Rural round-up

12/11/2020

Agriculture will change but pastoral agriculture will survive and prosper – Keith Woodford:

Agriculture will change but pastoral agriculture will survive and prosper.  It is all about international competitive advantage, new technologies and managing the environment. It can be done but it won’t be easy.

One of the regular questions I am asked about is the future of pastoral agriculture. It reflects a perspective that, given the issues of water pollution, greenhouse gases and changing consumer attitudes, perhaps New Zealand’s pastoral agriculture belongs to the past rather than the future.

A good starting point for a response is to reflect as to why New Zealand developed as a pastoral-based economy. Nature blessed New Zealand with a temperate maritime climate combined with a hilly and mountainous topography that is well suited to pastoral agriculture, but much less suited to crop activities.

Compared to much of the world, New Zealand’s natural competitive edge still lies in pastoral sheep, beef and dairy.   In contrast, the economics of broad-acre cropping and vegetable production are challenging in an environment where flat land is limited and where rain can occur, or not occur, at any time. . .

Low methane sheep a reality :

New Zealand farmers are the first in the world with the ability to breed low methane-emitting sheep.

A breeding value for methane emissions was launched in November 2019. It was the outcome of a 10-year breeding programme funded by the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC) and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.

AgResearch scientist Dr Suzanne Rowe has been leading the research programme and says for the past ten years, they have been running two closed flocks side-by-side, a low methane emitting flock and a high methane emitting flock. . . 

 

Science and agriculture well met – Yvonne O’Hara:

Combining genetics, parasitology and agriculture is a dream job for Dr Kathryn McRae.

She has worked for AgResearch at Invermay for the past six years and during that time has had several major genetic studies to her credit.

“I really enjoy the mix with the lab work with more practical hands-on work.”

She researched levels of pneumonia in sheep and oversaw the Invermay-based Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test (CPT). . . 

Plan to introduce insects to kill wasps :

The Tasman District Council wants to release two new wasp-killing insects to New Zealand.

It has applied on behalf of a wasp control action group to the Environmental Protection Authority, to release the wasp-nest beetle and a hoverfly.

The introduced insects would combat the invasive wasps that cost the country about $130 million a year in damage and control measures.

Wasps attack honeybees, butterflies, flies and spiders and can be harmful to people – sometimes seriously. . . 

Puro given licence to grow 10 hectares of medicinal cannabis:

Medical cannabis grower Puro has been granted a licence to plant 10 hectares of the crop.

Managing director of the Marlborough firm, Tim Aldridge, said it would plant more than 80,000 seeds and seedlings at Kēkerengū on the Kaikōura Coast.

Aldridge said the licence was in time to plant in spring. . .

Let’s have a more balanced debate on meat tax – Richard Young:

When it comes to talking about meat, and especially when discussing a tax on red meat, we must be careful to differentiate between livestock that are part of the problem and those that are part of the solution. While we agree that the polluter pays principle should be applied to food, and the sugar tax is a good example of this, there is a real problem with the blanket use of the term, ‘red meat’, which is freely used but is flawed on two counts. Firstly, it is generally used to refer to all ruminant meat, meat from pigs and all processed red meats.

This is irrational and misleading because these meats can be produced in very different ways which have very different impacts on nutrient composition and the environment. Secondly, in failing to differentiate between methods of production, the blanket use of the term ‘red meat’ is intellectually sloppy, creates confusion amongst the public and does more harm than good when used to advocate meat taxes. . . 

 


Rural round-up

17/04/2020

Pig-headed butcher ruling causing issues – Nigel Malthus:

The country’s pork producers say relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown rules might still not be enough to prevent an animal welfare crisis on the country’s pig farms.

They say pig farming is geared almost entirely to domestic consumption, depends on weekly throughput with no spare capacity, and unlike red meat has no established export market to take up the slack.

With the forced closure of restaurants and independent butchers, they are hurting, says NZ Pork chief executive David Baines. . .

Coronavirus: Lingering drought prompts more calls to rural helpline during Covid-19 – Lawrence Gullery:

Tight feed supplies and the ongoing drought has pushed up calls to the Rural Support Trust’s national helpline as more farmers seek help.

The trust’s national chairperson, Neil Bateup, said there had been a 40 per cent increase in calls since the dry weather started to grip the country in February.

He said traditionally the trust records around 35 calls at this time of the year but it was now up to 50.

“Difficulties around the drought, particularly low feed supply, would be the main reasons for the increase but we’ve got all of the other issues around financial planning, wellness, unemployment, relationships that are still coming in too.” . .

Coronavirus: tulip bulb export still a grey area – Rachael Kelly:

Tulip exporter Rudi Verplancke says it was a relief to watch a truck leave his plant in Southland with the hope to fulfil export orders.

The bulb growers have had 150 million bulbs sitting in storage, collectively worth $32 million, that are destined for lucrative northern hemisphere markets.

Triflor operations manager Rudi Verplancke said it was “a very big relief” to see an order leave the company’s plant near Edendale on Thursday morning but it was still a grey area regarding final permission to export. . .

Essential food teams need more staff:

Keeping food on the table is trickier under COVID-19 physical distancing conditions, but Hawke’s Bay’s food producers are focused on the task.

Hastings’ primary industry starred in national media this week, with a call for more workers. The need to keep everyone safe through physical distancing, from pickers in the field to the staff in pack houses and processing factories, means more people are needed across a whole range of steps in the food production process.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst is focused on ensuring people who may have lost their normal employment because of the virus are aware of other opportunities available.

“Our economy is our fertile land and what we harvest from it. To keep our economy moving, we must support our primary producers and keep our people in jobs.” . . .

Positive 2019 result gives certainty in disrupted global environment:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax of $34.9m for the 2019 financial year. Its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, reported a net profit after tax of $70.7m for the 2019 financial year.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chairman Richard Young said the financial result achieved by the Co-operative and Silver Fern Farms Limited for the 2019 year provides stability for both the Co-operative and the operating company.

“The Co-operative is in a strong position with no debt. Whilst this was achieved last year, we now have a strong platform to weather a period where our country and the world is in a period of considerable economic uncertainty.” . .

Avoparty with avocados:

NZ Avocado have teamed up with dinner party pop-up professionals, Kitchen Takeover, to unite separated friends and family around virtual dining tables during lockdown.

NZ Avocado and Kitchen Takeover want to help Kiwis connect with each other through food whilst they are apart, by providing the tools needed to host a virtual dinner parties at home.

#Avopartyanyway is a virtual dinner experience designed to be as heart-warming and fun as before lockdown began. Participants invite their friends, set up a video call, and get inspired by easy to follow, fun and healthy recipes. . .

 


Rural round-up

04/03/2020

Austrian billionaire to convert farm to forestry:

An Austrian billionaire has been granted consent to purchase an $8m Hill Country farm.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has granted Wolfgang Leitner consent to buy a 800ha property located in Kotemaori, Wairoa and convert it to forestry.

The property known as Ponui Station currently has 714ha being grazed by sheep and beef stock.  . . 

They just don’t care – Trish Rankin:

Taranaki farmer and 2019 Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin recently attended the annual agribusiness seminar at Harvard Business School in the United States. What she heard was astonishing. What she said shocked them.

New Zealand can be the possible solution for the impossible customer. 

That was my key takeaway from Harvard Business School’s agribusiness seminar.

The impossible customer wants food that is better for the planet, their health, animals and people. NZ products can be the answer. . . 

Scarab beetles provide agribusiness insights – Sally Rae:

“It’s time for the dung beetle”.

So says Dr Shaun Forgie, who admits he has been obsessed with the critters since the early 1990s.

But it was not until 2011 that an application to import 11 different scarab species — suitable for all New Zealand climatic conditions — was approved.

Dr Forgie, the co-founder of Auckland-based Dung Beetle Innovations, was in Dunedin on Friday to speak at a dung beetle seminar at John McGlashan College. . . 

Meat export prices hit record levels:

Export prices for meat, including beef and lamb, rose to their highest-ever level in the December 2019 quarter, boosting overall export prices, Stats NZ said today.

“Meat export prices have risen for three quarters in a row, on the back of strong demand towards the end of last year,” business prices manager Bryan Downes said.

Meat volumes rose 3.2 percent, and values rose 12 percent in the December 2019 quarter. . . 

Young, Jex-Blake re-appointed unopposed:

Richard Young and Dan Jex Blake have been re-appointed unopposed to the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Board.

Chairman Richard Young said he was pleased the outcome provided continuity for the Co-operative and for Silver Fern Farms Limited.

“This outcome gives continuity for our Co-operative and both Dan and I recognise the responsibility we have as Directors to create enduring value for shareholders. . .

Muddy waters end cotton-pickin’ drought blues – Charlie Peel:

As Paul Brimblecombe looks out over the sea of water pouring into Cubbie Station’s vast dams for the first time since 2012, he sees more than just muddy liquid.

The Cubby Agriculture chief executive can visualise the station’s first crops in two years and the economic boom in the region around Dirranbandi near the Queensland-NSW border.

Floodwater coursing through southwestern Queensland has been pouring into the giant water reservoirs for the past week after massive downpours in the 136,014 sq km Balonne-Condamine catchment area. . . 

 


Rural round-up

15/05/2019

Tip Top sale half of debt target – Hugh Stringleman:

The sale of Tip Top to a joint-venture northern hemisphere company, Froneri, for $380 million has achieved almost half of Fonterra’s debt reduction target.

When its Beingmate shareholding is divested and a half share of DFE Pharma is sold, Fonterra should reach its $800m reduction target by July 31.

The Beingmate stake has a market value of about $280m and the DFE share about $200m, based on annual sales figures.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell has therefore made a good start on promised financial reforms of substantial debt reduction, cuts in capital and operational expenditure and 7%-plus return on capital invested by farmer-shareholders and unit holders. . . 

Gisborne woman takes out SI Sheep Dog trials event:

Gisborne’s Jo Waugh has won the zig zag hunt at the South Island sheep dog trial championships, the first time a woman has won the event in more than 100 years.

And not only did the 30-year-old and her huntaway dog, Guy, get on the podium, but two other women also joined her in the top seven, clocking up another achievement in the usually male-dominated event.

The South Island Sheep Dog trials were held in Hanmer Springs this week but farmers and shepherds have been competing since the sport first landed in New Zealand in the 1800s. . . 

MIE man changed priorities fast – Neal Wallace:

Richard Young was elected to the Silver Fern Farms board on a platform of industry restructuring and agitating for a merger with Alliance. Six years later the Otago farmer is the co-operative’s boss. He talks to Neal Wallace.

Richard Young vividly remembers the induction for new directors the evening before his first meeting as an elected member of the Silver Fern Farms board.

It was 2013 and the newly elected directors were taken through the co-operative’s accounts ahead of the annual meeting the next day.

It was not pretty. . . 

Tiny farm run on ethical principles– Sally Brooker:

An Alma family is proud to have set up the district’s smallest dairy farm.

Bethan and Bryan Moore have a herd of just 13 Ayrshire cows with calves on 6ha alongside State Highway 1. They will soon be selling milk in glass bottles.

The Moores bought the land about 18 months ago, after four years of sharemilking in Tasmania. Mrs Moore grew up near Cardiff, Wales and met Mr Moore, a farmer from the North Island, on her travels to New Zealand. . . 

Seeka cuts earnings forecast on smaller crop – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit grower and marketer Seeka has cut its full-year earnings guidance by $4 million due to reduced harvests in both New Zealand and Australia.

Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are likely to range from $32.5 million to $33.5 million in the 2019 calendar year, down from the $36.5-$37.5 million range the Te Puke-based company signalled a month ago.

Seeka, the biggest kiwifruit producer in New Zealand and Australia, said unseasonably hot, dry weather in both countries has reduced fruit size and crop volumes. . .

Meeting of Otago Drought Group – Sally Rae:

The work of the Otago Drought Group is a great example of farmers and their organisations collaborating to manage climate challenges locally, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The group met again this week to update its discussions on the dry conditions in the Clutha district, how farmers were faring and what actions might be needed.

The group, which included Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, representatives from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, the Otago Rural Support Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, convened early in any adverse weather event. . . 

Flying Pig cafe going to market:

One of the Waitaki district’s most recognisable restaurants is on the market.

The Flying Pig Cafe, with its distinctive porcine pink exterior, has long been a landmark in Duntroon.

It has been closed since illness befell its owners in early 2017, and is now for sale.

An Auckland couple bought the cafe in 2007 after discovering it during a holiday driving around the South Island. Business began to soar after the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail opened in 2014. . . 

Hi-tech boosts growers’ bottom lines:

“Incredibly clever” technology that elevates cool rooms into a state-of-the-art controlled atmosphere chambers is helping Hawke’s Bay’s growers make the very best of their crops.

It is not just about chilling fruit, it is about controlling the air conditions inside the cooler to hold it in the best possible state until market conditions are optimal; which could be any time over the 12 months after the crop has been picked.

Next week, growers have the opportunity to learn more about that technology from the Europeans who make it. . . 


Rural round-up

03/05/2019

In defence of the cooperative model – Andrea Fox:

Nearly two decades on from its creation, Fonterra is still handling about 80 per cent of all New Zealand raw milk. But is it time, as some critics say, to chop up this $20 billion beast and create a separate discretionary investment vehicle to chase the money needed to hit the high value, high earning branded consumer product markets? In the second part of her series, Andrea Fox runs the ruler over the cooperative model.

Fonterra’s architects got a lot of backs up when they side-stepped the Commerce Commission, claiming their plan for a super-cooperative to take on the world was beyond the competition watchdog’s scope.

Instead they went directly to the Beehive. The result was the DIRA, the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001. It birthed a cooperative dairy industry mega-merger, deregulated dairy exporting and encouraged new manufacturing and export competition, while setting some onerous rules to rein in Fonterra’s market dominance at home. . . 

Opening the farm gate on Opening Weekend:

Federated Farmers reminds duck hunters heading out on Saturday for the season opening that access to farms is a privilege.

The ‘Opening Day’ of the duck-shooting season is a big deal in rural New Zealand, with 40,000 annual participants across the country. Hunters will pay their money to Fish and Game for a duck shooting licence but access is usually reliant on the goodwill of local farmers. Many hunters find themselves beside a wetland built and maintained on private farmland. Many of these arrangements are several generations old, established on a handshake.

“Farmers and visiting hunters alike look forward to the opening weekend of the duck-shooting season,’’ says Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson Chris Allen. . . 

Continuity assured as ‘fresh hands’ take over – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative’s new chairman, Richard Young, describes his tenure on the board as ”one hell of a ride”.

Incumbent chairman Rob Hewett announced he was stepping down from the role at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday.

However, Mr Hewett will remain on the co-operative’s board and continue as co-chairman of Silver Fern Farms Ltd, which is jointly owned by Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and Shanghai Maling.

It was part of a succession programme and while he would still be ”here for a while”, it was time for ”fresh hands”, Mr Hewett said. . .

Belief company ‘can do better’ – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer is confident of an improved financial performance in 2019.

Before Silver Fern Farms Co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday, Mr Limmer reflected on the 2018 financial year.

Silver Fern Farms Ltd is jointly owned by Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and Shanghai Maling. . . 

Scholarship winner passionate about precision agriculture:

Ravensdown are excited to announce this year’s recipient of the Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship, Tom Wilson.

The Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship was founded to commemorate the late Hugh Williams, a Ravensdown Director from 1987 to 2000. The scholarship provides $5,000 per year for the duration of a student’s agricultural or horticultural studies at Lincoln, Waikato or Massey University.

Currently in his third year at Massey University, Tom is studying his Bachelor of Agricultural Science. He is actively involved in the agricultural sector and presented his research on the feasibility of an updated Spreadmark test at the annual Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre conference in 2019. . . 

Real world ranch restorationMike Callicrate:

In late March, a fascinating group of forward-thinkers, innovators and change-makers converged at Callicrate Cattle Company for a ten-day intensive regenerative farm planning and design workshop led by Darren Doherty, a world recognized consultant and facilitator.

Owner Mike Callicrate met Doherty a few years ago on a business trip to Australia and immediately began a long-term collaboration with the native Australian, who is considered a leader worldwide at shifting farms and ranches from the current “extractive industrial model of production” to sounder approaches based on regenerating and rebuilding soils, landscapes, ecosystems and rural communities.

“I wanted to put together a systematic plan going forward that accomplishes our goals rather than just talking about it and never doing it,” Mike explained. “It’s a complex undertaking. It’s hard rebuilding a broken food system. It’s hard for a ranch even to stay in business without fair markets or a democratic food infrastructure that serves everyone equally.” . . 


Rural round-up

16/07/2018

Farm ownership: many routes available, work key – Nicole Sharp:

Farm ownership is never easy, but with hard work, sacrifice and determination, it is possible.

Talking to aspiring farm owners at Country & Co’s Journey to Land Seminar in Invercargill last Wednesday, this was the message five lots of farm owners gave attendees.

All had different stories, from progressing through the dairy industry to immigrating to New Zealand and working to farm ownership and even shearing to farm ownership, with a whole lot of steps in between. . .

Second round of M bovis tests to begin – Sally Rae:

A second round of nationwide milk testing is due to begin later this month, checking dairy herds for Mycoplasma bovis.

Samples would be taken shortly after the start of calving, when cows were most likely to be shedding the bacterium, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said in a statement.

Samples would be collected about four weeks following the start of supply and the first samples were to be collected in the North Island in late July. . .

Synlait Takes up climate change challenge alongside New Zealand’s leading  businesses:

Synlait has signed the CEO Climate Change statement released today by the Climate Leaders Coalition.

Synlait’s signature reiterates their bold sustainability commitments announced on 28 June 2018 to reduce their emissions footprint significantly over the next decade. . .

 

Ngāi Tahu farm manager one of three women to join NZ Young Farmers Board:

A technical farm manager with Ngāi Tahu in Canterbury is one of three women who have joined the NZ Young Farmers Board.

Ash-Leigh Campbell helps oversee the management of the iwi corporation’s eight dairy farms which milk about 8,000 cows.

The 27-year-old was one of two NZ Young Farmers members elected to the board at its annual general meeting in Invercargill. . .

NZ Institute of Forestry recognises outstanding contributions of individuals to New Zealand forestry

The NZ Institute of Forestry recognised the contribution of two of its outstanding leaders at its Annual Awards Dinner in Nelson last night. Peter Clark of Rotorua received the NZIF Forester of the Year award. The award recognises an Institute member who has made an outstanding contribution to either the forestry profession, or the forestry sector over the last 12 months.

The award recognises leadership, excellence and personal integrity, particularly where this demonstrates the character and strength of the forestry profession, and it is one of the highest accolades the Institute can bestow. “The Forester of the Year award is a fitting recognition of the contribution that Peter Clark has made to the sector over a large number of years”, said the President, David Evison. . .

Claims against meat fail to consider bigger picture – Richard Young:

Media attention has again highlighted the carbon footprint of eating meat, especially beef, with some journalists concluding that extensive grass-based beef has the highest carbon footprint of all. Sustainable Food Trust policy director, Richard Young has been investigating.
Year of Publication:2018

A recent, very comprehensive, research paper by Poore and Nemecek from Oxford University and Agroscope, a large research company in Switzerland, has again drawn attention to the rising demand for meat, resulting from population growth and increasing affluence in some developing countries. Looked at from a global perspective the figures appear stark. The study claims that livestock production accounts for 83% of global farmland and produces 56-58% of the greenhouse gas emissions from food, but only contributes 37% of our protein intake and 18% of calories. As such, it’s perhaps not so surprising that concerned journalists come up with coverage like the Guardian’s, Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth. This is part of a series of articles, some of which have been balanced, but most of which have largely promoted vegan and vegetarian agendas with little broader consideration of the issues.

The question of what we should eat to reduce our devastating impact on the environment, while also reducing the incidence of the diet-related diseases which threaten to overwhelm the NHS and other healthcare systems, is one of the most important we face. Yet, the debate so far has been extremely limited and largely dominated by those with little if any practical experience of food production or what actually constitutes food system sustainability. . . 


Rural round-up

17/12/2013

Canterbury suffers another blow:

Farmers are reeling from yet another blow, after a severe localised hail storm tore its way through the Mayfield area of Mid-Canterbury.

“As the year draws to a close and we are fast approaching harvesting season, Mid-Canterbury farmers are facing a financial nightmare after the hail storm yesterday,” says David Clark, Mid-Canterbury Grain and Seed Chairperson.

“This has been a mongrel year for farmers in Mid-Canterbury; we have gone from snow to wind storms to a very dry spring to now this. It is a horrible way to finish off the year, with radish and carrot crops shredded and wheat and barley crops having the stuffing knocked out of them. . .

A timely reminder:

Fonterra dropped a bombshell last week when it announced its latest consideration on its farmgate milk price.

For farmer shareholders in New Zealand’s largest company, it had been shaping up to be a particularly merry Christmas, with economists suggesting the milk price could be lifted as much as 40c.

Elevated prices, which have defied predictions and remained at very high levels – the GlobalDairyTrade price index was just 7% below its April high and about 50% higher than a year ago – raised expectations for the forecast to rise. . .

UK butter eaters lose taste for Anchor after dairy giant cuts NZ ties – Nicholas Jones:

British shoppers have noticed that their favourite Anchor butter tastes different – with the explanation being it’s no longer from New Zealand.

In Britain, the famous Kiwi brand is used by European dairy company Arla. Until recently, Arla had shipped over New Zealand butter made by Fonterra, but has now switched production to its British facilities.

The Arla logo has been added to block butter packs, but the company has faced a number of complaints from disgruntled customers who were unaware of the change. . .

How much dairying is too much in terms of water quality? – Daniel Collins:

On 21 November the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, released her second report on water quality. It warned that business-as-usual dairy expansion by 2020 would leave our lakes and rivers more degraded than they are now, even with improved mitigation. I’d now like to re-cap what the report concluded, how it got there, and how it was received.

The report

The purpose of the report was to illustrate how land use change could affect future nutrient runoff – nitrogen and phosphorus – based on a simple, business-as-usual scenario for 2020.

Motu used a combined economics-land use model called LURNZ to project what land use changes are likely by 2020, driven by commodity process and knowledge of land use practices and landscape characteristics. Sheep and beef farming were expected to give way to dairying, forestry, and even reversion to shrubland. . .

Director elections mean an exciting Red Meat Industry:

Federated Farmers looks forward to working with the Boards of the cooperatively owned Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group following their recent Director elections.

“Federated Farmers congratulates the new directors elected to our two largest cooperatives, Don Morrison at Alliance Group as well as Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake at Silver Fern Farms,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“We also congratulate Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart on his re-election.

“Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre wishes to formally thank Alliance Group’s Owen Poole and Jason Miller as well as Silver Fern Farms’ David Shaw for their service to shareholders. . .


Three MIE candidates on two boards

16/12/2013

Three Meat Industry excellence group candidates have won election on to the Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms’ boards.

MEAT INDUSTRY EXCELLENCE (MIE) endorsed candidates Dan Jex-Blake of Gisborne and Richard Young of Gore have been elected to the board of SFF.

The results of the election which closed on Friday (December 13) were: Richard Young, 36,155,094;

Dan Jex-Blake, 25,511,166, David Shaw, 19,435,482.

This follows Alliance shareholders also voting for a change last week with Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group-backed candidate Don Morrison, Gore, elected by a narrow margin.

The Silver Fern voter turnout was 26.76% of eligible voters, up from 16.70% in the previous election in 2010. . .

Voter turnout was also higher in the Alliance election.

Approximately forty-nine percent (48.83%) of eligible votes were exercised in the directors’ election.

Alliance Group Chairman Murray Taggart said that the forty-nine per cent turnout for the directors’  election was significantly improved over recent years and reflected the interest in the issue. . . .

In 2012 the turnout for the directors election was 25% compared with 42% in 2011 and 30% in 2010. . .

There is discontent in the industry and a mood for change but there are no easy answers.

Jason Miller, who lost his seat on the Alliance board to Morrison, was elected by the Meat Industry Action Group with a mandate for change in 2007.

Little has changed since then.

 


Rural round-up

27/11/2013

Moment of truth for MIE and its board candidates – Allan Barber:

In the seven months since MIE’s first farmer meeting in Gore, there have been more meetings, discussions with meat companies and, most recently, nominations for the boards of Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group. Meat companies have tried and failed to find an acceptable solution to the problems raised by MIE.

Previous MIE executive members Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake are standing for election to Silver Fern Farms’ board. Don Morrison has been nominated for the Alliance board as a farmer director, while a shareholder, Mark Paterson, has proposed a resolution to nominate Fonterra director John Monaghan for the independent directorship vacated by Owen Poole. This will be voted on by those members present at the AGM, but the result of that vote is not binding on the board.

Alliance Group’s AGM takes place on the 13th December and SFF’s on 18th. Therefore we will know before Christmas how many of these candidates have actually made it onto one or other of the cooperative’s boards. . .

Northland trust goes dairy with Te Tumu Paeroa:

A Northland Maori trust has entered into a partnership with land administrator Te Tumu Paeroa to turn a sheep and beef farm into a money-making dairy operation.

The Omapere Rangihamama Trust runs a farm near Kaikohe, which is currently used for forestry and maize, as well as sheep and beef.

But chair Sonny Tau says the Rangihamama Farm will soon be converted into a dairy farming operation, with 500 cows over 278 hectares. He says it will mean a better financial return on the land. . .

New x-rays and staff to strengthen border biosecurity:

New x-ray technology and more frontline staff will help to beef up New Zealand’s biosecurity defences at the border, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Mr Guy today unveiled a new x-ray machine at Auckland Airport, one of 12 machines that have been installed around the country.

“The new machines will be more reliable than the Ministry for Primary Industries’ older x-ray units and will provide better image quality,” says Mr Guy.

“MPI will be able to screen baggage with greater accuracy and image quality. This means border staff will be better equipped to spot biosecurity risk items before they enter New Zealand. . .

Labour Inspectorate extending dairy farm visits to regions:

The Labour Inspectorate is extending its dairy farm visits to regions across New Zealand to check compliance with minimum employment rights.

Labour Inspectors began visiting dairy farms in Southland in August, with the work now being replicated in the Waikato, Hawkes Bay and Taranaki.

The visits are part of a long-term operation to identify breaches of employment law, with particular focus on a practice called seasonal averaging and the failure to keep accurate time and wage records. . .

AgResearch, Invermay and Genetics – Peter K. Dearden:

The opinions below are my own, and not necessarily those of the University of Otago, my employer.

You may be aware that AgResearch has decided to move its genetics/genomics team from Invermay near Dunedin, to Lincoln. This move has excited a great deal of attention in the Otago press, and some consternation around here. Genetics Otago  has been drawn into this as a centre of research excellence and hub for genetics and genomics that AgResearch is linked into, that they will lose the benefit of if they move. This has led to some unfortunate exchanges in the media, so I thought I would write something from my point of view.

AgResearch has had a long-term and excellent genetic/ genomics group at Invermay. Many of that group are members of Genetics Otago. Genetics Otago has over 200 members across the University of Otago, AgResearch, AbacusBio, and others (both companies and individuals) across Otago. AgResearch is a small, but important, part of that collaboration. . .

Herd TB status changes encourage testing:

Farmers and lifestylers are being encouraged to get their cattle and deer tested for bovine tuberculosis (TB) as soon as they have been registered with the TBfree New Zealand programme.

To ensure the programme’s testing requirements are as accurate as possible for all animals, some changes have been made to the TB status of herds.

The changes directly affect newly-registered breeding herds and non-breeding (dry stock) herds. All new herds now start off on a Suspended (S) herd TB status until they have passed their first whole herd test. . .

New Zealand’s Favourite Honey: Manuka Trumps Clover in 2013 National Honey Week Survey:

The popularity of Manuka honey has been confirmed in a recent national survey, which places it above Clover and other floral varieties. In the New Zealand-wide survey launched by Airborne Honey this month to celebrate the country’s first National Honey Week, 40% of Kiwis named Manuka as their favourite and 29% choose Clover. A number of other floral honeys featured further down the scale, including Vipers Bugloss (3%) and Rewarewa (2.26%).

The survey also revealed that the favoured way to eat honey in New Zealand is on toast (57%), followed by a sweetener in hot drinks (9%) and straight off the spoon for medicinal purposes (9%). Most New Zealanders eat honey once or twice a week with only 2% never eating honey at all. . . .

Brancott Estate Heritage Centre wins International Wine Tourism Award:

A New Zealand cellar door has won a 2014 International Best of Wine Tourism award with the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre in Marlborough being the only New Zealand cellar door to win this prestigious award.

The Brancott Estate Heritage Centre, home of Brancott Estate wines, is located at Brancott Vineyard, the site of the original Sauvignon Blanc plantings in Marlborough.

The Great Wine Capitals Global Network recently announced the winners of the 2014 International Best of Wine Tourism awards at a ceremony held at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, California. The nine international winners were chosen from 53 local ‘Best Of‘ winners from nine Great Wine Capitals. In all, 350 applications were received this year. . .


Rural round-up

17/11/2013

Materials made from natural New Zealand wool go hi-tech in China:

With concern growing in China about the health risks from air pollution, a Kiwi start-up is expecting keen interest in its wool-based filtration products when it exhibits at the China High-Tech Fair.

Auckland-based Texus Fibre specialises in next generation materials which harness wool’s outstanding natural functionality for use in a range of products. An early application for its technology is personal particulate respirators and filters for use in industry.

“Around the world, and particularly in China, people are increasingly worried about the increase in the quantity and toxicity of dust,” says Texus Fibre founder and director Nick Davenport. “The problem has grown to the point that the World Health Organisation recently classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans. . .

Quad code urged for rural sector – Richard Rennie:

An experienced farm-safety tutor is urging the farming sector to develop a code of practice for quad-bike use to enforce safer use by farmers and their staff.

Northland FarmSafe instructor Robin Grieve’s patch was the focus of a coronial report on quad-bike deaths, prompted by a spate of accidents in 2010 and 2011. . . .

Merger divides co-op hopefuls – Tim Fulton:

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) director candidate Dan Jex-Blake says he will stand down after his first three years on the board if he doesn’t believe a merger of SFF and Alliance Group is likely by then.

Another candidate to come out of the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group, former chairman Richard Young, who is also standing for SFF, was not so definitive.

“I’d be silly to say I’m not standing on a platform for industry change around consolidation,” Young said. . .

Evening markets: biofuels reforms hammer final nail into soy – Agrimoney:

Which is more important for agricultural commodity investors – data on US exports, or on domestic demand? 

On the evidence of Friday’s performance in soybeans, trade statistics proved the more influential, hands down. 

The National Oilseed Processors Association came in with some strong data on the US soybean crush in October, pegging it 157.1m bushels – well above market expectations of a 154.3m-bushel result.  As an extra fillip, soyoil stocks were lower than expected too, at 1.36bn pounds, compared with a forecast 1.49bn pounds. . .

Eliminate the [water] bugs – Willy Leferink:

I am writing this from Vietnam as I look at how they farm.  For a communist country it seems pretty entrepreneurial but that’s come out of reality versus theory.  After reunification, in 1976, the purists collectivised rice production and collapsed output.  One decade later, Vietnam allowed its farmers to grow and sell their own rice, albeit, within boundaries.   Today however, Vietnam has become the World’s No. 1 rice exporter.

When it comes to rice production water is critical as it is back in New Zealand.

In our many discussions about water quality we often overlook the fact that livestock need good quality drinking water too.  Cows are mammals just like humans so good water is in farming’s own self-interest.  Given the marvels of modern communication, I managed to catch One News’ coverage of the proposed amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. 

It may sound dry but it has massive implications for all Kiwis. . .

One of those years – Angela Dorie:

Out here on the area farms it has been another case of “one of those years”.

Crops were hard to get in, with the cold and wet weather playing havoc with timing for many.

Early planted corn was stressed by too much cold and rain while some later planted fields struggled to mature before the first frost in early September.

Some crop land displayed its low spots with either stunted, yellowed growth or nothing at all.

The soy planting, done after the corn, seemed to go better and combining is now in full swing with many farmers extremely pleased with the yields. The corn will no doubt be a different story for some.

The hay harvest, for the third year in a row, proved to be difficult, especially for those who make the small square bales. The June rains didn’t leave enough good weather in a row to cut, dry and bale the 10,000 or so first cut bales we make yearly, so the harvest dragged on through July and well into August. . . .

Hot to trot farmer makes trotting history:

Federated Farmers is saluting the success of arable and sheep farmer, Ricky May, who made the history books yesterday in the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup.

“Becoming the most successful driver in 110 years, of the great race, takes a lot of talent and we are thrilled for Ricky who is a valued member of the Federation,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“It is humbling to see that even with the nation celebrating his success, when we spoke to him he was back out in the paddock spraying peas. . .


Rural round-up

07/11/2013

DairyNZ ramps up investment in environmental area:

DairyNZ is boosting dairy farmers’ investment in the environmental area by 61 percent in this financial year, from $6.7 million to $11 million as part of its efforts to meet its commitments under the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management.

DairyNZ Chief Executive, Tim Mackle, says the environmental portfolio is helping farmers boost profits while lowering their environmental impact, supporting farmer-led waterway improvement projects and investing in nutrient management research and resources. “It also supports our industry’s new dairy farming strategy and our objective to have proactive environmental stewardship.

“Biosecurity is also a big investment at $16 million but even this funding has environmental benefits as we are the largest non-government funder of the TBfree programme that focuses a lot on possum control with clear biodiversity benefits,” he says. . .

Landcorp focus will stay at home – Alan Williams:

Landcorp is getting approaches to develop and manage farms overseas but is busy enough in New Zealand.

The magnitude of its work in NZ and the opportunities ahead made expansion offshore unlikely, new chief executive Steven Carden said.

Three months into his posting at the State-owned farmer, he is working through a strategy review with the board, taking stock of where they are and the opportunities ahead. . .

Challenges to food industry for feeding the world:

Finding innovative ways to utilise waste, a greater focus on consumer driven research, and increased Government investment are just some of the challenges facing the food industry in New Zealand according to Lincoln University’s Professor of Food Science, Charles Brennan .

Professor Brennan was speaking as part of the Foods for Now and the Future Forum held at Lincoln University last week. The forum was arranged by the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science and the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology.

On the subject of wastage in food production and consumption he noted that some 50% of packaged salad greens and 40% of bread and cereals may be discarded in some countries around the world. However, utilising smarter production methods and taking a more innovative approach when it comes to wastage could mean up to one billion people could be fed worldwide. . .

Fonterra Strengthens Its Position in Australia:

Fonterra has today further strengthened its position in the Australian dairy industry by acquiring the assets of Tasmanian yoghurt business, Tamar Valley Dairy.

Under the agreement, Fonterra will acquire the processing equipment, the related services, and intellectual property and trademark for the Tamar Valley Dairy brand. The acquisition is effective towards the end of November (subject to completion of the sale), with the exact date to be confirmed.

“Fonterra is a long-standing partner of Tamar Valley Dairy, and has supported and worked closely with the administrators of the family-owned business during what has recently been a difficult period for the Tasmanian business and its founders,” said Judith Swales, Managing Director, Fonterra Australia. . .

Aussie cattle empire sale fails, amid land wrangle:

A second huge Australian cattle operation has had trouble selling, with the North Australian Pastoral Company being withdrawn from the market, amid tough industry conditions and a growing debate over land ownership.

North Australian Pastoral Company’s ruling Foster family has taken down the for sale sign after six months of marketing the 58,000-square kilometre (14.3m acre) property – an area nearly twice the size of Belgium and nearly as big as the US state of West Virginia – failed to attract an “acceptable proposal”.

Besides the Foster family’s 61% stake in Napco, a 34% stake held by London-listed plantations group MP Evans was also up for sale. . .

New Directors Appointed to Board of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited:

Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) has appointed three new directors to the board of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited.

Mr Anthony Hannon, a merchant banker with extensive experience in tax consulting, private equity and asset management, and Ms Liz Ward (Ngāti Porou), a former Chief Executive of Deep Cove Fisheries and Wellington’s CentrePort, have been appointed for a term of three-years. Mr Alan Gourdie, an Auckland-based consultant with international management and marketing experience as a chief executive and director, has been appointed for a two-year term from 1 November. . .

Nominations in for Silver Fern Farms’ Director Elections:

Three nominations have been received for the two positions on the Silver Fern Farms’ Board of Directors.

Eoin Garden and David Shaw retire by rotation at the Company’s 2013 Annual Meeting which is to be held in Dunedin on 18 December 2013.

Eoin Garden has advised he will not be standing for re-election and will therefore retire at the Annual Meeting. David Shaw has advised that he will stand for re-election.

The candidates for election are:

Dan Jex-Blake
David Shaw
Richard Young . . .


Rural round-up

31/10/2013

Irrigation benefits all clear – Andrew Ashton:

The benefits North Otago communities continue to receive from local irrigation schemes have been highlighted to two Government Ministers.

The Waitaki Irrigators Collective (WIC) yesterday invited Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew to tour irrigation schemes across North Otago, and Mr Guy said the tour, which took in farms and irrigation schemes between Weston and Glenavy, had reinforced the ”huge benefits” of irrigation to North Otago. . . .

Another benefit to the area would be if New Zealand’s sharpest town, #gigatownoamaru becomes the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown.

– Allan Barber:

When Eoin Garden retires as Silver Fern Farms’ chairman at the AGM in December, both cooperatives will have had a change at the top within three months of each other. So the big question is whether this will make any difference to the way they operate: will there be a significant change of culture and leadership from the top or will it be much the same as before?

The Meat Industry Excellence Group is obviously hopeful of getting its preferred directors elected to the SFF board with Richard Young, MIE’s chairman until recently, and Poverty Bay farmer Dan Jex-Blake resigning from MIE to stand for election in their respective wards.

There is also one MIE aligned candidate standing for the Alliance board, long time supplier Don Morrison, although Fonterra director John Monaghan was keen to stand, but was rejected by the Alliance board under the terms of the company’s constitution. MIE chairman John McCarthy says “this is a real slap in the face for Alliance shareholders” who want to see change and in his opinion “is typical of what’s wrong with the meat industry.” . . .

Irrigation progress welcomed in Otago and Rangitikei:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming new investment of $750,000 into irrigation projects in Central Otago, and $100,000 in the Rangitikei, coming from the Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“There is major unrealised potential across the country for further irrigation development, and these two projects will help unlock that.

“This is about creating jobs and exports, particularly in provincial New Zealand. It will play a major part in realising the Government’s goal of doubling primary sector exports by 2025.”

The Central Otago funding will go towards backing the next stage of the Manuherikia Catchment Strategic Water Study. . .

Scientists redesigning orchards to increase fruit production:

Research that will literally shed more light on fruit trees could revolutionise the way crops such as apples are grown.

Plant and Food Research scientists are investigating new orchard planting systems, putting to the test the theory that trees and vines that receive more light could produce a lot more fruit.

Research leader Stuart Tustin says it could mean completely changing the way orchards are designed to allow more light to reach the trees’ canopies. . .

Dr Nigel Perry wins NZIC prize:

Plant & Food Research’s Dr. Nigel Perry has been awarded the 2013 New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Prize for Industrial and Applied Chemistry. Dr Perry was recognised for his focus on the discovery and development of biologically active natural products.

With his colleagues in Plant & Food Research and the Chemistry Dept of the University of Otago, he has combined fundamental chemistry knowledge with a drive to establish practical applications. Nigel works with medical and agricultural researchers, Māori groups, and New Zealand and international companies.

He is an inventor on six patents, including one on an insect attractant now in commercial use around the world. Much of this work is documented in confidential technical reports to clients, but he has also published many papers on applied chemistry, on three main themes: . . .

New funding for plant science:

Plant & Food Research has received funding for two projects in the latest Marsden fund which will study how plants grow and adapt, fundamental science that will ultimately inform future crop breeding and growing practices.

One of the projects will investigate how ancient plant ancestors may have adapted to an environment with high UV radiation, providing better understanding of how plants may respond to future climate change.

“The emergence of plants onto land was one of Earth’s major evolutionary events, but at that time the environment had a number of challenges, including high levels of damaging UV radiation,” says Dr Kevin Davies. “Our research will look at liverworts, the closest living relative of the first land plants, and study how these plants adapt the production of pigment molecules to counteract the effects of UV. This will, in turn, provide some understanding of how plants may adapt and respond to shifts in environmental conditions as a result of predicted global climate change.” . . .

Wakatipu partnership to target wilding pines:

A partnership between DOC, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, LINZ and the local community aims to clear thousands of hectares of wilding pines in the Wakatipu Basin over the next five years, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“Wilding pines are a significant risk to the natural ecology of the Wakatipu Basin. This partnership is about stepping up the efforts to control these tree weeds and protect the landscapes that make Queenstown such an iconic visitor destination,” Dr Smith told a meeting of the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG) in Queenstown this evening.

“This project illustrates the benefits of DOC’s new focus on partnering with others to deliver conservation gains. These tree weeds are as much of a problem on private and council land as they are on public conservation land. It makes sense that we have a co-ordinated effort to control their spread, maximise the use of new technology, and work together to roll back the infestation,” he says. . .


Rural round-up

30/09/2013

Dung beetle holds dairy farm hopes – Alison Rudd:

Could dung beetles be the environmental warriors New Zealand dairy farmers have been waiting for?

They happily chew through the poo, turning waste into soil fertiliser. And with the average dairy cow producing 11 cow pats every day, the beetles have plenty of work ahead of them.

The national Dung Beetle Release Strategy Group (DBRSG) this week released its first 500 dung beetles into the ”wild” on an organic dairy farm at Tuturau, near Wyndham. Beetles will also be released soon on three other farms elsewhere in the country.

DBRSG chairman John Pearce, who flew from Auckland to supervise the release, said the beetles were expected to naturally spread to all properties, although that would take many years. . .

Prison farm work fodder for future –  Timothy Brown:

The entranceway to the 21st century edifice which occupies a 60ha site outside Milton is the last landmark before tarseal gives way to gravel on Narrowdale Rd.

Just around the corner, two large gum trees stand guard at the entrance to a dairy farm and down the driveway workers can be seen performing their daily tasks.

They look like workers on any dairy farm, but at the end of the working day these workers will return to that edifice in the distance because this is the Otago Corrections Facility’s dairy farm.

At the end of the driveway, I am greeted by the dairy farm’s principal instructor, Tony Russell. . .

Farmer ownership imperative – Sally Rae:

Finding the solutions to implement change in the red meat industry is still the major barrier in reaching the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s goals, chairman Richard Young says.

In his inaugural chairman’s report, Mr Young said meat company talks had offered no solution to date. However, those talks were still continuing.

What it did offer, if successful, was a managed approach to dealing with overcapacity.

Managed rationalisations would have less impact on all stakeholders and offer better outcomes than unmanaged rationalisations. . .

Pastures to boost hill country production:

AT LEAST 40% of New Zealand is too steep to cultivate yet still less than 1000m above sea-level.

The challenges of improving pasture on such land are considerable, but as the early results of a long-term project show, establishment of more productive species is possible.

What’s more, with the work on four contrasting sites around the country (see panel) on-going as part of the Pastoral 21* initiative, the findings promise to fine-tune best practice for improving and maintaining such country in the future. . .

Best practice could cut emissions by 30%: FAO:

GREENHOUSE GAS emissions by the livestock sector could be cut by as much as 30% through the wider use of existing best practices and technologies, according to a new study released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The report, Tackling climate change through livestock: A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities, represents the most comprehensive estimate made to-date of livestock’s contribution to global warming – as well as the sector’s potential to help tackle the problem.

All told, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with livestock supply chains total 14.5% of all human-caused GHG releases. . .

All eyes on cute badger cull in the UK – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Recently I had eight English sheep farmers come for a farm visit. (There are nine Mexicans coming tomorrow, so perhaps it will be 10 Lithuanians next week).

One of them was Charles Sercombe, who is the National Farmers Union (NFU) livestock chairman. He farms in Leicestershire.

He told me the main issues in front of the union are the Common Agricultural Policy reform and their attempts to get on top of tuberculosis (Tb), which involves starting a badger cull.

This piqued my interest, so I asked him in detail about the issue. Tb has become a major problem and one of the vectors is the badger. . .

 

A Banks Peninsula company has won New Zealand’s top olive oil award for the second year running.

Robinsons Bay Olives from Akaroa took the best in show award as well as best in class in the commercial medium blend class at the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Awards, where international judges commented on the high quality of the oils produced here. . .

Let’s move from fossil farming to future-proof farming:

“The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides a stark choice for New Zealand agriculture,” says Brendan Hoare, Chair of OANZ (Organics Aotearoa New Zealand). “We either grasp this opportunity to move away from fossil farming to future-proof farming – or we keep making the problem of climate change even worse by the way we farm. The status quo of more dams, more fertilisers and more animals per hectare is at least 20 years out of date. It is time to change the guard and our thinking.”  . .


Rural round-up

22/07/2013

‘Real people’ contact informs policy – Sally Rae:

Representing the farming community has been a ”privilege” for Matt Harcombe.

Mr Harcombe is leaving Federated Farmers, after 12 years working for the rural lobby organisation, to join the Ministry for Primary Industries in a Dunedin-based policy role.

The main highlights of his time with Federated Farmers had been the relationships established with farmers and working closely with the organisation’s provincial presidents and national board, he said. . .

Rise of the machines – robotics meet farming – Dr William Rolleston:

In the very near future ‘drones’ could well take the place of workers in forestry and a host of different industries.  It may be a case of not wishing too hard for what the CTU wants because an obvious solution to “carnage,” as CTU President Helen Kelly graphically described forestry, is to completely remove the person from the risk equation.  No person, no accident.

The CTU has demanded to know how forestry will stop the “carnage” and we know agriculture is also in the CTU’s crosshairs.  In 2010, the Forest Owners Association was one of the first to enter into a Primary Growth Partnership with the Government.  This has flown under the CTU and media radar but the PGP’s vision is “no worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw”.

The outcome will likely be drone logging machines reflecting an increasing use of robotics on-farm and in our farm system. . . 

Fleeces ‘absolutely fabulous actually’ – Sally Rae:

Ask Marnie Kelly what she likes about Matakanui Station’s fine-wool fleeces and the answer is simple – ”they’re absolutely fabulous, actually”.

Mrs Kelly is the general manager of Central Otago-based Touch Yarns, which produces mostly hand-dyed wool yarns which are exported to Europe and the United States, as well as sold in shops throughout New Zealand and Australia, online and through a retail shop in Clyde. . .

MIE seeking farmer registrations – Sally Rae:

Meat Industry Excellence is seeking registrations from farmers to ensure they are up to date with what the organisation is doing in its bid to drive reform in the meat industry.

While the group had been ”a bit slow off the eight-ball” communicating with farmers, a website had now been launched, chairman Richard Young, of Tapanui, said.

Farmers were encouraged to register on www.mienz.com and also provide details on their farming operations, including what meat companies they supplied. . .

Maori farmers launch a new network – Murray Robertson:

A GROUND -breaking new collaborative initiative to develop Maori farming in Tairawhiti sprang out of the major Maori agri-business hui in Gisborne on Thursday.

More than 160 people attended the day-long event at Shed 3 at the Gisborne port and heard a range of impressive presentations.

The word “collaboration” was the common theme and a challenge was issued to Maori agri-business leaders to work together to capture more value for their owners. . .

Milder flavours in latest olive harvest

Customers of Nelson olive oils can expect milder, better balanced products from this year’s harvest, say growers.

After a tough, wet growing season last year, which made it difficult to produce top oils, the long, dry summer has been much kinder, although rain before and during picking caused some disruption.

The region’s biggest grower, Roger Armstrong, of Tasman Bay Olives, is pressing about two-thirds of a record crop of about 280 tonnes – 40 tonnes more than in 2011 – and he’s happy with what he’s seen. . .

Hemp growers ready for success – Sandie Finnie:

Waikato couple Dave and Anne Jordan are prepared for a cropping venture which slots into the new “greenwave” of products in demand around the world.

For the last four years the Jordans have trialled growing industrial hemp and are now building up their seed stocks so they can do large plantings.

Meanwhile they sell hemp oil for skin care and related products at their local farmers’ market and can barely keep up with demand. . . .


Rural round-up

12/06/2013

2013 New Zealand Wine Vintage Set to Be One of the Best:

The 2013 New Zealand grape harvest has been completed with high quality grapes picked in all regions. Winemakers across the country are heralding it as one of the best vintages in history.

“An outstanding New Zealand summer provided near perfect conditions for growing grapes across the country” said Philip Gregan, chief executive officer of New Zealand Winegrowers. “The result is that we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant, fruit driven and complex expressions of our diverse grape growing regions. 2013 looks set to be a vintage to remember.”

According to the 2013 Vintage Survey, 345,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested. The 2013 crop is up 28% on the small harvest last year but up only 5% on 2011. . .

Fieldays: new forecasting service for farmers

A new weather and environmental forecasting service has been launched at the National Fieldays by NIWA today.

The service provides farmers with tailored information about weather conditions on their farm.

The web-based weather forecasting information service called NIWA forecast aims to help farmers and growers identify the right time to carry out weather-dependent operations like irrigation, spraying and harvesting.

NIWA chief scientist, atmosphere, Dr Murray Poulter said the new service takes forecasting to another level because different forecasts can now be created for properties as little as 12km apart.

“NIWA forecast can deliver valuable climate analysis and forecasts from the present to 15 days ahead direct to farmers’ and growers’ computers via the internet direct to their farm.” . . .

Meat Industry Excellence gets into the first gear of reform:

With the 2013 National Agricultural Fieldays now underway, so is reform of New Zealand’s red meat sector being championed by Meat Industry Excellence (MIE). MIE is shifting the gears of reform following intensive meetings held in Christchurch and Wellington last week.

“Having met with Beef+Lamb NZ Chairman, Mike Petersen and Federated Farmers’ Meat and Fibre executive, there is recognition and support among farmers for a truly sustainable red meat sector,” says Richard Young, MIE Chairman.

“MIE sees its role as shifting the gear for reform out of neutral. For an industry bedevilled by past infighting it is great to know that Federated Farmers and Beef+Lamb NZ want to work with us. . .

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre works on reform:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre will follow up on a positive meeting with the Meat Industry Excellence Group (MIE) with a discussion on reform and farmer behaviour at its 2013 conference in Ashburton next month.
“MIE gave us an update on where they are at and some of the changes they are working on,” Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson Jeanette Maxwell said.

“We had a highly constructive conversation around meat industry issues and many areas of alignment emerged.

“Both organisations realise they have much in common and want to achieve the same goals. In the next couple of weeks there will be a lot more information to emerge from MIE. . .

Farmers to have equal say in Fairtrade:

Farmers from Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America are to have an equal say in running the global Fairtrade movement for the first time this week.

In a ground-breaking move, producers of tea, coffee, bananas and other goods will have half the votes at Fairtrade International’s annual General Assembly in Germany on Wednesday, 12 June 2013. . .

Fairtrade is the first major development organisation to pioneer such power-sharing between groups in the northern and southern hemisphere. . .


Rural round-up

24/05/2013

Agribusiness Innovation and Growth 2013:

New Zealand’s agritech sector is a $3 billion industry, generating export sales in excess of $700 million a year. Top players in the sector are gathering in Hamilton on the night before Fieldays for a mini-symposium on agribusiness and innovation. It’s a Universities New Zealand event, hosted by the University of Waikato on behalf of the University Commercialisation Offices of NZ (UCONZ), and it’s open to the public by online registration.

The keynote speakers will be the Minister for Economic Development Hon Steven Joyce, Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries, and Fonterra Nutrition’s Managing Director Sarah Kennedy. . .

Fieldays Innovations Centre brings to life Kiwi can-do attitude:

The Fieldays Innovation Centre Competition is the perfect forum for inventors to introduce their primary industry themed, ‘homegrown’ designs to a local and global audience.

By creating an opportunity for inventors to showcase their designs and prototypes, which are then critiqued by key industry leaders, it’s the ideal way for Kiwis to get past the first, crucial step to gaining commercial success in New Zealand and beyond.

With a serious prize pool available for inventors in the following categories; Grassroots, Launch NZ and International (covering local and global, individual and company entrants), they must wow judges to be in with a chance of winning financial and mentoring support. The goal: to establish their invention across local and global territories and gain commercial success. . . .

Fertiliser Company Helps Curb Pollution in Rural Red Zone:

A group of South Island farmers have rallied together to improve their environmental practises and protect their land and waterways.

Environment Canterbury (ECAN) has declared the Upper Waitaki region a red zone because the nutrient levels in the Ahuriri River are too high.

At a farm field day organised by fertiliser and lime company,Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd, ECAN told farmers in the Ahuriri Valley that the community wants to see clean water in local rivers and streams and farmers need to better manage their nutrient application. . .

‘Farmy Army’s’ John Hartnell Honoured:

John Hartnell, the driving force behind Federated Farmers’ ‘Farmy Army’, received the New Zealand Order of Merit today.

Following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, John organised farmers from around the region, now coined the ‘Farmy Army’, to assist in clearing liquefaction, delivering food parcels and providing general assistance to vulnerable families.

“It is a real honour to be recognised in this way by the Governor General, I am truly humbled,” says John. . .

Exports to China back on track:

Federated Farmers is hugely relieved the meat export impasse in China has been resolved, but believes New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) need to take a hard look in the mirror.

“Can we say thank you to the Minister, our trade officials and the Chinese authorities for solving a big problem,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President and its trade spokesperson.

“China is our largest market for lamb by volume and in the first quarter of 2013, surpassed Britain in terms of value for the first time ever. This is what was at stake so it is embarrassing to discover the fault lay here in New Zealand.

“It feels as if we have been ankle-tapped by a member of our own team. . .

MIE secures farmer mandate for meat industry reform:

A week after meetings in Te Kuiti and Gisborne, Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) has secured a farmer mandate to pursue a value and growing meat industry.

“Having concluded a series of meetings from Gore to Gisborne, MIE now has the confidence to push forward with red meat industry reform,” says Richard Young, Meat Industry Excellence chairman.

“Farmers realise there must be change in our industry if we are to arrest the loss of farms and farmers to other land uses, like dairying and these days, forestry. The only way you achieve this is to make red meat an attractive commercial proposition.

“That is why all industry stakeholders need to be part of the positive change our industry is desperately crying out for. Something MIE is here to champion. . .

New president for Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo:

Following Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo Annual General Meeting, Alan Wills has been elected provincial president following the retirement of Neil Heather.

“What Neil has done over the past few years will be a hard act to follow but I shall give it my best,” says Alan Wills, Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo provincial president.

“The positive contribution made by Federated Farmers and Neil is exemplified by the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective. Known as the Otorua Accord, this was signed in February between Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Te Arawa and our councils. . .

New Technology to Boost Sustainable Fisheries Research:

 Deep sea technology that will provide some of the world’s most accurate and useful marine sustainability research is being launched today.

In a world-first, New Zealand fishing company Sealord has invested more than $750,000 in a new multi-frequency Acoustic Optical System (AOS).

At an event on-board Thomas Harrison, prior to the vessel taking the new equipment on its first sea-trial, Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy launched the new AOS which will provide a boost to the science that contributes to New Zealand’s world recognised Quota Management System. . .

Dollar Pushes up Local Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the local market lifted significantly for the 10,400 bales on offer at the South Island sale this week. The weakening NZ dollar, particularly against the US dollar which was down 4.97 percent compared to the last sale on 9th May and the weighted currency indicator down 3.91 percent was the principal market influence. This was supported by recent strong purchasing interest and a seasonal limited wool supply.

Mr Dawson advises that a nominal offering of Mid Micron Fleece were firm to 3 percent dearer. . .


Rural round-up

06/05/2013

Red meat industry change afoot – Sally Rae:

”Band-aid solutions” might be needed to avoid potential problems in the red meat sector next season, but a long-term view is essential to finding the right solutions, Meat Industry Excellence chairman Richard Young says.

More farmers have gathered to establish a mandate for industry change and further meetings are scheduled in the North Island.

At a recent meeting in Feilding, attended by about 700 farmers, Alliance Group chairman Owen Poole said the industry was developing an improved model and and a decision on whether it would go ahead could be expected within two months, Farmers Weekly reported. . .

Making a difference for dairy women – Sally Rae:

Sue Peoples wants to help make a difference to women involved in the dairy industry.

Dr Peoples, a social scientist based at AgResearch Invermay, is leading the first phase of Project Pathfinder, an initiative aiming to build the leadership capacity of New Zealand’s dairying women.

The project, which recently gained a Sustainable Farming Fund grant of $180,000 over three years, will get under way in July. . .

Adapting agriculture to a changing climate – Dr Gavin Kenny:

For more than 20 years I have worked professionally on the “what ifs” of climate change, focused mostly on what it might mean for agriculture. I’ve done this work in New Zealand, Europe, the Pacific Islands and Asia. During that time I have experienced the progression from the hypothetical to real-world responses. Climate change, particularly as experienced through more frequent drought and flood events, is increasingly influencing what farmers are doing in many countries. It is not clear whether this is yet the case in New Zealand, but I suspect so.

With a record summer drought just behind us, and with negative and positive effects that will continue to unfold for farmers, it is relevant to ask: What if we get more frequent and intense droughts in the future? How might farming change and how might those changes affect wider society? . . .

Real Mix in Farm Manager Finalists:

The 11 finalists competing for the 2013 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year title are split between contract milkers and farm managers – as well as age, experience, and farm size.

Judging begins next week for the finalists comprising four males and seven couples, and involves a two-hour farm visit covering financial planning, human resource and farm management. The final component of the judging, an interview, will take place in Wellington prior to the winners being announced at the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards on May 24.

Winners in the 2013 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year will also be announced and nearly $150,000 in prizes will be given away. . .

Fonterra Pilot Scheme to Give Farmers Milk Price Certainty:

Fonterra is piloting a new ‘Guaranteed Milk Price’ (GMP) scheme that will provide farmers with the opportunity to have more certainty in their milk price. The pilot will mean farmers can choose to lock in a milk price announced at the beginning of a season for up to 75 per cent of their milk supply.

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Group Optimisation and Supply Chain, Ian Palliser says the past few years have confirmed that volatility in commodity prices is here to stay.

“We recognise that every farming business is different. And while most farmers can live with the market volatility, there are times when some farmers would prefer more certainty as it would help them manage their own farming businesses,” Mr Palliser says. . .

Fonterra confirms supply offer dates:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today confirmed that a Supply Offer enabling farmer shareholders to sell the economic rights of some of their shares will open on 2 May and close at 5pm on 23 May.

Farmer shareholders will have the opportunity to offer to sell the economic rights of up to 25 per cent of their minimum required shares (‘Wet Shares’) to the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund.

The price farmers will receive for their economic rights (the “final price”) will be announced on 16 May. It will be calculated by reference to the average daily sales prices on the NZX for Fonterra Units for each trading day between 2 – 15 May inclusive.

Farmer shareholders will then have a further week after the final price has been announced to confirm if they wish to participate in the Supply Offer before it closes. . .


Unifiers not unified

18/04/2013

The Meat industry Excellence Group’s first public meeting in Gore attracted around 1000 people.

A couple of days ago organisers were hoping for a good turnout at a meeting in Christchurch:

Chairman Richard Young . . .  is seeking support to form a united farmer group with open communication lines to meat companies and other industry people.

The Christchurch turnout would give farmers a clearer picture of support for an opportunity that could not slip by, he said.

“We are hoping for a good turnout and the indications from our Christchurch people are for a strong attendance so here’s hoping. The models we have got are not working and I think there are plenty of reasons why so it’s certainly time for a change.” . . .

But yesterday’s meeting didn’t get a big crowd.

Before a disappointing attendance of between 250-300 farmers the Meat Excellence Group held its second national meeting in Christchurch.

Their aim was to get a mandate to negotiate significant meat industry change toward sustainability for all the red meat sector.

While all the main meat companies were invited, it was disappointing that AFFCO refused, and ANZCO was also a no-show but with an apology. However representatives from the co-operatives Silver Fern Farms and Alliance were in attendance and contributed constructively. . . .

Since the first meeting Gerry Eckhoff, who chaired it, has resigned from the group because he didn’t agree with the way it was going but he will be chairing a meeting in Fielding.

Ohakune farmer John McCarthy who’s organising the meeting says he’s not a member of the MIEG.

“I am not a member of their group,” McCarthy said. “Our aims are broadly the same. But I’d be more hard-line than them.

“I think we shouldn’t be chatting amicably to the meat companies…this system has let us down.”

When the would-be unifiers aren’t unified and meeting turnout is disappointing, the chances of getting enough farmers and meat companies united on future direction aren’t looking good.

 

 


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