Rural round-up

January 31, 2017

 – Allan Barber:

When sheep and beef farmers in New Zealand grumpily ponder their forecast returns for 2016-17, they may be able to take some comfort from the precarious state of farmers in Europe, particularly the UK where they are facing even more uncertainty of income.

Private Eye’s Bio-Waste Spreader column contrasts the rhetoric of the Environment Minister saying farm subsidies must be abolished post Brexit with a report by her own Ministry, Defra, which finds British farmers would be unable to keep going without them. In the 2014/15 year dairy farms were the most profitable averaging GB Pounds 12,700, whereas cropping farms made GBP 100, lowland livestock farms (most like our sheep and beef) lost GBP 10,900 and grain growers did even worse. These profits or losses came before farmers paid themselves any wages or drawings. . . 

Heavy market share losses affect Silver Fern Farms’ financial performance – Allan Barber:

In recent weeks there has been an exchange of views about PPCS’s acrimonious takeover of Richmond in 2003. Keith Cooper, ex CEO of the renamed Silver Fern Farms, emerged from anonymity in Middlemarch to castigate the appointment of Sam Robinson to the board of Silver Fern Farms as the Shanghai Maling representative. He was critical of Richmond’s rejection of the original approach by PPCS to buy the Freesia Investments shares from the Meat Board in the mid-1990s and Robinson’s role as Richmond’s chairman.

Farmer, SFF shareholder and columnist Steve Wyn-Harris took Keith to task on the grounds of selective memory of what actually happened during the bitter but ultimately successful campaign by PPCS to buy Richmond. I must confess my recollection of events, without being in any way personally involved, is closer to Steve’s perspective than Keith’s and I still remember clearly Ron Clarke’s superb last column on the topic just before he died which was an eloquent attack on what he considered PPCS’s underhand approach. At the time Justice William Young referred to the company’s “gross commercial misconduct.” . . 

 

Quake ends dairy farmer’s season – Nigel Malthus:

Don Galletly’s Loch Ness dairy farm on the Emu Plain, near Waiau, remains the only one in North Canterbury unable to milk since the November 14 quake.

While farms either side were back up and operating within a few days, Galletly’s rotary shed is deemed a write-off.

“Three-quarters of the season is down the drain for us,” he told Rural News. . . 

Patriotism means we should eat more lamb – Jamie Mackay:

 . . On the subject of one-man crusades, last week on my radio show I launched my 2017 tilt at a windmill. In fairness, past crusades have had mixed results. While I failed to bring back rucking, I proudly and vicariously claimed some reflected glory when Fonterra, to its eternal credit, brought back milk in schools.

I also like to think I played a small part in the media publicity which aided a much-deserved knighthood for David Fagan. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So what’s 2017’s on-air crusade? I reckon we should be like the Ockers in the West Island and make it a patriotic pastime to eat lamb on our national day. And if we can’t agree to do that because, let’s face it, we don’t agree on much on Waitangi Day, maybe we could all eat lamb on what I’d like to be our national day, April 25. . . . 

 

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Farming is like any other job. Only you punch in at age 5 and never punch out.


May 6 in history

May 6, 2010

On May 6:

1527  Spanish and German troops sack ed Rome;  147 Swiss Guards, including their commander, died fighting the forces of Charles V in order to allow Pope Clement VII  to escape into Castel Sant’Angelo.

Sack of Rome of 1527 by Johannes Lingelbach 17th century.jpg

1536  King Henry VIII  ordered English language Bibles be placed in every church.

1542  Francis Xavier reached Old Goa, the capital of Portuguese India at the time.

1682  Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles.

 

1757  Battle of Prague – A Prussian army fought an Austrian army in Prague during the Seven Years’ War.

Battle of Prague, 6 May 1757 - Attempted envelopment.gif
 

1758 Maximilien Robespierre, French Revolutionary was born (d. 1794).

1816  The American Bible Society was founded.

Logo of the American Bible Society

1835 James Gordon Bennett, Sr. published the first issue of the New York Herald.

 

1840  The Penny Black postage stamp beccame valid for use in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

 

1856 Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist, was born (d. 1939).

1856 Robert Peary, American explorer, was born  (d. 1920).

1857  The British East India Company disbanded the 34th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry whose sepoy Mangal Pandey had earlier revolted against the British and is considered to be the First Martyr in the War of India’s Independence.

Mangal pandey gimp.jpg

1860  Giuseppe Garibaldi’s Mille expedition sets sail from Genoa to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Partenza da Quarto.jpg

1861  Motilal Nehru, Indian freedom fighter, was born (d. 1931).

1861  American Civil War: Richmond, Virginia was declared the new capital of the Confederate States of America.

1863 American Civil War: The Battle of Chancellorsville ended with the defeat of the Army of the Potomac by Confederate troops.

Battle of Chancellorsville.png

1877  Chief Crazy Horse of the Oglala Sioux surrendered to United States troops in Nebraska.

 

1882 Thomas Henry Burke and Lord Frederick Cavendish were stabbed and killed during the Phoenix Park Murders in Dublin.

 

1882  The United States Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act.

 

1889  The Eiffel Tower was officially opened to the public at the Universal Exposition.

 

1895 Rudolph Valentino, Italian actor, was born (d. 1926).

1904 Moshe Feldenkrais, Ukrainian-born founder of the Feldenkrais method, was born (d. 1984).

1910  George V beccame  King of the United Kingdom upon the death of his father, Edward VII.

Full-length portrait in oils of a blue-eyed, brown-haired man of slim build, with a beard and moustache. He wears a British naval uniform under an ermine cape, and beside him a jewelled crown stands on a table.

1915  Orson Welles, American film director and actor, was born (d. 1985).

1920 Kamisese Mara, 1st Prime Minister of Fiji and President of Fiji, was born (d. 2004).

1935  New Deal: Executive Order 7034 created the Works Progress Administration.

 

1935  The first flight of the Curtiss P-36 Hawk.

1937  Hindenburg disaster:  Thirty six people were killed when the German zeppelin Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed within a minute while attempting to dock at Lakehurst, New Jersey.
 

1940  John Steinbeck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Grapes of Wrath.

JohnSteinbeck TheGrapesOfWrath.jpg

1941   Bob Hope performed his first USO show.

 

1941  The first flight of the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

1942  World War II:  On Corregidor, the last American forces in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese.

Map of Corregidor 1941.jpg

1945  World War II: Axis Sally  delivered her last propaganda broadcast to Allied troops.

1945 Bob Seger, American singer/songwriter, was born.

1945 – World War II: The Prague Offensive, the last major battle of the Eastern Front, began.

Battles in NE Transylvania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia (1944–1945)

1947 –Alan Dale, New Zealand actor, was born.

A head shot of a man wearing a suit; he is turned away from the camera.

1953 Tony Blair, former British prime minister, was born.

1954 Roger Bannister became the first person to run the mile in under four minutes.

1960 More than 20 million viewers watch the first televised royal wedding when Princess Margaret married Anthony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey.

1962  St. Martín de Porres was canonized by Pope John XXIII.

1966 Myra Hindley and Ian Brady were sentenced to life imprisonment for the Moors Murders in England.

1976  An earthquake struck Friuli, causing 989 deaths and the destruction of entire villages.

1981  A jury of architects and sculptors unanimously selected Maya Ying Lin’s design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial from 1,421 other entries.

1983  The Hitler diaries were revealed as a hoax after examination by experts.

 

1984  103 Korean Martyrs were canonized by Pope John Paul II in Seoul.

1989 Cedar Point opened Magnum XL-200, the first roller coaster to break the 200 ft height barrier.

Magnum1 CP.JPG

1994  Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand officiated at the opening of the Channel Tunnel.

 

1994 – Former Arkansas state worker Paula Jones filed suit against President Bill Clinton, alleging that he had sexually harassed her in 1991.

1996 A totally New Zealand  Royal Honours system was established.

New royal honours established

1997 The Bank of England was given independence from political control, the most significant change in the bank’s 300-year history..

Logo of the Bank of England

  1999  First elections to the devolved Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly  were held.

Coat of arms or logo.    Coat of arms or logo.

2001  During a trip to Syria, Pope John Paul II became the first pope to enter a mosque.

2002  Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated by an animal rights activist.

 

2008 Chaiten Volcano erupted in Chile, forcing the evacuation of more than 4,500 people.

 

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


New era or just paying SFF’s debt?

July 6, 2008

If debt is not behind this deal, than why would a cooperative want to invite into the fold a company like PGG Wrightson, a public company dominated by two major shareholders?

The question comes from Jon Morgan.  His answer follows:

 The spin merchants for Silver Fern Farms and PGG Wrightson are hailing their merger proposal as the dawn of a wonderful new era in the meat industry.

 Well, they would say that.

They may be right, but here’s an alternative view. Some industry observers feel the deal is more about Silver Fern (formerly known as PPCS) finding someone to pay its debt.

Under the deal, PGG Wrightson will pay $220 million for 50 per cent of Silver Fern, a cooperative owned by 9000 farmer shareholders.

In October PPCS posted a $40 million loss but was back in the black this year with a first-half profit of $11.2 million. Though it expects to make big savings from plant closures it still has to find the money to pay for them – the recent Oringi shutdown is costed at $12 million-$15 million alone.

Silver Fern’s immediate concern is to make sure its accounts are passed for the financial year ending August 31 and it has to show the auditors that its bondholders are secure. Two tranches of bonds are in the market – $50 million to be repaid next March and $75 million due in December 2010.

Though this deal with PGG Wrightson would not be approved by shareholders till September it may be enough to cover any auditors’ concerns.

The debt goes back to the costly Richmond takeover, achieved after a long and bitter battle in 2004, and has been exacerbated by Silver Fern’s failure to make any money for the past three years.

If debt is not behind this deal, than why would a cooperative want to invite into the fold a company like PGG Wrightson, a public company dominated by two major shareholders?

That’s the cynic’s view of what the deal will do for Silver Fern. What will it do for PGG Wrightson? Well, here you have to bear in mind a long-term view of the industry and remember that the man at the top of this company is the entrepreneurial Craig Norgate.

If you regard him as the new Ron Brierley, as Sir Ron’s old mate Sir Selwyn Cushing does, then you could look on this deal as the opening gambit of a power play. After winning control of the Silver Fern boardroom his next move is to lure the other South Island cooperative, Alliance, into a merger, during which he will allow his company to be bought out at a handsome profit.

If Alliance spurns such blandishments, he could launch a takeover instead. That’s much harder to do if the shareholders don’t actually hold tradeable shares. But Alliance is troubled by a dwindling supply of stock in the dairy-rich deep south and would be hard-pressed if a procurement war broke out.

He has a third option: to stay in a new Silver Fern- Alliance company and await further opportunities down the road. And they will come. There’s a mood for change in the industry – the failed Alliance mega-merger plan at least showed that the other meat companies were willing to talk about restructuring. It’s so much more painless when you can rationalise – meaning close meat plants and lay off workers – if you can do it in concert.

Before all this can happen there’s one immediate hurdle to jump. It’s a pretty big one – 75 per cent approval of Silver Fern’s shareholders. Almost all will be South Island farmers, a pretty fractious bunch of late.

They’ve been upset about Silver Fern’s prevarication over the mega- merger but now they know why. Maybe they’ll see the intervention of Mr Norgate as the price they have to pay to get the merger back on track. But then, losing control of their company for $5 extra a lamb may be too high a price for them. Time will tell.

Of course, Alliance could launch a pre-emptive strike and make a rival offer for Silver Fern. That would give the shareholders something to really think about.

The possible ramifications of this deal are enough to make your head spin. Another is the procurement situation. Combined, Silver Fern’s and PGG Wrightson’s stock-buying workforce will be more than 350. Will there be enough work for them all? And what about the contracts that PGG Wrightson now has to procure for other processors, such as Bernard Matthews and Progressive? The company says it will continue to fulfil them, but what happens when stock is in short supply? Its priority will surely be the company that it owns half of.

Stock throughput is any processor’s lifeblood. Bills have to be paid. Silver Fern’s debt will be transferred to PGG Wrightson’s balance sheet, but it will borrow to fund the deal and will need the cashflow.

Another issue for the wider industry is the trust it now has in Silver Fern. All the big companies, along with Meat & Wool New Zealand, backed the Meat Industry Taskforce, set up to find a strategy for an industry beset by tough trading times. The taskforce collapsed late last week when it lost the support of a key player, publicly unnamed but widely believed to be Silver Fern.

It would be unsurprising to find the other members of the taskforce do not hold Silver Fern in high regard. Which could be a problem for the industry’s hopes for expanding meat sales outside the main markets of Britain, Europe and United States. This depends on cooperation, but Silver Fern has not been very cooperative lately.

Again, Mr Norgate may be key to resolving this. His business acumen is widely admired by the companies.

If he decides to make a long- term commitment to the new-look Silver Fern he could smooth over the hurt feelings.

A lot depends on him. Is he there for the long haul or just passing through?

He says it all.


New Chair for Ag Research

July 5, 2008

Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer  Sam Robinson is the new chairman of crown research institute AgResearch.

Robinson, who farms near Waipukurau,  was chairman of Richmond when it was taken over by PPCS, now Silver Fern Farms.

He is a member of the Prime Minister’s Growth and Innovation Advisory Board and a former member of the Government’s Food and Beverage Task Force.

He is a director of the Port of Napier. Until recently he was chairman of the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust.

Former chairman of textiles research company Canesis Network, Andrew MacPherson has also been appoitned to the board.


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