufactured in China.

The Formary co-founder Bernadette Casey said manufacturing of commercial samples would start in China early next year, with full production by mid-year. . .

Indo Minister steps up rhetoric on live cattle:

The Indonesian agriculture minister Suswano has stepped up his anti-Australia rhetoric, calling for cut backs on the importation of live cattle from Australia due to the ongoing spying rift between the two neighbours.

The Minister has called on the cattle industry to cease imports of cattle from Australia and to give preference to local suppliers. He said the appeal was related to Australia’s snooping on Indonesia.

“Basically it is business-to-business, (and is) the right of businesspeople to chose where they source their meat supplies. However, when the government shows a certain political stance, it would be good if the businesspeople adapt to it,” he said. . .

Donating kidneys to protect the landscape – Erin Hutchinson:

Manawatu farmer Dave Stewart reckons the agricultural landscape needs a lot more kidneys.

Dave uses the term to describe the numerous small native-bush blocks he has planted in the small, incised gullies that criss-cross the family’s property.

Those organs across the flat to occasionally rolling territory intercept nutrients carried in paddock run-off before they enter waterways. Dave calls them nutrient-interceptor beds.

Dave and wife Jan are the fourth generation of Stewarts to farm the 600ha property at Hiwinui, a short distance from Palmerston North. . .

Year in review – April – Rebecca Harper:

Fonterra’s strong balance sheet was used to bring forward the advance payment schedule for its milk supply pool and improve cashflow for drought-affected dairy farmers. The co-op declared a net profit increase of 33% on the first half of 2011-12 to $459 million in the six months to January 31 after an 8% increase in sales volume. The milk payout forecast was lifted 30c to $5.80/kg milksolids.

The Meat Industry Excellence Group (MIE) continued to hold farmer meetings around the country to gauge support for its push for red meat industry consolidation. Meat companies said they were working together on a plan to rationalise the processing industry and the two big co-ops said they were willing to work with MIE. Tradable slaughter rights were suggested as one solution to industry woes as the impetus for change gathered momentum.

MIE elected a national executive with Richard Young as chairman. . .

And from the Nutters Club:

>:) kindest, Boris


Rural round-up

December 27, 2013

Sustainably supplying native beech – Simon Hartley:

New Zealand’s largest supplier of Southland beech for the residential and commercial construction market is seeing increasing acceptance of the use of the native timber by architects.

While architects and homeowners may have been showing reluctance in using some native species, Southland beech is harvested by Lindsay and Dixon under a Ministry of Primary Industries sustainable management plan and carries independent certification from the Forestry Stewardship Council.

The fine-grained medium-density hardwood has featured recently in finishings in the Supreme Court building in Wellington, Air New Zealand’s Koru lounge in Christchurch and Auckland’s Novotel Hotel.

Tuatapere-based sawmiller Lindsay and Dixon, in western Southland, is a Southland beech supplier certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. . .

Hooked on meat: there’s no easy way to end the global habit – Michael Parker,

Raising livestock accounts for the largest single land-use on Earth. Cattle, sheep and goats, pigs and poultry occupy around 30% of the planet’s land area not covered in ice, generate 40% of the world’s agricultural GDP, provide livelihoods for 1.3 billion people, and nourishment for 800m people who would otherwise go without.

Despite this massive environmental, economic and social impact on the world, it is not a thoroughly studied industry. The results of a four-year livestock study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences compiles worldwide data that reveal the important role of livestock. While the study lays out the industry’s considerable greenhouse gas emissions, it also shows that demands to reduce numbers and meat consumption will come with unwanted consequences. . .

Venture Southland considers oat push – Allison Rudd:

Economic development organisation Venture Southland hopes to know soon whether it has been able to attract external funding for an ambitious project to develop a high-value oat production and food processing industry in the province.

The project could eventually include establishment of an oat milk plant. . .

Rural Australians are missing out on affordable fresh food

Would you pay A$9 for six mushrooms in inner-city Melbourne? Or A$4.50 for one small piece of broccoli or cauliflower in Sydney?

Probably not – but this is what rural Australians are being asked to fork out for their fresh produce.

Several studies in Australia have highlighted the disparity in the cost of healthy food between urban and rural areas in South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. . .

Farmer confidence up; still gulf: survey – Sally Rae:

New Zealand farmer confidence has continued to edge higher, but the gulf between dairy farmers and sheep and beef farmers in terms of self-assessed viability continues, the latest Rabobank rural confidence survey shows.

The final survey for the year showed confidence slightly up on the already high levels of last quarter.

The most significant gain was among horticultural producers, encouraged by an increase in prices, underpinned by strong global demand in key export markets.

Only 5% of farmers had a negative outlook for the year ahead, down 1% on the last quarter. . . .

Year in review – February – Rebecca Harper:

The dung beetle debate started with scientists and health experts raising concerns about health risks if the beetles were released in the country. Cue spirited debate about the merits of dung beetles, whether they posed a risk to human health and whether they had already been released years ago anyway.

The headline “Parched paddocks and pitiful prices” pretty well summed up the sentiment among sheep farmers with little rain, a depressed store lamb market, devalued breeding ewes and the prime lamb schedule plummeting. . .


Rural round-up

December 26, 2013

When Christmas is no holiday :

For some Kiwis, Christmas is just another day at the office. Among those at work on Christmas Day this year are a midwife, firefighter, zookeeper, farmer and paramedic. SIOBHAN DOWNES finds out how they will celebrate.

THE FARMER

One Dannevirke sharemilker is making sure you get “a nice bit of cream on your strawberries” come Christmas morning.

Neil Filer will be sneaking out at 3.30am to tend to the cows, trying not to wake his two excited children.

“They won’t be going back to sleep otherwise!” . .

Year in review – January – Rebecca Harper:

Beef exporters received a boost with the news United States imported beef prices were at record levels and expected to go higher during the year. The price lift was attributed to high feed grain prices, the smallest US cattle herd in 50 years and limited supplies from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Latin America.

The Fonterra Shareholders Fund unit price rose over December and January – up 32% from the November 30 opening price of $5.50 to $7.29. . . .

Loss of ‘adopted’ eels upsets Fonterra staff – Charlottte Squire:

A project to clean up Watercress Creek that runs through the Fonterra factory at Takaka has won a national river award, but its staff are upset at the loss of their “adopted” long-term resident eels.

Last month a National Rivers Award was given to Tasman District Council environmental educator Claire Webster for the significant improvement of the waterway and habitat.

The combined efforts of Keep Golden Bay Beautiful, Fonterra and local schools meant the quality of the water in the creek and its habitat has dramatically improved over the last few years.

Ms Webster, who co-ordinated the project, gave strong credit to Fonterra for the clean up of the waterway. . .

Taking the fight to field horsetail – Rebecca Harper:

A collaborative approach to weeding out a troublesome pest is yielding results in Rangitikei and Manawatu.

Field horsetail is a notoriously difficult weed to control.

It appears after winter from an extensive underground root system up to three metres deep.

It is spreading throughout the district, particularly on the lower floodplains of Rangitikei River, prompting NZ Landcare Trust to partner with local farmers to try to combat it. . .


Rural round-up

December 12, 2013

Audacious goal on South Canterbury demo farm:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s demonstration farm programme is about testing new and exciting ideas within a real farm context. So, when Andrea and Warren Leslie from South Canterbury were invited to join the programme, they were challenged to share their ultimate on-farm goals during an initial workshop of demonstration farmers. Warren says he made the mistake of standing up first.

“I said ‘I want to lamb 200 per cent’ and people said that’s not such a big deal. Then I added ‘without any triplets or singles’.” That quietened them. He wasn’t finished. The cattle goal was more challenging again: “We breed Murray Greys and sell a lot of bulls into the dairy industry. Wouldn’t it be great if 75 per cent of our progeny were male? I’m just putting it out there, to get the discussion going.” . . .

Fonterra farmgate milk price mixed blessing:

Farmers will have split views on Fonterra Cooperative Group confirming the farmgate milk forecast at $8.30 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS). While they will be pleased with that confirmation they will be less pleased to see the dividend forecast being cut by two-thirds to ten cents per share.

“The dividend is a direct marker to the financial performance of Fonterra as a company,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Farmers will be happy to see the milk price confirmed but since 85 percent of the dividend payout goes to farmer-shareholders, they will have mixed feelings since it’s a 22 cents per share haircut.

“But knowing what my farms have produced in the season to date, it’s no surprise to find that Fonterra has been pushed to process what our farms have produced. . . .

Synlait Milk flags faster growth in 2014 as Fonterra cuts guidance – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the milk processor which joined the NZX in July, says earnings will beat guidance next year on cheaper raw milk prices and growing demand for its products. That contrasts with Fonterra Cooperative Group, which today slashed its guidance in the face of a margin squeeze.

International demand is favouring Synlait’s milk powder and anhydrous milk fat products, while recent announcements mean the season’s milk price won’t be as high as expected, the company said in a statement. Because of that, Synlait said first-half and annual earnings will probably beat forecasts in 2014. It predicted profit of $19.6 million on sales of $524 million in its prospectus.

“We now expect the company will benefit from both earnings growth in our value added categories, a favourable product mix, and lower than expected milk prices,” chief executive John Penno said. “This is likely to mean Synlait’s earnings for the half and full FY14 will be ahead of forecast.” . . .

Showcasing the best – Rebecca Harper:

It’s show time here in Feilding.

Growing up, the Hawke’s Bay A&P Show was a huge part of our family life. We went to a small country school and they closed the school and gave us all the day off, because we all went to the show.

Dad used to enter lambs every year and there was usually a coloured certificate to take home for a prize on the hoof or the hook.

I rode my pony and competed in the horse events and my brothers and I were given money for the rides. . .

Kiwis take Aussie shield – Tim Fulton:

New Zealand has run away with Australia’s agricultural and pastoral show shield.

The FCAS Shield has been contested by Australian states since 2000, while NZ entered the fray five years ago.

FCAS is the Federated Council of Agricultural Societies, an equivalent of the Royal Agricultural Society in NZ.

First, second, and third placings in premier show competitions are combined to find the shield winner. . . .

Rural women up front and centre – Abby Brown:

Members of Rural Women’s Scott’s Ferry branch showed off their underwear at the Royal A&P show on December 6.

The Y fronts and boxers were decorated as part of their Y Front campaign which encouraged men to be up front about prostate cancer and get checked.

The underwear decorated one wall of the advocacy group’s booth.

Another wall was decorated with plaster cast breasts, as the group also encouraged women to get checked for breast cancer. . .


Rural round-up

June 5, 2013

Hepatitis A outbreak linked to Oregon berry farm – Mary Clare Jalonick:

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A linked to a frozen organic berry mix sold by an Oregon company.

The FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that 30 illnesses are linked to Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend, which contains pomegranate seed mix. Illnesses were reported in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California.

Several of those who fell ill reported buying the berry mix at Costco, according to CDC. A Costco spokesman said Friday that the company has removed the product from stores and is attempting to contact members who purchased the product in recent months. . .

Research shows importance of dairy

New consumer research shows 72% of Asians think dairy is an important part of a balanced diet.

However, the research also shows fewer than half the 9000 people surveyed in nine countries are eating every day.

Fonterra strategy director Maury Leyland said the results clearly demonstrate growing awareness of the importance of dairy nutrition across the region and the opportunity this presents to the New Zealand dairy industry. . .

High quality tipped for bumper olive harvest – Peter Watson:

It’s a nervous time for Nelson olive growers as they try to beat the onset of winter, and the birds, to harvest what is expected to be a record crop.

Ideally, Peter Coubrough wanted to wait a couple of weeks before starting picking on his small grove on the Waimea estuary near Mapua to allow further ripening and get the oil percentage up, but he was unwilling to take that risk and lose a heavy crop.

“The weather hasn’t been as warm and sunny as we would have hoped.

“If we don’t get the fruit off now it will either get frosted or the birds will get it,” he said as the pickers arrived last week to begin work at Frog’s End Estate. . .

Vital investment tool developed for wood processors:

A major study report released by the Wood Council highlights the need for by-products from established industries like sawmilling if New Zealand is to develop profitable businesses based on emerging technologies, like bio-fuels and bio-chemicals.

The WoodScape study is the result of collaboration between the forest and wood products industry, the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries and NZ Trade and Enterprise, which together funded the project.

Crown Research Institute Scion, in partnership with FP Innovations and the Wood Council, evaluated wood processing investment opportunities in a New Zealand setting. . .

Fertiliser company seeking $10m for phosphate project:

Chatham Rock Phosphate is going to the public for the first time to raise up to $10 million, to help fund it through to the start of mining in 2015.

The fertiliser company said the public offer aims to raise $4 million with the ability to accept oversubscriptions of a further $6 million.

The offer will consist of new ordinary shares at an issue price of 35 cents per share with one option attached to every three shares issued. . .

Reaping rewards of hard work – Rebecca Harper:

There seem to have been a rash of farming awards handed out recently – perhaps it’s the season for it.

As a first-time attendee at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, they were extremely impressive.

The awards, held at the TSB Arena in Wellington, ran like a well-oiled machine. It was a most professional and well-attended black-tie event.

The evening reflected the pride in the dairying industry and the esteem the awards are held in. There was truly the cream of the crop in the room.

And for an industry that pulls in a huge chunk of the country’s wealth, it was great to see its top achievers given the credit they are due, in the capital city. . .

Russell McVeagh and Fonterra scoop up ALB Law Awards:

Fonterra’s Trading Among Farmers transaction, completed in November 2012, was one of the big winners at this year’s ALB Australasian Law Awards. The transaction won New Zealand Deal of the Year and the IPO of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund won the Equity Deal of the Year Award, an Australasian-wide category. Russell McVeagh acted as the principal legal advisors to Fonterra from the beginning of the transaction in 2010 to its completion.

The firm would like to congratulate the Fonterra legal team, which also won the New Zealand In-house Team of the Year Award in recognition of their outstanding hard work and achievement. . .

New agriculture vehicle regulations:

New rules for agricultural vehicles came into force on June 1 with rural contractors – and farmers –being encouraged to familiarise themselves with these changes.

Rural Contractors New Zealand – the national association and the leading advocate for rural contractors in New Zealand – executive director Roger Parton says the new rules offer agricultural vehicle owners improved compliance and greater operational flexibility. He says Rural Contractors NZ has worked collaboratively with Ministry of Transport, NZTA and NZ Police to develop them.

“These changes are a long time coming and have resulted in rules that are easy to understand, comply with and enforce,” Roger Parton adds. “These changes recognise the unique operating characteristics and environment that agricultural vehicles require to travel on the road.” . . .


Rural round-up

February 18, 2013

Call for tighter rules – Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers is demanding the rules for importing palm kernel expeller (PKE) be tightened.

This comes after two members of the group’s grain and seed executive observed massive breaches of the New Zealand import health standards for importing 

Federated Farmers is demanding the rules for importing palm kernel expeller (PKE) be tightened.

This comes after two members of the group’s grain and seed executive observed massive breaches of the New Zealand import health standards for importing PKE into New Zealand during a visit to a Malaysian PKE crushing plant.

Mid Canterbury farmer David Clark along with Whakatane farmer Colin MacKinnon visited the country in September last year.

They detailed the breaches along with several recommendations to improve New Zealand’s biosecurity process in a report they submitted to the Ministry for Primary Industries last year.

into New Zealand during a visit to a Malaysian PKE crushing plant.

Mid Canterbury farmer David Clark along with Whakatane farmer Colin MacKinnon visited the country in September last year.

They detailed the breaches along with several recommendations to improve New Zealand’s biosecurity process in a report they submitted to the Ministry for Primary Industries last year. . .

Irrigation scheme on target -Gerald Piddock:

The first of the giant ponds at the Rangitata South Irrigation scheme could be filled by the end of the month, as construction of the project continues.

Workers were one third of the way through lining the surface of the first of the ponds, Rooney Earth Moving general manager Colin Dixon said.

The plastic lining came in large rolls that were unwrapped and the edges were then joined together.

“It’s like a sewing machine, it runs up the seam really slowly and melts them together,” Mr Dixon said.

He estimated it would take four to six weeks to line each pond. The ponds were lined one after the other, rather than all at the same time. As soon as one pond is lined, it can be filled with water. . .

Time to merge ag unis?- Marie Taylor and Rebecca Harper:

Merging agriculture courses offered at Lincoln and Massey universities is one way to make better use of limited resources, Beef + Lamb chairman Mike Petersen says.

It emerged last week that Lincoln was undertaking a major review of its qualifications.

It is the country’s smallest university, with 3500 full-time equivalent students, and has faced a series of financial losses in the past few years. It had a $5 million loss last year and a $5m loss is budgeted for this year.

Lincoln wants to reduce the number of undergraduate degrees it offers from 13 to three land-based three-year degrees, with a common first year. . .

The carbon-neutral dairy farm, is it possible? – Milking the Moove:

What does a dairy farmer have to do to become carbon neutral?

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the prospect of agriculture being included into New Zealand’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). 

So I thought to my self, what would a dairy farmer need to do to become carbon neutral?

But first, why would a farmer what to be carbon neutral?

Some may say because it’s the right thing to do for the environment.

Others will want to eliminate any tax paid on the carbon they emit. 

Other people will say that, being carbon neutral gives that farmer a wonderful point of difference in which to differentiate their products.

In order to avoid getting into a debate about whether climate change is real or not, I’m going to approach this from the marketing angle. . . .

Sector pins hopes on golden fleece – Tim Cronshaw:

A golden yarn developed by Kiwi scientists and containing pure gold is expected to be sold to wealthy buyers of luxury carpets, rugs and furnishings.

Unlike the golden fleece in Greek mythology the yarn and completed woollen products will not have a golden colour at this stage.

The Aulana-branded wool has been developed by Professor Jim Johnston and Dr Kerstin Lucas of Victoria University after $3 million of research and development.

A tiny amount of pure gold is combined with wool and the chemistry between the two causes it to bond and produce the colours of purple, grey and blue.

The range is expected to be extended and include a golden hue later. . .

Shearers busy as farmers heed market – Tim Cronshaw:

Canterbury shearers have gone into overdrive after an unexpected surge in sheep needing to be shorn.

The December to early February stint is usually quiet for shearing, but an influx of lambs and cull ewes needing their fleece removed put the pressure on shearers during the hot spell, when temperatures soared above 30 degrees in shearing sheds.

Farmers appear to have moved quickly in line with lower lamb prices and this acted as a catalyst for more shearing.

January was expected to be a slow month for shearing, but only in the last week has the pace slowed, said Barry Pullin,  an owner of Pullin Shearing, and chairman for the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association. . . .


Rural round-up

December 17, 2012

MPI investigating palm kernel biosecurity-risk – Gerald Piddock:

The Ministry of Primary Industries is investigating claims by Federated Farmers that Malaysian-grown palm kernel expeller (PKE) could present a biosecurity risk to New Zealand.

The claims come after Federated Farmers grains executive vice-chairman David Clark and maize growers committee chairman Colin MacKinnon visited Malaysia in September to investigate the country’s palm industry.

“What we saw would be a complete breach of the import health standard if that palm kernel, when it was consolidated, formed part of a shipment coming to New Zealand,” Mr Clark said.

The pair were hosted on a plantation and shown around a mill where the PKE was processed. They attended a conference on PKE and spent time visiting the installations where PKE is stored and loaded onto container ships bound for New Zealand. . .

Farmlands CRT favour merger – Rebecca Harper:

Farmlands and Combined Rural Traders (CRT) directors are recommending in favour of a merger between the two farmer-owned rural supplies co-operatives.

The New Zealand Farmers Weekly revealed the two farmer-owned co-ops were in merger talks in early October.

The chairmen of the two co-ops, Don McFarlane (CRT) and Lachie Johnstone (Farmlands) confirmed exclusively to Farmers Weekly on Friday that a letter had been sent to shareholders that day saying the boards of each society were in favour of the merger. Directors had “agreed to take steps to merge the two societies together”. . .

Poor pasture quality costly – Gerald Piddock:

The poor quality of New Zealand pastures is one of the main reasons agricultural debt levels are so high, a leading soil scientist says.

Dairy cows are being presented too often with a nitrate-crude protein-rich pasture that does not provide them with enough energy, Graham Shepherd says.

It meant farmers brought in high levels of supplementary feed to give the rumen the energy required to process that type of pasture, he told farmers at a field day at Bryan and Jackie Clearwater’s farm near Geraldine. . .

Glyphos hit by grass resistance – Richard Rennie:

The discovery of glyphosate resistant ryegrass in Marlborough has sparked calls for compulsory labels on agri-chemicals highlighting resistance risks.

Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) CEO Nick Pyke officially confirmed the discovery at a field day in Hamilton on Thursday.

The discovery came during work for a Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) funded project on studying glyphosate resistance. It was identified in grasses from a vineyard after a call from a chemical company. . .

Really important to have social scientists working in agriculture – Pasture to Profit:

Social scientists are very active in agrifood.

That’s great! I welcome these intelligent minds working in both the agriculture & food space. Agrifood is about people. Dairy Farming is primarily about people. 
 
How people think, make decisions, work with each other, how we collectively live & work together is really important stuff. Yet mainstream agricultural science, farmers & farming largely ignore the social scientists & their work. I’ve just attended the Australia-NZ Agri-food Research Network conference held at Massey University. . .

Rural round-up

May 26, 2012

Reward for consistency – Rebecca Harper:

The accolade of Producer of the Decade was bestowed upon them at the 2012 Steak of Origin grand final, but for Angus breeders Chris and Karren Biddles, it was the reward for consistently producing a quality product.

“We like to breed good product and sell good product,” Chris Biddles sums up the philosophy that has seen Te Atarangi Angus named Producer of the Decade.

Chris and his wife Karren farm just under 1000 hectares on the Pouto Peninsula, near Dargaville in Northland, and have been long time supporters of beef cattle breeding in New Zealand. . .

Plenty of bull topped off with a great feed – Jon Morgan:

Aaaaah, Beef Expo. First to assail the senses is the smell. Bullshit and coffee.

Then it’s the noise. Over the low roar of farmers discussing the weather is the enraged bellowing of caged bulls. And somewhere in the distance a tormented soul is shouting out the same number over and over again.

He’s auctioneer Bruce Orr. “I bid 4000, 4000, 4000, 4000 dollars. I’ve got 4000 to bid, 4000, 4000, 4000, 4000.” And so on at break-tongue speed.

Later, I count him and he gets close to 100 times repeating the same number before a bidder takes pity on him and raises him $200. Then it starts again.

It’s my annual immersion in the world of beef breeding. . .

Shear joy for wool industry

As a young girl growing up on Mt Nicholas Station, at the head of Lake Wakatipu, Kate Cocks was used to a life of uncertainty. Her parents, Lynda and Robert Butson, were high-country merino farmers, their extensive 100,000-acre property spreading from the edge of the lake to the tops of the distant peaks.

“Twenty years ago our wool cheque could vary from $300,000 one year to $1.2 million the next,” says Cocks, who is now the manager of Mt Nicholas Station. . .

Clicking on the link above will take you to a video.

Forum hailed for brdiging troubled waters – Jon Morgan:

 If I could meet the 80 people representing the 60 organisations and five iwi that make up the Land and Water Forum, I would ask them to turn their backs. Then I would give each one a well-deserved pat.

That’s unlikely, so I’ll do it in print. What these people have achieved, and are still to achieve, is awe-inspiring.

Formed four years ago under the leadership of environmental advocates Gary Taylor and Guy Salmon, the forum now includes the representatives of everyone with a stake in the sustainability of our freshwater resource – a remarkable achievement. . .

Dairy expansion pushes cow total to more than 6 million -Annette Scott:

Dairy expansion in the South Island has driven the national dairy herd to over six million while fewer lambs and breeding ewes saw sheep numbers take another tumble in 2011, according to the latest agricultural production survey.

Final results from the 2011 survey show a continued increase in the national dairy herd. An increase of 259,000 dairy cattle brought the number to 6.17m, up 4.4% from 2010.

More cattle were kept for milk production and future replacement, a result of the high payout and strong international demand for dairy products. The national milking herd was 4.82m, 136,000 more than in 2010. . .

The rise and importance of the US dairy industry – Xcheque:

If you have been watching the dairy industry news over the past month you will have noted a growing nervousness about the state of international dairy commodity markets and the flow on effects of this at farmgate.

It certainly appears that there is a gathering storm, one brought about by the over-exuberance of the global dairy traders. 7 billion litres of extra milk production in 2011 from the EU, US, NZ and Argentina, and no sign of the growth rate easing in the first two months of 2012. Domestic demand growth from these countries is typically less than 1% or about 2 billion litres – the balance needs to go onto world markets. Is this possible?

Not if history is a guide. . .

Ray of hope for dairy industry:

New Zealand dairy farmers are expected to be on average 42,000 dollars worse off this season following yesterday’s announcement by Fonterra that it has to cut its milk payout forecast because of softening global dairy prices.

But a New Zealand product gaining increasing attention in the United States could help offset those losses.

Queen of Calves was invented on a Manawatu family farm and promises to raise milk production by 18 per cent. . .

Southland TB campaigner wins deer industry award:

Retiring TBfree Southland Committee member Kevin Gilmour has been awarded the prestigious Matuschka Award by the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association.

Kevin has been associated with the TBfree committee for 20 years. Until recently, he ran a successful deer farm on the edge of the Hokonui Hills, while working tirelessly to communicate, advocate and support the national bovine tuberculosis (TB) control programme in Southland.

“The award came as a very nice surprise. However, I can’t emphasis enough how important the support and technical expertise of the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association and TBfree committee has been in achieving our objectives,” he said. . .

Farmer-led Canterbury Water Forum to set the agenda:

Hard on the heels of the Land & Water Forum report, Federated Farmers has taken the lead by convening a farmer-led Canterbury Water Forum.  Taking place at the Ashburton Trust Events Centre on 7 June, it gives all farmers a chance to see what the future holds.

“This Water Forum is very much a forum for farmers by farmers.  It’s about looking at water and environmental stewardship through fresh eyes,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water spokesperson.

“It’s so important that ATS is helping us put it together.  It’s about issues, yes, but it’s about practical solutions farmers can take inside the farmgate. . .


Rural round-up

February 25, 2012

Kiwi battler rides again – Sally Rae:

It would be fair to say Linda Barnes is a battler.   

Wild horses, or, in her case, a brain haemorrhage five months      ago, would not stop her from notching up her 20th Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust cavalcade . . .

Keith Cooper quits Beef + Lamb – Rebecca Harper:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper has resigned as director from the board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, sticking the knife in by questioning the need for industry good organisations.

With the upcoming director elections, Cooper said it was time to consider whether there was a better way of doing things.

But B+L NZ chairman Mike Petersen called his comments an “outrageous attack” on an organisation that was voted in by farmers, saying farmers should be the ones making the call on whether it existed or not. . .

Apropos of that:

Cooper’s sudden resignation from Beef & Lamb not so surprising – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms CEO Keith Cooper’s decision to resign his directorship of Beef & Lamb New Zealand has obviously come out of the blue, if Chairman Mike Petersen’s reaction is anything to go by. But it seems Cooper has been questioning the relationship between processors and the farmer elected body, particularly since its call for the reintroduction of the national carcase classification scheme, although there are signs that he also objects to projects subsidised by B&LNZ competing with SFF’s investment in the FarmIQ Primary Growth Partnership programme. . .

A2 more than triples 1H Net profit as sales jump 56%:

 A2 Corporation, the NZAX-listed alternative milk company, said first-half net profit more than tripled, boosted by a legal settlement, as sales jumped 56 percent.

Net profit rose to $3.1 million in the six months ended Dec. 31, including a $1.1 million settlement of a legal dispute with a former Korean licensee, compared with $900,000 in the same six months of 2010, it said in a statement.

Sales rose to $30.1 million from $19.3 million with the vast majority of revenue in Australia where the company said it now has 4.7 percent of fresh milk in the grocery category.

Chairman Cliff Cook said the company’s results were very pleasing in the face of price discounting of fresh milk in Australia.

“While the Australian supermarket chains are going head-to-head in discounting standard milk, a2 brand sales have continued to accelerate with no change in our pricing,” Cook said.


Freelancer top Ag journalist

October 21, 2011

The economic and social importance of agriculture in New Zealand is reflected in both the quantity and quality of rural journalism.

The best of that is recognised in the Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communciators’ annual awards.

Freelancer Hugh De Lacy has won the Rongo,  the top award for agricultural journalists, for 2011.

He won the supreme award, the Rongo Award recognising excellence in agricultural journalism, for articles which appeared in MG Business focussing on far-reaching changes to the strong wool industry and on doing business with China.   The runner-up was Dominion Post farming editor Jon Morgan.

. . . The key objectives of the awards are the encouragement and recognition of excellence in agricultural journalism.

The inaugural winner of the PGG Wrightson Sustainable Land Management Award, is Tim Cronshaw of The Press. This award was established to recognise high quality communication and effective analysis of local, national and global agribusiness and environmental factors that impact on the sustainability of farm businesses.

Lynda Gray of Country-Wide won the AgResearch Science Writers Award, established to enhance standards of science writing, especially about pastoral agriculture.

Elaine Fisher, of the Bay of Plenty Times, won the Horticulture New Zealand Journalism Award, set up to recognise excellence in agricultural journalism focussing on New Zealand’s horticulture industry.

Rebecca Harper, of NZX Agri won the Rural Women of New Zealand Award, which recognises the important contribution women make (and have always made)  in the rural community, either through their role in the farming sector or to the general rural environment.

Hugh Stringleman, of NZX Agri won the AGMARDT Agribusiness Award, which recognises high quality information about and effective analysis of national, global and other agribusiness.

Dominion Post photographer, Phil Reid, won the Federated Farmers Rural Photography Award, for a single photo that illustrates a rural event or activity – agricultural, horticultural, industry, human interest, on farm / off farm, or any activity reflecting life or work in rural New Zealand.

Andrew Stewart of NZX Agri won the Agricultural Journalism Encouragement Award. This is the Guild’s own award and is designed to encourage and recognise excellence among journalists with three or less years reporting on agricultural issues.


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