Rural round-up

May 31, 2016

Japanese visit source of their wool – Sally Rae:

Delegates from Japanese suit maker Konaka were treated to a Kiwi farm experience and more when they visited Closeburn Station this week.

Gimmerburn farmer Tony Clarke gave a karate demonstration, a passion of his and one of the reasons he is so interested in Japanese culture.

His family’s relationship with the Tokyo stock exchange listed company has been “going from strength to strength” since initial contact in 2012, he said. . . 

Demonstration farm turning to dairying:

Southland Demonstration Farm (SDF) at Wallacetown, near Invercargill, is changing from operating a leased farm to establishing the Southern Dairy Hub.

SDF chairman Maurice Hardie commended the vision of Pam Brock and her late husband Stephen for the provision of their farm, which had contributed immensely to raising the profile and productivity of dairy farming in Southland.

“Nine years ago, farm owners Stephen and Pam Brock made their Wallacetown dairy farm available to the southern dairy industry to showcase dairy farming in Southland. . . 

Farming through drought easier with software:

A farmer struck by two years of drought says farm management software is helping him make timely decisions and get better results.

Rob Lawson farms with his brother Willie and father Jim on the 2300ha family farm Moana, just north of Dunedin.

While many parts of the East Coast seem to have dodged the predicted El Nino, Rob says it has been “very typical” in their area over the past two years. In fact the rainfall has even been lower this year than the worst drought his father has experienced before now – in 1998 and 1999. “That’s East Coast farming, and that’s what we’ve got to contend with,” Rob says.

Despite the severity of the drought, so far they have not lowered their capital stock numbers at all. Rob puts that down to close monitoring of stock. .  .

Bank of China NZ unit funds Chinese-NZ mission to boost tradeBy Tina Morrison

 (BusinessDesk) – Bank of China, one of the country’s biggest lenders, funded 55 of its Chinese company clients to meet with 120 Kiwi agricultural businesses in a bid to grow trade and help meet its goal of becoming the largest Chinese bank in New Zealand.

The bank flew over two to three representatives from each Chinese company and hosted 348 matchmaking sessions, which have so far resulted in at least four Memorandums of Understanding between firms to work together. A similar venture for 20 second-tier e-commerce companies in November last year helped local manufacturers export US$3 million in the first quarter of this year, it said. . . 

Don’t let velvetleaf hitch a ride on Gypsy Day:

This Gypsy Day, farmers are being urged to avoid moving the invasive pest weed velvetleaf along with their stock.

June 1 marks the first day of the new dairying season where thousands of sharemilkers load their cows into stock trucks or herd stock on roads and move equipment and families to new farms.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) cautions that the mass movement of stock and equipment could also move velvetleaf seed to other properties. . . 


Rural round-up

September 20, 2015

Shifting the Kiwi ‘can-do attitude’ to ‘can-do safely’:

Dairy Women’s Network is shifting its members’ Kiwi can-do attitude to a ‘can-do safely’ attitude with its new Dairy Modules titled ‘Step up to Safety’ being offered from late October.

The Step up to Safety workshops are run by DWN members who are experienced in the field of Health and Safety and are supported by expert organisations Worksafe NZ and Hazardco.

“The most important thing participants will get out of these free workshops is a 90-day Health and Safety action plan. They will leave having made a start with their Health and Safety system or some actions identified to progress to next steps,” said project manager and Farmer Wellness specialist Lynda Clark.

She said the challenge is that some farmers may have fallen into complacency and think they have been let off the hook following the Government’s recent Health and Safety legislation announcements. . . 

Remote-controlled tree-felling reduces hazards – Annabelle Tukia:

New Zealand’s first remote-control forest-harvesting machine is being put to work in Nelson.

It’s hoped the technology will reduce the safety hazards associated with the forestry industry.

Tony Irvine is still getting to grips with his new machine. He’s normally in the cab of a 40-tonne self-leveller cutting down trees on the steep slope, but this week he’s started trialling a remote-control operation.

“It’s a lot better in this machine,” says Mr Irvine. “You feel a lot safer.” . . 

Mya leads city kids to animals

While the girl has been taken out of the country, at least for part of the day, the country remains firmly with Mya Taft because she brings a piece of it to her city classmates.

The schoolgirl from Ngakuru near Rotorua was well into her first school year at St Mary’s Catholic School in Rotorua as a year 6 student when she realised how much she would miss Ag Day, such a big part of the calendar at her previous school, Ngakuru Primary.

Mad keen on animals, a devoted calf-rearer and future vet, Mya decided to take matters into her own hands and arrange an Ag Day for her city classmates. . . 

Fonterra director John Monaghan pans dairy doomsayers, defends cooperative’s debt level – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group director John Monaghan said critics who claim dairy is doomed, and the economy with it, show a lack of understanding of the market and the structure of the dairy company.

Monaghan told the New Zealand Shareholders Association conference at the weekend that the news was full of gloomy predictions with falling global dairy prices that not only was it the end of the golden weather for dairy farmers, but also the end of the industry.

“Farmers are worried, anyone would be when their incomes are halved in the course of a year,” he said. “The US, Europe and Australia will have to consolidate and learn to live without subsidies but we’ve already done the hard yards and the cooperative is in the best position to weather the storm and come out the other side. Dairy is not doomed or dead.” . . 

Early days but PGP trial farm excited by potential:

The opportunity to precisely manage a fertiliser analysis and application programme, on highly variable hill country, has East Otago farmer Rob Lawson excited.

The trial is a part of Ravensdown’s Pioneering to Precision Primary Growth Partnership programme in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries and supported by Massey University and AgResearch.

Rob, who farms with his brother Willie, father Jim and their families on their steep-to-rolling hill country, is also looking forward to the reduced workload that the programme is expected to make possible. They run about 10,000 stock units on a ratio of about 70% sheep and the remainder cattle on their 2,330 ha property just south of Waikouaiti.

The programme aims to improve the use, and application, of fertiliser, and Rob has welcomed the opportunity for his farm to be a part of it. . . 

Sprout looks for help to grow:

National agritech business accelerator Sprout is looking for a startup with the potential to be New Zealand’s next global agritech superstar.

Sprout is searching the country for eight budding entrepreneurs with new agritech businesses for a new development programme.

Sprout Programme Manager James Bell-Booth said the chosen eight would receive a cash injection of $20,000 and be mentored by world-class business and technical experts.

“One of the things we are looking to equip is the next generation of agri-entrepreneurs,” he said. . . 

Unmanned Helicopters to Revolutionise Agricultural Industry:

Yamaha Sky Division New Zealand represents the future of the agricultural industry. The introduction of the Yamaha RMAX unmanned helicopters will enable property owners, licenced operators and contractors to maintain the land and crops remotely, from the air, and without the hassles that come with more traditional farming methods.

Weighing in at 99kg and at a total length of 3.63m and a height of 1.08m, each helicopter has a load capacity of 28kgs and runs on a 2 stroke, horizontally opposed 2-cylinder engine. The newest member of the Yamaha Sky Division is the ultimate piece of farm machinery for the 21st century.

The versatility of this new technology means that operators can spray weeds, crops, or spread seed in a more cost effective and accurate manner. . . 

Corrections recognises the support of Wairarapa REAP:

Wairarapa REAP (Rural Education Activities Programme) was this week recognised for its partnership with Corrections in helping community-based offenders increase their literacy levels and employment and education prospects.

Corrections Deputy Chief Executive Christine Stevenson presented Wairarapa REAP Director Peter McNeur with a community work partnership award at Masterton Community Corrections on Tuesday.

Corrections Service Manager Mel Morris said the award recognises the contribution Wairarapa REAP has made to community-based offenders’ lives.

“Corrections values the commitment of our community work partners like Wairarapa REAP that allows offenders to learn new skills and behaviours, and provide role models that make a positive difference to others.

“Wairarapa REAP has done a tremendous job in providing offenders with the tools that could turn their lives around,” she said. . . 

Why Getting Nepal the Right Seeds After the Earthquakes Matters – Kelsey Nowakowski:

When two major earthquakes hit Nepal this past spring, it devastated the country’s agricultural sector. Cultivated terraces were washed away by landslides and covered in rubble. But farmers lost more than just their crops, cattle, and homes (see Nepal Earthquake Strikes One of Earth’s Most Quake-Prone Areas). Gone, too, were the seeds they had uniquely adapted to their land over the course of decades.

Farming communities in central Nepal’s mountainous region were some of the hardest hit areas in the country. Seeds, tools, food stocks, and buildings were destroyed. In the six most-affected districts, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that about 60 percent of food and seed stocks were destroyed in farming households. . . 

 


Vote expected to be close

September 8, 2008

If the vote over whether PGG Wrigthson takes a 50% stake in SIlver Fern Farms required only 51% support I think it would succeed.

But it requires 75% and the result is predicted to be close.

Informed observers are picking support by Silver Fern Farm (SFF) shareholders on whether to form a partnership with rural servicing company PGG Wrightson will lie between 70% and 80%.

This means the vote on the key resolution – the second of two to be considered – could go either way.

It amends the co-operative’s constitution and needs 75% support for the partnership to proceed.

“It will be close because there is such a high threshold,” SFF chairman Eoin Garden said.

. . . Other farming leaders agree the vote will be close.

Meat and Wool New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen said the final count on the key resolution would be 70%-80%.

“It will be a line call whether it gets through,” Mr Petersen said.

Federated Farmers Otago meat and fibre chairman Rob Lawson said there appeared to be plenty of support for the proposal, but it was too close to say whether it was sufficient.

He said the decision meant today was a key day for the industry.

Southland Federated Farmers president David Rose also said it would be close.

“I can’t pick it at the moment.”

Friday’s special general meeting of Alliance Group shareholders made it quite clear that they have no wish to merge with SFF so if the vote goes agaisnt the merger today SFF’s plan B won’t involve the other big co-operative.

And given that there will be around 9 million fewer sheep to kill this year, whether PGW is involved or not the meat industry has not yet finished what SFF calls its “right sizing”.


Silver Fern Farms PGW Plan Not Silver Bullet

July 1, 2008

The proposal for PGG Wrightson to take a 50% stake in Silver Fern Farms is not a silver bullet for the meat industry and initial reaction to the concept isn’t very positive.

… yesterday’s announcement went down like a “cup of cold sick” with shareholders, who fear farmer-ownership of New Zealand’s largest meat company will be diluted.

Mossburn farmer Stephen Cullen said he was “bloody shocked” that Silver Fern Farms wanted to effectively sell its soul to outside interests and alienate itself from the rest of the industry.

Farmers feel very strongly about retention of farmer-control in the processing industry.

Meat Industry Action Group chairman John Gregan said he was “staggered” that PGG-Wrightson wanted, what he believed, was a controlling share in Silver Fern Farms.

“There’s no doubt the current structure is failing us, but the loss of farmer shareholding will be a sore point for some,” he said.

Mr Gregan believed it would be a “big ask” to achieve the 75 percent voter threshold required to advance the partnership.

MIAG has gathered proxies from SFF & Alliance shareholders to call a special general meeting of both companies aimed at getting the two comapnies together. I don’t know whether the proxies will enable MIAG to vote on the SFF PGW deal as well.
Federated Farmers Southland meat & fibre chair Martin Hall agreed the 75% would be difficult and farmers would have to dedecide whether they wanted to be an owner of a meat company or just a participant.

“I’m a bit angry about it. They (Silver Fern Farms) didn’t dream it up last month. It takes a long time to put together something like this.”

MIAG is meeting SFF chair Eion Garden today. One of the questions they could ask is: why SFF let the Meat Industry Taskforce waste time and money starting the process of developing an industry strategy when they SFF must have already been planning the deal with PGW?

Garden believes shareholders will support the initiative becuase of the immediate benefits.

The new board of SFF would decide on the use of the $220 million, but a sizeable chunk would go on the upgrade of existing processing plants, including the use of robotic meat-cutting systems developed between SFF and Dunedin’s Scott Technology.

“This industry is starved of capital.

It’s one of the fundamental reasons we don’t have strong balance sheets and strong profits on a long-term basis,” Mr Garden said.

He is right that lack of capital is a problem, but it’s not the only one. The drastic drop in sheep numbers has resulted in an over-supply of killing space so whether or not the deal goes ahead there will be more works closures.

The other problem is marketing and SFF & PGW say more money would be spent on researching customers and stronger branding of New Zealand meat. But they also say the money won’t be used for reducing debt and high debt is one of SFF’s big problems.

I haven’t spoken to anyone who is wildly enthusiastic about the plan yet but perhaps I’m talking to the wrong people. The ODT found a more positive reaction from Otago Fed Farmers meat & fibre chair Rob Lawson because it involved Craig Norgate.

I am cautiously optimistic. I can see some really positive things, and one of those is the business acumen of Craig Norgate and the PGG Wrightson team.”

Other factors the Merton farmer saw as favourable were the injection of $220 million from PGG Wrightson; the move to an integrated supply chain linking consumers with farmers; the potential for industry rationalisation; and the market focus the investment would encourage.

All these are fair points and there is no doubting Norgate’s abilities, nor his powers of persuasion. If he fronts a road show to sell the concept he may be able to change the minds of at least some of those who aren’t enthusiastic about it.

The loss of total farmer control of SFF was a possible concern, but Mr Lawson said farmers had to ask themselves what farmer control of the meat industry had achieved so far.

That’s a fair question but as Fonterra found when they tried to persuade their shareholders to open up the company to outside investment that farmers aren’t keen to lose control.


%d bloggers like this: