Rural round-up

April 1, 2016

Nutritional Sales Underpin Half Year Underlying Profit of $12.3 Million:

Synlait has reported an underlying net profit after tax (NPAT) of $12.3 million for the first half of the 2016 financial year (HY16).

In contrast to $0.4 million in HY15, this improved performance is primarily the result of increased nutritional sales in canned infant formula.

“We’re glad to deliver a solid result for the first half of FY16. Our significant investment in customer and product development, people, plant and operating systems in recent years is beginning to transform our earnings,” said Chairman Graeme Milne. . . 

European market conditions depress Westland’s payout prediction:

Global market conditions for dairy products point to at least two more seasons of low milk payouts in New Zealand, Westland Milk Products told shareholders today as the co-operative revised its predicted payout for the 2015-16 season to $3.90 – $4.00 per kilogramme of milk solids, down from last month’s prediction of $4.00 – $4.10.

Westland CEO Rod Quin said the major driver of the revised payout remains the global oversupply of milk, compounded by the ongoing high availability and aggressive approach by the European dairy market.

Quin and Westland Chair Matt O’Regan have recently returned from Europe where they met with customers, farmers, processors, traders and industry advocates. . . 

Fonterra makes best of a bad job – Allan Barber:

The PR spin has been pretty active signalling a much improved half yearly result which was duly delivered this morning. The company confirmed a 40 cent dividend for the full year with the interim dividend being paid next month as usual and the final dividend being paid in two tranches in May and August instead of October.

This improvement in cash flow will do something, but not a lot, to comfort farmers labouring under a debt burden. Unfortunately it will do absolutely nothing to support sharemilkers who will have to rely on their share of the milk payout. Predictions for the rest of 2016 are notable for their conservatism, probably in recognition of a disappointing track record when forecasting the extent of the current downturn. . . 

Fonterra’s six-month results – good news but some underlying issues – Keith Woodford:

As expected, Fonterra has announced a greatly enhanced six-month profit for the period ending 31 January 2016. The profit of $409 million (NPAT; i.e. net profit after finance costs and tax) is up 123% from the same period in the previous year.

The expected full year profit of 45-55c per share implies an annual profit of about $800 million compared to $506 million for the full year 2014/15.

These figures are all very much in line with expectations . The reason for this is that when milk prices to farmers are low, then Fonterra has low input costs. Accordingly, there is more scope for corporate profit. . . 

Keep sharing the load by talking about it:

No matter which branch of farming you are in, you will face tough times, says Nelson farmer and Horticulture NZ President Julian Raine. When that happens, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

Speaking to the Farming Show’s Jamie Mackay as part of the Getting Through Adversity radio series, Julian said that even with the best planning, erratic weather events can cause mayhem. Jamie suggested that growing fruit crops is arguably one of the riskiest pursuits in farming: “One adverse event at the wrong time and suddenly your whole crop is wiped out. If you are a sheep farmer, for example, you at least have lambing spread over three weeks, or if you are dairy your risk is spread over nine months of milking.” . . 

Meat exporters ready to reap benefits of TPP:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement eliminates all tariffs on beef into our biggest market, the United States, within five years of coming into force.

Trade Minister Todd McClay, speaking at the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce this morning, says New Zealand exported meat products worth over $2.8 billion to TPP countries in 2015 and the gains once TPP comes into force will be significant.

“Our beef into Japan currently attracts a 38.5 per cent tariff. That has made it extraordinarily hard for our exporters to compete with other countries with lower tariffs. . . 

Ongoing market challenges weigh on New Zealand farmers, with confidence close to 10-year low:

The significant and persisting challenges in market conditions continue to weigh heavily on the nation’s farmers, with New Zealand’s rural confidence at the second lowest level recorded in the past 10 years, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

Completed earlier this month, the survey found more than half of farmers surveyed (53 per cent) had a pessimistic outlook on the agricultural economy over the coming 12 months. This was significantly up from 30 per cent with that view in the previous survey, in late 2015. . . 

Dairy downturn: councils prepare to tighten belts:

Councils in rural areas might be forced to cut spending if the dairy downturn lasts for a long time, Local Government New Zealand head Lawrence Yule says.

A Westpac-McDermott Miller regional economic survey has shown big falls in confidence in major dairy areas including Waikato, Taranaki, and Southland.

Mr Yule said the businesses in many rural towns were already hunkering down as farmers tightened their spending, and that could spread. . .

NZX to teach farmers about new milk contract:

NZX expects to receive regulatory approval for the new fresh milk futures and options product within two weeks.

Chief executive Tim Bennett said there was a demand for the fresh milk contracts product after Fonterra scrapped its guaranteed milk price product for the upcoming season. . . 

NZ helping to restore Fiji’s dairy sector after Winston:

The New Zealand government says it will help restore Fiji’s dairy industry which is losing thousands of litres of milk and was devastated as a result of last month’s cyclone.

New Zealand announced additional aid to help Fiji’s recovery on Wednesday.

A lot of that money is going into the continuing infrastructure rebuild led by the New Zealand Defence Force. . . 

Helensville Farmers First To Claim Supreme Title In Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

“Environmental champions” Richard and Dianne Kidd are Supreme winners of the inaugural Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 30 (2016), the Helensville couple was also presented with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

BFEA judges described Whenuanui Farm, the Kidd family’s 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, as “a show piece farm on the edge of Auckland city”. . . .

From paddock to packet: The family behind NZ’s most successful independent chips – Ryan Bridge:

You’re about to meet a family of potato farmers who beat the odds to grow one of the country’s most successful independent chip businesses.

The Bowans are from Timaru and not only do they grow spuds, they transport them to their own factory and make the chips too.

Together they are Heartland Potato Chips.

It all started when Raymond Bowan decided to grow his own potatoes as a teenager. His son James Bowan has taken over running the family potato farm and unlike his old man, he doesn’t do it by hand anymore, there’s a flash piece of kit to help. . . 

Food development facility opportunity for creative entrepreneurs:

Those looking to be innovative with their food are wanted at the FoodSouth food development pilot plant on the Lincoln campus, but there are no Heston Blumenthal creations on the menu.

The final part of a national food innovation network, the facility provides three purpose-built independent food safe development spaces along with a variety of processing equipment — an extruder, ovens, dryers, enrober, mixers, and a mobile product development kitchen among them.

It enables businesses to develop product prototypes for market validation, trial new equipment, carry out scale-up trial work and sample manufacture in 20L to 200L batch sizes, conduct process development and improvement, and validate quality systems. . . 

It’s in the family for new A&P Association President:

Sheep and beef farmer Warrick James has been elected as President of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association for 2016 at the Annual General Meeting at Riccarton Park Racecourse on 30 March.

Based in Central Canterbury near Glentunnel, Mr James was confirmed as President of the 154th Canterbury A&P Show in front of outgoing President Nicky Hutchinson and Association Members.

“It means a lot to be President of the Canterbury A&P Association. We host the largest and most prestigious Show in the country – it really is the pinnacle of the A&P movement. Having been involved from a young age with my family and seeing my own children take part over the years just makes this even more special.” . . .

Trio spread cheer on woolshed tour – Suzette Howe:

At a time when life’s a bit tough for rural communities, a trio of Kiwi performers are setting off on a woolshed tour to boost morale. 

They’re coming armed with their own stage curtain, a bar and plenty of laughs.

Over the next five weeks the talented ladies will transform more than 20 working wool sheds into live stages the length of the South Island.

They’re travelling by horse truck, carting hundreds of chairs, a bar, and full production set.

Farmer Georgie Harper says it’s hard to say no when the performance is brought to you. . . 

Itinerary and booking information at The Woolshed Tour.


Rural round-up

November 30, 2015

Climate change: Call to recognise farmers’ efforts – Anders Crofoot:

The Paris climate change meeting represents an opportunity for the world to agree the terms for the next global effort to reduce emissions.

Negotiations have continued for a number of years and, with the Kyoto Protocol having effectively lapsed at the end of 2012, farmers are hopeful of an agreement which better recognises the services we provide civil society.

For better or worse, the Kyoto Protocol bundled biological emissions from food production together with fossil fuel emissions from industry, energy and transport. With agricultural emissions representing a relatively minor proportion of national emissions among most countries, the focus naturally remains on other sources. . . 

Season has contrasting impact on Silver Fern Farms and Alliance – Allan Barber:

The two biggest meat processors had contrasting experiences during the 2015 season to judge by their annual results and accompanying comments. There is no doubt Silver Fern Farms found life easier than Alliance, with respect to the year in question. SFF must also have heaved an enormous sigh of relief after its improvement from the previous three years.

The bare facts of the differing results are NPAT of $24.9 million and dramatically reduced debt for SFF and $4.6 million NPAT for Alliance accompanied by a marginal reduction in equity ratio. Alliance’s performance was slightly worse than 2014, disappointing as chairman Murray Taggart agreed, whereas SFF’s result was a massive improvement on the previous year. Neither result represented a satisfactory return on assets, but signs for the future are positive. . . 

Federated Farmers signs Land & Water Forum Report but with conditions attached:

Federated Farmers has today added its name to the signatories of the fourth report of the Land & Water Forum after receiving the conditional support of its National Council.

The National Council, meeting in Wellington over 26 and 27 November, comprises the presidents of Federated Farmers’ 24 provinces, its National Board and representatives of its seven industry groups.

“Federated Farmers has been deeply involved in and committed to the Land & Water Forum since its formation in 2009, playing an active role in the development of this and the previous three forum reports,” says Federated Farmers Water spokesperson Chris Allen. . . 

Farm gate milk price won’t recover until mid-2016 – Westland:

Westland Milk Products believes the farm gate milk price will not recover until the middle of next year because overseas buyers have already reacted to predictions of falling production and drought.

Chief executive Rod Quin said the brief upward spike in prices at the Global Dairy Trade auction six weeks ago was overseas buyers moving to secure supply.

Westland Milk Products, which has about 500 shareholders, held its AGM this week and Mr Quin said the payout forecast remained around $4.90 to the early five dollar mark, which was less than farmers needed to break even.

He said that was unlikely to change because it looked like there would be more pressure on prices in the next couple of months. . . 

Silver Fern Farms paid former CEO Keith Cooper more than $1.8M in 2015 – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s largest meat processor, paid former chief executive Keith Cooper more than $1.8 million last financial year, reflecting his long service with the company.

Cooper, who joined the cooperative in 1989 and was chief executive for eight years, was paid between $1.84 million and $1.85 million in the company’s 2015 financial year ended Sept. 30, Silver Fern Farms said in its annual report, where it is required to detail the number of employees that it paid $100,000 or more.

“The payments made to him reflect a combination of base salary for a period, a short-term incentive related to the prior year, a retention incentive that related to prior and future years, annual and long-service leave as well as a payment that reflected his significant contribution to the company over the prior 18 years, the most recent eight as chief executive,” the Dunedin-based company said. . . 

 

NZ Farming's photo.

 

 


Rural round-up

November 28, 2015

Trade agreement opens door for agricultural exporters:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has dominated media recently, but a Lincoln University expert says an equally significant trade-related development has gone largely unnoticed.

Agribusiness and Commerce lecturer Eldrede Kahiya said the Global Procurement Agreement (GPA) – which New Zealand became part of in August – opened up a $2.65 trillion-dollar market for New Zealand exporters.

Dr Kahiya said the GPA came within the framework of the World Trade Organization, and was designed to make it easier to compete for foreign government contracts. . . 

Livestock antibiotics to be replaced with vaccines by 2030:

Antibiotics for livestock are likely to be replaced with various vaccines by about 2030, and the value of New Zealand meat exports will grow because of the switch.

That growth was among the findings in a new report by the Veterinary Association, which shows the antibiotic era was coming to an end because of a growing resistance to them.

A consultant for the Association, Eric Hillerton, said antibiotics would still exist but they would not be a first choice in animal health. . . 

Slight drop in production keeps focus on high value products:

Westland Milk Products says its 2.5 percent drop in peak milk processing has meant more capacity available for the co-operative and its shareholders, enabling more focus on added-value product.

Chief Executive Rod Quin today confirmed that Westland hit peak mid November. In total, Westland processed 3,843,250 litres of milk by peak flow, compared with 3,931,022 the season prior.

“This slight drop, combined with our new dryer seven coming into commercial production meant we had greater capacity to put more of the peak milk flow into higher value products,” Quin said. “In previous years peak milk has all been channelled into bulk milk powders to maintain throughput, which give a lower return compared to products such as infant formula. . . 

Peter Tate makes the case for the broker and auction based system to sell New Zealand’s wool – Peter Tate:

New Zealand agriculture efficiently produces large volumes of commodities and while it would be great to have a stake in all the added value from the front end of the commodity chain, the large amounts of capital both intellectual and financial required, makes it difficult to achieve.

There are some companies that seek publicity about sales contracts they have made. That’s fine but often the fanfare is over a very small volume of product. This distorts the view growers have of marketing to the point that they think these companies are the only ones doing anything to market the NZ wool clip.

The real exporters, those with the long track records, continue to stay out of the limelight. This is due to what is called commercial sensitivity, it is an extremely competitive business. More cut throat than meat marketing, hence the old Yorkshire phrase “meaner than a mill boss”. So the firms who are selling and shipping  90% of the NZ clip remain tight lipped about their daily deals. . . 

RSE employers praise seasonal worker scheme:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says two recent reports show the huge benefits of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to employers, workers and the Pacific region.

A report into a pilot project involving 640 Tongan and Samoan RSE workers has found that they sent home more than 40 per cent of their take-home income between November 2014 and June 2015 –an average of between $4,600 and $5,500.

“Remittances have been playing an increasingly important role in reducing the scale and severity of poverty in the developing world,” says Mr Woodhouse. . . 

Praise for seasonal employment scheme:

Experience confirms two recent reports showing huge benefits from the scheme to employers and workers, the Rural Contractors Association says.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse released the reports in which employers continued to praise the scheme, with an annual survey showing 95 percent believed the benefits of participating in the scheme outweighed the costs.

Rural Contractors President Steve Levet said it had made great inroads into being able to bring in seasonal machine operators to alleviate a shortage of labour in that area. . . 

Sound science point of difference for Waipara winemakers:

More than two decades of soil science work in the Waipara area has been brought together in a document launched at a Vineyard Soils Day at Black Estate Vineyard this week.

The document was received with enthusiasm as an invaluable resource by local wine growers, who acknowledged the potential for far greater collaboration in research initiatives between wine growers and Lincoln University.  

Former Lincoln University soil scientist Dr Philip Tonkin, Associate Professor Peter Almond, current Head of the Soil and Physical Sciences Department, Trevor Webb from Landcare Research, and other scientists, have spent the best part of the last two years drawing together available information on the geology and soils of the region gathered in the last 20 years, along with the records of former Soil Bureau surveys. . . 


Rural round-up

October 1, 2015

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine – Uptown Farms:

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine on a sales call,

I wouldn’t have thought much about you before last night.  Chances are, if you had tried to call on my husband and ride along in his combine I wouldn’t have known about it.  Most likely I would have been on a different farm, with a different farmer, trying to do my job in the same way you are doing yours.

I didn’t think of you before – but now I will.  Last night I read a post from a woman who was upset that a young, presumably attractive female, made a sales call to the farm – and rode in the cab of the combine with the farmer (the poster’s husband).  

For anyone not in the industry, it may sound funny that you would get into a combine with a customer. This time of year, the combine often acts as an office.  People who need to see the farmer go to the field and are often invited to ride along while they keep working.  Roughly 70% of the time that farmer will be a man.  

Women poured out of the woodwork to attack the sales rep, calling her unprofessional, unthoughtful, disrespectful and worse. . . 

Turning point for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

The Shanghai Maling Aquarius offer for 50% of Silver Fern Farms may not be the restructuring catalyst that MIE and some shareholders of both cooperatives were hoping for, but it certainly presages a dramatic change in the industry’s dynamics.

Assuming a positive shareholder vote on 16th October, for the first time in years all the major processors will have relatively strong balance sheets and will be in a position to compete on an equal basis. This is unlikely to bring about an immediate change in livestock procurement calculations, but different companies will progressively move to payments based on quality and specifications supplied for individual markets.

For too long the meat industry has been affected by an excess of processing capacity, under-capitalisation, procurement battles, inadequate market returns and, as a consequence of all this, falling livestock volumes. The recapitalisation of the country’s largest meat company potentially provides a solution to several if not all of these problems. . . 

Silver Fern receives an offer it can’t refuse – Allan Barber:

No wonder the deal between Silver Fern farms and Shanghai Mailing took so long to conclude, but from all appearances it was worth waiting for. Not that you would necessarily think so, if you read about the disappointment of some shareholders and the MIE group about the board’s unwillingness to give serious consideration to an alternative farmer offer of $40 million or some of the business commentary.

Going back several years, SFF wanted $120 million from its shareholders, hoped for $80 million and actually received $22 million. Nothing has really changed since then – good and bad years have followed each other, as livestock numbers and market prices fluctuated and the business struggled under a huge debt burden. . . 

Value-add key to improved returns for shareholders – Westland Milk Products:

Continuing its move into more value-added production is the best strategy to ensure shareholders competitive and sustainable returns Westland Milk Products says, as the co-operative confirmed a company average operating surplus available to shareholders for the 2014-15 season of $4.95 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), before retentions.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says Westland, like dairy companies globally, has been adversely impacted by the “significantly lower” market prices in the last season, with total group revenue for the financial year 2014-15 down 23 percent on the previous year, at NZ$639 million.

However he says there is room for cautious optimism for an improvement and, accordingly, Westland has increased its forecast payout for the 2015-16 season by 30 cents to $4.90 – $5.30 per kgMS. . . 

Identifying insect species crucial to protect the environment:

Students at Lincoln University are covering the length and breadth of New Zealand to discover new insect species and keep ahead of potential threats to agriculture and the environment.

Bio-Protection Research Centre students, Francesco Martoni, Samuel Brown and Hamish Patrick have visited mountains, grasslands and forests to collect insect specimens. They have identified about 50 new species.

“This research, to understand what [insects] are present in New Zealand, is vital for us to recognise any change. Especially if it involves the introduction of species that may become pests, or spread disease,” says Dr Karen Armstrong, a Senior Researcher at Lincoln University, and the students’ supervisor.

“The only way to stay ahead of this, and to detect damaging interactions, is to know what is here. And for that, we need to produce experts in traditional taxonomy who are also trained to use modern technological approaches to describe and discover [insect species],” says Dr Armstrong. . .

Initiative gives support to rural schools:

Canterbury’s rural primary schools have been given a welcome boost, thanks to the support of local farmers and fertiliser company, Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd.

The initiative, calls on farmers to nominate a school that they feel could benefit from Hatuma’s ‘Growing Minds’ fund. Over the last six years, Hatuma has donated over $30,000 to New Zealand’s rural schools through the programme.

One such beneficiary of the fund is Glentunnel School in mid-Canterbury, which attracted huge support from farmers. . . 

Chinese developer harvests first crop in Western Australia’s remote Ord Valley – Tom Edwards:

The Chinese-backed company developing the Ord River Irrigation Area in Western Australia’s east Kimberley is harvesting its first crop.

Kimberley Agricultural Investment is halfway through harvesting 360 hectares of chia in the Goomig farmland of Ord Stage 2.

Farm manager Luke McKay said it was an exciting milestone for the company and for the Ord agricultural zone in general.

“There’s been a fair bit of interest obviously, a lot of excitement about getting to this point,” he said. . . 

Wine Industry welcomes progress with South Korea Trade Deal

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes news that the Tariff Amendment Bill was passed through Parliament on Friday, a big step towards implementing the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

The negotiators have achieved a great outcome for the wine industry, said Philip Gregan, ‘tariff free access into South Korea at the time the agreement comes into force represents a significant boost to our export ambitions in one of the key Asian markets.’ . . 

More Veterans Set to Go From Protecting America to Feeding America – Nicole Mormann:

For 200,000 U.S. service members transitioning out of the military each year, returning to civilian life will mean trading in their combat boots for a tractor and rubber galoshes, thanks to new farming-focused job-training programs created by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Last week, the USDA and the Department of Defense announced that agriculture will be one of the industries in which the government will provide career assistance and counseling programs to service members finishing their term of enlistment.
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The program will give veterans the opportunity to gain farming skills through classroom instruction and registered apprenticeships from experienced farmers. In addition to educational opportunities, the USDA will offer financial assistance to beginning farmers or ranchers who lack the funds to purchase necessary farming equipment, land, livestock, and other resources. Returning service members are also eligible for housing support programs, which can range from repair loans to emergency placement assistance. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 15, 2015

Silver Fern Farms Board Unanimously Recommends Partnership with Shanghai Maling:

Board gives unanimous recommendation to accept Shanghai Maling Aquarius Group (Shanghai Maling) as new partner to secure an improved and sustainable future

• A 50:50 partnership with total commitment to our global plate to pasture strategy

• Transaction values Silver Fern Farms’ equity at $311m. This equates to $2.84 per ordinary share, which compares to the $0.35 share price prior to their suspension in July

• Shanghai Maling to invest $261m in cash to own 50% of Silver Fern Farms’ business, in partnership with the existing Silver Fern Farms Co-operative

• A special dividend of $0.30 per share to Co-operative ordinary and rebate shareholders . . .

Cooperatives and private companies work best in agriculture – Allan Barber:

Good company performance demands clarity of purpose which is defined and monitored by a board of directors elected or appointed by the shareholders. There are five main types of company ownership structure that are or have been represented in New Zealand’s agricultural sector and each has advantages and disadvantages.

The five are private and public companies, cooperatives, subsidiaries of an overseas company and State Owned Enterprises. Whatever the structure, good governance and direction are pre-requisites of success.

A privately owned company normally has the greatest clarity of purpose because of the simplicity of the ownership structure, although there is plenty of scope for disputes between individual shareholders, particularly family members. Private company structures range from very simple to more complicated, depending on relative size of shareholdings and the number and origin of the shareholders. . . 

Rural productivity is improving in some sectors, falling in others. Influenced by soil, technology, size and governance according to Motu research:

The agricultural sector produces 40% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports. Not only is agriculture the primary source of employment in many rural areas, its performance influences the success of urban regions and many secondary industries are dependent upon it.

In this study, we estimate the drivers of revenue and productivity in two key agricultural industries – dairy and sheep/ beef. Together these account for about two-thirds of New Zealand’s agricultural exports.

Productivity is an economic term that, in this case, explains changes or differences in output not explained by use of labour, capital, other expenditures or land. Output is measured as revenue excluding income from interest and dividends. Labour is employees and working proprietors. Capital includes stock, depreciation and rent on tractors, irrigation systems and fencing. Other expenditure includes use of fertiliser, diesel, electricity, wormicide and grass seeds; and land is all the land used for production. Productivity encompasses everything else, including management and worker skills and knowledge, technological improvements, unexpected economic shocks (such as the global financial crisis), changing weather conditions (e.g. droughts), and the inherent quality of each farm. . . 

Strong farmer support for sheepmeat and beef levies to continue:

Farmers have given their organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand a strong mandate to work on their behalf for the next six year sheepmeat and beef levy cycle with over 84% support.

The Declaration of Result provided by the independent Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp, of Electionz.com said 84.56 per cent of farmers on a one farmer, one vote basis had voted in favour of the sheepmeat levy with support of 86.04 per cent on a weighted stock unit basis. There was over 84.66 percent support for the beef levy on a one farmer, one vote and 84.60 per cent on a weighted stock unit basis. . . 

Roles review part of a bigger cost savings project Westland says:

Westland Milk Products confirmed today that it is conducting a review of staff roles throughout the company. The review is part of an overall programme to gain efficiencies and reduce costs to help preserve the best possible return to shareholders during the current global dairy price downturn.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says the review is likely to result in some redundancies. However, he was not going to speculate on how many, or what positions might be affected, until the review is complete, affected staff are consulted, and given an opportunity to provide feedback on any proposed roles under review. The review is scheduled to occur over two rounds, with the first round this month (September 2015) and the second in February 2016. . . 

UN issues stark warning on Pacific drought threat:

The UN’s Resident Coordinator, Osnat Lubrani, says communities and governments need to prepare now for the extreme weather changes El Niño usually triggers.

He says some countries are already implementing or drafting drought plans and the UN is ready to help co-ordinate this and to provide technical advice.

Over the coming months, countries on the equator can expect more rain, flooding and higher sea levels, presenting challenges for low-lying atolls already feeling the impacts of climate change. . . 

Getting the better of El Nino before it gets dry:

Tap rooted, reliable and highly productive, one forage herb species could make all the difference to farmers’ summer feed supply as El Nino looms large this season.

Summer crops are being sown early before soils dry out and chicory is already proving to be a popular drought-proofing choice, according to local pasture specialist Paul Sharp.

“With the long range forecast the way it is, 501 Chicory makes a lot of sense. In a dry year, it’s more reliable than leafy turnips and it also has several other advantages.”

Current soil moisture levels are significantly below average in Hawke’s Bay and Sharp, who works for Agriseeds, says many farmers are being very proactive about setting their feed supply up for the months ahead. . . 

Commission releases final report on 2014/15 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2014/15 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and is currently set by Fonterra at $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2014/15 season.

Having considered public submissions on the draft decision released last month, the Commission’s overall view that Fonterra’s calculation of the 2014/15 base milk price is largely consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 remains unchanged.

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said the Commission appreciated the engagement and effort from Fonterra and the parties they met with during this year’s review. . . 

Funding round starts for new forest planting:

The first funding round of the Afforestation Grant Scheme will see 5819 hectares planted throughout New Zealand, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew.

The Afforestation Grant Scheme is a $22.5m programme to help establish about 15,000 hectares of new forest plantations over the next six years.

“Under the first round of funding the total area applied for covered 9044 hectares, far exceeding our expectations,” says Mrs Goodhew. . . 

Farm skills day proves popular – James Kinsman:

On Sunday, August 23, the Waitaki Boys’ Fraser Farm hosted Opihi College, Waitaki Girls’, St. Kevin’s and Geraldine High to our first farm skills day.

School pupils did a lot of prior planning to make the day a success. It was a big learning curve for us and the school. The day started with a dog trialling demonstration by Barry Hobbs, assisted by Allan Thompson.

The visitors watched with interest as his well trained dogs got the sheep into the pen. Next it was off to be put into random groups for modules. Barrie Rae, an enthusiastic Poll Dorset breeder taught them stock judging, helped by Jack Price. . . 


Rural round-up

April 30, 2015

Dairy industry ‘paper’ flawed

Federated Farmers is disappointed to see Massey University supporting attempts to use academia to tarnish the dairy industry by pretending a student’s academic hypothesis is established fact.

“The paper is being discredited by the authors’ academic peers as being sloppy,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair.

“Unfortunately Joy, Death and Foote’s conclusions are drawn off assumptions, which are out in the world now and we have to rely on the intellect of its readers to see through its many untruths.”

“We support the authors’ desire to have ‘accurate reporting of real costs’ but the student’s thesis only looks at the negative externalities under very poor and inaccurate assumptions of the dairy industry while ignoring the positives. Therefore it could not possibly arrive at an accurate conclusion.” . .

 Downward revision for Westland Milk Products’ pay-out to shareholders:

The decline in international prices for milk has resulted in Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, revising its predicted pay-out for the 2014-15 season.

Westland’s board has advised shareholders that the predicted pay-out is now $4.90 – $5.10 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS) before retentions. This is down from the previously announced range of $5 to $5.40 per kgMS.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says prices were such that a $5.20 pay-out seemed possible before the recent auctions, as buyers looked to New Zealand to secure supply ahead of the dry conditions during January and February. . .

 

Rates a balancing act of who’s going to foot the bill – Chris Lewis:

Rates are being set across the country as local government prepare their Long Term Plans (LTP) for the next three years.

These plans set out the council’s long term focus, describe the activities it intends on providing and specifies which community outcomes are to be achieved. More importantly, from the rate payer’s perspective, who is going to foot the bill for these activities?

Across the country Federated Farmers staff and elected members are busy squirrelling away on council’s plans. One of the things members don’t fully understand is where our membership money is spent. It has taken me a while to get my head around all the different activities the Federation covers and the effort that geos in to keeping 85 councils around New Zealand honest and fair for rural communities. . .

Ministers welcome scientific progress in cutting agricultural greenhouse gases:

Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have welcomed news of a breakthrough by New Zealand researchers which offers the potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions from sheep and cattle by 30 to 90 percent without cutting production.

This breakthrough in methane inhibitors was made by researchers working through the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium.

“Livestock methane is New Zealand’s single largest greenhouse gas emissions source, making up 35 percent of our total emissions in 2013,” says Mr Groser. . .

Tight times force farmers to adopt new tactics – Tony Field:

Dairy New Zealand is warning farmers to prepare for tough times next season as well as this one.

It says the average farmer needs $5.40 in income per kilogram of milk solids just to cover farm working expenses and interest and rent this season. Fonterra is forecasting a payout of $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids this season.

Industry body DairyNZ says “bank balances for most dairy farmers will be heading south this winter and spring, producing some short-term but significant cashflow management challenges for farmers”. . .

Secret recipe through the seasons:

There’s a lot to be said for a fertiliser which does double duty, giving an instant boost of nitrogen to promote autumn growth, followed by the slower release of sulphur.

That’s the verdict of King Country sheep and beef farmers, George and Sue Morris who followed advice from their Ballance Agri-Nutrients representative to give PhaSedN a try.

The product is a granulated combination of SustaiN, elemental sulphur and lime. While the nitrogen offers an immediate boost to pasture, the elemental sulphur delivers a long-term supply of sulphur. It is an ideal combination where there is a high sulphur need such as sandy, peat and pumice soils or if there is high rainfall or a high risk of sulphur leaching. . .

 

 

Snapshots of US agriculture – Conversable Economist:

An extraordinary shift happened in the US agricultural sector during the last century or so. Robert A. Hoppe lays out the facts in his report “Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report,
2014 Edition,” written as Economic Information Bulletin Number 132, December 2014, for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Indeed, when I hear arguments about how difficult (impossible?) it will be for the US workforce to adjust to the coming waves of technology, my thought quickly jump to the shift in agriculture.

For example, back around 1910, about one-third of all US workers were in agriculture (blue line, measured on the right-hand scale).  It’s now about 2%. The absolute number of jobs in agriculture declined, too, but the big change was that more than 100% of the job growth in the U.S. was in the non-agricultural sector. I haven’t researched the point, but my guess is that many people around 1910 would have viewed these changes as somewhere between  impossible and inconceivable.  . .  Hat tip: Utopia


Rural round-up

March 11, 2015

Federated Farmers receives threat to contaminate dairy infant formula product:

Federated Farmers has confirmed it has received a threat to sabotage New Zealand infant formula with the pesticide 1080.

The anonymous letter was received at Federated Farmers Wellington offices in late November.  It was addressed to the Chief Executive Graham Smith.

The letter was accompanied by an enclosed plastic bag containing a powder.

Federated Farmers gave the letter and bag to the Police. . .

Fonterra Acknowledges Threat Investigation:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited acknowledges the announcement by the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Government about an investigation into a criminal threat relating to the Government’s use of Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) poison as pest control to protect the country’s native flora and fauna.

The Government said today that there was no health risk to consumers. It has assessed the likelihood of the threat being carried out as ‘extremely low’. For further information please go to: http://www.foodprotection.govt.nz

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the criminal threat targeted New Zealand and the entire dairy industry. . .

Westland says its products are safe:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy cooperative, says there is no evidence that the safety of its products has been compromised by a threat to contaminate infant and other dairy formula with sodium monoflouroacetate (1080).

CEO Rod Quin says, “We are very confident that our products are secure while within our manufacturing and distribution systems,” he says. . .

 

Synlait Milk confident in its food safety systems:

Synlait Milk is confident that its food safety systems and security standards protect the integrity of its products.

They have been specifically designed to protect against threats such as that announced today by the New Zealand Police and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said Managing Director Dr. John Penno.

“Food safety and product quality is our highest priority. Our standards and systems reflect this,” said Dr. Penno. . .

NZ infant formula among safest in world:

Mothers in New Zealand and around the world can be assured that infant formula sourced in New Zealand is among the safest available anywhere, says the Infant Nutrition Council.

Chief Executive Jan Carey deplored the anonymous threats made to Fonterra and Federated Farmers.

She says infant formula manufacturers and exporters in New Zealand have full confidence in the safety of their products and in the security of their manufacturing processes.

“These products made in New Zealand are safe and always have been safe.

“We are absolutely confident about the safety of infant formula manufacturing in New Zealand and the products sold in supermarkets. . .

Nominations Open for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards 2015:

Nominations are now open for this annual event that champions the country’s top performing sheep farmers, breeders, and industry innovators.

The fourth Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards will take place in Invercargill on Wednesday 1 July 2015.

“It’s fitting that the New Zealand sheep industry recognises and rewards its top performers, and in doing so profiles the significant contribution it makes to the New Zealand economy,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) chief executive, Dr Scott Champion.

“Productivity levels have improved dramatically over the past 20. Lambing percentages are 20 per cent higher than they were in 1995, and lamb carcase weights are up 28 per cent. . .

 Future of Farming – NZ Landcare Trust:

Former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and current Chair of WWF-NZ Dr Morgan Williams was the guest speaker at a recent Community Catchment Management Workshop organised by NZ Landcare Trust in Murchison. The programme also included presentations from community farming representatives, who highlighted the benefits and successes of community involvement within projects in this region.

Dr Williams began by voicing his support for the work rural communities are doing in sustainable catchment management projects, before outlining his perspectives on broader global and national issues shaping agriculture. . .

 

Career Changes Clean-up in Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Awards:

The three major winners in the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards had all switched careers to dairy farming in recent years.

The 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Evan and Jan Billington had been in the New Zealand Police and teaching until seven years ago, while the region’s Farm Manager of the Year, James Foote, had been a professional rugby player, and the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Royce King, was a plumber and gas fitter. . .

 All-Rounder Wins Waikato Dairy Awards Title:

The 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Aaron Price, has it all – he’s a young, fit, professional, married man with a plan. He’s also persistent and great to have in the community.

Mr Price, aged 29 years, took out the major title at last night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards, with his win netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Claudelands Events Centre were Paul and Kate Manion, the 2015 Waikato Farm Managers of the Year, and Brett Steeghs, the Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Housing cows not the only way to increase production –  Wayne McNee:

The recent visit by Professor Aalt Dijkhuizen, the president of Topsector Agri and Food in the Netherlands, raised some interested points about how New Zealand dairy farmers can learn from their Dutch counterparts.

But there was a flaw in his argument – profitability and efficiency did not seem to feature highly.

The two go hand in hand here. Profit is the ultimate goal for New Zealand dairy farmers, regardless of the system or technology utilised.

The best way to make a profit is by breeding animals that will efficiently, and repeatedly, convert feed into quality, high-value milk. . .

 Fledgling agri-food course whetting student appetites:

A new multi-disciplinary degree course taking food production beyond the farm gate and onto the world stage is experiencing 150 per cent growth in new enrolment numbers in only the second year it has been offered at Lincoln University.

Developed to meet the needs of an industry decrying a lack of graduates prepared for careers in the agri-food supply chain the Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree (B.AFM) has gone from 20 students in 2014 to 50 students this year.

It is one of the success stories at Lincoln University’s Te Waihora campus which has seen good growth in new student enrolments in 2015, both for New Zealand and international students. . .

Moving stock? Think about your Theileria risks:

Industry body DairyNZ is warning farmers to assess the risks to their herds from the tick-borne disease Theileria if they are moving stock this autumn and winter.
.
DairyNZ veterinarian and technical policy advisor, Nita Harding, says stock out at grazing such as heifers that will be coming onto the farm could pose a risk, or be at risk of Theileria, depending on the situation on farm.

Nita says farmers can help the industry and veterinarians manage and prevent the spread of the disease if they are moving cattle between Theileria zones this season. . .

Giesen stamps mark in China:

Giesen Wines is earning a growing following in China, where it has been exporting for the past five years.

Its wines recently won acclaim at China’s largest and most prestigious wine competition, CWSA (China Wines & Spirits Awards), which brings together winemakers from all over the world to compete in a blind tasting. Giesen’s haul included a trophy, two double golds, five golds, and it was named the CWSA Marlborough Winery of the Year.

General manager Kyle Skene said Giesen’s total wine portfolio is exported to China, including Giesen Estate, The Brothers (Reserve) and Single Vineyard series. Its wines are sold across 12 Chinese cities and seven provinces. . . .


Rural round-up

September 20, 2014

New products to help meet regulations:

Agri-companies are under pressure to come up with innovative new products to assist dairy farmers as they struggle to comply with tough new environmental regulations.

For example, if a farmer fails a water quality test, they face stringent conditions such as wash down before and after every milking, as well as increasing fines.

At present, the most popular method of treating water is to run it through an UltraViolet lamp, but this can sometimes cause problems if it is not cleaned regularly. . .

Kick start your career with Balance:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is calling for applications to its 2015 agricultural and process engineering scholarship programme.

Specialist skills in the areas of engineering, science, precision agriculture and agri-business have been identified, by a Ministry of Primary Industries report, as key areas to support the future of New Zealand’s primary sector. This is a view shared by Ballance.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) released a research paper ‘People Powered – building capabilities to keep New Zealand’s primary industries internationally competitive’, on 6 June 2014, in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ. The report summarises the expected capability needs for each of the primary industries and associated support services. . . .

A market for all except for the roar of the stag:

Pampered pooches in America and pizzle hot pots in China are helping support venison prices to farmers.

While the top priority for the deer industry is building restaurant demand for farm-raised venison, it also caters for customers eager to source every part of the animal except, perhaps, the roar of the stag.

“In the United States, venison and other game meats are now vital ingredients in gourmet pet foods. The inclusion of 10 per cent venison in a chicken-based formula can give it serious cachet, dramatically increasing the price consumers are willing to pay for the product,” says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive officer Dan Coup. . . .

 

Increase in milk production drives additional rail services for Hokitika:

Westland Milk Products has reached an agreement with KiwiRail for an additional daily rail service between Christchurch and Hokitika to meet the dairy company’s increasing freight needs.

Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin says the move will have substantial benefits for Westland, road users and the environment.

“During the last few years Westland’s rail freight requirements have increased substantially,” Quin says. “This has been driven by record increases in production by our shareholders, up nearly 22 percent in the 2013/14 season alone, along with an expanding product range and growing sales success in international markets. When our new nutritionals dryer comes into production in August next year, we can expect our demand for additional freight to increase further.” . . .

 

ASB Farmshed Economics Report

Mixed fortunes for long term commodity prices

• ASB revises its milk price forecast down to $5.30/kg of milk solids

• Beef prices could hit record high by year’s end.

• Lamb price gains running out of steam

The dairy markets can’t seem to catch a break, according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“With bumper production driving down prices, the recent Russian dairy import ban will further add to the sluggish dairy price woes,” says ASB’s Rural Economist Nathan Penny. . .


Westland revises forecast payout down

August 28, 2014

Westland has revised its forecast payout for milk:

New Zealand’s second largest dairy co-operative Westland Milk Products has revised its payout prediction for the 2014-15 season to $5.40 – $5.80 per kilogram of milk solids (kgMS) before retentions, down from $6.00 – $6.40 announced in July.

Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin said the revised payout prediction is a response to the conditions that all New Zealand dairy companies are experiencing at the moment.

“While the season is only just underway, we have always maintained a monthly revision process to provide shareholders with the most up to date forecast possible,” Quin said. “The reduction is driven by the falls in prices across the globe and the continued high value of the New Zealand dollar.”

While last week’s dairy auction saw an overall price drop of just 0.6%, Quin noted that the skim milk powder price – which represents a substantial proportion of Westland’s production – dropped 12%. He said there was still lacklustre demand from China and stock levels in distributor and customer warehouses was reportedly high.

“Higher prices last season caused a growth in milk supply growth in Europe, the USA and New Zealand, giving customers more options.”

Quin said the reduced payout will cause farmers to review their budgets. He said Westland’s board and management were very conscious of the stress this will put on some suppliers.

“We’ll be monitoring the situation and working closely with shareholders to help ensure they have the resources and tools to manage their way through this,” he said.

 “Westland will also continue its strategy to grow its capacity to produce higher value nutritional products such as infant formula. Our traditional reliance on bulk dairy commodities such as skim milk makes us more vulnerable to the cyclical swings of the international dairy market. Our recently announced investment in a $102 million nutritionals dryer at Hokitika will give us the capacity to shift more of our production to this end of the market where profits are higher and opportunities to lift pay-outs are better.”

The medium to long term outlook for milk prices is firmer but this is a sensible response to short-term volatility in the market.

Fonterra dropped its opening forecast to $6 and the board made no change to that at yesterday’s meeting.

 


Rural round-up

May 2, 2014

Canada, dairy and the TPP – Keith Woodford:

Canada and New Zealand are currently in serious negotiations as to future rules for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In relation to dairy products, we sit on different sides of the debate. We want free access. In contrast, they want to retain their supply management quotas which control how much milk is produced, and hence protect the farm-gate price of milk.

The widespread assumption in New Zealand is that free trade will open up new markets in Canada. The current dairy market there is 8 billion litres per annum. To put that in perspective, our total milk production in New Zealand is about 20 billion litres per annum. So on the surface, free trade could open up exciting new opportunities.

A recent report from The Conference Board of Canada places a different perspective on matters. They agree with New Zealand that Canada should get rid of its supply management scheme. However, they see the outcome being that Canada would rapidly transform its industry and become a major exporter. . .

Dairying’s other big 2014 vote – Willy Leferink:

This year will see a general election but you have to wonder if three-year cycles are sufficient.  Let’s face it, year one is learning the ropes and doing what you promised.  Year two is fine tuning what you’ve done or running a mile from what you’ve done, meanwhile, year three is all about getting re-elected.

Many systems have four or even five year cycles and DairyNZ’s impending vote on its $61 million industry good levy fits into the five year cycle.

It isn’t appreciated by many who bemoan the lack of research and development in New Zealand, that every time my girls come in for milking, 3.6 cents in every kilogram of milksolids they produce goes towards R&D.  This money is collected by the milk processors and passed to our industry good body, DairyNZ.  It undertakes a whole host of research activities that no farmer could ever hope to do individually.  DairyNZ further leverages what it gets from us farmers in larger programmes like the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP. . . .

Westland Milk Products Registered for Infant Nutrition Products Export to China:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative has confirmed today that it is registered to export dairy products including infant formula milk powder to China.

The company has been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Chinese authorities and has been notified of its registration with the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA).

“We support the Chinese moves to impose greater controls and stricter standards around the importation of infant formula. Ultimately this will benefit New Zealand exporters by giving Chinese consumers more confidence in our products” says Westland CEO Rod Quin. . .

Synlait misses China regulation deadline as it waits on factory build – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the dairy processor which counts China’s Bright Dairy as a cornerstone shareholder, missed out in the first round of approvals under China’s new regulation of imported infant formula as it waits for the completion of its new processing and packaging plant.

The Ministry for Primary Industry expects Synlait will receive approval once the new dry blending and consumer packaging factory is built which is scheduled for completion next month, the Rakaia-based company said in a statement. Companies without the new registration won’t be able to sell infant formula produced from today in China.

A2 Milk Company, whose Platinum infant formula is manufactured at Synlait’s Canterbury plant, also missed out on registration, which includes demonstrating a close association between brand owner and manufacturer. . .

Synlait Milk confident of China registration:

The initial list of registered New Zealand companies issued by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) did not include Synlait Milk as an exporter of finished infant formula into China. This announcement has been anticipated by the Company for some time.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has confirmed that it expects Synlait Milk to receive registration following the approval of its Risk Management Plan by MPI for its dry blending and consumer packaging facility. Construction of this facility is scheduled for completion in June 2014. . .

FGC welcomes Nutricia’s investment:

The intended acquisition of New Zealand milk-drying and infant formula blending and packing capacity by French-owned Nutricia is a further indication of confidence in the New Zealand food and beverage industry, says the Food & Grocery Council.

Chief Executive Katherine Rich says today’s announcement is significant.

“This is great news for the industry and for New Zealand’s infant formula manufacturing capacity.

“Having such a renowned multinational company purchasing two New Zealand firms to ensure it has a major infant formula local manufacturing facility affirms once again that New Zealand’s dairy industry remains among the best and safest in the world.” . . . .

Comvita annual earnings pip 2013, meeting guidance; shares fall:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, which makes health products from manuka honey, said annual earnings and revenue eclipsed 2013, meeting guidance, as recent apiary acquisitions improved its security of supply. The shares fell.

The Te Puke-based company said net profit was about $7.5 million in the 12 months ended March 31 from $7.4 million a year earlier, on revenue of $115.3 million, up from $103.5 million in 2013. The company had previously said it anticipated beating 2013 profit and sales.

“When unconstrained by raw material shortages, as happened in the second six months, we clearly have growth momentum,” chief executive Brett Howlett said in a statement. “The strategy of acquiring apiary businesses is working to alleviate the supply shortage pressures.” . . .


Westland forecast milk price up $1

August 29, 2013

Westland Milk has increased its forecast milk price by $1.

A strong start to the season and continued high international milk prices has resulted in Westland Milk Products lifting its 2013/14 forecast to $7.60 – $8 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS) before retentions. This is a dollar more per kgMS than the company’s first forecast in May. The advance rate has also increased to $5 per kgMS, payable 20 September 2013.

Westland is New Zealand’s second biggest dairy cooperative with more than 300 shareholders on the West Coast, and 34 in Canterbury, with a turnover of some $600 million.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says the 2013/14 season has started strongly with milk flows up five per cent on budget. “The mild winter means we have come into spring with cows in good condition and plenty of grass which means our farmers are well set up for a productive season. While it’s early days yet there is real promise that this will continue.”

Quin says the forecasted pay out was also boosted by the fact that international prices have continued to increase, with the market largely unaffected by recent industry product issues.

“Current market conditions, plus Westland’s strategic move to the higher value nutritionals market is driving this confident pay-out forecast,” Quin says. “We’ve had a very successful launch of our new Westpro Nutrition products in China recently, and fully expect the new nutritional products plant in Hokitika to be working to capacity this season. All this is very good news for our shareholders and the local economies.”

Forecast payouts are that, forecasts.

But our two biggest dairy co-operatives, Fonterra and Westland,  wouldn’t be increasing their forecast payouts if they weren’t confident that demand for and the price of their products was going to hold up.

 


Rural round up

August 6, 2013

Westland Milk Products tests clear for clostridium:

Westland Milk Products confirmed today that it has not used any of the whey protein concentrate from Fonterra that has tested positive for clostridium bacteria.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says that Westland’s nutritional formulations use whey protein ingredients purchased from local and international suppliers, but these have not included any affected Fonterra whey protein concentrate.

“We test all the ingredients we buy in and all have returned “not detected” results for clostridium in the last 12 months. Testing of our own products and processes, including whey concentrate, has also returned negative results.” . .

Fork futures – Peter K. Dearden:

It is hard to avoid the news that last night, a beef burger grown in the lab was consumed by a number of people. The idea was that meat, grown in dishes in the lab, could replace meat grown in animals; last night was a demonstration of the principle.

The beef burger in question was grown from muscle stem cells in plastic dishes, the cells collected and squished together to make a meat-like substance. Consumers of the burger made statements such as “lacked flavor” and “needed some fat”, not exactly a glowing endorsement, but perhaps no worse than most folk’s opinion of the ‘mechanically recovered meat’ often lurking in such burgers.

The cost of this burger has been reported as 250,000 Euros ($425,000 NZ dollars), proving conclusively that growing meat in animals is still cheaper and more efficient.  As an aside, most cell culture experiments use animal serum to help grow the cells, meaning this approach is not animal-free. But is this more than just a publicity stunt; are there implications for New Zealand? . . .

Fruit and veg growers recognised for pioneering work:

Mangere fruit and vege growers Fay and Joe Gock have been recognised for their pioneering work, as this year’s winners of the Bledisloe Cup, the industry’s highest honour.

The couple both in their 80s, have come up with numerous innovations in horticulture over six decades of commercial fruit and vegetable growing,

They include being the first first to raise kumara tubers by using under-earth heating in modern hotbeds.

They developed a disease-free kumara strain and with DSIR, a prototype kumara curing shed, reducing crop loss from 50 percent to less than one percent, allowing kumara to be marketed all year round. . .

Former town relocation site placed on the market for sale:

The swathe of bare land once identified as the relocation site for the hydro’ dam township of Twizel has been placed on the market for sale.

The 19.3 hectare site at Lake Pukaki in South Canterbury is the only land within the Mackenzie District Plan with zoning allowing for residential subdivision and commercial business operations.

The land – which overlooks Lake Pukaki and State Highway 8 – is some 14 kilometres north of Twizel, and is being marketed for sale by auction on September 5. . .

Spray season begins for kiwifruit growers:

The spray season for kiwifruit growers is starting, and Bay of Plenty Regional Council is working with the industry to ensure spray drift problems are reduced this year.

Hydrogen Cyanamide, known as Hi-Cane, is sprayed on kiwifruit vines to promote more and larger fruit on the vines, promote bud break, ensure earlier and shorter flowering, and more flowers with fewer double and triple flowers which reduce fruit size.

In recent years the Bay of Plenty Spray Focus Group, which includes representatives of kiwifruit marketers Zespri, NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc, Kiwifruit Vine Health, the public and Regional Council staff have worked to reduce the effects of sprays on the community, using best practice spraying methods. . .

Southfuels/Northfuels sign three year deal with TeenAg:

New Zealand Young Farmers is pleased to welcome Southfuels/Northfuels as a sponsor of the TeenAg Competition series. Southfuels/Northfuels have signed on for a three year period with the secondary school section within the New Zealand Young Farmers family of brands.

TeenAg aims to introduce and promote a positive picture about agriculture and agricultural careers from an early age. This is achieved via a competition series and a network of High School clubs.

The TeenAg Competition series started in 2011 with resounding success and the programmes popularity continues to rise. The first High School club was established in 2009 and know there are 45 clubs dotted throughout the country. . .

How Farmers Can Reduce Nitrogen Losses and Leaching:

New Zealand’s global image as a clean and green country is continuing to come under fire and with it comes pressure from local governments on the management of our farm lands. Nitrogen fertiliser inputs and how they affect the environment is a very topical story at the moment and with increasing pressures including N based fertiliser restrictions, costs, droughts and production requirements, the farmer has some important decisions to make.

What decision makers on both sides need to agree on is that we need to deliver the highest increase in dry matter and milk production per unit of nitrogen applied the soil. By using a microbial based inoculant like EM we can enhance the nutrient uptake of the pasture thus increasing the growth of dry matter. This enables the farmer to decrease their nitrogen application while maintaining and sometimes exceeding previous pasture levels. . .

And from Grammarly:

This exists. It makes more sense than what the word actually means.


Rural round-up

July 7, 2013

Scientist’s ‘outstanding contribution’ recognised – Sally Rae:

AbacusBio managing director Neville Jopson has been recognised for his ”outstanding contribution” to animal production in New Zealand.

Dr Jopson was awarded the McMeekan Memorial Award at the New Zealand Society of Animal Production’s conference in Hamilton this week.

The award, presented annually, recognises an outstanding contribution to New Zealand animal production or the society in the past five years. . .

Red meat risks being bit player in economic revival:

One of the historical foundation stones of the New Zealand economy, the beef and lamb industry, is at risk of being an insignificant player in the country’s economic recovery, says the country’s biggest rural lender ANZ Bank.

“The soft commodity outlook is improving. The food and beverage sector is thriving. Businesses which develop NZ primary production into desirable products are the new stars of the economy. Among all this, beef and lamb – the red meat sector – is stuck in its ways and won’t benefit unless bold action is taken,” said Graham Turley, ANZ’s Managing Director Commercial & Agri.

He said the third annual Red Meat Sector Conference, which starts on Sunday, came at a critical moment in the industry’s history. . .

Landcorp and Massey University commit to Chinese partnership:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says a memorandum signed today between Landcorp Farming and Massey University and their Chinese counterparts will further strengthen the close ties between China and New Zealand in the agricultural sector.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Anhui Agricultural University, Anhui Anxin Husbandry Development Limited and Anhui Provincial Government Decision-Making Cultural Exchange Centre provides collaboration on sheep farming and pasture growth opportunities in Anhui province.

Landcorp will provide sheep farming expertise while Massey University will contribute technical consultancy services. . . .

Westland Milk Products Processes More Milk Despite Drought:

Westland Milk Products finished the 2012/13 season with a 5.3% increase in milk processed compared with the previous season, in spite of the impact of the drought on West Coast dairying.

This compares with a 2% drop in the total New Zealand milk production for 2012/13.

CEO Rod Quin says Westland, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy cooperative, processed nearly 670 million litres of milk, most of which is processed into various powder-based products for export.

“The production figure is a credit to the resilience of our shareholder/suppliers in what has been a tough season for many, and to staff who have initiated changes at the Hokitika factory to allow milk processing all year round without the traditional shut-down period.” . . .

Fitzgerald to step down from NZYF post – Annette Scott:

After 12 years as chief executive officer of New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF), Richard Fitzgerald had decided to call it a day.

Fitzgerald has told the NZYF board he will step down but expects to be with the organisation for a few months yet as he works through the process of finding his replacement, scheduled to be in place by mid-September, and the transition period. . . .

 


Rural round-up

May 30, 2013

Dairy development helping environment – Gerald Piddock:

A controversial dairying development near Omarama is leading the way with its environmental practices.

It is still early days but the structure, fertility, health and depth of Little Ben dairy farm’s soil has significantly improved over the past three years.

Farmers saw the progress the farm had made at a field day last week.

The 470ha farm operates as a partnership between Richard Gloag and Merv McCabe. . . .

PGG Wrightson managing director to step down in August – Tina Morrison:

PGG Wrightson managing director George Gould will step down from New Zealand’s biggest rural technology and services firm after helping refocus the company.

Mr Gould previously headed Pyne Gould Guinness and was appointed to the top job at the larger company in February 2011 to help stabilise it as it exited non-core activities.

He will leave on August 31, the Christchurch-based company says in a statement today. . .

Merino man shakes up primary industries

In 1995, John Brakenridge had an acute case of ‘new guy’. 

He’d been hired by the board of Canterbury-based wool marketer New Zealand Merino to breathe fresh air into a stale sector.

But the high country heartlanders were wary.

‘Which part of the South Island are you from?’ they asked the bloke who grew up in Auckland. ‘You look a bit young, don’t you?’ they said to the 34-year-old. ‘How long have you been in the wool industry?’ It was his first day.

Although he had a track record in the primary sector, serving as marketing manager for produce company Cedenco Foods in the late 1980s and partnering with the New Zealand Dairy Board in the Middle East, he was unmistakably a wool industry outsider.  . .

So close on second go – Jill Galloway:

Cam Brown says he will always be known as the guy who was second in the grand final of the Young Farmer Contest.

He was one of seven regional winners who won a place in the final. He was the winner of the Manawatu-Taranaki final.

Brown is competitive. He likes to do everything correctly and win.

“I lost by five points. I thought afterwards about places I could have made up those points. But I knew I’d given it my best shot in the contest.” . . .

Westland Milk Products Predicts Lifts Payout Prediction for 2013-14:

Westland Milk Products has announced a pay-out prediction for the 2013-14 season of $6.60 to $7 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), an increase of 60 to 70 cents on the current season, with an opening advance (payable 20 September) of $4.80 per kgMS for all milk collected from 1 August 2013.

The Hokitika-based dairy cooperative also confirmed the forecast pay-out for this season of $6 to $6.30 per kgMS excluding retentions. The advance rate payable 20 June 2013 has been approved at $5.20 per kgMS.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says the forward view for the dairy market is relatively strong, even with the recent decline from the highs of six weeks ago. The strong outlook is being driven by ongoing firm demand and the expected shortfall of milk supply from key exporting markets. . .

Dairy farmers welcome some good news at last:

After a harsh drought and massive feed costs, dairy farmers needed good news and Fonterra Cooperative Group may have just delivered it.

“The forecast farmgate milk price of $7 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS) for 2013/14 is going to get a lot of attention,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Boy oh boy did we need some morale raising good news. In plain-English, it means that farmers could get about 0.58 cents per litre for milk they will produce between June and May 2014.

“While a $7 kg/MS milkprice forecast sounds amazing, the public deserve to know this is forecast revenue and revenue is not profit. To get to profit, you need to take off the farm’s working expenses, tax obligations and pay back the bank manager; a big expense being right there. . .

Aggressive forecast Farmgate Milk Price, advance welcomed by Farmers:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown, said it was encouraging for Farmers to see Fonterra take an aggressive stance in its Milk Price forecasting for next season.

The Fonterra Board of Directors today announced an opening Farmgate Milk Price forecast of $7.00 per kg/MS for the 2013/14 season, including a $5.00 advance.

Ian Brown: “This is great news for our Farmer Shareholders and reinforces the good position our Co-operative is in.

“Having a strong forecast Milk Price and advance puts Farmers in a healthier position and provides them greater flexibility in running their farms. . .

Great food starts with great soil:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is showcasing the connection between great soil and premium produce, with quality producers of beef, vegetables, apples and wine featuring at their Fieldays site this year.

Ballance General Manager Sales, Andrew Reid, explains that soil is an integral part of the success of our farmers.

“In fact the whole New Zealand economy starts with those three inches of topsoil which support our rural production sector,” says Mr Reid.

Mr Reid says that premium producers have one thing in common – respect for the soil and the ability to work with it. . . .


Tiny traces of DCD in Westland samples

January 31, 2013

Westland Milk has found tiny traces of DCD in some samples of its products in tests this week.

Westland Milk Products customers are being assured food safety and human health has not been put at risk by the discovery of traces of DCD in some of its own samples this week.

Following advice late last week from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) of the discovery by Fonterra of traces of DCD in some of their milk products, Westland Milk Products commenced its own testing through an independent laboratory. These tests revealed minute trades of DCD in samples produced prior to 1 November 2012. The evidence indicates that product made after 1 November 2012 is free from DCD.

“While we are assured by independent health authorities and the New Zealand Government that DCD is not a food safety risk,” says Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin, “we are very aware that for many of our customers any residue in milk products is undesirable. Some of our customers in Asia have already requested tests for DCD following the MPI announcement last week.”

As a priority, Westland is currently conducting further testing in line with customer and government requirements and will report the results to customers as soon as possible.

“The best way to allay our customers’ fears is with accurate information,” says Rod Quin. “We will continue to work with the New Zealand dairy industry, MPI and Government to reassure suppliers, customers and stakeholders that DCD is not harmful to human health and that every step to remedy this situation and prevent its ongoing occurrence is being taken.”

Mr Quin said only a minority of Westland’s shareholders had used DCD, and that most of the application of the product occurred outside of peak milk production periods.

The use of nitrogen inhibitors, which contain DCD, wouldn’t have been confined to Fonterra suppliers so this isn’t a surprise.

There is no risk to health from the tiny amounts of DCD found in any products and nitrogen inhibitors haven’t been used for months but the company has done the right thing by letting its customers know.

New Zealand’s reputation for safe food relies on high standards, strict compliance and good communication.

 


Rural round-up

December 1, 2012

Land and Water Forum better solution than Horizons’ One Plan – Lyn Neeson:

When my husband and I purchased our first 345 hectares in 1987, we never thought 25 years later we’d be fighting a regional council for survival.

Through good years and bad, we have worked hard to grow our farm to 1,500 hectares carrying 4,500 ewes and 250 Angus cattle over winter.

Farming keeps your feet on the ground because it is hard to have airs and graces during docking and shearing.

We also want to keep farming here. . .

2012 peak milk production setting new records:

In spite of a cold, wet spring on the West Coast, Westland Milk Products’ shareholder/suppliers on both sides of the Alps have re-written the record books with a peak milk production of 3.2 million litres, edging ahead of last season by 3% season to date.

Says Chief Executive Rod Quin: “This essentially means our shareholders are managing to maintain and even improve on production, which is a considerable testament to their productivity and efficiency.” . . .

Wheat genome’s key parts unlocked in new study -Mark Kinver:

Scientists have unlocked key parts of the complex genetic code of wheat, one of the world’s most important crops, which could help improve food security.

The team hopes the data will accelerate the development of varieties more resilient to stresses, such as disease and drought, that cause crops to fail.

The 2012 wheat harvest was hit by extreme weather events around the globe, causing a sharp rise in prices. . .

Westland shareholders elect two new directors:

Westland Milk products shareholders have elected Hari Hari farmer Kirsty Robertson to represent the Southern Ward after director Jim Wafelbakker stepped down from the post after 25 years’ service.

Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin says few directors of any company could claim the record of service clocked up by Jim Wafelbakker.

“It is one of the hallmarks of Westland Milk Products that the company, because of its cooperative structure and the closeness of West Coast communities, often attracts a loyalty and record of service you’d usually associate with a family-owned business. Jim is a prime example of that. He came onto the board in 1987 and earned the loyalty of southern area shareholders right from the start. He has been an able and passionate advocate of them, and of Westland Milk Company as a whole.” . . .

Farmers getting ready for a dry summer:

Federated Farmers recommends farmers have contingency plans in place in case the current mild El Nino intensifies, bringing a higher risk of drought, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson Katie Milne says.

“Summer is looming and some parts of the country are already experiencing drier weather than last year, which for farmers in the summer dry areas means a return to business as usual,” Ms Milne says.

“Some regions are already noticeably drier than usual, which is causing some concerns. With summer officially starting tomorrow it is important that farmers have contingency plans in place, such as de-stocking and getting in supplementary feeds. . .

Would you like wine with your spectacular sea view?:

Kina Cliffs has become the latest wine vineyard in the Nelson/Tasman region to open a cellar door and tasting room.

Located next to their home at 38 Cliff Road, at Kina the stylish new tasting room offers a truly breath-taking nearly 270° view that stretches from Nelson across Tasman Bay to the Abel Tasman National Park and around across rolling hills to Mount Campbell and the Western Ranges. . .

Hemp Seeds Sown:

Midlands Seed Ltd has recently completed the planting of this seasons hemp crops, which they grow under contract with farmer suppliers in the South Island. It’s an exciting time for the Ashburton based company and its subsidiary company Oil Seed Extractions Limited (OSE) who Cold Press the resultant seed to produce Hemp seed oil. FSANZ have recommended an amendment to food regulation laws allowing the sale of hemp foods in New Zealand and Australia, which if approved should mean more hemp crops grown in New Zealand in the future.

Hemp is an annual plant, with a 120 day growth cycle. Hemp crops are grown for fibre or alternatively for seed, which can be processed to oil and other nutritious foods. Whilst Hemp has a reputation as an easy plant to grow with a host of benefits, Hemp seed production brings with it numerous challenges. . .


Rural round-up

October 11, 2012

Strong tug at Canterbury teat – Tim Fulton:

By building a plant at Darfield Fonterra fired the “first shot” in competition on the West Coast, Westland Milk Products CEO Rod Quin says.

Steve Murphy, Fonterra’s general manager for milk supply, says his crew collects only a “tiny” amount of milk from the coast, from around Springs Junction. A fair number of coasters wouldn’t even call Springs Junction their patch, he says.

A Fonterra letter drop into Westland Milk country in mid 2011 generated “quite a bit of interest”, but nothing more has come of it apart from promises to keep in contact. . .

The perfect farmer’s body – Milk Maid Marian:

What does the perfect body look like? Not mine, that’s for sure! Yesterday, I was reminded just how bad my genes are for farming. Allergies run on both sides of my family and the worst irritant of all looks like this:

(Click link above for photo)

I’m told it’s called “fog” grass because the pollen is released in such huge quantities, it makes everything go misty. Dynamite! Yesterday, I had to wander through thigh-high forests of it to get the dam siphon running again. My scalp, eyes, nose, mouth and arms are all still desperately itchy 15 hours later.

The cows don’t like it either. Fog grass is covered in thick velvety “fur” that understandably is most unpalatable. . . .

How would you design a “future dairy farm? – Pasture to Profit:

Imagine what a “Future Dairy Farm” might look like.

How would you set up a “Future Dairy Farm”? What dairy farm system will be best? Dairy farms in the future must be profitable. Farm businesses must be resilient to increasing risk. Farmers will need to operate within stricter environmental rules. There will be environmental guidelines for farms to meet. Do we understand economic comparative advantage?  . . .

Synlait Milk Announces Milk Price for 2011/2012 Season

The average price paid by Synlait Milk for milk supplied in the 2011/2012 season is $6.22 per kg MS.

This is made up of an average base milk price of $6.14 per kg MS, autumn premiums of $0.01 per kg MS, colostrum and other special milk payments of $0.04 per kg MS, and winter milk premiums of $0.03 per kg MS.

Synlait Milk Chairman Graeme Milne said “This is a solid payout for our suppliers, and demonstrates our continued focus on ensuring we leave our farmers better off than their alternatives.” . . .

Primary industry merger welcomed:

DairyNZ says the merger of the agriculture and horticulture industry training organisations this month has real benefits for the dairy industry.

AgITO and Horticulture ITO have been merged to form the Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO).

The new organisation will be officially launched tonight at a celebration event in Wellington attended by Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Steven Joyce as well as industry representatives. The new ITO, which will also be responsible for water and equine industry training and NZ Sports Turf industry training, will facilitate on-the-job training for 15,000 employees across the primary industries. . .


Here are the jobs

October 1, 2012

Westland Milk Products plans to build a new processing plant at Rolleston.

. . . Westland chief executive Rod Quin said the plans indicated the confidence Westland had in the future of dairying in and outside of Canterbury.

”We expect that we will continue to expand our supplier numbers in Canterbury and if the Rolleston plant progresses, it will be of significant benefit to the local economy.”

At this stage Westland sends Canterbury milk by rail to Hokitika for processing, but the plan is to process that milk in Rolleston.

The nutritional dairy plant is expected to be built in Rolleston’s Izone Industrial Park.

Quin said new jobs would contribute more than $10 million a year into the local economy. Jobs would be created in such areas as engineering, maintenance, production and environmental management.

The site would include an extension to its railway siding for transporting milk powder. . .

Fonterra might not be happy about its competitor moving across the Southern Alps but it is good news for the local economy and the country.

These new jobs will be particularly welcome close to Christchurch as the earthquake recovery gathers momentum.


Westland’s forecast payout down

August 3, 2012

Further to the previous post, Westland Milk has announced a decrease in its forecast payout:

Westland Milk Products today announced its 2012-13 season forecast to supplier-shareholders has been revised down from a budgeted $5.70 – $6.10 per kilogram of milk solids (kgMS) to $5 – $5.40 per kgMS.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says the reduction is due to international prices for dairy products being 10 to 15 per cent below expected levels.

“This is compounded by the ongoing high rate of the New Zealand dollar, at around 80cents against the US dollar, which results in fewer New Zealand dollars available for pay-out.”

With farmer shareholders on the West Coast and in Canterbury, Westland Milk Products is the biggest dairy cooperative in New Zealand next to Fonterra, processing some 600 million litres of milk a year and with an annual turnover of $525 million. Mr Quin says the reduced payout will have an impact on rural communities, with farmers bearing the brunt but, overall, dairying is still the right industry to be in and the co-operative is in good shape.

“This situation highlights the importance of our strategy of moving significant milk volumes away from the commodity markets into specialist nutritional products, which will give us better returns and greater stability. The nutritional products market is growing and we are taking advantage of that to the ultimate benefit of shareholders.”

Fonterra’s current forecast is $5.95 – $6.05 a kilo of milksolids with a milk price of $5.50 and the balance in expected dividend.


Rural round-up

October 22, 2011

Contamination claims rubbished – Richard Rennie:

Taranaki farmers and their regional council are demanding critics of an oil and gas drilling method show more science to prove claims about damage to their environment.

“Fracking” or deep rock fracturing for extraction of hydrocarbons in under scrutiny in Taranaki following claims by an environmental group the practice is responsible for ground water contamination, water table loss and even earthquakes . . .

Interested in more than rugby – Jackie Harrigan:

Scoping out opportunities in the New Zealand dairy industry was fitted in around rugby fixtures by a handful of Argentinian farmers in the Manawatu for the Argentina vs Georgia pool match.

Taking the opportunity to network with Kiwi agricultural businesses, the Argentinian farmers were hosted by the NZ Agribusiness Roadshow and shown facets of Kiwi pastoral farming which fitted their individual interests.

One Argentinean who visited was Miguel Rohrer, a beef and cropping farmer who grows soybean, corn, rice, peanuts and beans alongside dairy units running 1200 Holstein cows. Cows are generally run at lower stocking rates than New Zealand at around 1.5cows/ha and fed mainly on alfalfa with grain supplements to produce around 26l/cow/day . . .

Lamb docking a community affair – Jill Galloway:

There used to be 70 million sheep in New Zealand. Now there are around 32 million overwintered each year. So, fewer lambs to dock?

Maybe, but it is still a big job on sheep and beef farms.

Jacquetta Ward is just one of the many farmers docking. And she has nearby farmers, mates and people from the district helping her.

Today, they plan to dock 1200 lambs. A goodly number. But some stations dock 6000 a day. They may have 60,000 lambs to get through . . .

Lorraine hangs up the apron – Jill Galloway:

It is the cafe you can wear your working clothes into, and your gumboots.

The Feilding Saleyards Cafe is synonymous with good mugs of tea, great pies and gravy with chips, and the highly sought-after lamb shanks.

Lorraine Pretious left last Friday after 30 years preparing and serving meals to stock agents, truck drivers and farmers . . .

Women get to grips with using guns – Jill Galloway:

Women In Farming is a non-competitive group, and its members wanted to learn about guns and have a go at shooting on a range.

They get a thorough safety lesson from Marton Smallbore Rifle Club member and mountain safety instructor Peter Lissington. He takes people for their firearms licences, so he knows all about guns, the law and safety.

“I want people to know all about firearms, and feel confident about using them,” he says.

Twelve Women in Farming members find out more about rifles, what types there are and how to safely store and use them . . .

Faster internet offers potential for big gains:

Dairy farmer co-operative Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) believes that not enough attention has been given to how the Government’s rural broadband initiative will affect farmers.

Infrastructure for faster broadband to rural areas, including those in Southland, will be invested over the next six years, at a cost of $285 million.

LIC general manager of farm systems Rob Ford said people had heard about how high-speed broadband in rural areas would help schools and hospitals, but not about the connection between farming, the internet, productivity and profit.

Free website helps global sharing – Collette Devlin:

A former Southland researcher has developed an easy-to-use, free website specifically for farmers.

Gary Hutchinson, originally from Taranaki, was the project manager for Topoclimate South, a successful three-year soil and microclimate mapping programme that finished in October 2001, after mapping 830,000 hectares of Southland’s farmlands . . .

Angus burger demand boosts Southland beef sales – Collette Devlin:

Southern angus beef farms are being boosted by the popularity of McDonald’s angus burgers in the region.

Taramoa angus beef breeder David Marshall said the high sales of angus burgers at the fast-food restaurant has had a direct influence on the market, which has led to a record sales of Southland angus beef and it looked as if they were set to rise further.

Mr Marshall’s family have been breeding angus since the 1940s and his herd can be traced back to the 1860s when the first angus cattle arrived in New Zealand.

The only show in town – Shelley Bridgeman:

A & P Shows – with their prize-winning heifers, farm machinery, highland dancing, wood-chopping, sheep dog trials and carnival atmosphere – are as Kiwi as No. 8 wire and gumboots.

Last season I attended eleven, from as far north as Whangarei right down to Hawke’s Bay . . .

Focus farm is the real thing – Sue O’Dowd:

DairyNZ’s focus farm in Taranaki is being promoted as a real-life farm with challenges ordinary farmers can understand.

The first field day, with a focus on mating, attracted more than 80 people.

Chris and Kathy Prankerd’s Tariki farm was chosen earlier this year as the focus farm after 20 farmers expressed interest in the project . . .

Beef lull then bonanza tipped:

Rabobank is picking United States beef prices to soar to record highs later next year.

But first, the bank says in a new report, New Zealand will have to weather a supply “bulge”.

Escalating exchange rates, global economic uncertainty and climate risks are short-term obstacles for global beef markets, but the longer outlook remains positive, report co-author Rebecca Redmond says.

Breaking lactose down in fresh milk – Collette Devlin:

Diary giant Fonterra is now producing a lactose-free fresh milk, which means it is now in direct competition with a small Southland organic dairy company.

Early last month, Retro Organics released the first lactose-free fresh milk and yoghurt in New Zealand, which company owner Robin Greer said was the solution to a growing need.

Until now, an Australian company, Liddells, dominated the lactose-free milk market here . . .

Druming upsupport for drum use:

Avoiding accidents with agrichemicals is high on the agenda with a new drum recovery programme launched by Agrecovery Rural Recycling.  

The Agrecovery Drum programme offers farmers and growers around the country free on property collection for plastic or steel drums from 61 – 1000L in size. Drums must be empty and triple rinsed . . .

Paediatrict product move at Westland:

WESTLAND SUPPLIERS can look forward to their processor moving more of their milk up the value chain from next season. The Hokitika-based cooperative last week announced a multi-million dollar investment in a state-of-the-art paediatric nutritional product plant.  

“It’s principally about adding more value,” chief executive Rod Quin told Rural News . . .

Havard reports good return form NZ forest investments – Pam Graham:

Harvard Management, the manager of Harvard University’s US$32 billion endowment, made an 18.8 percent annual return on its natural resource portfolio, which includes majority ownership of the cutting rights to the Kaingaroa forest.

Harvard, the oldest and most richly endowed university in the US, has put 10 percent of its portfolio into natural resources, which it says is mostly timberland, and agricultural and other resource-bearing properties on five continents . . .

Ballance dinners demonstrate path to profitability:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has pulled together a raft of experts to present at its Business Development Dinner series over the next few months.

Ballance Sales and Marketing General Manager Graeme Smith says the business development dinners are held every year as part of the co-operative’s programme to provide more information and tools to farmers.

“We want to be able to seed new ideas and new ways of thinking with our customers as part of our commitment to help them farm more profitability and more sustainably,” Mr Smith says . . .

Claim wool is losing ground to nylon carpets:

A textile industry representative says resurrecting the fortunes of strong wool is going to take more than the wool sector has come up with so far.

Carpet makers say there has been a significant drop in carpet sales, which have been blamed on unsettled world economic conditions and the rapid rise in wool prices over the past year . . .


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