Rural round-up

May 15, 2019

Tip Top sale half of debt target – Hugh Stringleman:

The sale of Tip Top to a joint-venture northern hemisphere company, Froneri, for $380 million has achieved almost half of Fonterra’s debt reduction target.

When its Beingmate shareholding is divested and a half share of DFE Pharma is sold, Fonterra should reach its $800m reduction target by July 31.

The Beingmate stake has a market value of about $280m and the DFE share about $200m, based on annual sales figures.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell has therefore made a good start on promised financial reforms of substantial debt reduction, cuts in capital and operational expenditure and 7%-plus return on capital invested by farmer-shareholders and unit holders. . . 

Gisborne woman takes out SI Sheep Dog trials event:

Gisborne’s Jo Waugh has won the zig zag hunt at the South Island sheep dog trial championships, the first time a woman has won the event in more than 100 years.

And not only did the 30-year-old and her huntaway dog, Guy, get on the podium, but two other women also joined her in the top seven, clocking up another achievement in the usually male-dominated event.

The South Island Sheep Dog trials were held in Hanmer Springs this week but farmers and shepherds have been competing since the sport first landed in New Zealand in the 1800s. . . 

MIE man changed priorities fast – Neal Wallace:

Richard Young was elected to the Silver Fern Farms board on a platform of industry restructuring and agitating for a merger with Alliance. Six years later the Otago farmer is the co-operative’s boss. He talks to Neal Wallace.

Richard Young vividly remembers the induction for new directors the evening before his first meeting as an elected member of the Silver Fern Farms board.

It was 2013 and the newly elected directors were taken through the co-operative’s accounts ahead of the annual meeting the next day.

It was not pretty. . . 

Tiny farm run on ethical principles– Sally Brooker:

An Alma family is proud to have set up the district’s smallest dairy farm.

Bethan and Bryan Moore have a herd of just 13 Ayrshire cows with calves on 6ha alongside State Highway 1. They will soon be selling milk in glass bottles.

The Moores bought the land about 18 months ago, after four years of sharemilking in Tasmania. Mrs Moore grew up near Cardiff, Wales and met Mr Moore, a farmer from the North Island, on her travels to New Zealand. . . 

Seeka cuts earnings forecast on smaller crop – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit grower and marketer Seeka has cut its full-year earnings guidance by $4 million due to reduced harvests in both New Zealand and Australia.

Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are likely to range from $32.5 million to $33.5 million in the 2019 calendar year, down from the $36.5-$37.5 million range the Te Puke-based company signalled a month ago.

Seeka, the biggest kiwifruit producer in New Zealand and Australia, said unseasonably hot, dry weather in both countries has reduced fruit size and crop volumes. . .

Meeting of Otago Drought Group – Sally Rae:

The work of the Otago Drought Group is a great example of farmers and their organisations collaborating to manage climate challenges locally, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The group met again this week to update its discussions on the dry conditions in the Clutha district, how farmers were faring and what actions might be needed.

The group, which included Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, representatives from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, the Otago Rural Support Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, convened early in any adverse weather event. . . 

Flying Pig cafe going to market:

One of the Waitaki district’s most recognisable restaurants is on the market.

The Flying Pig Cafe, with its distinctive porcine pink exterior, has long been a landmark in Duntroon.

It has been closed since illness befell its owners in early 2017, and is now for sale.

An Auckland couple bought the cafe in 2007 after discovering it during a holiday driving around the South Island. Business began to soar after the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail opened in 2014. . . 

Hi-tech boosts growers’ bottom lines:

“Incredibly clever” technology that elevates cool rooms into a state-of-the-art controlled atmosphere chambers is helping Hawke’s Bay’s growers make the very best of their crops.

It is not just about chilling fruit, it is about controlling the air conditions inside the cooler to hold it in the best possible state until market conditions are optimal; which could be any time over the 12 months after the crop has been picked.

Next week, growers have the opportunity to learn more about that technology from the Europeans who make it. . . 


Rural round-up

April 26, 2019

Industry confronts big issues – Luke Chivers:

How to grow primary industries sustainably, changing consumer expectations, technological transformation of growing and selling we issues confronted at the BOMA Grow 2019 Agri-Summit in Christchurch.

More than 600 people ranging from farmers, producers and researchers to educators and students and those working in government and finance met to discuss ways the food and fibre sector can be more innovative, collaborative, sustainable and profitable now and in future.

Event organiser Kaila Colbin said the two-day summit was a chance to learn about future trends affecting the agriculture sector and what to do about them, in a practical way, from people on the ground. . . .

Food and agri sector’s leap into the future

An agricultural revolution is taking place in Australia as the food and agri sector explores innovative ways to feed a growing global population using more sustainable methods.

It’s a revolution that kicked into even higher gear at Rabobank’s Farm2Fork Summit at Sydney’s Cockatoo Island on March 28, when cutting-edge ideas were unveiled, probed and prodded by producers, food and agri entrepreneurs, and industry trailblazers from around the world.

They left no stone unturned as they delved into everything from robotics and ag tech to sustainable farming methods, food waste reduction and alternative foods. . .

Give me the local government I deserve – Jim Galloway:

If you have ever wanted to make your mark in a positive and constructive way, please consider standing in the local body elections writes Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president Jim Galloway.

When I cast a vote, I have never felt as though doves are released – that I’m taking part in anything extra special.

But I know that it is an important right and privilege of being part of a democratic society – we can have input into how we are governed.

This October we all get to cast votes for our local and regional councils. . .

Pre-lamb shearing necessary in certain circumstances – Simon Davies:

Pre-lamb shearing is necessary in certain circumstances, but it must be carried out using best practice writes Federated Farmers spokesperson Simon Davies.

Pre-lamb shearing has its place in farming.

It is a necessary activity in certain situations and locations.

From a shearing industry point of view it is a necessity, as it allows shearing to be spread over almost 12 months of the year. . .

Course aims for future leaders :

Northland student Devlin Gurr wants to land a coveted cadetship at Smedley Station in Hawke’s Bay.

“It’s quite prestigious. They accept only 11 cadets each year so it’s really hard to get into,” Gurr said.

The 16-year-old has spent the start of the school holidays honing skills he’ll need to help land the two-year cadetship. . .

Zespri signals upside for grower payments  in 2020 – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is forecasting a potential lift of up to 6 percent in payments to growers this season.

The firm, which markets kiwifruit on behalf of 2,500 New Zealand growers and another 1,200 in Italy, Japan, Korea and France, is expecting total fruit and service payments of $1.775 billion to $1.875 billion in the year ending March 2020.

Zespri is yet to publish its March 2019 year results but in February forecast a total payment of almost $1.77 billion for that year. . .


Rural round-up

April 1, 2019

Let’s talk relationships – Nigel Malthus:

A Collingwood dairying couple is calling for formal recognition of healthy human relationships and wellbeing as quantifiable benchmarks in dairy farming.

Tim and Deborah Rhodes say the industry acknowledges the need for healthy environments and healthy animals, but not healthy humans.

They have asked Fonterra, via the Shareholders’ Council, to adopt a code of practice they call ‘responsible relationships.’ . . 

Partnership farm trials show GHG possibilities:

An 18-month long project to understand how changes on farm to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may impact a farms profitability and productivity has come to fruition, with the results for the Owl demonstration farm in Cambridge released today by DairyNZ.

“Our aim was to model and apply practical measures to see how we can adapt New Zealand’s highly efficient pastoral farm systems to meet New Zealand’s climate change goals,” says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle.

“The outcome of this project is important to helping us understand the impact of making improvements or changes to how a farm operates in order to reduce emissions and nitrogen leaching.” . .

 

Technology gains on farm praised – Gina McKenzie:

Making informed decisions using technology has created more productive land use for farms while reducing their environmental impact, according to Eyrewell farmer Mike Smith.

When Mr Smith and his family began their farming partnership in 2010, one of the first tasks was to boost soil fertility, along with adding soil moisture monitors, soil temperature monitors and flow meters.

”We wanted to know where we were sitting with our soil types, soil fertility and soil moisture-holding capabilities to make really well-informed decisions,” he said. . . 

Grower taking quinoa to market – Toni Williams:

The ancient grain quinoa (pronounced keen-waa) is touted as a new superfood but its history stems back to ancient times in South America.

It is successfully grown in New Zealand (in both the North and South Island) but is still imported in large quantities from Bolivia and Peru, as well as Australia.

And that is something Methven farmer Andrew Currie, and his partner Gaewynn Hood, at Avonmore Farm, on State Highway 77, just out of Methven, want to change.

Mr Currie, the third generation of growers on the property, knows of just three other substantial growers in New Zealand: two in the North Island and one in the South Island. . . 

Introducing the 2019 Sheep Industry Ambassadors: Part 2:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand have selected two Sheep Industry Ambassadors to represent this country at the Australia – New Zealand – United States Sheep Industry Ambassadors programme (formerly known as TriLamb). They are Tom Whitford from Northern Waikato and Cameron Russell from Southland. New Zealand will be hosting the 2019 programme and the Ambassadors will be touring New Zealand in late March. In part two, we meet Cameron Russell.

Sheep Industry career-path needs promoting

Cameron Russell is living proof that the sheep industry has a lot to offer young people with the right attitude and a willingness to succeed.

At 26 years of age, he is married with a child and working in a well-paid job as stock manager on Southland’s Diamond Peak Station. . . 

Time to fund the fight against animal activists says Top End beef leader – Vernon Graham:

The cattle transaction levy should be lifted by 50 cents to better fund the fight against the beef industry’s enemies headed by animal activists, says Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association president, Chris Nott.

Mr Nott, Alcoota Station, Alice Springs, told the NTCA’s annual conference in Darwin the time had come for beef producers to stand up to their critics and opponents.

Many delegates were clearly worried the beef industry was losing the battle for the hearts and minds of consumers because of the misinformation being spread by animal activists. . . 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

March 11, 2019

Silence on the land: Why are NZ Farmers quiet on the prospect of capital gains tax? –  Andrea Fox:

The proposed capital gains tax is a “mangy dog”, Federated Farmers says – but so far it hasn’t provoked much barking in the home paddocks.

Farmers have been almost silent – at least in public – on the spectre of a tax that, according to critics, will add unacceptably high costs and complexity to farmers’ already heavy compliance burden.

But don’t think for a minute they’ve accepted the idea of a tax on land sales.

The suggestion from farmers is that while some feel so hammered by central and local government lately they are shellshocked. Others are more relaxed. That’s because they know Coalition partner NZ First won’t support the recommendations from the Tax Working Group (TWG), for fear of being consigned to political history next year. . .

Aerial “no-till” project set to revolutionise NZ farming:

A successful trial of “no-till” helicropping showcased today in the Southern Waikato promises a step-change in the approach to pastoral farming in New Zealand – ensuring the protection of soils while maintaining productivity.

“We are effectively putting away the plough,” says Sustainable Helicropping Group Chairman, Colin Armer. “The aerial no-till approach means we can establish crops and renew pastures without touching the ground or disturbing precious soil, more like what happens in nature.”

Mr Armer says early results from the $1 million project have proven the potential to address the estimated 192 million tonnes of soil that are lost every year from erosion – according to the Ministry for the Environment’s Our Land 2018 report – 44% of which is from pastoral land. . . 

On the Farm: Our guide to what’s happening in rural New Zealand:

Each week our Country Life reporters talk to farmers and orchardists up and down the country about what’s happening in their area.

Northland’s  kumara need rain.  The harvest is 15 percent through and some moisture would help swell the size of the kumara. The up-side of the dry is it is easy to get them out of the ground.  The crop needs to be harvested by the end of May so there is only limited time to wait for rain and to get through it all.  Kumara have been very expensive in the past couple of years because of a lack of supply and  growers would love it if prices could ease a bit so it’s more affordable for everyone.   

Around Pukekohe the long dry spell continued until Thursday when some scattered showers drifted over the district but our south Auckland correspondent says they may get some “useful precipitation’ from the approaching cold front. He says much of the district’s cultivated land is bare except for irrigated paddocks where brassicas and lettuce are growing or are being planted.  . . 

Meat and dairy up in December:

The volume of meat and dairy product manufacturing rose in the December 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the volume of total manufacturing sales rose 2.0 percent in the December quarter. A 4.0 percent boost in meat and dairy product manufacturing led the rise.

“The meat and dairy industry rebounded after a strong fall in the September quarter,” manufacturing statistics manager Sue Chapman said. . . 

If there’s no water what’s the point? Female farmers in Arizona – Debbie Weingarten and Audra Malkern:

By 9am, it’s already 100F (38C). In the desert afternoons, rain gathers on the horizon, teasing – and then it disappears. There is so much heaviness, so much waiting.

I pulled on to the ranch of Anastasia Rabin with Audra Mulkern, a Washington-based photographer and founder of the Female Farmer Project. We were on assignment for a story and chasing a statistic: according to the most recent US census, Arizona is the state with the highest proportion of female farm operators.

Despite the fact that women have always farmed, they have been left out of our agricultural narrative. An incomplete story has real consequences: women have been left off land titles and bank documents; they have been denied federal loans and training opportunities; and until the 1982 census of agriculture, female farmers were not counted at all. . .

LIC officially opens upgraded facility in Manawatu:

LIC’s semen processing centre in the Manawatu was officially opened this week following an injection of more than $1 million to upgrade the facilities.

LIC, a herd improvement and agritech co-operative, is the country’s largest supplier of artificial breeding (AB) services and dairy genetics.

The refurbishment will enable the dairy farmer-owned co-operative to enhance its export capabilities and use the centre as a back up to its main facilities in Hamilton if required. . . 

Cheaper to travel to Japan than stream the Rugby World Cup:

It will be cheaper for communities in some remote areas of New Zealand to travel to Japan than it will be to stream the Rugby World Cup later this year.

Tim Johnson, CEO of Gravity – New Zealand’s only dedicated satellite broadband provider – says that apart from the challenges of doing homework and running a business in remote areas, capped broadband data rates would make it cheaper for some Kiwi’s to fly to Japan than it would to stream the Rugby World Cup later this year.

For Gravity Internet, who has as one of its shareholders former All Black Andrew ‘Andy’ Ellis, that scenario was intolerable. . . 


Rural round-up

March 2, 2019

Proposed water tax a ‘burden’ on low-water  regions – Stuart Smith:

The proposed new water tax that was announced as part of a swathe of other new taxes potentially facing Kiwis will disproportionally impact on low-rainfall regions like Marlborough.

There are eight new taxes in Michael Cullen’s proposal: the Capital Gains Tax (CGT), tax on vacant residential land, agriculture tax, water tax, fertiliser tax, environmental footprint tax, natural capital tax and a waste tax.

Much has been said about the CGT but the suggested water tax, too, would impact all Kiwis negatively and in particular our farmers, horticulturalists and wine growers in low-rainfall areas. . . 

Partnerships between men and women are critical for farming success – Bonnie Flaws:

With many farms run by married couples, the role of women in farming is a critical one, a female dairy farmer says.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a former dairy woman of the year, said male farmers could see everyday how women contribute to the business, and they respect that.

“I would say the percentage of women in farming is at least 50 per cent. Nearly every farming business has a partnership that has historically not been seen. But they’ve always been there.” . . 

Studies smoke out fire behaviour – Richard Rennie:

The risk of summer fires is a constant farmers and foresters learn to live with. But the Port Hills fire in 2017 and the Nelson fire last month have brought a human threat to wildfires many Kiwis thought was confined to Australia and North America. With wildfires now affecting rural and urban people Richard Rennie spoke to Scion rural fire researcher Dr Tara Strand about how we are getting smarter at understanding rural fires.

A TEAM of Scion researchers is part of a 27-year history of research into New Zealand’s rural fires, a quiet brigade of climate experts and fire analysts whose job is to help make rural firefighters’ jobs more effective and safer. . .

Grape yield under threat – Joanna Grigg:

Marlborough is experiencing a hydrological drought.

Lack of rain in the mountain catchment has left the Wairau River low, Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsdworth said.

And summer storage capacity on the plains has been found wanting as a result. January rain of 18mm was soon sucked up by 30C plus temperatures in February.  . .

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

A Waharoa dairy farmer is facing fierce competition in her quest to be named the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Sophia Clark will take on seven other contestants in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final in Matamata next month.

It will be the 30-year-old’s fourth attempt at clinching a coveted spot in the national final. . .

Scott St John leaves Fonterra Fund manager’s board as units hit record  low – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra director and veteran capital markets executive Scott St John has left the board of the shareholder fund’s manager, the same day the units plunged to a new low.

A notice to the Companies Office last night noted St John ceased being a director of FSF Management Co, the manager of the dual-listed Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which gives investors exposure to the cooperative’s earnings stream. He is still a director of Fonterra. . .


Rural round-up

February 21, 2019

Urban run-off floods nearby farms :

Farming on the city limits presents a paradox for Papamoa farmer Andrew Dovaston, one that on his bad days farming sometimes has him thinking about the benefits of cashing up to keen developers.

He is one of about a dozen farmers remaining down Bell Road, the boundary between Western Bay of Plenty District and Tauranga City and over the years he has seen the city’s lights creep ever closer as development pushes southwards from the country’s fastest-growing city.

The second-generation Dovaston family property was developed by Dovaston’s parents when they moved from Britain, initially intent on leaving their farming careers there behind and buying a service station.  . .

Golden Bay farmers suffering under one-in-20-year drought – Tracey Neal:

Nelson-Tasman is struggling with its driest weather in decades, with Golden Bay now in a one-in-20-year drought.

The district’s already ailing farmers and growers are in some areas operating on about 30 percent of their normal water allowances for irrigating crops.

In urban areas like Richmond and Mapua, gardens have dried up due to the total ban on watering.

Meanwhile, the State of Civil Defence Emergency will now be extended a further week as firefighters continue to battle the Tasman fire. . . 

The pain of Mycoplasma bovis is not being shared fairly – Keith Woodford:

Anyone reading the official information from MPI would be entitled to believe that the Mycoplasma bovis eradication campaign was going remarkably well. However, amongst the directly afflicted farmers, things remain far from sweet.

MPI has acknowledged that afflicted farmers have taken a hit on behalf of the industry, but as one greatly afflicted farmer said recently to me, this is the only team that he has been part of where, as a team member, he gets left behind.

I know of three farmers who have had to put their farms up for sale due to the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak and its implications.  There are others heading that way. I have yet to meet an afflicted farmer who does not feel hard done by. . . 

A2 more than doubles 1H net profit – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk’s first-half profit lifted 55.1 percent as infant formula revenue continued to soar.

Net profit rose to $152.7 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $98.5 million a year earlier as sales climbed 41 percent to $613.1 million, Auckland-based, Sydney-headquartered a2 said.

Sales of infant formula totalled $495.5 million for the half – an increase of 45.3 percent on the prior year driven by share gains in China and Australia. . . 

It’s not shear luck – Luke Chivers:

Record-breaking shearer Aaron Haynes has sheared his way to land ownership. Luke Chivers reports on his successes.

It was a rare moment at the Central Hawke’s Bay A and P Show in November when the open shearing final was won by a competitor who had never previously a top grade title.

That competitor was Aaron Haynes. And if his name sounds familiar there is good reason why. . .

Drought, pests could force India to grant duty-free corn imports – Rajendra Jadhav:

 Below-normal monsoon rains and an infestation of the fall armyworm, which devastated African crops in 2017, have slashed India’s corn output and boosted prices, increasing the chances the government will grant duty-free corn imports for the first time since 2016. 

The shift to imports in the world’s seventh-largest corn producer, which typically exports to Asia, highlights the breadth of the crop losses due to the drought and armyworm. It also demonstrates the potential harm that the armyworm may wreak on India’s agricultural economy, which supports nearly half of India’s 1.3 billion people.

India harvests two sets of corn crops a year, a winter crop from March and a summer crop from September. . . 

Stop slugs munching your profit margin:

In the last few planting seasons we have seen favourable conditions for slugs, and if favourable conditions occur again this autumn, slug populations will quickly bounce back from the hot and dry summer and pose a risk to autumn-sown crops and grass.

We all know that slugs can be devastating to newly sown crops and pastures, so it makes sense to check paddocks before sowing to see how bad the risk of slug damage is. . .


Rural round-up

January 30, 2019

Tourist demands leave rural practices without a GP for hours – Tess Brunton:

The pressure of having to look after an influx of tourists is leaving some rural doctor’s practices without a GP for hours on end. 

In an emergency, doctors have to abandon the patients at their practices to go out to help. 

They are worried that will happen more often as tourist numbers increase – and they will not have any extra support. . . 

High deer prices sustainable – Neal Wallace:

High and stable venison and velvet prices have been reflected in strong demand for stags with a top price of $155,000 paid for a velvet-trophy animal sold by Crowley Deer from Hamilton.

It was not alone in achieving phenomenal prices.

The Stevens family from Netherdale stud in Southland sold a velvet stag for $90,000, another Southland stud, the Elder family’s Altrive stud, got $75,000 for a velveting stag, Brock Deer from Gore sold a velvet stag for $70,000 and Tower Farms, Cambridge, made $65,000 for a velvet-trophy stag. . .

Cannabis firm soared to new highs – Luke Chivers:

An East Coast company will be the first to import stronger cannabis under new biosecurity laws.

Hikurangi Cannabis in Ruatoria has been granted permission to cultivate 16 new varieties of cannabis – including some of the first high-THC strains to be legally imported – for medicinal use.

The new cultivars include five varieties with high levels of THC, the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis. . .

Pace of change keeps getting quicker – Allan Barber:

Perhaps it’s my advancing age, but it seems as though the changes facing agriculture demand ever faster reactions and responses to stay ahead or even just to keep pace with a whole series of challenges: public expectation, government regulation, consumer tastes, changing climate patterns, and new technologies as well as the usual ones like finances, human resources and health pressures, both physical and mental.

In this age of apparently unlimited opportunity to access advice and assistance, whether from consultants, bankers, accountants, lawyers, IT experts, processors or industry bodies, there’s almost too much choice. The main challenge is choosing between products, services and advice which cover the range from the merely desirable or useful to the downright essential. . .

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award nominations open in February:

Nominations to a national award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry open February 1st.

The Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award was introduced last year by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying. Entry for this award is by nomination only via dairyindustryawards.co.nz . .

Is the vegan health halo fading? – Shan Goodwin:

VEGANISM’S health halo appears to be dissipating with the spread of nutritional advice that highly-processed packaged offerings are little more than junk food and as everyday consumers push back against overzealous campaigning.

Big United Kingdom movement Veganuary, which urges people to ditch animal products for the month of January, has backfired for the anti-meat army, many marketers and nutritional experts believe.

Health writers have used the event to take a close look at the nutritional values of a vegan diet and have come up with headings like “Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy” and “Vegans take more sickies.” . .


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