Rural round-up

December 12, 2013

Audacious goal on South Canterbury demo farm:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s demonstration farm programme is about testing new and exciting ideas within a real farm context. So, when Andrea and Warren Leslie from South Canterbury were invited to join the programme, they were challenged to share their ultimate on-farm goals during an initial workshop of demonstration farmers. Warren says he made the mistake of standing up first.

“I said ‘I want to lamb 200 per cent’ and people said that’s not such a big deal. Then I added ‘without any triplets or singles’.” That quietened them. He wasn’t finished. The cattle goal was more challenging again: “We breed Murray Greys and sell a lot of bulls into the dairy industry. Wouldn’t it be great if 75 per cent of our progeny were male? I’m just putting it out there, to get the discussion going.” . . .

Fonterra farmgate milk price mixed blessing:

Farmers will have split views on Fonterra Cooperative Group confirming the farmgate milk forecast at $8.30 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS). While they will be pleased with that confirmation they will be less pleased to see the dividend forecast being cut by two-thirds to ten cents per share.

“The dividend is a direct marker to the financial performance of Fonterra as a company,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Farmers will be happy to see the milk price confirmed but since 85 percent of the dividend payout goes to farmer-shareholders, they will have mixed feelings since it’s a 22 cents per share haircut.

“But knowing what my farms have produced in the season to date, it’s no surprise to find that Fonterra has been pushed to process what our farms have produced. . . .

Synlait Milk flags faster growth in 2014 as Fonterra cuts guidance – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the milk processor which joined the NZX in July, says earnings will beat guidance next year on cheaper raw milk prices and growing demand for its products. That contrasts with Fonterra Cooperative Group, which today slashed its guidance in the face of a margin squeeze.

International demand is favouring Synlait’s milk powder and anhydrous milk fat products, while recent announcements mean the season’s milk price won’t be as high as expected, the company said in a statement. Because of that, Synlait said first-half and annual earnings will probably beat forecasts in 2014. It predicted profit of $19.6 million on sales of $524 million in its prospectus.

“We now expect the company will benefit from both earnings growth in our value added categories, a favourable product mix, and lower than expected milk prices,” chief executive John Penno said. “This is likely to mean Synlait’s earnings for the half and full FY14 will be ahead of forecast.” . . .

Showcasing the best – Rebecca Harper:

It’s show time here in Feilding.

Growing up, the Hawke’s Bay A&P Show was a huge part of our family life. We went to a small country school and they closed the school and gave us all the day off, because we all went to the show.

Dad used to enter lambs every year and there was usually a coloured certificate to take home for a prize on the hoof or the hook.

I rode my pony and competed in the horse events and my brothers and I were given money for the rides. . .

Kiwis take Aussie shield – Tim Fulton:

New Zealand has run away with Australia’s agricultural and pastoral show shield.

The FCAS Shield has been contested by Australian states since 2000, while NZ entered the fray five years ago.

FCAS is the Federated Council of Agricultural Societies, an equivalent of the Royal Agricultural Society in NZ.

First, second, and third placings in premier show competitions are combined to find the shield winner. . . .

Rural women up front and centre – Abby Brown:

Members of Rural Women’s Scott’s Ferry branch showed off their underwear at the Royal A&P show on December 6.

The Y fronts and boxers were decorated as part of their Y Front campaign which encouraged men to be up front about prostate cancer and get checked.

The underwear decorated one wall of the advocacy group’s booth.

Another wall was decorated with plaster cast breasts, as the group also encouraged women to get checked for breast cancer. . .


Royal Show to go

May 1, 2009

If the Canterbury A&P Show was under threat, agriculture in New Zealand would be in a very sorry state.

What then does the demise of the Royal Show at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire say about the state of agriculture in Britain?

If the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the fire-sale of Merrill Lynch were powerful symbols of the end of the City as we had come to know it, then the demise of the Royal Show, the premier farming event of the British calendar at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire, is a totem of the end of our countryside.

A&P Shows in New Zealand had some pretty lean years in the wake of the 80s’ ag-sag but most have done better in recent years, partly as a result of better farm incomes but also by adapting to attract urban people with little or no knowledge of , or interest in, farming.

Fortunately not all British Shows are under threat and those which are thriving:

. . . aren’t anymore about red-faced, burly farmers looking for a new bull and horny-handed sons of toil trading harrows. . .  They have an obligation, if they are to survive, to entertain as well as to trade. And, sad as it may be for those who have farmed the land for generations, that is a rubric for the countryside itself.

If farming is in terminal decline . . . then other uses for the countryside have to be developed and encouraged, beyond building new homes across swathes of it. And that requires both imagination and a new covenant between town and country.

As matters stand, the two are more estranged than ever. . . The new appointment of the South Downs as a National Park only serves to show how the Government believes that rural beauty is to be corralled, rather than integrated in to the rest of our economy. As a nation, we need to decide what we want from our countryside.

They also need to decide how much they’re prepared to pay for it. Farming certainly isn’t in terminal decline in New Zealand and is probably better placed than other sectors to withstand the recession. One of the reasons for that is that we were forced to enter the real world in the 1980s in contrast to our British counterparts who are still dependent on subsidies and find they and their incomes are governed by political whim rather than their markets.

But although we’re standing on our own feet there are still people and groups with strong views on what they want from and for our countryside and who want to tell us what to do and how to do it.

There is some comfort in the knowledge that the government has a better understanding and appreciation of farming than the previous one because here, as in Britain,  farmers are very much a minority and the rural-urban gap is very wide.

That’s one of the reasons that A&P shows are important, not only are they a  measure of how farming is doing, they’re also a plank on bridge between town and country.


%d bloggers like this: