Rural round-up

July 4, 2014

Red Meat Profit Partnership tries to answer crucial question – Allan Barber:

Analysis of the objectives and methodology of the RMPP suggests the programme has highlighted the most important issue facing the red meat sector. Briefly stated, it is to work out why there is still such a significant gap between the top farmers and those in the middle of the pack and to lift the average closer to the top performers.

When the Red Meat Sector Strategy identified behind the farm gate specifically as a major area of potential improvement, there was much mumbling about why the industry structure wasn’t being more usefully exposed as the area most in need of improvement. But figures released by the B+LNZ Economic Service show this isn’t the case. . .

 Out of cow muck comes magic – Emma Rawson:

Although it has grizzly beginnings in the blood and gore of the meatworks, there is a fairytale element to the story of biomaterials company Southern Lights.

A little like the Brothers Grimm’s goblin Rumpelstiltskin, who spun straw into gold, the Napier company transforms cow byproducts which would otherwise be destined for pet food and fertiliser into extremely lucrative Type 1 polymeric collagen.

At about $50,000 a kilogram it is no exaggeration to say the polymeric collagen is worth its weight in gold – only a few thousand shy of the price of bullion. . .

Award for science professor:

Lincoln University plant science professor Derrick Moot has won an award recognising the successful application of research or experience to an aspect of animal production.

Prof Moot was presented with the New Zealand Society of Animal Production’s Sir Arthur Ward Award at the society’s 74th annual conference on Tuesday night.

Prof Moot has been identifying plant pasture species which will survive and thrive on the dry East Coast, and developing ways to incorporate them into mostly sheep and beef farming systems – but also some dairying ones.

Lucerne ticked most of the boxes as it was a legume which fixed nitrogen from the atmosphere, was high in protein and energy and also had a deeper rooting system than other pastures, he said. . .

Filthy pigs? Not on our patch … – Sue O’Dowd:

The proud co-owner of a Taranaki piggery is so confident about its cleanliness that he sometimes walks around in it in his socks.

Ron Stanley, of Oaonui, is frustrated at this week’s television portrayal of a Canterbury piggery. Filmed earlier this year, the footage showed squalid conditions, severe overcrowding, and suffering animals.

The Stanley Piggery co-owner found the footage disturbing.

“That’s not the way we keep our animals,” he said. “I always say if I can’t come over to the piggery in my socks on a dry day, then there’s a problem. . .

Farm buildings to be exempt from assessment:

Farm buildings are to be exempt from the requirements for assessments under the Government’s earthquake-prone buildings policy, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

“The Government is not satisfied that the risks posed by farm buildings justify the cost of every building being assessed. These buildings have a low occupancy rate and there is no record of a fatality caused by a farm building collapsing in an earthquake,” Dr Smith says.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill requires all buildings to be assessed in the next five years and for those under 34 per cent of the building standard to be upgraded within a period of 15 years, with a further 10-year extension available for heritage buildings. The Bill currently excludes residential buildings except those that are multi-storey and contain more than two homes. . .

Farmers welcome windfall from wind farms – Gerard Hutching:

Wind turbines west of Wellington are not only changing the landscape, they are also transforming landowners’ bank balances.

“They’re music to my ears, actually,” says Ohariu Valley sheep and beef farmer Gavin Bruce, who has a 440-hectare property with eight turbines.

All told there are 88 turbines on two Meridian Energy wind farms: 62 on the West Wind farm, situated on both Meridian’s own property as well as on Terawhiti Station, south of Makara; and 26 on the Mill Creek wind farm on four properties in the Ohariu Valley. . .

Driving safety home to farmers:

Rural retailers are backing government’s safety message to farmers.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), in partnership with Agcarm and WorkSafe New Zealand, is launching a campaign to increase awareness about the importance of wearing the right safety gear when using farm chemicals.

The campaign directly addresses the “she’ll be right” attitude toward using safety gear.

Agcarm distributor members across New Zealand will display posters and distribute flyers with practical tips about safety gear. . .

US Company churns out cloned cows

In the meadow, four white-haired Shorthorn heifers peel off from the others, raising their heads at the same time in the same direction. Unsettling, when you know they are clones.

From their ears dangle yellow tags marked with the same number: 434P. Only the numbers that follow are different: 2, 3, 4 and 6.

The tag also bears the name of the company that bred them and is holding them temporarily in a field at its headquarters in Sioux Centre, Iowa: Trans Ova Genetics, the only large US company selling cloned cows.

A few miles away, four Trans Ova scientists in white lab jackets bend over high-tech microscopes in the company’s laboratories. They are meticulously working with the minute elements of life to create, in Petri dishes, genetically identical copies of existing animals. . . .

You Won’t Believe What This Guy Did With Old Farm Scrap Metal. Seriously, WOW:

Farmers of South Dakota, if you see John Lopez going through your garbage, please let him continue to do so. In his hands, what was unfixable or unwanted to you becomes art. Not just any art, though. Big, striking sculptures that celebrate the American Old West. The kind of stuff you’d probably like! At the very least, you’ll be impressed by his work. Who wouldn’t be? . . .


Rural round-up

December 18, 2013

Fonterra faces big milk problem – Chalkie:

If Heath Robinson designed a contraption to pluck the feathers from a mallard with barbecue tongs, it would be the epitome of elegance compared with Fonterra.

Our giant dairy co-operative, bless it, is like an elephant balancing on a stool built by engineering students out of toothpicks – a gravity-defying feat of complexity that threatens to go crashingly wrong at any moment.

The elephant hit the deck big time last week when Fonterra had to press the manual over-ride on its intricate milk pricing machinery and Chalkie reckons the damage will be more than a few splinters in the bum. . .

Farmer loses cows to feed ‘hardware’ – Sandie Finnie:

Carterton dairy farmer Chris Engel is out of pocket but better informed after two of his cows died of “hardware disease”, the industry term for cows that die from ingesting metal fragments in palm kernel expeller supplementary feed.

Now he wants to alert other farmers to the importance of reading the fine print on their PKE supply deals.

Mr Engel sought compensation of $12,522.23 from PKE supplier INL through the Masterton District Court Disputes Tribunal.

It would have covered the death of the cows, lost milk production, veterinarian fees and other costs. . .

New Chancellor for Massey University:

Wellington businessman Chris Kelly is Massey University’s new Chancellor.

Mr Kelly replaces Dr Russ Ballard, who has been Chancellor for the past five years. Mr Kelly is a veterinary science graduate of Massey and highly regarded New Zealand business leader with multiple directorships. This year he retired as chief executive of state-owned Landcorp Farming Ltd, a role he was in for 12 years. He has been on the University Council since August 2005 and has been Pro Chancellor – deputy chair of the council – since July last year.

The University’s new Pro Chancellor is Michael Ahie, also from Wellington. . .

Meat industry takes stock:

The Red Meat Sector Strategy coordination group has released a progress report on how the sector is tracking towards the goals of the Red Meat Sector Strategy, released in May 2011.

The Red Meat Sector Strategy was developed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association, with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. It identified ways to secure improved and sustainable growth for the sector against a background of volatile sales and variable profitability, over the past decade in particular.
 
Just over two years after the launch of the strategy, this report outlines the progress in each of its focus areas and towards realising the opportunities outlined. The report records where progress has been made and where work is actively ongoing. It also identifies the areas where progress has been limited. . .

Fitch gives Fonterra thumbs up over unchanged farmgate payout, dividend cut – Paul McBeth:

Fitch Ratings has praised Fonterra Cooperative Group’s [NZX: FCG] decision to hold the forecast payout to farmers and slashing its dividend by two-thirds amid a growing gap in prices between milk powders and its cheese and casein products.

The Auckland-based company’s decision is “characteristic of the fiscal discipline that underscores its credit rating,” Fitch said in a statement. Fonterra has an AA rating. Earlier this month the cooperative surprised analysts by holding the forecast payout for this season at a record $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids and cutting its expected dividend to 10 cents from 32 cents. . .

Better water quality won’t happen overnight … but it must happen – Jenny Webster-Brown:

If we cannot stop ongoing water quality degradation, and effectively restore degraded water environments, we stand to lose much that we value about New Zealand and our way of life. We will lose recreational opportunities, fisheries and our reputation for primary produce from a “clean” environment. We will lose functioning ecosystems, the ecosystem services they provide and the beauty of our iconic water features. We will have to pay for increasingly higher technology to treat drinking, stock and even irrigation water … like so many drier, more populous or older nations, who have long since lost their natural water amenities. This is not what we have known, or what we wish for our children, or their children. To improve water quality, we need only three things: the will, the means and the time. . .

Wine industry shows increased profitability in 2013:

Financial benchmarking survey optimistic despite challenges for smaller wineries

The turnaround in the New Zealand wine industry has continued in 2013 on the back of improved profitability, especially for large wineries, according to the eighth annual financial benchmarking survey released today by Deloitte and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Vintage 2013 tracks the results of wineries accounting for almost half of the industry’s export sales revenue for the 2013 financial year. New participants provided data this year making for the most even spread across the revenue band categories in the survey’s history. . .

How to count grass – Baletwine:

The Pasture Meter™ automatically takes 200 readings per second so takes thousands of readings per paddock. At 20kph it is taking a reading every 27mm or 18,500 readings in 500 meters.

Towed behind an ATV / RTV or utility vehicle at up to 20kph, this machine provides a fast, practical method of measuring grass cover particularly over large areas over all terrain that can be safely covered by an ATV/vehicle.  The Pasture Meter™ automatically takes 200 readings per second so takes thousands of readings per paddock. At 20kph it is taking a reading every 27mm or 18,500 readings in 500 meters. Developed and proven in New Zealand, there are 3 models ranging from manual paddock ID entry to fully GPS with auto paddock start /stop. . .


Rural round-up

July 23, 2012

Heaps of grass has helped agriculture grow three times as fast as the overall economy. Doug Steel wonders if this may even understate how well the rural sector is doing, given how the numbers were analysed in 2007/08 – Doug Steel:

Like blood to the body, agriculture is critical to the NZ economy.

The sector makes economic contributions in direct and indirect ways, although measurement of such can be a tricky business.

The latest national accounts show agriculture GDP growing 7.5% through the year to March 2012. This supported the 2.4% expansion in the New Zealand economy over the same period. . .

Massive Chinese market for red meat market – Sally Rae:

The importance – and potential – of China as a market for the red meat industry was reiterated during the recent red meat sector conference in Queenstown.   

 Arron Hoyle, McDonald’s senior director and head of strategy in China and Hong Kong, said the dragon was redesigning  global trade and global prices.   

He spoke of the “unprecedented” urbanisation in China, the emergence of mega cities and the significant opportunities      the fast food chain saw. It was bullish and very excited      about those opportunities. . .

Sector strategy shows encouraging signs – Sally Rae:

Meat Industry Association chairman Bill Falconer believes the red meat sector strategy has been “settling down extremely well” since its launch 14 months ago.   

The strategy, initiated by the MIA and Beef and Lamb New  Zealand, was aimed at improving the sector’s viability and      increasing its earnings from $8 billion to $14 billion by  2025. . .

Aim for first place: chairman:

NZPork chairman Ian Carter has challenged those attending the  industry’s annual conference to recognise themselves as “the best little pig industry in the world”.   

    “Pork is the world leader in animal protein, but only number three in New Zealand.   

    “Our target must be first place,” Mr Carter, a North Otago farmer, said. . .

Clutha dairy earnings climb – Shawn McAvinue:

Sheep and beef farmers were the biggest agricultural earner in the Clutha district but dairy farmers were a close second.

The latest statistics from the Clutha Agricultural Development Board (CADB) says sheep and beef farming earned $313 million and dairy farming $276m for the year ending June 2011.

However, a steady five-year growth spurt in dairying had the Clutha herd increasing by 30 per cent to 98,543 cows. In the same period sheep numbers dropped 14 per cent to about 2.17m. . .

2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards Opening Soon:

Entries for the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on August 1, 2012.

Administered by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE) and operating in nine regions, the annual competition promotes sustainable land management by showcasing the work of people farming in a manner that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Entry forms for the 2013 competition are available from the NZFE website at http://www.nzfeatrust.org.nz

NZFE chairman Jim Cotman says this website has been upgraded to make it easier for farmers to find information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and the Trust’s other activities. . .


Rural round-up

September 25, 2011

Rural contractors say review needed – Sally Rae:

Rural Contractors New Zealand has welcomed a review of    transport rules affecting agricultural contractors, describing    it as “great news”.   

Associate Transport Minister Nathan Guy said the Government      was about to begin a review. It wanted to make sure the rules      ensured public safety without imposing unnecessary red tape . . .

Arable farming career excites graduate – Sally Rae:

Hannah Priergaard-Petersen reckons she has the perfect    first job. Ms Priergaard-Petersen has been employed as a trials    officer at the Foundation for Arable Research (Far), following    her stint as a Far summer scholar in 2010-11.   

Brought up in a farm in northern Southland, she recently      completed a bachelor of science degree at the University of      Canterbury, majoring in biological sciences . . .

Young stock judge tackles Australia – Sally Rae:

A great learning experience” is how young Otago stock judge Will Gibson describes representing New Zealand at the Royal      Adelaide Show in Australia.   

 Will (18), a pupil at John McGlashan College, competed in the junior merino judging competition earlier this month, against      the six Australian state finalists.   

 He was among a small group of young New Zealanders who participated in stock judging and handling competitions at      the show.   

 New Zealand Young Rural Achiever Cath Lyall, from Raes Junction, also represented New Zealand at the event.  

New focus sought for Waituna – Kimberly Crayton-Brown:

Farmers in the Waituna catchment fear they may lose their farms, meaning talk must focus on solutions and not problems, a senior Environment Southland staff member says.

Council chief executive Ciaran Keogh said people needed to be thinking about a response, not a threat. “We have got a problem and we need to get people talking about answers which we are not doing at the moment. People are starting to feel threatened so let’s lift the discussion out of the confrontational things.”

Mr Keogh said at the moment farmers had this great fear they were going to lose their farms . . .

Sheep milking operation continues to expand – Collette Devlin:

Losing his seat at the general election this year could be enough for Deputy Prime Minister Bill English to return to a farming life, with sheep milking one option.

Southland’s leading sheep milking operation Blue River Dairy hosted Mr English last week, including a visit to the milking shed run by Keith Neylon in Antler Downs.

Blue River Diary has another milking operation in Brydone, Invercargill. Both farms milk non-stop for 12 months . . .

Demographics alter consumer demand patterns – Allan Barber:

Demographic changes will present challenges for the red meat sector in spite of apparently unstoppable world population growth. Several speakers at the Red Meat Sector Conference made reference to the possible effects of these changes over the next 40 years, some of which will be positive, like the growth of the Indian and Chinese middle class, and others negative.

The most obvious challenge will be the ageing of the population in first world countries, because older people eat less and require more single portion meat cuts . . .

RMSS conference reveals templates to learn from:

THE RED Meat Sector Strategy report, issued in May, said what needed to be done. Now Beef + Lamb NZ and the Meat Industry Association have run up another clutch of signal flags.  

Others in agriculture are seen to be doing some of the things the RMSS report suggested, so they were invited to tell their stories at a recent conference. Their successes stemmed from growers and consumers being in harmony . . .

Merino meat next on the menu – Owen Hembry:

A new sheep industry initiative aiming to replicate the branding success of high country merino wool with premium priced meat products is heading to high-end restaurant plates.

The New Zealand Merino Company and processor co-operative Silver Fern Farms have formed a joint venture and launched a premium brand called Silere Alpine Merino, which will sell for about 10 to 15 per cent more than normal meat . . .

Choose good tucker and chew slowly – Alan Emmerson:

I was really intrigued with the statistics as to how many of the world’s people were starving and how many were obese. Out of a world population approaching seven billion people, one billion are hungry.

Similarly one billion are overweight with 300 million classed as obese. In the United States with a population of 311 million, 10 million are starving and 105 million are obese. Obesity is a massive problem, not much is heard of it and, worse, New Zealand is the third most obese nation in the world. It is, indeed, a crisis . . .

Seeking farmer contorl of wool – Tony Leggett:

A new company formed to raise capital to invest in the wool sector is already shrouded in controversy.

The New Zealand Wool Investment Company (to be known as WoolCo) is a 50:50 joint venture between the farmer-owned and listed wool innovation firm Wool Equities Limited (WEL) and Christchurch merchant bankers Ocean Partners.

It announced plans last Friday to attempt to raise $40 million capital to buy the 65% stake in Wool Services International (WSI), formerly held by two companies associated with Allan Hubbard but now controlled by a receiver . . .

Crafar not guilty in dirty farming trial

Reporoa dairy farmer Glen Walter Crafar has been found not guilty by a Rotorua District Court  jury of one charge of dirty dairying . . .

Farmers fearful over rustler raids – Greg Stack:

Stolen livestock and gunshots on the wild west coast have Waikato farmers fearing for their safety, with one stopping vehicle access to a popular fishing spot in response.

Livestock rustling, a problem more common in a Western film, has hit Waikato’s west coast as the tail of the recession squeezes the isolated farming community . . .

Divisions over apple marketing – Gerald Piddock:

Waipopo Orchards is taking a wait and see approach following a split in the apple industry over the best way to exploit the newly opened Australian market.

The split came following the results of a recent postal ballot that showed while 73 per cent of growers with 72 per cent of the export crop voted to support adopting a Horticultural Export Authority (HEA) model for the Australian market, just 37 per cent of exporters with 43 per cent of the fruit backed the proposal . . .

Farm sales on the rise – Gerald Piddock:

Farm sales nationally for the year to August topped 1000 for the first time in almost two years, according the Real Estate Institute.

“The underlying trend is rising. We are seeing enquiry emerging for quality properties,” rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

The improvement was based on expectations for commodity prices to hold or in some cases firm slightly as the season progressed, he said . . .

Herbal pasture clovers challenge our concept of what a dairy pasture looks like – Pasture to Profit:

The dawning of a new age OR a Storm of Innovation? A group of very innovative pasture based dairyfarmers in the UK are challenging our concept of what a pasture looks like. Farmers are experimenting with Herbal Clover pastures. Lots of different mixes of herbs with white clover to provide the nitrogen. Over the past two weeks I’ve been very lucky to work with 2 French groups (one farmer group from Brittany & an Organic Dairy Advisers group from Normandy) visiting SW England. We were on both conventional & organic pasture based dairy
farms . . .


Lamb demand high but prices not

September 10, 2010

  Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s  Sheep & Beef New Season Outlook 2010-11 PDF File is predicting good demand for our beef and lamb will continue.

In spite of that expected export receipts and farmgate returns don’t make cheerful reading.

B+LNZ  . . .  sees beef and lamb export receipts totalling $4.7 billion, 1.6 per cent less than last year. The decrease predominantly reflects a 3.5 per cent decrease in meat shipments to world markets, while lamb prices per tonne held on last year and beef prices lifted 3.0 per cent. . .

As always, the exchange rate will have a big influence on incomes.

B+LNZ Economic Service Director, Rob Davison says

. . . Based on a more optimistic exchange rate assumption than today of a 68 cents/US$ exchange rate and its associated cross rates, all classes average sheep and beef farm profitability before tax is estimated to average $54,000 per farm for 2010-11, down 5 per cent on 2009-10.

“At a less export favourable exchange rate of 72 cents US to the NZ dollar this would see sheep and beef farm profitability fall to $34,000 per farm.”

This continued dismal outlook underlines the importance of the red meat sector strategy and farmers are encouraged to fill out an on-line submission form.


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