Rural round-up

May 31, 2020

Town-country split needs fixing –  Rob Hewett:

March 2020 in New Zealand saw a seismic change in the economic landscape.

Covid 19 here, there and everywhere. For some, the change is likely permanent. Who’d want to have shares in an airline?

Meanwhile in agriculture, the issues of environment, sustainability, emissions, to name a few, have not evaporated. Instead, they are likely to be more important than ever.

Covid-19-disrupted food supply chains made people think carefully about where their food was coming from, probably for the first time in their lives. . . 

Poll finds a growing public appreciation of NZ’s primary exports – and new trade stats underscore their importance – Point of Order:

NZ’s  primary  exports  held  up  well  in   April, again proving  the  country’s  farming  industries are  sustaining  the  economy   despite many  sectors being stricken by the  Covid-19  pandemic.

Almost   coincidentally,  a  UMR  probe  of    public  opinion about farming revealed a sharp swing  in  perception.

Instead  of  the  negativity   that had been  undermining  morale – particularly in  the  dairy industry,  triggered  by  anti-farming  lobby groups which conjured  up the slogan “dirty dairying”  to turn urban opinion against the  industry – the  UMR polling  showed  attitudes have tilted deeper into positive  territory. . . 

Synlait drops forecast milk pirce to farmers as dairy prices fall :

Synlait has dropped its forecast milk price for the season about to end and is predicting of a lower opening price for next season.

The dairy company is forecasting $7.05 per kilo of milk solids, down from $7.25.

This is slightly below Fonterra’s recent forecast of $7.10 to $7.30.

Synlait’s opening forecast for the 2020/21 season has been set at $6.00, which is in the middle-range of Fonterra’s forecast of $5.40 to $6.90.

In the 2018/19 season the company paid $6.40 kgMS to its 280 farmer suppliers. . .

 

Sanford interim results – diversity providing resilience for New Zealand’s largest seafood company:

Sanford Limited (NZX: SAN) has reported statutory net profit after tax (NPAT) for the first half of its 2020 financial year of $19.0 million, 17% behind last year’s result of $22.9 million for the same period. Adjusted (underlying) Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) of $23.2 million for the six months to 31 March, 2020. This represents a 29% decrease on adjusted EBIT from the same period last year ($32.6 million) or a 16% decrease on a comparable basis, when excluding the pelagic business which Sanford sold in March 2019. Total revenue was $245.5 million, a 7% decrease on the same period in 2019 ($265.0 million).

Sanford is New Zealand’s largest and oldest seafood company and has a diverse range of interests across fishing and aquaculture. In recent years, it has made a strategic shift into higher value products such as Greenshell mussel powders and high end branded salmon. . . 

The meat industry is trying to get back to normal. But workers are still getting sick — and shortages may get worse – Taylor Telford:

Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the United States, has transformed its facilities across the country since legions of its workers started getting sick from the novel coronavirus. It has set up on-site medical clinics, screened employees for fevers at the beginning of their shifts, required the use of face coverings, installed plastic dividers between stations and taken a host of other steps to slow the spread.

Despite those efforts, the number of Tyson employees with the coronavirus has exploded from less than 1,600 a month ago to more than 7,000 today, according to a Washington Post analysis of news reports and public records.

What has happened at Tyson — and in the meat industry overall — shows how difficult it is to get the nation back to normal, even in essential fields such as food processing. .

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Buy local buy NZ wood:

With the current post-lockdown focus to ‘buy local’, the NZ Forest Sector Forum is posing the question – why isn’t New Zealand consuming more New Zealand wood and wood products?

According to MPI, approximately two-thirds of New Zealand wood is exported. Almost $6.93 billion was exported from NZ in 2018-19. On the flipside, New Zealand imported over $1.5 billion worth of wood products in 2019. So why are we importing a huge amount of wood products when we grow so much ourselves?

Wood products cover products that come from the woody part of the tree, and can be anything from logs to wood chips, sawn timber and railway sleepers to wood pulp. Uses for wood and wood products are constantly being reinvented, from multi-story construction to soft and absorbent toilet paper. . . 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2020

OZ farmers suffer heavy losses – NFF – Sudesh Kissun:

Australian farmers have lost significant livestock in bushfires raging across the country, says National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson. 

Simson says many farmers had lost homes, livestock and infrastructure.

“While we don’t know exact numbers yet, there has been a significant loss of livestock in parts of the country, most recently in areas such as northern Victoria and the south coast of NSW,” she says. . . 

‘Sheer weight’ of multiple issues taking toll on farmers – Sally Rae:

The ‘‘sheer weight’’ of issues facing farmers in Otago and Southland is taking a serious toll on their mental health and wellbeing, a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service report says.

The annual lamb crop report, released this week, said morale among sheep and beef farmers in the two regions was low.

The implications for farming practices and effects on profitability of government policies announced affecting the sector were unclear but likely to be far reaching.

While policies covering freshwater and greenhouse gas emissions were prominent, the likes of Mycoplasma bovis, reform of the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme, tightening of bank lending arrangements, the One Billion Trees programme, winter grazing practices, biodiversity, urban perception of farming, and how to manage succession were also having notable impacts. . . 

New boss sees pastoral potential – Richard Rennie:

The vast grassland expanses of South America offer some exciting opportunities for Gallagher’s new general manager Darrell Jones.

Jones is a couple of months into his new role but almost 20 years into working for the agri-tech company. 

Formerly the company’s national sales manager he is excited by what his recent business excursion to South America revealed.

“We have had a presence in South America for some time but everything sold over there is basically from behind the counter. 

“We want to really work on what our point of difference is for electric fence systems there and a big part of that is farmer education.  . .

Farmlands moves focus forward – Neal Wallace:

New Farmlands chairman Rob Hewett wants the farm supplies retailer to shift its focus to meeting the anticipated needs of farmers five years in the future.

Given the requirement for farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address freshwater quality Farmlands needs to help its 70,000 shareholder-owners make those adjustments and that means supplying advice, services and technology they will need in the future.

“Farmers want a road map and hope and we are moving the company from being very good at providing something farmers needed five years ago to provide things we anticipate farmers will need five years from now.” . . 

Mechanisation new for the US – Tessa Nicholson:

The impetus behind developing the Klima stripper back in 2007 was a continual lack of labour during the pruning season.

Growers and companies all over the country were facing shortages and every year there was the underlying fear that pruning would not be completed in time for bud burst.

The Klima quickly caught the attention of grape growers in both New Zealand and Australia, but breaking into the US has until recently been a difficult one, says Klima founder Marcus Wickham. . . 

Australian celebrity chef samples both sides of the dining experience at Walter Peak High Country Farm:

Visiting Australian celebrity chef Justin North enjoyed a chance to sample the gourmet BBQ lunch menu before heading to the kitchen to work with Executive Chef Mauro Battaglia at Walter Peak High Country Farm in Queenstown on Tuesday 7 January.

North says the first impression when walking through the doors into the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant is the absolutely beautiful aroma.

“Credit to Executive Chef Mauro Battaglia and his whole team as it’s clear that a lot of love, care and thought goes into the food. You can see there is such a lovely culture within the kitchen team, and everyone is so passionate about what they are doing. You can tell it’s more than just a job to everyone.” . . 

 

The insidious flaw in the “Less Meat” argument — we need soil, not soy – Seth Itzkan:

The insidious flaw with the “less meat” argument is that it implies that meat is bad (when, of course, it isn’t) while looking the other way as it advances soil-depleting, GMO soy, faux meat products at the expense of nutritionally superior, regenerative beef and dairy alternatives that are essential for enhancing soil carbon, reviving pasture ecosystems, and just now gaining a foothold in supermarkets.

What Burger King and other franchises should do instead of carrying Impossible Foods paddies, is to insist that each region source at least 10% of their meats locally and via ecologically restorative production. That would jumpstart the food revolution genuinely poised to deliver a safe climate. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 3, 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

November 22, 2018

Will to live response pleasing -Sally Rae:

“Overwhelming” is how Elle Perriam describes the public response to the rural mental health awareness campaign Will to Live.

Targeting young rural men and women, it was launched following the death of Miss Perriam’s boyfriend, Will Gregory, in December last year.

Her target for a PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign to cover the expenses of a regional Speak Up tour in country pubs next year was $15,000.

But with a bit more than $18,000 raised through that, and more sponsors coming on board, she reckoned the amount  raised was now around $20,000. That meant  the number of events  throughout the country could be extended from 10 to 14. Financial contributions had also been matched by “kind affirmations” about the initiative. . . 

Virtual rural health school plan unaffected by Govt move – Mike Houlahan:

A week-old proposal by the University of Otago and other providers to create a virtual school for rural health remains very much alive despite the Government killing off an alternative school of rural medicine this week.

The lead article in last week’s edition of the New Zealand Medical Journal featured a proposal, driven by the University of Otago, University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology (AUT), for a virtual rural health campus.

On Wednesday, Health Minister David Clark announced the Government would not support a Waikato University initiative — which dated from the term of the previous National-led government — to establish a $300 million school of rural medicine. . . 

Shortage of vets cause of concern for rural and urban areas – Matthew Tso:

A national shortage of vets has New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar rural sector on high alert. 

Rural veterinary practices are finding it tough to fill vacant roles – and MPI says this could have an impact on biosecurity surveillance issues.

Miles Anderson, Federated Farmers meat and wool industry group chair, says the dairy, meat, and wool industries are dependent on healthy herds. . . 

Dunne in style:

It was once jokingly said that the next most-important job after the All Blacks coach is the head of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Joking aside, there is some truth in this because MPI plays a largely unsung, yet critical, role in the lives of every New Zealander.

With the prospect of a world war unlikely, the next most-serious threat to NZ is in biosecurity, food safety, trade and people’s perception of how the precious land we live on is farmed. . . 

Cavalier eyes anti-plastic trend :

Cavalier Corp says it is well-placed to take advantage of a growing consumer shift away from plastics.

That trend fits well with the carpet maker’s renewed focus on its high-quality wool products, particularly higher-margin, niche opportunities and the potential of major markets like the United States and United Kingdom, chief executive Paul Alston said.

“Investment in research and development and creating ranges that command a premium is a priority and critical for our success,” he said in notes for the company’s annual meeting. . . 

 

Quality over quantity: climate change affects volume, but not quality of aquaculture – Matt Brown:

Dairy farming would appear to have very little in common with farming mussels.

But now, a Netherlands-born Southland dairy farmer is taking the mussel capital by storm with his enthusiasm for the green-shelled bivalve molluscs.

Much like dairy farming, the Havelock-based business focused on their commodity product “with value add”.

Mills Bay Mussels owner Art Blom said their point of difference was the ‘raw-shuck’.. . 

Feds President spearheads delegation to Uruguay and Argentina:

Farmers, dairy product manufacturers and trade representatives in Uruguay and Argentina are hearing a New Zealand take on current agricultural issues this week.

Federated Farmers of NZ President Katie Milne is engaged in a busy schedule of speaking and meeting engagements in Montevideo and Buenos Aires in a programme put together by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and New Zealand’s Ambassador to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, Raylene Liufalani. . . 

Two new faces for Farmlands’ board:

Farmlands’ shareholders have voted two new Shareholder Directors on to the Farmlands Board.

Dawn Sangster and Gray Baldwin join re-elected Director Rob Hewett on the rural supplies and services co-operative’s Board of Directors.

Farmlands Chairman, Lachie Johnstone congratulated the new arrivals to the Board of Directors, as well as thanking the other candidates who put themselves forward for election. . .


Rural round-up

August 22, 2018

Co-op directors getting harder to find: Farmlands chairman – Andrea Fox:

Attracting directors for cooperatives is getting harder the fewer there are and the bigger they get, says Farmlands chairman Lachie Johnstone as the $2 billion revenue rural services business kicks off director elections.

Three seats are up for election as two long-serving directors step down and a third, Silver Fern Farms chairman and Clutha farmer Rob Hewett by rotation seeks another term.

Leaving the top table this year are Marlborough-based Joe Ferraby, who has been a director more than 20 years, including his time on farm services company CRT which merged with Farmlands in 2013, and Bay of Plenty dairy farmer and orchardist David Jensen. . .

 

Wool protein could boost digestive health – Esther Taunton:

Work to find new uses for wool has revealed the fibre could have digestive health benefits.

AgResearch scientists have found adding wool proteins to the diets of domestic cats improved their digestive health and could potentially do the same for people. 

“There is a lot of work going on to discover new uses of wool to support the sheep industry in New Zealand,” said Jolon Dyer, AgResearch’s science group leader for food and bio-based products.

“The research is telling us that sheep wool has many useful attributes and one of those now appears to be proteins derived from the wool that could be used as a dietary supplement to improve digestion and nutrition, and therefore overall health.”    . . .

Finding a better way to achieve our sustainability goals on farm:

Charlotte Rutherford, Fonterra’s General Manager of Sustainable Dairying is always looking for new ways to support the Co-op’s farmers in achieving their sustainability goals.

This month, Fonterra marks the one-year anniversary of TIAKI – our sustainable dairying programme that helps farmers make their operations more environmentally compliant. In doing so we will also celebrate more than 1,000 Fonterra farmers who now have a tailored improvement plan to help address environmental risks on-farm. Achieving this wasn’t easy and while a significant amount of progress was made pre-Tiaki it often felt like we were trying push a rock uphill. We knew there had to be a better way. . .

eShepherd creates a virtual fence – Nicola Bell:

FARMERS across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and the UK will soon be using world-first virtual fencing technology.

The eShepherd technology by ­agritech start-up Agersens allows a farmer to create a virtual fence and remotely monitor, muster and move cattle, using a smart phone, tablet or computer.

Just like a traditional fence, a virtual fence is used to control the location of livestock and has huge potential for beef and dairy herds. . . 

Anti-meat message hurting poor countries – Shan Goodwin:

THE push to eat less meat in developed countries is posing threats to efforts to improve livestock production efficiency in poor countries, where there is no choice but to under-consume animal foods.

This message emerged from discussions among global livestock specialists at the Crawford Fund annual conference in Canberra this week around the need to reshape agriculture to address the increasingly competing needs of the hungry and the over-nourished and the finite resources of the environment.

Anti-livestock rhetoric missed some big points about the vital role of livestock in poorer countries, according to Dr Anna Okello, associate research program manager of livestock systems at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. . . 

Third of farmed fruit and veg deemed to ugly to sell:

More than a third of farmed fruit and vegetables never reaches supermarket shelves because it is misshapen or the wrong size, according to new research.

A University of Edinburgh study found more than 50 million tonnes of fruit and vegetables grown across Europe were discarded each year.

This was in part because they did not meet consumers’ expectations of how they should look.

The study was published in the Journal of Cleaner Production. . .


Rural round-up

April 21, 2018

Rescue chopper services face axe – Neal Wallace:

About 1200 people marched through Taupo last week to protest against a threat to end their air ambulance service.

Taupo Mayor David Trewavas said the march attracted many people who owe their lives to the speed and efficient response of their local service.

“People are fired up and are pretty passionate just because of our geographic nature, being in the middle of the North Island.”

A Ministry of Health, ACC and National Ambulance Sector Office review says some air ambulance services should be cut. . . 

Rural health put on hold :

A rural mental health project run by the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa will continue until June 30 before being wound up as the parent organisation is put in hibernation after failing to secure $600,000 in Government funding.

Alliance chief executive Michelle Thompson said it has run the rural mental health contract for the Ministry of Health for four years and she fears no one else will pick up the work. . .

North Canterbury sheep and beef farmers roll with the seasons – Heather Chalmers:

A North Canterbury farming couple are finding new opportunities after drought, writes Heather Chalmers.

North Canterbury hill country farmers Mark and Jane Schwass like to keep their options open when it comes to their sheep and beef farming operation.

The vagaries of the weather and market mean they are not fixed to any livestock class or sale plan.

The couple run a sheep and beef breeding and finishing operation as well as dairy support, grazing young dairy stock. . . 

SFF’s focus on directors – Sally Rae:

A review of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Ltd’s constitution will include looking at the tenure of directors on the board, the board size and the ratio of elected to independent directors.
Speaking at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday, chairman Rob Hewett said the review was under way.

There would be roadshows for shareholders in June, ahead of a July-August vote. Any changes would require a vote of 75% in favour. . . 

Waikato sharemilker Laura Campbell will contest Melbourne Cup’s Fashion in the Field

Milking nearly 300 cows before going to the office, it’s all in a days work for a Waikato girl who just loves fashion.

Walking the pit of the 32-aside herringbone dairy shed is far removed from the lights and boardwalk Laura Campbell will experience at the Melbourne Cup Carnival this year.

The 22-year-old woman will be competing at the Myer’s Fashion in the Field across the ditch in earlier November. . . 

French MPs force vegetarian food producers to mince their words

French MPs have voted to ban producers of vegetarian meat substitutes from using words such as steak, bacon or sausage to describe their products if they are are not partly or wholly composed of meat.

The measure, approved on Thursday, was proposed by MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau, who argued that products such as soya steaks, vegan sausages and other vegetarian alternatives were “misleading” for consumers. Moreau based his argument on a 2017 judgment by the European court of justice, that ruled that soya and tofu products could not be marketed as milk or butter.

“It is important to combat false claims. Our products must be designated correctly: the terms of #cheese or #steak will be reserved for products of animal origin,” tweeted Moreau, a farmer and member of president Emmanuel Macron’s political movement La République En Marche. . . 


Rural round-up

April 17, 2018

Station owner hopes for ‘permanent lake’ after landslide stabilised :

A landslide between Gisborne and Wairoa which caused a large lake to form has been stabilised.

On Monday, Gisborne District Council said strategic management of the slip in Muriwai had stabilised the area, and the previously-closed Paparatu Rd had been reopened.

Last month, Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence manager Ian Macdonald said the landslide, which was likely triggered by a small, localised earthquake, had become a “significant hazard” and people were warned to stay away from it. . . 

Enthusiasm’ wins award for family:

Waipahi sheep farmers Ross, Alexa and Logan Wallace are this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards winners.

Their win was announced at a dinner at the Lake Wanaka Centre on Friday night. Judges described the family as a supportive, close family unit with clear vision, great goal-setting and financial discipline.

“They have incredible enthusiasm and a passion to learn — taking on ideas, good use of external advice and analysing data for the best outcomes.

“They have a strong environmental focus; land and environment plan, nutrient budgeting, wetland construction, retention of biodiversity and water quality emphasis, as well as an outstanding commitment to community and industry.” . . 

Ploughing in her blood – Nicole Sharp:

Ploughing is not your ordinary type of sport, but national finalist Tryphena Carter, of Riversdale, is not your ordinary type of lady.

Driving a tractor while towing a conventional plough is not a sport most would think of getting into, but Miss Carter was born to plough.

She is now in full preparation for the New Zealand Ploughing Championships, being held at Thornbury, Southland, this weekend, where she will compete in the Silver Plough class.

She started in the sport aged 15 and these championships will be her eleventh. . . 

Environment award winners delight in swimming in rivers around their Tararua dairy farm – Jill Galloway:

The dairy farmer winners of a farm environment award are proud to be sandwiched between two swimmable rivers in Tararua.

Swimming in them was a source of pleasure after media reaction to dairying’s contribution to poor river quality, said Andrew Hardie and Helen Long.

The pair showed off their dairy operation Te Maunga Farm near Dannevirke to about 70 people at a field day celebrating their performance as supreme winners of the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Award.

Hardie said it was a robust, sustainable and profitable farm, which enabled them to fence off almost 14 kilometres of riparian strips. . .

First skin-pack cuts dispatched:

Alliance Group has dispatched its first major shipment of product in vacuum skin tray packaging to Hong Kong following a successful trial.

Skin packaging is technology that hermetically seals right to the edge of the meat cut, extending its chilled shelf life for up to 11 weeks, retaining colour and optimising meat tenderness. . . 

 

Chairman and incumbent director returned to Silver Fern Farms Co-Operative Board:

Rob Hewett and Fiona Hancox have been re-elected to the Silver Fern Farms’ Co-operative Limited’s Board of Directors.

The results of the election, which closed at 3.00pm on Monday, 16 February 2018, were: . .

A2 shares rise as new distribution deal opens up South Korean market – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co has signed an exclusive distribution deal with Yuhan Corp in South Korea, more than a decade after an earlier foray into that country which ended in litigation. The milk marketing firm’s shares rose 1.3 percent.

The Auckland-based, Sydney-headquartered company today signed an exclusive sales and distribution agreement with Yuhan to promote and distribute a2 branded products in South Korea, it said in a statement. . . 

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Rural round-up

April 4, 2018

The future of everything: Why the third industrial revolution is a risk to NZ – John McCrone:

Who is Jeremy Rifkin and why does he have economists worried? After Europe and China, his message of disruptive change is now stirring interest in New Zealand. JOHN MCCRONE reports.

Artificial meat gets you thinking. If it is another exponential technology – a wave breaking over the world in the next five to 15 years – how can the New Zealand economy survive?

Auckland food futurist Dr Rosie Bosworth sounded the alarm bells at the Tipping Points conference, hosted by the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) last August.

Bosworth says lab-grown meat only got going in 2013 when a Dutch university start-up – funded by the wealth of Google’s Sergey Brin – managed to culture strips of beef muscle and produce a first hamburger patty.

Now there are a whole host of high tech start-ups flooding into the field, aiming to make artificial yet realistic everything, from chicken and fish, to milk and even leather, she says. . . 

State of Pass road upsets residents – Sally Rae:

Motorists travelling through the expansive tussock country of  Danseys Pass are drawn to the mountain  route for many reasons.

Often, says local woman Jo Todd, it is emotion that is behind the trip which links the Waitaki district to Central Otago.

“It’s an iconic road …  it’s on their bucket list. It’s a road that polarises people — people hate it or love it. People always have stories about the road.”

They shared those stories when they stopped at her lavender farm and shop and often conversations mentioned the state of the road.

Last  week, Mrs Todd and neighbour Mary Hore expressed disgust at the road’s condition on the Waitaki side of the pass. . .

Royal Easter Show shearing: Rowland Smith wins 40 in a row:

Hawke’s Bay shearer Rowland Smith’s domination of New Zealand’s world-class shearing elite continued when he had his 40th New Zealand finals win in a row at the Royal Easter Show in Auckland.

His successful defence of the Northern Shears Open title was his 44th win in 46 competitions in New Zealand in the last 15 months, during which the only deviations from the picket-fence form-line were a fourth placing at the Rotorua A and P Show on January 29 last year and a semi-final elimination at the Tauranga A and P Show on January 14 this year.

On Saturday he staved-off a bold challenge from Southland shearer Brett Roberts to win by half-a-point in a five-man final of 20 sheep each, decided mainly by the six seconds margin at the end and the quality of the sharing in the race, in front of the unique Auckland crowd mixing the normality for the farming and shearing community with the intrigue of the city dweller and the phone and camera waving tourist throng. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Co-op reports positive result, dividend and patronage reward:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax (and before losses from discontinued operations) of $7.8 million for the 15 months ended 31 December 2017. After accounting for discontinued operations, the 15-month period was a net loss of $5.6m.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative chairman Rob Hewett says the accounting result for the first period of the partnership has a high level of complexity to account for the changes in company structure over the period.

“We expected some complexity in reporting for this period as we account for the transition, and it does contain some abnormal factors related to the transaction which we will not see in future years. Firstly, the Co-operative has moved to a December year-end, which necessitates a 15-month result for this period. From now on we will have standard 12-month reporting periods. 

How Ireland is turning into a food processing giant – Catherine Cleary:

Move over Kerrygold butter – Ireland’s real food export success story is in unbranded food ingredients such as whey and vanilla

Here’s a small eureka moment in the Irish food world. The head of a large food company has had a long day in a conference room with executives from an Irish food ingredients giant. They finish with a grazing trip around the hottest cafes, restaurants and cocktail bars. In a bar, someone serves a Bloody Mary garnished with a piece of crispy bacon. He takes a sip, puts down the glass and declares: “Now that’s what I want my burger to taste like.”

It’s as far from the picture of Irish food as it gets but ingredients like a Bloody Mary bacon seasoning are an untold part of Ireland’s food story. If you dream it, there is a team of scientists in Irish labs that can probably make it happen. . .

The woman who rode Australia’s longest trekking route – a photo essay :

Alienor Le Gouvello travelled more than 5,000km with three wild horses and a dog. For her forthcoming book Wild at Heart, photographer Cat Vinton joined her for part of the journey to capture the beauty and isolation of a year-long trek through the Australian bush.

From a young age, Alienor Le Gouvello developed a passion for travelling and adventure. Her previous expeditions include a horseback trek in Mongolia at age 22 and a sidecar motorbike expedition from Siberia to Paris. Le Gouvello, originally from France, was working with an Indigenous community in Docker River near Uluru in the Australian central desert when she first discovered the existence of wild brumbies. In 2015, she embarked on her longest solo journey: 5,330km along the Bicentennial National trail, Australia’s longest trekking route, beginning in Healesville in Victoria and ending in Cooktown, Queensland, with just three wild horses and her dog for company. Since it opened in 1988, only 35 people have completed the trail. Le Gouvello is the second woman to complete the trip and the only person to have the same horses from beginning to end . . 


Rural round-up

March 19, 2018

We need a long cool look at water – Andrew Curtis:

As years go, 2017 was dramatic.

In February, one of the biggest fires in New Zealand history ignited on the Port Hills in tinder dry conditions, causing thousands of residents to evacuate.

In March, the upper North Island was soaked, with Auckland experiencing its wettest March day in 60 years, and over 300 homes were flooded.

July brought flooding to Otago and Canterbury, and snow and strong winds to other areas. . . 

Mix of farming, forestry, engineering keeps McKenzies busy – Sally Rae:

When it comes to thinking outside the square, it would be hard to look past the innovative McKenzie family from Clinton.

Colin McKenzie jokes they have a lot of junk around, but they are incredibly clever at turning that “junk” into all sorts of machinery.

As well as running a large sheep and beef operation, they also do their own forest harvesting, utilising some of their own home-made technology. . . 

Effluent technology set to lift dairy water efficiency – Jamie Thompson:

Nutrient efficiency is vital to Ravensdown as a component of smarter farming — good for the bottom line and the environment.

Water efficiency is now a catch-cry and the dairy sector is being urged to lessen its water ‘footprint’.

Crucial to this challenge is how effluent is managed. Recycling and reusing the nutrients in dairy shed effluent is good practice, showing that dairy farmers are doing the right thing. This comes with a price tag: 70% of dairy farmers’ environmental spending goes on effluent management (see graph). . .

Passion for dairy farming shows through for Canterbury environment award winners:

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards have been won by a dairy farming company showing a fantastic level of passion, pride and promotion for its industry. David and Brenda Hislop, Mark Daly and Janet Girvan are partners in Medbury Farm Limited – milking 1240 cows on 442ha at Hawarden.

The awards judges said the partners show strong awareness of farming practices and how they influence the environment. “They show excellent attention to detail to business planning, governance and policies and how that influences and drives the business, as well as great staff and people management.” . . 

Fonterra close to reaching Argentina deal :

Fonterra is close to reaching a deal with Argentina-based dairy co-operative SanCor, according a media report from Buenos Aires.

The Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported that Fonterra was anticipated to finalise a deal with SanCor by the end of this month.

La Nacion, in a translated report, said Fonterra and SanCor would form a new company, of which Fonterra would have 80 to 90 percent control. The remaining shares would stay with the dairy farmers in Argentina. . . 

Education doesn’t encourage creativity’ – Jill Galloway:

The education system does not value creativity enough, says a business commentator.

Chanelle O’Sullivan​ was one of five speakers at a creativity breakfast seminar, one of 10 events being held as part of the Manawatū-hosted Agri Food Week.

Described as an entrepreneur who founded the websites Rural Mums and Virtual Insights, O’Sullivan advised people to not rely on anyone else “as no one is coming to rescue you”. However, people should not feel ashamed of failing. . . 

Four candidates for Silver Fern Farms board :

Conor English, the youngest brother of former Prime Minister Bill English, is throwing his hat in the ring for election to the Silver Fern Farms board of directors.

English is the former chief executive of Federated Farmers who started his farming career at the family farm in Dipton. He is also chairman of Agribusiness New Zealand, a company he founded after leaving Federated Farmers in 2014.

Board members Fiona Hancox and Rob Hewett, and chairman, retire by rotation at the company’s annual meeting in Dunedin on April 18.

Four candidates have put themselves forward for the two available positions on the board. Hancox and Hewett have both advised they will stand for re-election, while nominations have been received for Chris Allen and English. . . 


Rural round-up

February 8, 2018

NZ needs more water storage in a changing climate:

The importance of water storage in helping provide a reliable supply of water for urban communities, and for food and energy production in a changing climate needs to be recognised, says IrrigationNZ.

“We are seeing the effects of poor future planning for the effects of climate change on water infrastructure overseas, with Cape Town expected to soon run out of water. By ratifying the Paris Agreement in 2016, New Zealand confirmed it will plan for and take action to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Developing more water storage to supply towns, rural communities and for food and energy production is important to protect the future wellbeing of Kiwis,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . . 

Dairy product prices climb for third straight auction amid supply concern – Margreet Dietz:

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy product prices rose at the Global Dairy Trade auction, rising for the third straight time, as buyers stocked up in anticipation of easing output.

The GDT price index climbed 5.9 percent from the previous auction three weeks ago. The average price was US$3,553 a tonne. Some 22,197 tonnes of product was sold, down from 23,319 tonnes three weeks ago.

Whole milk powder rallied 7.6 percent to US$3,226 a tonne. . .

Have your say: Bill aims to deter livestock theft:

Parliament is now seeking public submissions on a bill aimed at deterring livestock rustling (the theft of livestock from farms or property).

Livestock rustling is estimated to cost the farming community over $120 million each year and is a major threat to farming businesses. It also puts the safety of people in isolated, rural areas at risk because rustlers are often armed. . . 

Bay of Plenty Maori partner with Japan’s Imanaka on high-value dairy products – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A group of Maori organisations has partnered with Japanese food company Imanaka to develop a milk processing plant to make high-value niche products in Kawerau.

Kawerau Dairy is a collaboration between 11 Maori Bay of Plenty entities, which own two thirds of the venture, and Imanaka’s Cedenco Dairy unit, which owns the remaining third. They expect the first stage of the $32 million project to begin operations early next year.

The dairy venture is following the model of the Miraka milk company in Taupo which was set up by Maori interests with an overseas food group as a cornerstone shareholder, with power supplied from Maori geothermal assets and much of the milk supply sourced from local Maori farms. . . 

Eugenie Sage has questions to answer on cancelled land sale:

Eugenie Sage has questions to answer on her reasons for turning down the sale of the Sullivan Mine on the West Coast to Bathurst Coal Limited against the advice of overseas investment officials, National Party Energy and Resources Spokesperson Jonathan Young says.

“Ms Sage needs to give an absolute assurance that her views as Conservation Minister and as a Green Party MP have not coloured her statutory role as Minister for Land Information,” Mr Young says.

“Bathurst is a significant investor on the West Coast and Southland, creating jobs and economic activity in each region. . . 

NZ’s first avocado shipment arrives safely in China:

The first airfreighted consignment of fresh New Zealand avocados has arrived safely into China, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said today.

This follows agreement and signing of a protocol on phytosanitary requirements between New Zealand and China last November, and a technical audit of New Zealand’s regulatory system for exporting avocados by Chinese officials in January.

“Securing export access for our avocados into China has been New Zealand’s top horticulture priority,” says MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne. . .

Wellington to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final:

A former cocktail bartender, an award-winning contract milker and a drone-flying drystock farmer will face off in the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Farmers will descend on the nation’s capital for the event on February 24th.

It’s believed to be the first time the regional final has been held in Wellington. . . 

Nominations Open for Silver Fern Farms Co-Op Board Directors:

Nominations are now open for two farmer-elected Board positions on the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Board.

Directors Rob Hewett and Fiona Hancox retire by rotation at the Company’s 2017 Annual Meeting.

Rob Hewett and Fiona Hancox have advised they will seek re-election.

Nominations close on Monday 5 March 2018 at 5pm. . .. 


Rural round-up

November 29, 2017

Not all gloom and doom on farming environmental front – Pat Deavoll:

I was on a field day at Mt Somers a few weeks ago sitting in a paddock with about 200 others listening to Nick France speaking on lambing his hoggets. Over the fence was a paddock of legume plantain mix. The plantain I recognised as Ecotain from having written an article on the plant a few weeks beforehand.

Apparently, Ecotain promises to significantly reduce nitrogen leaching in the urine patch. It works in four ways; by increasing the volume of cows urine which dilutes the concentration of nitrogen; by reducing the total amount of nitrogen in animals urine; by delaying the process of turning ammonium into nitrate in the urine patch; and by restricting the accumulation of nitrates in soils growing Ecotain. . .

Young horticulturist hoping to pave the way for more women as industry faces accusations of sexism – Sean Hogan:

Shanna Hickling’s typical day could involve getting her hands dirty checking soil quality along the vines, or testing and experimenting in her research lab.

“The business is very diverse, dynamic, what you are doing today will be completely different to what you’re doing the next and that makes it exciting,” the 25-year-old microbiologist told 1 NEWS.

Her passion is being recognised as she claimed the 2017 Young Horticulturalist of the Year award, becoming just the third woman to do so. . .

‘No guarantees’ for red meat trade post-Brexit:

UK and New Zealand ministers have been discussing the future of post-Brexit trade between the two countries.

Britain’s international trade secretary Liam Fox, in New Zealand on a four-day visit, has met Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Trade Minister David Parker.

New Zealand exports about $2 billion of red meat to the EU and has a tariff-free quota of 228,000 tonnes of sheepmeat a year.

Exporters are worried about what will happen to this quota during negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Announce New Chief Executive’:

Silver Fern Farms’ Board of Directors has appointed Simon Limmer as its new Chief Executive.

Silver Fern Farms Co-Chair Rob Hewett says Mr Limmer has an excellent set of skills and experience to continue the strong progress Silver Fern Farms has been making as a leading red meat food company.

“The Board is excited by the leadership Simon will bring to Silver Fern Farms. Simon comes with deep commercial experience in the food, manufacturing and service sectors both here in New Zealand and in several of the key international markets in which we operate,” Mr Hewett says. . . 

It’s been 30 plus years and dairy farmers are still giving:

Rural Exchange and RadioLIVE are proud to promote IHC and to help DairyNZ spread the word about dairy farmers.

Dairy farmers are not just about kissing babies and smiling for the camera. Sure, they like babies, including ones that moo – and when the weather’s good and the grass is growing, they’re known to crack a smile.

Over the past 33 years, dairy farmers around the country have raised more than $30 million for people with intellectual disabilities. . .

More robust biosecurity measures a necessity says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is toughening its stance on visitors who ignore New Zealand’s strict biosecurity laws.

MPI revealed it has increased fines by 50 percent since 2014 to air passengers who flout entry requirements, with 9100 infringement notices issued to date this year. . .

Central Otago winemaker wins Enterprising Rural Women Awards:

Central Otago winemaker Debra Cruickshank is the supreme winner of the Enterprising Rural Women Awards.

Cruickshank, of Tannacrieff Wines, was one of four finalist vying for the award at the RWNZ National Conference in Invercargill on Saturday.

At DC Wines, Cruickshank, has created Central Otago’s niche market for not only port but also provided a solution for fast-growing boutique vineyards wanting to create wine. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2017

Shearing record falls:

Hawke’s Bay shearer Rowland Smith has smashed a World shearing record in England.

The 30-year-old father-of-two shore 644 romney and crossbred ewes in eight hours at Trefranck Farm, near St Clether in Cornwall, beating the previous record of 605 set by Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels in Southland earlier this year.

It was the latest in a string of world shearing records in the family, including the ultimate record of 731 ewes in nine hours by Matthew Smith at Tefranck on July 26 last year. . .

Knee-deep and wanting to cry – Sally Rae:

“It’s just the worst thing to happen to a farm,” Taieri dairy farmer Katie Clark rues as she stands in knee-deep floodwater in front of her home.

Calving is due to start in two days on the Clark family’s property, on Otokia Rd West, yet most of their farm remains under water.

Yesterday, their house was surrounded by water, firewood was floating in the yard, they could not use the shower or toilet, a mattress had floated from a shed into the garden, and there was no sign of the water level dropping.

Ask Mrs Clark how she is faring and she says “it’s horrible. We just want to cry. Look where our cows are.” . . 

Optimism follows record rain – Annette Scott:

Canterbury soils are saturated, crops have drowned and pastures have transformed to mud bowls, but in the aftermath of the worst-ever rain event on record, there are positives.

“Despite the fact we are sludging on in extremely trying conditions, and more rain, the positives would outweigh the negatives,” Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury vice-chairman David Clark said.

In the worst-hit parts of the South Island, the deluge dumped up to 180mm across Mid Canterbury in what has been recorded as the biggest rain event ever for the region, while in South Canterbury 67mm of rain fell in 12 hours, more than its average July rainfall of 40mm. . .

Ballance delivers strong FY2017 result and returns $54m to farmers:

• Gross trading result up $22 million to $56.8 million

• Shareholder rebate of $45 per tonne, with total distribution of $54 million

• Record urea production of 277,224 tonnes, with staged investment in Kapuni

• $35 million investment in distribution network and digital transformation. . .

Silver Fern CEO Dean Hamilton steps down – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms announced the resignation of chief executive Dean Hamilton, who will leave at the end of the year, and said a search is underway for his replacement.

Hamilton has been chief executive of Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s biggest meat company, for three years and steered it through the Shanghai Maling investment and partnership. No reason was given for his resignation but co-chairman Rob Hewett said “we been discussing for some time the demands on him of working away from home” and the board “appreciates and accepts” his desire for change. . .

Wool prices firm ;

At yesterday’s South Island sale, longer 37-micron crossbred second-shear wool increased 40 cents to $3.15 a kilogram compared to last week’s North Island sale, while mid-length fibre gained 25 cents to $2.70/kg and shorter styles were firm at $2.40, according to AgriHQ. Meanwhile, 31-micron lamb wool was also up week on week by 80 cents to $3.70/kg.

Compared with the last South Island sale two weeks ago, 37-micron crossbred fleece was up 5 cents to $3/kg. Meanwhile the improvements in the second shear were not as large due to the premium that is typical for the South Island. The longer 37-micron second shear was up 5 cents to $3.15/kg while the shorter style was firm at $2.40/kg, AgriHQ said. . .


Rural round-up

January 17, 2017

Developing wealth from water – Keith Woodford:

Current controversies about exporting water, be that in bottles or in bulk tankers, draw attention to New Zealand’s key resource.  Yes, that resource is indeed water. In a world that is chronically short of water, we in New Zealand are greatly blessed.

It is because we are so blessed that until recently we have taken the presence of water for granted. Essentially it has been a free resource.  As a consequence, water law in New Zealand is real messy. And that leads to major impediments to water being used efficiently, and in ways which the different groups in society can agree on as being ‘fair’. 

Water that falls as rain on private land has de facto use rights. But once that water runs off into a stream, or permeates below the level where plants can extract it, then it belongs to the Crown – in effect the people of New Zealand. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Annual Result:

Silver Fern Farms has reported a net operating loss before tax and impairment of $7.5m million for the 12 months ended September 2016 on income of $2.2 billion. This compares to a net operating profit of $30.8m and income of $2.5 billion the prior year.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were $32.1m, down from $90.5m the prior year. . . 

Loss ‘disappointing’ for Silver Fern Farms – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett has described the company’s financial results as “particularly disappointing” after it posted a $30.6million after-tax loss.

The loss, for the year ended September, compared with a $24.9million net profit in the previous financial year.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) were $32.1million, down from $90.5million.

A $7.5million net operating loss, before tax and impairment and on income of $2.2billion, compared to a net operating profit of $30.8million and income of $2.5billion the previous year. . . 

$34.5M Dividend for Co-Op Shareholders:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited shareholders will receive a $34.5 million special dividend on 14 February.

The dividend of 30 cents per share on all Ordinary Shares and Rebate Shares follows the completion of Shanghai Maling Aquarius’ $267m investment in Silver Fern Farms Limited and the distribution to the Co-operative of $57million from that process which occurred in December 2016.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chair Rob Hewett says the special dividend will be welcome news to shareholders. “This is the first dividend shareholders have received since 2008. Their support and patience as we have developed our Plate to Pasture value added strategy over the past 7 years has been critical to Silver Fern Farms.” . . 

Patron announced for QEII National Trust:

The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust is pleased to announce that Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy has accepted its invitation to become Patron.

National Trust CEO Mike Jebson said the National Trust is honoured to have the Governor-General’s patronage.

‘Her Excellency considers conservation and sustainable practices to be of great importance to New Zealand.

‘Her sponsorship is a wonderful endorsement of the efforts the National Trust and its members do in this field of work for the benefit of all New Zealanders,’ Mr Jebson said. . . 

Last bastion of pioneering family’s links to the past goes on the market for sale:

A character-filled homestead linking a pioneering family with colonial roots dating back some 150 years in New Zealand’s past, has been placed on the market for sale.

The museum-like home linked to the Alison family in the Northland township of Waipu is adjacent to farm land first settled by direct descendants of the founding family in 1866.

With the last two grand-children of pioneering settler Duncan Alison passing away without any children of their own, the four-bedroom home and lifestyle block-sized landholding have been placed on the market for sale. . . 

Karaka 2017 to Showcase the Cream of the Australasian Sire Crop:

All of the biggest names in New Zealand and Australia’s sire ranks will be represented in force at the upcoming 2017 National Yearling Sales Series at Karaka.

Waikato Stud stallion Savabeel had a boomer of a Sale in 2016, amassing an aggregate of $11.545 million in the Premier session alone. Last season’s champion sire in terms of domestic, Australasian and worldwide earnings, and the leading sire again so far in 2016-17, Savabeel will again be represented by an impressive crop of 64 yearlings in the Premier catalogue. . . 


Shanghai Maling goes where shareholders wouldn’t

September 21, 2016

Shanghai Maling’s application to purchase a 50 per cent interest in Silver Fern Farms has been approved.

Minister for Land Information Louise Upston, and Associate Minister for Finance Paula Bennett, the decision-making Ministers, are satisfied that the purchase would create substantial and identifiable benefit for New Zealand.

“The Overseas Investment Office recommended that we approve Shanghai Maling’s application because it meets the criteria set down in the Overseas Investment Act 2005,” Ms Upston says.

“We are satisfied that the investment will be of substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealand, which is the test set out in the Act. The investment will put the company in a better financial position and allow it to increase its exports.

“New Zealand shareholders will continue to have 50 per cent ownership of Silver Fern Farms, while benefiting from the injection of funds from the new investor.”

Not surprisingly SFF has welcomed the decision:

The proposed investment is now unconditional and is set to complete on 4 January 2017, the first business day of the new financial year for the partnership.

Silver Fern Farms Chairman, Rob Hewett said the new partnership with Shanghai Maling creates a unique opportunity for Silver Fern Farms.

“Shanghai Maling’s financial investment will make Silver Fern Farms the financially strongest company in the New Zealand meat industry with the ability to confidently invest in our business.

“The partnership will help us accelerate our consumer focused plate to pasture strategy globally, and to grow sustainable value for our shareholders and farmer suppliers over time.

“It is very pleasing to now be at this point after nearly 12 months, and we look forward to the partnership getting underway in the new year.”

Shanghai Maling President Wei Ping Shen was pleased the partnership could now be completed. “We are very pleased with the regulatory approval for this partnership. It clears the way for us to move ahead with the partnership. New Zealand grass fed red meat is the best in the world and the Silver Fern Farms’ brand has the potential to become a leading red meat brand globally.”

Mr Hewett stated that after the investment completes the Co-operative will, as previously advised, pay a special dividend of 30c per share to all ordinary and rebate shares expected to be paid prior to 31 March 2017) and will commence the redemption of the remaining approximately $5m of Supplier Investment Shares outstanding.

 Federated Farmers says it’s a sensible decision for New Zealand:

New Zealand will enjoy benefits from the approval for Shanghai Maling Aquarius to acquire a 50 percent ownership stake in Silver Fern Farms.

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair Rick Powdrell says it’s a sensible decision for the country and aligns the company better to service the needs of global markets in a modern world.

“New Zealand farmer-shareholders will continue to own 50 percent of the co-operative and will enjoy the benefits of access to the growing Chinese market.

“This is exactly what the farmer-shareholders wanted, with a majority voting last month for the deal to be approved,” says Rick.

The decision has been met with the inevitable concerns over foreign ownership.

One of those was Winston Peters and Act leader David Seymour says the NZ First leader’s paranoia should be ignored:

Winston Peters’ call for intervention over the partial sale of a private company proves he is unfit to be in Government, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“It’s disturbing that Winston Peters, who could potentially hold the balance of power after the election, would override the recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office and block the partial sale of a private company,” says Mr Seymour.

“Why does Winston think he knows better than the thousands of Kiwi shareholders who voted for this sale?

Seymour is right – this is a decision for the shareholders, not politicians nor anyone else who has no money at stake.

However, he is a wee bit confused about what’s been sold:

“What’s Winston so afraid of? Does he think the cows will literally get shipped off to China? That the land itself will disappear? He’s just stirring up more anti-Chinese sentiment for cheap political gain.

SFF is a meat processing company which owns processing plants and the land they sit on but it’s not a farm.

“Blocking this sale would have prevented an injection of cash into the New Zealand economy, and would send a message to businesses that private property rights are not respected in this country.”

The critics fail to see that the decision brings money into New Zealand and, as Powdrell and Seymour say, it is what shareholders voted for.

They either didn’t have the money, or didn’t want to invest it in the company which would be in dire straits without it.

Shanghai Maling is going where shareholders couldn’t or wouldn’t.

This leaves just Alliance Group as the only co-operative in the meat industry and those farmers who aren’t happy about the SFF-Shanghai Maling deal have the option of supplying the co-operative or any of the other companies, New Zealand-owned or not.

Details of the decision are at Land Information NZ


Shareholders back SFF

August 15, 2016

Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders have backed the board in its plan to enter into partnership with Shanghai Maling:

A strong majority of 80.4% of votes in favour of the 50/50 partnership with Shanghai Maling reinforced Silver Fern Farms Board’s position that the partnership is in the best interests of shareholders and the Co-operative.

The resounding support from shareholders came at a Special Meeting requisitioned by Messrs John Shrimpton, Blair Gallagher and a group which included 31 other shareholders who supported a statement stating they wanted to stop the $261m investment into Silver Fern Farms.

The 80.4% of shareholders’ votes in support of the partnership follows the result of the October 2015 vote, where 82% of votes cast supported the transaction. Both vote results exceeded the 75% Special Resolution threshold put forward by the Requisitioners. Chairman Rob Hewett said it was pleasing shareholders remained overwhelmingly supportive of the partnership.

“While the Board has clearly stated its view that the outcome of this meeting could not bind the company given the valid and binding approval last October, it is pleasing to see shareholders reaffirm their support and maintain their confidence in this exciting opportunity to create a sustainable Silver Fern Farms,” Mr Hewett said.

Mr Hewett said the partnership would create a strong Silver Fern Farms.

“This partnership will enable us to generate higher, sustainable returns for our shareholders.

“Shareholders have again made it clear they want progress for their company. They want meaningful change and are genuinely excited about the prospects presented through this significant investment and partnership with Shanghai Maling.

“The Board has strongly disagreed with the negative stance on the transaction taken by Messrs Shrimpton and Gallagher. They have caused significant disruption and their actions have been damaging to the company. Their allegations have proven to be entirely unfounded. Independent reviews by both the Financial Markets Authority and the Registrar of Companies have found no issue with the information provided to shareholders in October 2015 or the actions of the Directors.

Chief Executive Dean Hamilton said the process to complete the transaction had continued with all outstanding information now with the Overseas Investment Office for its consideration.

“We remain confident that we will achieve OIO approval prior to 30 September, and proceed to complete the transaction by 4 January 2017 as previously announced.

“The clear message from the voters is to get on with it, and realise this opportunity ahead of us.”

2610 shareholders voted representing 62.15% of eligible votes.

John Shrimpton says he accepts that shareholders have spoken.

New Zealand First which has also been a very vocal opponent of the plan continues to show it doesn’t understand the issue:

New Zealand First says Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will regret selling majority control of their co-op to the Chinese but expects the Overseas Investment Office will greenlight it at breakneck speed.

“Today was the owners of Silver Fern Farms last chance to preserve one of New Zealand’s great assets for present and future farmers,” Mr Peters says. . . 

“How is it that foreigners can see value in what we produce, but the producers and this government can’t? Meat progressively joins forestry and increasingly dairying to condemn farmers as price takers at the bottom of the heap. . . 

This was a matter for shareholders not politicians.

SFF needs a large investment if it is to survive. Shareholders weren’t prepared to invest more and the company wasn’t able to get other investment from within New Zealand.

If the partnership doesn’t go ahead the company has no future, and even if it does get OIO approval, SFF has a lot of work ahead of it.

The deal leaves Alliance Group as the only co-operative in the meat industries, farmers who prefer that model can choose to support that company.


Rural round-up

July 26, 2016

Kiwifruit exports reach record levels:

In June 2016, kiwifruit exports rose $105 million (47 percent) from June 2015 to reach $331 million, Statistics New Zealand said today. Overall, goods exports rose $109 million (2.6 percent) in June 2016 (to $4.3 billion).

The June 2016 rise was across all our top kiwifruit export destinations, but particularly Japan (up $55 million) and China (up $39 million). The quantities of kiwifruit exported also rose (up 32 percent), with gold kiwifruit up 49 percent, and green kiwifruit up 21 percent. . . .

New researchers should focus on primary industry:

Federated Farmers wants a plan to attract the world’s top scientists to New Zealand to concentrate on those who will work on primary sector initiatives and the environment.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says it makes sense for the government’s $35 million ‘Entrepreneurial Universities’ programme to build knowledge in areas which are key to New Zealand’s economic and environmental needs.

The four year programme, announced by Minister Steven Joyce on Wednesday, aims to encourage the world’s leading researchers to bring their teams to work in New Zealand.

“This programme will help New Zealand keep up with the scientific developments already going on around the globe. . . 

Feds congratulates government on ambitious pest eradication project:

Federated Farmers fully backs the target to completely eradicate introduced predators from New Zealand by 2050 announced by the government today and agrees with the government that emerging technologies is now making such an ambitious target possible.

This project is going to require a team effort from scientists, farmers, government, politicians and rural communities.

“Our farmers live and work in our natural environment every day and in that sense are stewards of a significant part of New Zealand’s land, says Federated Farmers spokesperson for pest management Chris Allen.

“Farmers already spend a substantial amount of money on pest management. They also pay levies to OSPRI, to control vectors of tuberculosis, such as stoats and possums. . . 

Beekeepers stung by swarm of hive thefts –  Wilhelmina Shrimpton:

Beekeepers are seeking an urgent meeting with police as an increasing number of sticky-fingered thieves make off with beehives across the country.

The most recent incident was in Northland, where around $500,000-worth of hives were stolen from Topuni Forest more than a week ago. 

Some call the honey liquid gold – and for very good reason.

“If you’re getting high-grade manuka honey, the beekeepers can expect to get about $60 a kilogram,” Apiculture New Zealand’s Daniel Paul said. . . 

Profit warning makes Silver Fern Farms’ deal more critical – Allan Barber:

Last week’s profit warning from SFF chairman Rob Hewitt confirmed what industry observers suspected – this season has been affected by a combination of factors which has made achievement of the budgeted profit more remote than ever. At the half year Hewett had already warned the year end result would be materially different from budget without specifying numbers. The latest warning indicates break even at best.

The current season has suffered from reduced livestock volumes, regular rain and grass growth in most parts of the country which even out supply patterns, and an obstinately strong NZ dollar. Processors have been squeezed at both ends, paying too much for livestock and not earning enough from the market. . .

Nervous times at Silver Fern Farms – Keith Woodford:

Silver Fern Farms announced last week to its farmer suppliers that it now expects no more than a breakeven return for the year ending 30 September 2016.  This should focus the minds of its farmer shareholders, who vote on 12 August as to whether or not Silver Fern Farms should proceed with the partial takeover by Shanghai Maling. 

The disappointing projected financial outcome – which could yet get worse – reinforces the notion that Silver Fern Farms lacks the necessary financial resilience to go it alone. There is increasing risk that without completion of the Shanghai Maling buy-in, that Silver Fern Farms will lose the support of its bankers and be placed in receivership. That is not an attractive option, for what has in recent years been New Zealand’s largest meat processor. . . 

UK milk production drops 10% in a year – Alexa Cook:

Many British dairy farmers are getting out of the industry due to plummeting milk prices and production, says a UK dairy analyst.

Farmers are being paid from 10 to 30 pence a litre at a time when most farms need 25 to 30 pence a litre to meet the cost of production.

The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – the British equivalent of DairyNZ – has reported more than 1000 farms have closed since June 2013, leaving about 9500 in operation.

The board’s senior dairy analyst Luke Crossman said milk production had fallen off sharply. . . 

Pea growers work with MPI to rid Wairarapa of weevil pest:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and local pea growers, are planning urgent action to eradicate a small Wairarapa population of a newly discovered weevil that damages pea crops.

The pea weevil (Bruchus pisorum) has been found in pea seeds grown on 8 different Wairarapa properties. It has also been found in 3 seed storage facilities in the region.

The weevil larvae feed on growing pea pods, damaging crops. Its discovery in the Wairarapa has long-term implications for pea production in New Zealand and the pea growing industry is strongly supportive of moves to attempt to get rid of it. . . 

NZDF-Led Projects Boost Drought Resilience of Tongan Communities:

Community projects undertaken by a multi-national task group led by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) are expected to reduce the vulnerability of remote communities to the impact of drought, Tongan officlals say.

The projects, designed to improve water storage in two main islands in Tonga’s Ha’apai island group, were undertaken as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight 2016 and have been formally handed over today to the Tongan Government.

“Tropic Twilight conducted a vast range of activities that will directly improve the resilience of communities in Ha’apai in addressing some water security issues and safety equipment shortages. It was also an opportune time to collaborate with partners to address health issues,” said Tongan Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni. . . 

Punakaiki Fund Invests in Agtract:

Taranaki rural job management software Agtract has closed a funding round with high-growth investorPunakaiki Fund.

The Agtract software drastically reduces the time it takes for rural contractors to do management tasks and create invoices, saving them up to a week’s work each month.

“Agtract does the administrative grunt work so rural contractors can do what they do best: helping farmers,” says CEO Chris West, who co-founded Agtract with his brother James after feeling the pain first hand of having to do admin work for a rural contractor.

“I was an employee of a contractor in Taranaki and had to fill in job sheet after job sheet. So much of what I did was repetitive, and even more of what the contractor did could’ve been automated. I created an early software solution, saw that it saved time and money, and realised I was onto a winner. Agtract is the result.” . . .


Rural round-up

July 25, 2016

Future grim if deal off – Neal Wallace and Alan Williams:

A grim economic future has been painted by Silver Fern Farms directors should the meat company not complete its merger with Shanghai Maling.  

In notice of meeting documentation being sent to shareholders, chairman Rob Hewett said banks twice last year warned the co-operative they would not “under any circumstances” provide ongoing finance unless shareholders approved a new injection of capital.

Hewett said in an interview that nothing had changed since those warnings were issued in May and June last year. . . 

Market-ready lamb set for China:

Alliance Group has launched a new range of market-ready retail packs to China.

The co-branded lamb products will begin being sold in China’s retail and food service sectors next month in conjunction with the co-op’s in-market partner Grand Farm.

The initial focus of the programme will be on the upper end of the Chinese market with five regions, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Harbin, being targeted. . .

Turning effluent into electricity – Allison Beckham:

Southland cows are good at producing milk, and now it has been proven they are also good at producing another useful staple – electricity.

After two years of planning and design, a pilot plant producing electricity from dairy effluent methane is about to be commissioned on a Southland dairy farm.

The system is expected to generate about 50kW of electricity annually, enough to power about 75% of the farm’s electricity needs and equivalent to the requirements of about 10 urban households. . . 

Minister clarifies China trade issue:

Trade Minister Todd McClay has today reiterated that the Government has sought and received assurances from the Chinese Government that any competition issues would not impact on trade between the two countries.

Mr McClay is responding to reports that retaliatory action could be imposed if an investigation is launched into allegations of steel dumping.

“On my return from Indonesia I asked my office for a full review of the broader issues around this matter.

“I want to make it clear today that there have been discussions and limited correspondence over the past few months as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has endeavoured to assess the veracity of these reports. . . 

New PGP harvest technology targets safety:

New forest harvesting technology revealed today in Nelson sets its sights on further increasing safety in steep land harvesting operations, Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew says.

The new ‘tele-operation’ technology provides out-of-harm’s way operation of a purpose-built tracked feller-buncher forest harvester, from the safety of a separate operator cabin and console.

The breakthrough is part of Steepland Harvesting, a 6-year, $6 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and a consortium of forestry companies and contractors, led by Future Forests Research Ltd (FFR). . . 

New Zealand’s Largest Organic Apple Grower Plants Big in New Varieties:

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower, Bostock New Zealand has been making the most of the sunny Hawke’s Bay weather, busily planting about 4000 new apple trees each day.

The company has been pulling out it’s old apple varieties and planting new trees to keep up with the international demand for organic, GM Free fruit.

Bostock New Zealand Organic Orchards Manager Craig Treneman says it’s exciting to be planting new varieties, which are sweeter and higher colour and appeal to the growing Asia market.

“We have some new orchard developments in Twyford, where we are planting about 4000 new tree varieties a day. . . 


Rural round-up

June 16, 2016

Meeting the market – Sally Rae:

A group of Silver Fern Farms supplier shareholders, led by chairman Rob Hewett, recently flew to China, visiting Shanghai, Inner Mongolia and Beijing. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae joined the group to learn more about opportunities, and challenges, in the country. 

Diverse and complex – that’s China.

It’s a country of extreme contrasts; travel from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to the inner city on the maglev train and reach a relatively sedate speed of just over 300kmh (it has a top speed of 430kmh).

City footpaths are swept by old-fashioned straw brooms, while latest model cars sweep past, somehow – albeit narrowly – avoiding the melee of ubiquitous scooters, bicycles and pedestrians. . . 

 

Chilled meat market to come – Sally Rae:

Chilled meat exports to China are likely to be “some time away yet”, Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett says.

In April, Prime Minister John Key announced New Zealand and China had agreed to protocols relating to chilled meat.

That was lauded as being set to add hundreds of millions of dollars in returns from red meat exports. . .

Dramatic improvement in water quality expected from aquifer project:

A project that provides fresh ways to improve water quality in New Zealand rivers opened to the public today.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis said “The Hinds/Hekeao Managed Aquifer Recharge project will take clean Rangitata River water and put this into the aquifer, helping solve current water quality issues as well as improving stream flows.

“The recharge project in combination with improving farm environmental performance, through nutrient limits and audited farm environment plans, will allow waterways in the zone to regenerate and thrive,” he said. . . 

 

Rural businesses target growth strategies;

Fieldays focus on helping rural businesses shift to the cloud

Despite the challenging effects of the dairy downturn, businesses in rural New Zealand remain focused on growth strategies, with strong investment intentions for the coming year according a new report on the sector released on the eve of Fieldays.

The latest MYOB Colmar Brunton Business Monitor survey of 210 businesses from across rural New Zealand highlighted that over half (57 per cent) acquired new machinery and equipment in the last year, a third (33 per cent) invested in technology and just under a quarter (23 per cent) spent money on employee training. . . 

A2 Milk lifts guidance for full-year sales, earnings as trading exceeds targets – Jonathan Underhill

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk raised its guidance for full-year sales and earnings, saying trading is exceeding its targets and the milk marketing company is well placed to cope with changes to regulations for infant formula in China.

Revenue is forecast to be in a range of $350 million to $360 million in the year ending June 30, from a previous forecast of $335 million to $350 million. Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are projected to be $52 million to $54 million, up from the $45 million-to-$49 million range it gave with its first-half results in February. . . 

Wrightson lifts earnings forecast on strong retail, sees tough 2017 – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson raised its earnings guidance, saying its retail unit is likely to beat last year’s record result, although the rural services firm expects 2017 to be tough.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are expected to be between $65 million and $68 million in the year ending June 30, up from a previous forecast for ebitda of $61 million to $67 million, the Christchurch-based company said in a statement. That’s still down from $69.6 million a year earlier due to the slump in dairy prices eroding farmers’ incomes. . . 


Rural round-up

November 10, 2015

Chefs see food as much more than a commodity – Rebecca Ryan:

There’s a new movement gaining momentum in the New Zealand food industry. ConversatioNZ, aiming to ”inspire and empower” by creating a strong sense of pride and respect for the country’s natural, edible resources, is a not-for-profit movement created to share the story of New Zealand food and push culinary boundaries. North Otago reporter Rebecca Ryan talks to North Otago chefs and ConversatioNZ advisory board members Bevan Smith and Fleur Sullivan about it

Thirteen years ago, Fleur Sullivan saw waste and an opportunity for people to enjoy ”beautiful, fresh fish” straight off the boats in Moeraki.

Her restaurant Fleur’s Place, she says, was formed after she saw the byproduct – the fish brains, the heads, the livers – being thrown overboard from fishing boats and she knew she could use what was being thrown away. . . 

Te Brake hits the accelerator – Ali Tocker:

Changing the guard at Young Farmers has propelled meat industry accountant Jason Te Brake into the hot seat as chairman. He talked to Ali Tocker about his career so far and his aspirations for the Young Farmers movement while he heads the board.

Jason Te Brake is clever, confident and committed – three qualities that have earned him the role of chairman of New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF).

The 27-year-old has his sights set on a strong and secure future for the group.

Woman’s passion for health and safety leads to award:

A passion for improving health and safety on New Zealand farms, and in particular the health of those working in the industry, has contributed to a West Coast farmer being named the winner of the rural category of the Women of Influence Award.

Katie Milne, a dairy farmer from Rotomanu, is also a member of the Federated Farmers Board, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Board, TB-Free West Coast and numerous other groups, including being a volunteer firefighter.

Ms Milne works closely with the Rural Health Alliance and travels the country talking to farmers about health and safety.

She said some farmers were not coping due to low or dropping returns, but help was available. . . 

Water scheme expanding down valley – Hamish Maclean:

The North Otago Irrigation Company’s $57 million expansion down the Kakanui Valley is well under way.

Last month, McConnell Dowell Constructors crews began laying the main line – 1.2m-diameter reinforced fibreglass pipes – that will stretch towards Herbert.

The company almost tripled the size of the head pond on Ngapara-Georgetown Rd and upgraded pump stations over the winter.

The project was still on target for the September 2016 hook-up, company chairman Leigh Hamilton said. . . .

Significantly Improved Result Confirmed for Silver Fern Farms:

Silver Fern Farms has confirmed a positive 2015 financial result and further inroads made on debt reduction.

For the financial year ended September 2015, the company achieved Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) of $86.9m. This represented a 28 percent improvement on the $68.1m achieved in 2014. Net profit before tax for the year was $27.2m, up from $1.8m in 2014.

Chairman Rob Hewett said Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will be pleased by the audited result. . . .

Potatoes ditch cadmium:

University of Canterbury researchers have developed potatoes that are resistant to cadmium, a toxic metal found in soil.

They say the finding could give growers here a new marketing edge.

Biotechnology lecturer Dr David Leung said their potatoes had a trait that could solve this problem and enhance New Zealand’s best potato varieties. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 12, 2015

SFF challengers challenged – Neal Wallace:

Those backing an alternative capital underwrite for Silver Fern Farms have been accused by the company’s board of playing a dangerous and irresponsible game.

Chairman Rob Hewett said the board had not been provided with any details on the proposal in which a group of agribusiness leaders have allegedly agreed to underwrite a rights issue of up to $100 million of new capital for SFF.

“The board has not received a proposal. We do not know any details, we do not know who the mystery underwriters are, nor who the supposed bank is. . . .

Dangerous game to stare down bankers, warns SFF chairman – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett says the company’s banking syndicate has become tired of its relationship and it would be “a dangerous game” to test lender support in the event farmer-shareholders don’t support selling a half stake to Shanghai Maling Aquarius this week.

Hewitt was responding to calls from shareholders opposed to the deal to look at alternative funding, which could keep New Zealand’s biggest meat company in local hands. The cooperative that now owns SFF would be showered in cash if the Chinese deal goes ahead. As well as $261 million that would be injected into the business, leaving it debt free with funds to upgrade plant and pursue global growth ambitions, the farmers will get a dividend of 30 cents a share, or $35 million, and the cooperative’s board would get $7 million for its costs – enough to keep it going for seven years at current rates. . . 

 

New action plan to attract the workforce dairy farmers need:

Attracting the skilled dairy workforce that farmers need to run their businesses is the goal of a new joint workplace action plan launched with the Minister for Primary Industries in Canterbury today by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chairman John Luxton says one of the aims of the industry’s 10-year strategy is to see 90 percent of dairy farm businesses having quality work environments by 2020.

“We have put actions and commitments in this new plan to ensure we achieve that part of the strategy. We are competing with all the other career opportunities on offer across the globe. We’re not always the most attractive choice for many young people these days and we need to be if we want to develop and retain the workforce we need,” he says. . . 

Free lease for pub with no proprietor – Rhys Chamberlain:

Are you looking for an opportunity, a change, a slower way of life?

Then the Macraes community needs you.

Stanley’s Hotel, a registered historic place, is without a proprietor and the Macraes Community Trust is on the hunt for the community’s next publican.

Trust member Mat O’Connell is keen to get someone signed up to keep the pub open after failing to attract a lessee over the past year. . . 

A2’s successful capital-raising raises $40m for growth – Dene Mackenzie:

The management of A2 Corporation could now focus on delivering growth following the successful capital-raising announced yesterday, Craigs Investment Partners broker Peter McIntyre said.

A2, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, raised $40 million in a discounted share placement to help fund working capital in its burgeoning infant formula business.

The Auckland firm sold 58.8 million shares at 68c apiece in the placement, which was over-subscribed. . . 

Changed lives taking new turn – Stephen Bell:

Five years after their lives were irrevocably changed Jo and Bryan Guy are stepping back from farming, ending nearly a century of family involvement in daily milk supply.

“Someone in the family has been responsible for milking the cows every day,” Bryan says.

It started when Cecil and Mary Guy began dairying in Feilding after World War I.

They milked 20 cows year-round to supply milk at the farmgate for local residents.

In 1954 their son Grahame and his wife Winifred bought the farm and continued to milk every day, supplying town milk with fresh liquid for bottling. . . 

From a single vineyard grew a family dynasty – Russell Blackstock:

For 100 years, the Babich family have stayed true to the ideals of their patriarch.

David Babich has a view from his office window to die for. Twenty minutes after battling through traffic from his home in Auckland’s bustling suburb of Pt Chevalier, he is relaxing at his desk at his family firm in a lush city oasis.

The 47-year-old is general manager of Babich Wines, one of New Zealand’s oldest family-owned wineries.

Today he is raising a glass to the company being in business for 100 years. . . 

Bangladeshi scientists ready for trial of world’s first ‘Golden Rice’ – Reaz Ahmad:

Bangladeshi rice scientists are all set to conduct field tests of the world’s first vitamin A-enriched rice, popularly known as Golden Rice, before taking the variety to production phase.

The success in vitamin A-rich rice comes in quick succession of the world’s first three zinc-rich rice varieties that Bangladesh released over the last couple of years.

Upon completing a successful trial of the genetically engineered Golden Rice in its transgenic screen house, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) is now taking the variety — GR-2 E BRRI dhan29 — to confined field trials in the coming Boro season this November. . . .


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