Rural round-up

07/12/2018

Maize crops sick, seeds failing:

 A major seed supplier is urgently investigating reports from farmers that some of their maize crops aren’t growing properly.

Genetic Technologies Limited is the New Zealand producer and distributor of the Pioneer seeds brand and sells more than 20 hybrid maize varieties.

The crop is grown in New Zealand for the production of animal feed, either in the form of grain maize or as maize silage.

This season some farmers say up to 30 percent of their maize seeds from Pioneer have failed and other seeds that have struck are looking sick.

A tale of two milk companies – one of them is being suckled by taxpayers – Point of Order:

The contrasting fortunes of Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products were thrown into sharp relief last week. On the one hand Synlait won applause at its annual meeting from shareholders, impressed by its performance in virtually doubling profit ($74.6m against $39.4m) in its tenth year of operations. On the other hand Westland had the begging bowl out for a Provincial Growth Fund loan of $9.9m which will help the co-op in funding a $22m manufacturing plant aimed at converting milk to higher-value products.

The Westland dairy exporter, discussing a capital restructure in its 2018 annual report, said it had relatively high debt and limited financial flexibility. . . 

Sheep needed on hill country – Alan Williams:

Waikato farmer Alastair Reeves has taken umbrage at the Productivity Commission’s suggestion sheep should be cast aside to make way for trees. He reckons sheep have a great future if they are not threatened by people making decisions in isolation and ignoring the ramifications of being wrong. He’s even got a plan for wool involving the Duchess of Sussex, aka Meghan Markle.

Sheep should be at the forefront of sustainable farming on hill country rather than being tossed aside for massive tree-planting programmes, Waikato hill farmer Alastair Reeves says.

It is a disgrace for the Productivity Commission to suggest up to 2.8 million hectares of new forestry be planted as a means of achieving a low carbon-emissions economy.  . . 

Water storage essential for future resilience – as experts cite drought as a major risk to NZ:

IrrigationNZ says a recent expert discussion document on drought and climate change highlights that future national planning to improve water storage and look at a range of options to mitigate the effects of the more severe droughts forecast is urgently needed.

“More frequent droughts and more variable rainfall will affect both urban and rural communities and will mean that we will need to rethink how we manage water in the future.
For example with less rainfall forecast over summer in western areas of New Zealand, there will be more demand for water storage from both councils and farmers to provide a reliable water supply,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . . 

Elitism of another kind – Clive Bibby:

I grew up on a farm just outside the small Central Hawkes Bay town of Waipawa.

My forebears had owned sizeable tracts of farming land that had been hacked out of the bush and scrub under the Ruahine Ranges.

I am very proud to be a descendant of such pioneering folk who understood what it means to build a business from nothing and see it grow into something that makes a reasonable contribution to the local economy. They also built the first trading general store in CHB. The building still stands.

It is perhaps ironic that much of the farm land in question was in the near vicinity of the catchment area for the now defunct Ruataniwha Fresh Water Dam proposal. . . 

New tool helps farmers gauge carbon footprint:

Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ are proud to support a new carbon calculator that gives farmers a guide to the size of their carbon footprint

The tool has been developed by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) and Agrilink NZ, with financial assistance from Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ.

It is available at http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/carboncalculator. . . 

Horticulture growth retains momentum:

Horticulture growth retained momentum with a seven percent growth in export earnings since 2016, according to an updated report, with tariffs on exported produce down by 12 percent since 2012.

The New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) and Horticulture New Zealand commission the report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade every two years, with funding support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust, and industry. . . 

International Boma NZ summit to help Aotearoa’s food:

A future-thinking agriculture summit will bring together global and local experts on future farming trends, exponential change, and new business models and product pathways. The summit, called Grow 2019, is designed to help Aotearoa’s food and fibre sector be more innovative, collaborative, sustainable and profitable now and into the future.

Organiser Kaila Colbin says the two-day summit is an opportunity to learn about the future trends that are impacting the agriculture sector, and what to do about them, in a practical way, from people on the ground. Grow 2019 will also connect groups of like-minded individuals and organisations so that together we can understand, adapt and grow in a future that looks nothing like today. . . 


Rural round-up

29/04/2018

Dairy role model gets reward – Annette Scott:

Taupo dairy farmer Kylie Leonard believes she has a responsibility to be involved in her community but she never “in her wildest dreams” expected any special accolades for doing what she loves doing. She talked to Annette Scott.   

Kylie Leonard is passionate about her community roots that go back more than 60 years on the Central Plateau.

Her family has a long history of farming in the region where her grandparents walked from Te Aroha, in Waikato, to Reporoa to establish their dairy farm in the 1950s.

Initially pursuing a teaching career Leonard never gave up on her long-time dream to one day own a piece of land and be a dairy farmer herself. . . 

Legendary herb offers forest options – Richard Rennie:

With more than 2000 years of Chinese use as a tonic and medicine ginseng is a herb familiar to the world’s fastest-growing consumer market, one increasingly seeking traditional therapies and tonics for a growing list of modern ailments.

The fact it appears to grow exceptionally well in New Zealand under the canopy of pine tree forests only adds to the appeal this ancient herb offers as a marketer’s dream and a forester’s cashflow booster. Richard Rennie gained an insight to the herb’s potential at the country’s inaugural Ginseng Symposium.

The harvested root of ginseng has long held medicinal and healing properties valued by the Chinese and Koreans who see it as a cure for ailments including memory, fatigue, menopause symptoms and diabetes to name a few. Globally, the ginseng market for both the raw root and processed product is valued at more than US$2 billion. . .

Wairarapa pea growing ban extended:

Extending the ban on growing peas in the Wairarapa for at least a further 12 months offers the best chance of ensuring pea weevil has been eradicated in the district, Wairarapa Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

“After the 12 months we can then review whether a continued total ban, partial restrictions or other measures will be the best option going forward, based on what the trap crops show us.”. . .

Philippines-based Bounty Fresh mounts $437.8M takeover bid for Tegel –  Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Philippines-based poultry group Bounty Fresh Foods will mount a $437.8 million takeover bid for NZX-listed Tegel Group at a 50 percent premium to the share price, which has been beaten up after multiple earnings downgrades.

The Filippino company already has Tegel’s cornerstone shareholder Affinity Equity Partners on board, signing a lock-up agreement with the holding company Claris Investments for a 45 percent stake. The offer of $1.23 per share is a premium to the 82 cents the stock closed at on Tuesday, although it’s still a discount to the $1.55 price the shares sold at in the 2016 initial public offering. . . 

Council aims to sell dam research to recoup losses

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has lost most of the money it invested in the now defunct controversial Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, it says.

After spending $20 million on planning and resource consents, the council last year pulled its financial backing for the project after the Supreme Court ruled the council could not flood a large parcel of conservation land.

The council now wants to sell the intellectual property and research prepared for the dam.

Council chair Rex Graham believed they would be able to recover some of their investment. . . 

CropLogic’s managing director Jamie Cairns resigns, replaced by CFO James Cooper-Jones – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – CropLogic’s managing director has resigned with immediate effect, with the company’s chief financial officer appointed as acting chief executive.

The Christchurch-based agritech firm, which listed on the ASX last year, said today that Jamie Cairns had tendered his resignation and the board had accepted. James Cooper-Jones, CropLogic’s CFO and company secretary, has been appointed acting CEO. . . 

Clevedon Buffalo Co. named Supreme Champion Of Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2018:

Clevedon Buffalo Co has been named Supreme Championof the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2018, with a further eight food businesses receiving awards recognising the outstanding quality of their produce.

The food producers were assessed as the country’s finest after 186 food products from 100 producers were assessed by a panel of judges in March. The majority of judging marks were for aroma, taste, quality, with a further 20% for brand story, product and pack design and sustainability. Shortly after judging, 25 New Zealand food producers received Gold Medals and a further 57 received Silver. Champions were chosen from the highest scoring Gold Medal winners. . . 

The 25 Most Important Cheeses in America, According to Cheese Experts – Carey Polis:

The phrase American cheese used to mean only one thing: that floppy, pale orange plastic-wrapped slice of processed perfection. But when I use the phrase American cheese now, that’s not what I’m talking about (save for this great grilled cheese recipe and the occasional hamburger). Instead, I’m referring to the incredible range of cheeses handcrafted in America—from young, tangy goat cheeses in Indiana to aged, nutty cow’s-milk cheese in Wisconsin; dessert-like blue cheeses from Oregon and complex, caramel-y clothbound cheddars from Vermont.

We’re living in a dairy renaissance, people! The golden age of American cheese! What a time to be alive!

But the cheese counter can be an intimidating place; good cheese does not come cheap. So I asked seven of the country’s leading cheese experts (see their bios at the end) to share what they think are the most important (and most delicious) cheeses that define American dairy today. Beyond just how good these cheeses taste, many of them also serve as models for responsible dairy farming and helping local communities. . .


Rural round-up

29/08/2017

A2 Milk outperforms once again – Keith Woodford:

The a2 Milk Company (ATM) took a big step forward with its 2016/17 results which were released on 23 August. Sales were up 56 percent from the previous year to $549 million, and post-tax profits tripled to $NZ90 million. The market was impressed.

Everyone knew that a strong result was in the offing, and so the shares had already risen 50 percent over the preceding three months, and almost trebled in value on a 12-month basis. The share price then rose another 15 percent over the following three days to close at $5.74 at week’s end.

The most important messages within the annual report were not about the present but the future. The picture drawn by CEO Geoff Babidge was of a fast-growing company with no debt and lots of free cash in the bank to fund ongoing developments. . . 

A School of Rural Medicine to be established:

The Government will establish a new School of Rural Medicine within the next three years to produce more doctors for our rural communities, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith says.

“Every New Zealander deserves quality healthcare services, and we want to grow the number of doctors in rural and regional areas to make it easier for people in those areas to access other key health services,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“The new School of Rural Medicine will be specifically geared toward meeting the challenges faced by high need and rural areas of the country, and will produce around 60 additional doctors per year. . . 

Primary industries feel under siege as prospect of Labour-led government firms:

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS – The divide between regional and urban politics is being thrown into ever sharpening contrast as the election campaign unfolds. Agricultural industries and rural communities feel under siege in the looming election.

As reported in Trans Tasman’s sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, weeks ago the chances of a Labour-led government seemed unlikely, but now the chance of this happening seems possible with policies which could prove ruinous for NZ’s main export industries.

Labour will tax users of water, including farmers (but not those companies using municipal supplies). Both the Greens and Labour are committed to bringing agriculture into the emissions trading scheme and say the carbon price should be higher. They have not stated how high they want animal emissions to be taxed. . . 

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to vote on ending Ruataniwha funding, writing-off $14M debt – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will vote this week on whether to stop any further investment in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme and write-off a $14 million debt owed by its investment company.

The vote on Wednesday comes as a result of a report into options following the Supreme Court decision to reject a Department of Conservation land swap need to create the storage scheme reservoir. 

The council’s investment arm, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co (HBRIC), owes $14 million to the council made up of $7 million of charges and $7 million of cash advances, according to the council report. For its part, HBRIC has an intangible asset of $19.5 million on its books related to the feasibility and development costs of RWSS. This was funded with the $14 million advance from the council and $5.5 million from external debt. . . 

Feds Wonder Why We Would Need A Tourist Tax?:

Labour’s suggestion of taxing international visitors to raise funds to pay for tourism infrastructure raises questions about why we can’t find the money already from existing tax.

Federated Farmers has been concerned about the pressure councils, particularly small rural councils, are under to maintain services for tourists, including public toilets and other facilities.

“We agree that tourism is placing increasing pressure on our nation’s infrastructure and these costs are being unfairly borne by regional economies.

“But surely it is possible to find the additional targeted funding for councils in need from within this already increasing area of tax take?” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . . 

Behind the hype of lab-grown meat -Ryan F. Mandelbaum:

Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells. One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger. And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals.

That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat. Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals. But these future foods’ promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley’s startup culture. Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market. . .

Wine exports reach record high:

The export value of New Zealand wine has reached a record high according to the 2017 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers. Now valued at $1.66 billion, up 6% in June year end 2017, wine now stands as New Zealand’s fifth largest goods export.

Over the past two decades the wine industry has achieved average annual export growth of 17% a year states the Report. “With diversified markets and a strong upward trajectory, the industry is in good shape to achieve $2 billion of exports by 2020” said Steve Green, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

More Kiwis than ever are enjoying speciality cheese:

As Kiwis prepare to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month, sales data shows we are enjoying more locally made cheese than ever before.

Nielsen data shows supermarket sales of New Zealand Specialty cheese have increased in value by 6% in the 12 months to August 2017 . What’s more, in the first quarter of 2017 Nielsen says 771, 383 Kiwi purchased specialty cheese, an increase of more than 20% compared with the same period in 2014 .

Every October the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) members host a variety of tastings, inviting cultured Kiwis to events across the country to meet cheese makers and taste their wares. . . 

Largest ever Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final:

2017 sees the largest National Final ever held for the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year competition. Taking place next Tuesday 29th August at Villa Maria in Marlborough, there will be a total of six national finalists representing six of our wine regions: Tim Adams – Auckland/Northern; Ben Richards – Hawke’s Bay; Ben McNab Jones – Wairarapa; Laurie Stradling – Nelson; Anthony Walsh – Marlborough and Annabel Bulk – Central Otago.

Bulk is the first woman in the competition since 2011, so it is great to see viticulture is very much a serious career option for both men and women. . .  


Rural round-up

23/07/2017

Real progress can be made at catchment level – William Rolleston:

New Zealand, as we all know, is blessed with abundant water and we have it to ourselves.  

We have abundant water, but not always in the right place at the right time. For example, North Canterbury had been in drought for three years, affecting not only farmers who had to turn off their irrigators, but also rivers like Selwyn – the subject of intense media scrutiny over the early part of this year.  

In the final Selwyn River hurrah, before the rains came and ruined all the fun, The Press, in Christchurch, ran a front page article on the Irwell River where fishing had been destroyed.  . . 

The arguments for and against the Ruataniwha dam – Victoria White:

Over its lifespan, the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme has attracted its fair share of supporters and critics.

For some, the scheme promised a solution to drought problems which hampered the region’s economic development, and placed pressure on water supplies in the Tukituki catchment.

Irrigation NZ chief executive Andrew Curtis said without the dam, “severe water restrictions” would be placed on irrigators, which could impact their livelihood. . . 

Truffle enthusiasts converge on Waipara Valley

Truffle fanatics from around New Zealand have converged on the Waipara Valley in North Canterbury for the area’s third annual truffle festival.

The first of the fungus treasures were produced in the area only 20 years ago – but the region has quickly established itself as the country’s truffle capital.

Waipara Valley truffle grower, Gareth Renowden, said people had been travelling from as far afield as Auckland and Wellington for the festival events, which included hunts, cooking classes and truffle-themed lunches.

Mr Renowden said the truffle trade in the area had taken off and it was hoped in the future there would be a strong export industry. . . 

Wool volumes pick up, stockpiles linger :

A higher volume of wool was offered at New Zealand’s latest weekly auction as stockpiles from last season come to market.

Some 8873 bales were offered at yesterday’s North Island auction, 32% above the 6697 bales offered at the same time last year, AgriHQ said.

The auction achieved a strong clearance rate of 81%, ahead of the 74% average clearance rate in the previous season which ended June 30, AgriHQ said. . . 

Cropping farmers go to polls :

Cropping farmers go the polls in the next few weeks to determine the future of their levy-funded research organisation, Foundation for Arable Research.

Under the Commodity Levies Act growers have the opportunity to vote to renew levy orders every six years. A ‘yes’ vote will ensure FAR’s continued existence and on-going contribution to the cropping industry, while a ‘no’ vote would result in the organisation being wound up, and all research and extension programmes ceasing. . . 

Wish we’d thought of that – astounding agribusiness ideas – Ben Mack:

Agribusiness helps form the backbone of Aotearoa’s economy. Are you doing something stupendous that you think deserves to be recognised at the 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards? Then enter it in the Innovation in Agribusiness & Environment category, sponsored by Bayer NZ.

The 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards are open for entries. If you’ve got an amazing product, service, process or venture – or you know someone who needs to be shoulder-tapped – now’s the time to get it out there. And to help encourage entries and showcase the categories, we’re showcasing the best innovations we come across. We focus next on Innovation in Agribusiness & Environment, sponsored by Bayer NZ.

Farmshed Labs

Anyone who has lived in Aotearoa for any length of time can attest to how important the dairy and cattle industries are to the New Zealand economy, especially out in the regions. Likewise, anyone who has worked with cows on a farm can explain the tricky art of knowing when to breed a cow to a bull, and how often such attempts are unsuccessful. But guess what? Breeding cows isn’t art – it’s science. And there’s some wearable tech that’s making that science easier than ever before. . .

Cream cheese innovation at the heart of significant new build:

Dairy lovers across Asia will soon get their first taste of an innovative new cream cheese, as Fonterra announces plans for two new cream cheese plants at its Darfield site in Canterbury.

The Co-operative today marked the start of the ambitious project, inviting Selwyn MP Hon. Amy Adams and Selwyn District Council Mayor Sam Broughton to join Fonterra management and staff in turning the first sod on the new build. . . 

Feds man honoured for contribution – Laurel Stowell:

Whanganui’s Tim Matthews calls himself an amateur policy analyst.

He won Federated Farmers’ 2017 Outstanding Contribution Award at the federation’s annual general meeting in Wellington on June 21.

A sheep and beef farmer with 1000ha of hill country near Mangamahu, Mr Matthews has been a member of Federated Farmers since 1983. He’s been the vice-president and meat and fibre chairman for the Wanganui province at various times since then. . . 


Rural round-up

10/05/2017

Be ‘loud and proud’ Guy:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says the dairy industry should be ‘loud and proud’ about their environmental credentials.
Speaking at the Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland on Saturday night, Guy acknowledged the great work down by farmers to protect the environment.

He noted that 26,000km of waterways have been voluntarily fenced off.

“We need to continue to tell this story not only to New Zealanders but to consumers all over the world,” he says. . .

Crunch time approaches for Ruataniwha water storage scheme – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A decision on the future of the controversial Ruataniwha water storage scheme in the Hawke’s Bay is looming, with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council set to consider a review on its risks at a special meeting tomorrow.

The council is to consider the findings of its review into the scheme and is likely to seek further advice before a formal decision is made on its future at a council meeting on May 31, it said in a statement. The review examines the legal, financial, economic, engineering and environmental elements of the scheme, and the implications of withdrawing from it. . .

Cream of dairy crop found:

New Zealand’s top dairy farmers were announced in front of nearly 550 people at Auckland’s Sky City Convention Centre on Saturday.

Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley were named the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Hayley Hoogendyk became the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Clay Paton was named the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $190,000. . .

Pasture is an excellent feed, unless you mismanage it – John Roche:

In reviewing old research for a history paper I am writing, I came across two quotes that I thought made for as interesting a discussion today as they did 70-80 years ago when they were first uttered.

The first, from the United States in 1936, states that “if a cow will eat enough immature grass to provide the required digestible nutrients and if this grass has a normal content of minerals, her ration is not likely to be deficient in any of the essential food constituents” – Woodward, 1936 . . .

Confusion cleared up :

Carrying a passenger on a quad bike is allowed only when there is no reasonable alternative, a clarification from WorkSafe states.

WorkSafe acknowledged farmers and others using quad bikes for work needed the policy clarified so they clearly understood what was acceptable in terms of carrying passengers.

It was acceptable only when there was no reasonable alternative, having considered factors such as availability of alternative vehicles, terrain and rider and passenger capability. . .

Book offers career options in farming – Peter Burke:

A new booklet aimed at inspiring young people to make a career in the dairy industry is newly published by DairyNZ.
The 32 page booklet looks at dairy farming, agriscience and agribusiness.

Opening with the value of dairying to New Zealand, it poses questions to help young people decide if the dairy sector is for them. The questions are on the themes of farming, science and business. . .

Footrot Flats made us laugh at ourselves – and talk about love, life, apartheid and more – Joyce Wyllie:

 Humour is a generous gift and I value the saying “a merry heart does good like a medicine”.

Looking at the Footrot Flats cartoon strips I recognise ourselves, our animals, our quirks and our mistakes and can laugh at them.

Murray Ball had a tremendous talent for drawing, an ingenious imagination, and above all an astute eye and ear for portraying real rural people and events. Sadly Murray died recently and I give tribute to him and his amazing gift.


Rural round-up

07/10/2016

NZ meat industry pioneer honoured:

New Zealand meat industry pioneer Sir Graeme Harrison has won this year’s Rabobank Leadership Award in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the food, beverage and agribusiness sectors.

Harrison, the founder and chairman of one of NZ’s largest exporters, Anzco Foods, was presented with the trans-Tasman award at the annual Rabobank Leadership Dinner in Sydney, Australia, last night.

It is the second year in a row a New Zealander has taken the honour with former Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden the recipient of the award last year.

Presenting the award, Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group managing director Peter Knoblanche said Sir Graeme was a “true champion of agribusiness” who had made an enormous contribution not only as a NZ business leader, but also in the international meat industry trade”. . .

Farmers say river plan will kill businesses – Glenys Christian:

Many of the more than 150 farmers who gathered in Pukekohe last Monday believe the Waikato Regional Council’s Healthy Rivers Wai Ora plan will drive them out of business or severely limit what they can do on their properties.  

And Waikato University Professor of Agribusiness Jacqueline Rowarth told them if the plan came into force there would be a dearth of young people returning to the land.  

New Zealand enjoyed some of the best quality wild water in the world, backed up by a huge amount of environmental protection.  

She questioned comparisons made and said a lot of the research work used by the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora collaborative stakeholder group (CSG) was based on modelling without giving enough attention to the constraints and uncertainties involved, especially went it came to Overseer programme predictions. . . 

Farmers praise Northland plan – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland’s draft regional plan is pragmatic and headed in the right direction, Federated Farmers says.  

Federated Farmers Northland province found the overall thrust of Northland Regional Council policy-making was appropriate for dairy, sheep and beef cattle farmers.  

In particular, it responded to livestock exclusion rules, setback distance from waterways, farm wastewater storage, wetlands and catchment plans for improving water quality.  

It said Northland’s freshwater resources were in a reasonable state and over-allocation and nitrate loadings were not issues. . . 

A damn load of emotional effluent – Tim Gilbertson:

The Ruataniwha water storage scheme saga has gone far beyond soap opera territory: fantasy has long since replaced fact, the noisy quashing any sense.

Here are some examples. Serial anti-RWSS crusader Grenville Christie claims riparian planting stops only phosphate from entering the waterways (CHB Mail Sept 20). Incorrect. It stops virtually everything except nitrogen.

Filtering improves water quality, in some cases by up to 80% within a few months. Nitrogen enters the rivers via groundwater, so riparian planting is ineffective. But nitrogen will be severely limited by Plan Change 6, so Grenville can rest easy. . . 

Time to wake up and get safe! – Mark Daniel:

While quad fatalities keep fuelling a media frenzy, it’s time to look at the broader picture and try to understand what makes our farms such dangerous places.

Dangerous they are: statistics between 2013 and December 2015 show farmers suffered 63 deaths*; the next-highest sectors, transport and warehousing, had 17 and forestry 14 respectively during the same period.  

So the death rate on farms is around four times higher; why is that? If you’ve visited a quarry, warehouse or forest lately, you’ll know that before you get to the action you’ll be hit with rules, hazard identification, hi-vis vests, hard hats and steel-toe boots. Easy to do, you say, on a compact ring fenced site, but much harder to do in the backblocks of New Zealand. . . 

New challenge in milking goats –  Sudesh Kissun:

South Auckland farmer Hamish Noakes had no crystal ball four years ago when he pulled out of cow dairying and started milking goats.

The 40ha family-run farm at Karaka was “just too small and milking 160 cows just wasn’t working”.  

“I was always chasing my tail; I had a lot of leased blocks so I was always running around between leased blocks and running this farm,” Hamish told Rural News. . . 

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Rural round-up

11/07/2016

Sharemilking remains a viable career path – new report:

Sharemilking as a career path is alive and well, according to a report recently released on progression in the dairy industry.

The DairyNZ and Federated Farmers-resourced Dairy Progression Pathways report, undertaken by AgFirst, explores the latest trends and statistics relating to sharemilking and examines the issues created by milk price volatility.

Federated Farmers sharemilker farm owners’ section chairperson Tony Wilding says the report shows opportunities for progression still exist but the career pathways have been changing and will continue to do so. . . 

Feds pleased Ruataniwha gets another green light:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme in Hawke’s Bay has another green light with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) confirming its intention to invest in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

HBRC today approved its $80million investment with a 7-2 vote, agreeing that all four of the conditions required for investment had been met.

The investment follows more than 190 Signed Water User Agreements in support of the scheme. . . 

Cost cutting blamed for lepto increase – Glenys Christian:

An increase in leptospirosis cases in Northland has been blamed on dairy farmers’ efforts to cut costs in a low-payout year.

While no cases were reported last year, the Medical Officer of Health has reported seven confirmed cases so far this year in the region with another under investigation.

Malcolm Fuller, Federated Farmers’ field officer for Northland, Auckland and Hauraki-Coromandel told the Auckland federation’s executive meeting he had heard of two northern farmers who were not vaccinating their herds this year.

“They can’t afford to get the vet in,” he said. . .

Support To Increase Voluntary Wool Contribution By 0.5c Gains Momentum:

Last month, one of New Zealand’s major wool growers and trustee for the Campaign for Wool (CFW), Renata Apatu of Ngamatea Station, front–footed an increase in contribution to the CFW’s activities by making an immediate commitment to up his contribution to 1c/kg, an increase of 0.5c, and challenging others to do the same.

Wright Wool Ltd, Kells Wool Ltd and Fred Tate Wools Ltd have accepted the challenge, increasing their contribution to 1c/kg also. They are now challenging others to join them, especially the bigger players who could really affect a positive increase.

“Having directly witnessed what the wool industry gets out of the activities of the CFW, an additional 0.5c/kg is one of the best returns on investment I have made,” says Mr Renata Apatu. . . 

Southland backs $250m Hollyford Highway:

The Southland District Council has unanimously backed the proposed Haast-Hollyford Highway going forward for government approval.

The controversial 130km toll road, planned by a private company, would pass through the Fiordland National Park. It is expected to cost $250 million.

The road has the support of all four West Coast councils and many local people, but needed Southland’s backing to proceed.

After a short discussion this afternoon, all councillors voted to support the project going into both the regional and national land transport programmes, to be investigated and assessed further. . . 

Shocks versus structural change is the big dairy question – Keith Woodford:

Right now, the focus of almost every New Zealand dairy farmer is on survival. It is a time when cash is king.

In the short run, it is all about turning cash inputs into milk. There can be no argument that this means using all available grass, but it also means not having hungry cows. Each farmer will find his or her way of achieving this. It may be through decreased stock numbers or it may be through appropriate supplementation to match feed deficits. In times like these, it is more important to travel the chosen path efficiently rather than to jump wildly from one path to the other.

Despite the focus on survival, it is also a good time to be thinking strategically. At the industry level, have we got it right?  In regard to what we are currently experiencing, how much of it is from one-off shocks and how much is due to structural change within global markets. . . 

The launch of The Snow Farmer ignites Cardrona’s spirit of fun – Beattie’s Book Blog:

John and Mary Lee (below right) have been at the heart of life in Cardrona for decades, establishing a world famous ski facility and saving the iconic Cardrona Hotel from dereliction. The importance of community has been integral to the Lees’ vision, their activities and adventures, significantly underpinning the local economy. Small wonder then, that the local community should gather in force to celebrate the launch of The Snow Farmer, penned by Otago Daily Times agribusiness reporter Sally Rae, at two very special events.

The first and official book launch was held at the Cardrona Alpine Resort, which the Lees hosted along with Paper Plus Wanaka. The infectious happiness of the Cardrona staff set the perfect scene, with Sally remarking that “it was like watching the characters in the book come to life.” The Lees neighbour Ed Taylor MC’d, skilfully recounting past incidents and keeping everything humming along nicely. Friend Shaun Gilbertson rather colourfully related past tales and Lyall Cocks spoke on behalf of the local council, praising John’s efforts and foresight. John responded with gratitude to Sally Rae and photographer Stephen Jaquiery for so expertly telling and illustrating his life story. John said that they were wonderful to work with and have put life into the story. He also thanks everyone who gave their time to tell their story and helped to enhance the book. . .

You can listen to Kim Hill’s interview with the Lees here. (Thanks Freddy for pointing me to this).

  Crossroads Wines to move winemaking to Marlborough:

The Crossroads Winery, in Hawke’s Bay, celebrates 25 years of quality winemaking in New Zealand. A large part of Crossroads’ success has come from its boutique, hand-crafted winemaking and small parcel sourcing within the Hawke’s Bay. In 2011, Yealands Family Wines acquired the winery and vineyards and continued to focus on the small lot, hand crafted winemaking strategy as they looked to grow the brand globally.

Yealands Family Wines was established in August of 2008 as the world’s first winery to be carboNZerocertTM since inception. Over the past 8 years, the Yealands Estate Winery has grown and developed into a state of the art winery and vineyard in Marlborough New Zealand, focused on high quality winemaking and site specific sourcing throughout the Seaview Estate Vineyard, and both the Awatere and Wairau Valleys in Marlborough. . . 

Changes to Milk NZ:

Milk New Zealand today announced that Andy Macleod, CEO of the Pengxin New Zealand Farm Group, has resigned with effect from 8 July 2016.

Milk New Zealand oversees the management of 16 farms located in the Central North Island and 13 in the Canterbury region.

Macleod joined Pengxin New Zealand Farm Group in 2013 and Terry Lee, Managing Director of Milk New Zealand, said the company valued and appreciated his contribution to the business and wished him well for the future. . . 


Rural round-up

23/06/2016

Retiring prof’s work continues – Sally Rae:

Prof Frank Griffin describes his lengthy career in animal science at the University of Otago in his own inimitable way.

“It’s been absolutely amazing. I’ve had a party every day; it’s really been fun,” he said.

Official retirement might be looming at the end of the month for the popular professor but his association with the university, where he has worked since 1973, is unlikely to end. . . 

Port dairy cows spared – Sally Rae:

Port Chalmers dairy farmer Merrall MacNeille is looking at various options to get his milk back on the market.

He was recently ordered to stop selling raw milk after a tuberculosis-positive heifer was discovered on his property.

He was able to supply milk for pasteurisation and, using a small pasteuriser, hoped to have “something on the shelf” by the end of August.

Other options were also being explored and Mr MacNeille said they would “get there one way or another”. . . 

Zespri raises profit forecast range to recognise $50M of Gold3 licence revenue :

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri International, the kiwifruit marketer, raised its full-year profit forecast to take into account licence revenue of $50 million from the release of 400 hectares of Gold3 licence in 2016.

Zespri is now forecasting profit of $70 million to $75 million for the 2016/17 year, up from the range of $25 million to $30 million it gave in April. The earlier forecast excluded revenue from the release of Gold3 licences that were tendered in May.

The closed tender bid process attracted broad participation from the industry with 1,376 hectares bid and 266 successful bidders for the 400 hectares of the SunGold licence, Zespri said. Half the hectares were restricted to Green and Green14/Sweet Green growers to provide an opportunity for existing green growers to convert over to SunGold, it said. . . 

Seeka handles record volumes:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Limited advises that it has completed kiwifruit packing operations in Australia and New Zealand for the 2016 season. The Company has handled record volumes in the packing season, with more than 30M trays handled in New Zealand for the first time. Seeka now heads into the storage and inventory management portion of the season in New Zealand, while at the same time it completes its kiwifruit sales program in Australia. The Australian pear selling season is anticipated to complete in October.

New Zealand volumes handled by Seeka were up by 16.6% at 30.8m trays. This figure includes approximately 700k trays that will be removed from the inventory or at time of packing, through crop management. All volumes have been handled within the company’s infrastructure, and Seeka now moves to managing more than 16M trays in store. . . 

Police investigate ‘dear old lady’s’ pet sheep:

An elderly Waikato woman has been left distressed after four of her pet sheep were killed and their body parts strewn across her paddock.

Cambridge police say someone jumped the “dear old lady’s” farm fence on Tirau Road on Friday night and killed the four pregnant ewes.

“They left the offal and heads in the paddock for her to find the next morning,” police said on their Facebook page. . .

Greenpeace launches legal challenge against controversial $1b dam plan:

Greenpeace NZ is launching a legal challenge against a controversial plan to build a dam that’s set to cost close to $1 billion and will pollute a region’s rivers.

Today, Greenpeace will file a judicial review of resource consents granted by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to extend the area of land area that can be irrigated by the Ruataniwha scheme, which will aid the expansion of dairy farms in the region. 

The motion, to be lodged at the High Court in Napier, challenges two resource consents given to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company in January, which were granted without public notification on the basis of a Council assessment that any environmental effects would be no more than “minor”. . . 


Rural round-up

28/04/2016

Farming salaries holding firm despite tough conditions:

Dry stock farmers’ salaries have seen strong growth in the last year, according to Federated Farmers and Rabobank’s 2015/2016 employee remuneration report.

Despite tough times and low inflation, most sheep, beef and grain farmers have been able to provide higher average salaries on a year ago – illustrating real income increases for many farm workers at all levels of experience and responsibility.

Salaries in the dairy industry have remained stable, but for the first time there has been a very small decrease in the value of extras farmers provide their staff, such as firewood and internet access, pushing the total value of their package (TPV) down. . .

Farm Environment Competition Produces Great Crop Of Supreme Winners

Left to Right: Roger Landers and Matt Kelbrick (Taranaki), Graham and Marian Hirst (East Coast), Shane Gibbons and Bridget Speight (Southland), Joe and Suz Wyborn (Canterbury), Richard and Dianne Kidd (Auckland), Daniel and Reidun Nicholson (Greater Wellington), John Hayward and Susan O’Regan, (Waikato), Brendon and Paula Cross (Otago), David and Adrienne Hopkins & Ben and Belinda Price (Horizons), Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan (Northland), Leighton Oats and Matt Nelson (Bay of Plenty).The 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards have delivered an outstanding line-up of Supreme winners from the eleven regions participating in the prestigious competition.

Auckland is the latest region to join the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, with Helensville sheep, beef and forestry farmers Richard and Dianne Kidd claiming the region’s first Supreme title. Fellow sheep and beef farmers Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan, Taipa, were Supreme winners in Northland, with large scale kiwifruit operation BAYGOLD Ltd, Paengaroa, winning in the Bay of Plenty. . .

Federated Farmers thrilled Ruataniwha scheme now in position to proceed:

Federated Farmers is thrilled the Ruataniwha Water Storage scheme in Hawkes Bay has made another significant step towards hitting the go button, after it was confirmed sufficient water sign-up will make the scheme cash positive.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) announced yesterday it has 196 Signed Water User Agreements, the numbers needed for the project to proceed.

Federated Farmers Hawkes Bay Provincial President Will Foley says the dam will preserve the inter-generational nature of family farming in the Hawkes Bay. . . 

Dog stays with dead farmer:

The body of an 87-year-old farmer who went missing in rugged Far North bush was found after searchers spotted a dog which had stayed near his side all night.

The man was last seen about 1pm on Monday when he left home on his quad bike to check farm equipment on his Topps Access Rd property, just south of Kaeo.

Family, friends and neighbours began a search when neither he nor the dog returned. They called police when there was still no sign of the pair by 8pm.

The cattle dog, which was described as small and normally timid, was understood to belong to the man’s daughter but followed him everywhere he went. . . 

Love of farming is in the DNA – Kate Taylor:

University student Olivia Ellis works every time she goes home for a visit. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Home is a 320-hectare farm, Papawai, on State Highway 50 between Onga Onga and Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay… home also to parents Richard and Helen Ellis.

They’ve been there since 1995 when Olivia was a toddler, along with big brothers William, who after qualifying as a builder is now shepherding near Timaru, and the late George, who worked for WaterForce in Ashburton before a truck crash in 2014. . . 

GlobalDairyTrade moves to 24/7 online trading:

The global dairy trading platform owned by Fonterra is to expand further into online trading.

GlobalDairyTrade (GDT), though owned by Fonterra, acts independently as one of the world’s leading dairy trading platforms.

As well as its fortnightly auction, the company offer a new way for customers to trade in the 66-billion litre international dairy market. . . 

Dairy co-op Murray Goulburn cuts milk prices, MD Gary Helou departs – Nikolai Beilharz:

Australia’s largest dairy processor Murray Goulburn has announced it will cut its milk price for suppliers, with managing director Gary Helou also announcing his departure.

The dairy co-op says it is no longer feasible to pay $5.60 per kilogram of milk solids, and now expects to pay between $4.75-5 per kilogram, a drop of around 10 per cent.

MG says it will introduce milk support payment programs to give suppliers an equivalent milk price of $5.47 per kilogram. . .

What farmers in other countries get paid for milk – Charlie Taverner:

The dairy crisis is hurting farmers across the world, as production far outstrips any rising demand.

Farmers Weekly looks at the farmgate prices and milk production levels around the world and considers how milk producers are coping in different countries.

See a snapshot of farmgate prices in the graphic and read the detail for each country below.

See also: How UK dairy producers can compete globally

UK

The UK’s strength is a big liquid market — but that means dairy farmers are divided.

The average milk price of 23.13p/litre in January hides a great split. . . .

Soils big win buried in the science – Mike Foley:

AUSTRALIA’S approach to soil must dig deeper if our agriculture sector is to keep pace with its competitors.

Government policy has for too long taken a narrow focus on soil, prioritising funding for research aimed at enhancing environmental outcomes, as opposed to research that delivers productivity gains.

That’s according to soil researcher Andrea Koch, formerly of the United States Study Centre’s soil carbon initiative. . . 

 


Farmers back Ruataniwha

28/04/2016

The success of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme (RWSS), always depended on farmers backing – and they have:

Irrigation New Zealand is delighted to see the Ruataniwha project is now in a position to proceed.

HBRIC today (Wednesday 27 April 2016) announced it has 196 Signed Water User Agreements, the numbers needed for the project to proceed. CEO of Irrigation New Zealand Andrew Curtis said: “This is good news for Central Hawke’s Bay as it will re-invigorate the shrinking communities of Waipukurau and Waipawa.

“This result shows farmer backing is strong for the project. This is not surprising given the Ruataniwha Plain’s current and future susceptibility to drought.

Mr Curtis said: “The mix of land-use is, as Irrigation New Zealand predicted, dominated by traditional mixed cropping, and sheep and beef finishing systems. This is what Central Hawke’s Bay has and will always do well. There is also some permanent horticulture in the mix, and given the boom in the orchard and wine industries currently it is very likely this area of opportunity will be expanded further in future.

“The land-use mix should alleviate any environmental concerns for the Tukituki River. This, when combined with the dam’s ability to release water to guarantee summer flows alongside mimicking natural flood events that cleanse it, means the Tukituki River is in a great position to maintain and improve upon it’s predominantly good water quality.

“Irrigation New Zealand is now looking forward to both the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Crown committing investments to this community dam project and the ‘land swap’ court issue being resolved in a timely manner.

Mr Curtis concluded: “No one disputes the Hawke’s Bay needs water storage. The local community has now demonstrated its support for the Ruataniwha project. It’s time for regional and national communities to do the same.”

Sadly some people do dispute Hawke’s Bay’s need for water storage including the Green Party which wants the dam dumped.

But at last farmers have confirmed their willingness to invest in the scheme that will drought-proof between 20,000 and 30,000 hectares of land with good potential for increased agriculture, horticulture and viticulture.

The climate and soils in the area will give farmers more  choice over what they grow with the water than those with irrigation in many other areas.

The scheme will bring environmental, economic and social benefits to the region and the country.


Rural round-up

17/03/2016

It’s cyclic – ‘We will survive’  – Dirk Sieling:

Dairy economist Peter Fraser cannot go unchallenged. The anti-Fonterra and dairying bias he showed during his time at the Ministry for Primary Industries continues unabated.

His simple tactic of building a case on an unsubstantiated or false premise is typical of the misguided notions that often end up in the public domain.

In his March 7 article, he quotes data from the Reserve Bank showing that dairy farmers are borrowing about $3.5 billion per year “just to stay afloat”. This is just a nonsense.

Dairy farmers may well be borrowing that amount on average over time, but it is more often than not to buy another farm, build a new cowshed or convert drystock land to dairying.

But on the premise that it is “just to stay afloat”, he builds a scenario of lots of farmers going broke and collapsing land prices, all in a downward spiral. . . 

From a farming MP to her province – Barbara Kuriger:

The dairy industry is once again headlining news this week. I acknowledge this is a tough time for farmers. You and I as farmers know that the dairy pay-out is volatile; it rises and it dips and as a result of this, it has evolved as one of the most financially enduring industries in the agricultural sector. Falling dairy prices means it may be a tight year for many, and budgets are being adapted to counter this.

There has been much emotive talk by opposition about how our Government is ‘failing the dairy industry’, because they can’t actively step into this situation and raise the dairy pay out back to $8 kilogram MS. But the Government does have in progress three incredibly gutsy pieces of legislation that will assist the dairy industry, for which the benefits to dairy are widely unreported.  . . 

Dairy farmers forget past lessons – Mark Lister:

Milk is a cyclical commodity, and prices have been low before.

he long-term outlook for the dairy sector is strong, but the immediate future is highly concerning. Global prices are down 12 per cent this year and about a third lower than a year ago.

Against that backdrop, it was unsurprising to see Fonterra reduce its milk payout forecast to $3.90 per kg of milksolids this week. Adding in the dividend from Fonterra, the total payout will be about $4.25.

This is the lowest payout since 2006/07, and with a break-even price of about $5.30, the majority of farmers will suffer a second year of operating losses. . . 

Controlling dairy farm cost of production – Keith Woodford:

The key dairy priority at the moment, which stands above all else, is to minimise the number of New Zealand dairy farmers who will succumb to the current downturn. In particular, we all need to try and limit the damage to the latest generation of younger farmers who are often the most indebted.

It is all about getting the cost of production under control.

I have previously written about survival strategies and the need for each farm and farmer to chart his or her own path. I have also tried to caution against panicking and making big system changes when in a crisis. More particularly, I have tried to emphasise that hungry cows always kick their owners in the back pocket. Also, I regularly try and remind people that cost of production has both a numerator (which is cost) and a denominator (which is production). . . 

Irrigation funding boost for Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed three new investments totalling $1.6 million into irrigation projects coming from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

The three irrigation projects receiving funding are in the Wairarapa ($804,000), Hawke’s Bay ($575,000), and Gisborne ($250,000).

“This funding helps support the development of irrigation proposals to the stage where they are investment ready,” says Mr Guy.  . . 

Funding for irrigation unlocks potential:

Irrigation New Zealand applauds the latest announcement by Government sighting three more grants by the Irrigation Acceleration Fund – $804,000 for the Wairarapa Water Use Project, $575,000 for Ruataniwha (Hawke’s Bay) and $250,000 for Gisborne’s Managed Aquifer Recharge Trial.

“It’s great to see the Irrigation Acceleration Fund delivering on what it was set up to do – supporting the potential for irrigated agriculture to contribute to New Zealand’s sustainable economic growth,” says Irrigation New Zealand chairwoman Nicky Hyslop. . . .

Research to set NZ sheep milk apart:

New Zealand’s sheep milk industry is set to benefit from ground-breaking research by AgResearch.

Two hundred people are attending the second Sheep Milk NZ industry conference, being held in Palmerston North this week (14th-15th March). The first conference last year attracted 160 people, with the rise reflecting the increased interest in the industry.

AgResearch scientists presented the initial results from two years of research from the $6 million MBIE-funded programme “Boosting exports of the emerging dairy sheep industry”, ranging from composition of New Zealand sheep milk through to best practice effluent management. . . 

Industry looks beyond radiata:

Future generations of New Zealanders may live in a patchwork landscape where several different forest species compete on the hills for growing space with the familiar Pinus radiata.

“Radiata is a great multi-purpose tree that grows well in many places. But it is not perfect for all growing situations or market needs. And there are obvious risks in having all our eggs in one species basket,” says Forest Owners Association research and development manager Russell Dale.

“We are therefore thrilled as an industry that the government is joining us in the Specialty Woods Products Research Partnership. This is a major programme that will investigate new products and markets for alternative species and build the confidence of forest growers in planting those species that show promise.” . . 

Fonterra’s Anmum Formula Hits Nz Shelves:

Fonterra’s internationally established infant nutrition brand Anmum is now available to New Zealand families.

Fonterra Brands New Zealand Managing Director Leon Clement says Anmum is a $200 million brand in Fonterra’s Asian markets with an established track record of quality and trust with parents.

“Anmum draws on Fonterra and its legacy companies’ 50 plus years of experience in dairy research and in producing paediatric formulas for third parties. Bringing Anmum to New Zealand families means we are now providing nutrition for key life stages,” he says. . . 

Growth Attracts 28 New Canterbury Milk Suppliers:

Synlait now has 201 milk suppliers for 2016 / 2017 to meet forecast growth in their value-added nutritional product business.

John Penno, Managing Director and CEO, said a combination of increased customer demand for nutritional products – such as a2 Platimum® Infant Formula – and increased production capacity with a new large scale spray dryer has created an opportunity for Canterbury dairy farmers to supply Synlait.

“We’ve had a very positive response to this opportunity, to the extent we have not been able to accept supply from everyone interested and we now have a waiting list,” said Mr Penno. . . 


Rural round-up

25/02/2016

Tough dairy times all over the globe – Jim Dickrell

French dairy farmers are once again taking manure and spreading it on roads, five dairy farms a week are going out of business in Great Britain, and the New Zealand government told its farmers to “stand on their own two feet.”

In France, according to theInternational Business News, farmers have blockaded roads, entered supermarkets and filled shopping carts with cheap food imports and even hurled their farm boots at government buildings.

In response, the French government said it will cut social security taxes farmers are required to pay by $556 million this year. . .

Ruataniwha irrigation scheme promoter confirms preferred private investor close to selection – Pattrick Smellie:

A preferred private sector investor in the Ruataniwha water storage scheme is close to selection, says its primary backer, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co.

HBRIC confirmed media reports earlier in the week that suggested a preferred private investor is about to start due diligence on the $275 million project, which would create a 93 million cubic metre reservoir to store water in the upper Makaroro river to improve river flows for agricultural use in the Tukituki River catchment.

Infratil-controlled Trustpower pulled the plug on its involvement in early 2014, followed by its other private backer, South Island iwi Ngai Tahu’s investment arm, before a board of inquiry process delayed resource consents for the dam while new environmental quality standards were set. . . 

SMART Watering campaign wraps up citing strong interest in water efficiency tools:

A pilot water efficiency campaign initiated by IrrigationNZ in four Canterbury districts this summer has concluded with evidence of strong interest in making water savings.

Home gardeners and lifestyle irrigators were the primary targets of the inaugural water efficiency campaign, which ran with the support of Timaru, Ashburton, Selwyn and Waimakariri District Councils, Environment Canterbury and inaugural industry partners Water Supply Products and RX Plastics.

The campaign launched in late November with the release of case studies illustrating how home gardeners and community projects can use irrigation tools and technologies to minimise water use and maximise productivity. . .

 

High prices, good growth cut cattle sales:

High beef prices and a surge in pasture growth has led to the cancellation of two cattle sales in Gisborne, a farmer and former stock agent says.

In January, two cattle sales were cancelled because there were not enough stock.

Barrie Gordon has worked in the cattle industry for more than 60 years and said only a few sales had been cancelled in the major cattle breeding region in all that time. . . 

PGG Wrightson posts 19% drop in first-half profit as farmers tighten spending – Tina Morrison:

PGG Wrightson posted a 19 percent drop in first-half profit as low dairy prices and fear of an El Nino drought contracted farmer spending at the rural services firm.

Profit fell to $16.1 million, or 2.1 cents a share, in the six months ended Dec. 31, from $19.7 million, or 2.6 cents, in the year earlier period, the Christchurch-based firm said in a statement. Revenue declined 4.8 percent to $623 million, while the cost of sales slid 6.9 percent to $462 million.

Farmers have tightened their wallets after milk processors like Fonterra Cooperative Group, the country’s largest, cut their farmgate milk payouts below the cost of production as a global oversupply lasts longer than anticipated. Fears of an El Nino drought heading into summer also kept farmers cautious with their spending. . . 

Dramatic improvement in forest industry safety record:

Following a spate of workplace deaths in 2013, New Zealand’s forestry industry has set a shining example in improved safety performance nationally over the past three years. Annual serious harm incident rates dropped in half over the past two years. The numbers dropped from 160 incidents in 2013, to 107 in 2014 and then to 79 in 2015.

Even more striking – the rate of serious harm in production forestry has dropped to less of one-third of the rate in 2008. This is based on annual forest harvest volumes lifting from less than 20 million cubic metres per annum to over 30 million in that period. . . .

Tree man scales new job at Taratahi –

Past competitive tree-climber and arborist Richard Wanhill has returned to his primary sector roots, he says, with his appointment as business development manager at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre.

Mr Wanhill, who shifted to Wairarapa from the capital after originally hailing from Auckland, had worked as an arborist for about 15 years and also operated as a contract arboriculture and horticulture educator as a partner in a company named Thought Planters.

“I was teaching arboriculture mostly in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore and some in other places like Cambodia and Thailand. The competitive tree-climbing I’ve done has been only nationally in New Zealand, which is internationally recognised as one of the top tree-climbing countries in the world. . . 

 

Fonterra And Its Farmers Supporting Dairy Development:

Four Fonterra farmers will travel to Sri Lanka this year as part of a new farmer volunteer scheme to work with Sri Lankan dairy farmers.

Troy Doherty from Bay of Plenty, Tim Phillips from Waikato, Murray Douglas from Northland, and Marloes Levelink from West Otago, will spend a month at Fonterra’s new demonstration and training farm in Pannala, near Colombo.

While in Sri Lanka they will work with local farmers and Fonterra supplier relationship officers on areas including animal nutrition, prevention and treatment of mastitis and how to run a farm as a business. . . 


Rural round-up

22/12/2015

Federated Farmers praises farmers on Lake Brunner improvement:

Federated Farmers is praising the efforts of local farmers in improving the water quality of the West Coasts largest river, Lake Brunner.

Years of hard work by the Lake Brunner farming community has resulted in the water quality target, set out by the government, being reached five years ahead of schedule.

“The early achievement of the target is a great example of how we can reverse deteriorating water quality when farmers work together to reach a shared objective,” says Federated Farmers West Coast President Katie Milne. . . 

Curse of the Christmas tree – Lachlan Forsyth:

It’s arguably the biggest pest in New Zealand, but one of the least known.

Pinus contorta, otherwise known as wilding pine, may look like a lovely Christmas tree, but it is a vicious weed which is strangling the life out of our forests.

It has already infested seven percent of the country – 1.7 million hectares.

Left unchecked, it’ll infest 20 percent of New Zealand within two decades.

Not to be confused with pinus radiate, the common tree in forestry blocks, pinus contorta is a nasty, twisting tree, and it is rampant. . . 

Rabobank Global Beef Quarterly Q4: Ongoing Tight Supply to Support Prices:

Tight supply will support prices in 2016 as demand is expected to remain firm even though supply pressure is easing. China and the US will be the main import markets to watch in 2016—in particular the strength of demand, given high prices. According to Rabobank’s Global Beef Quarterly Q4 2015 report, Australia, Brazil, India and the US will be the main exporters to watch—in particular the supply of cattle and beef, in response to rebuilding pressures at different points in the cycle.

China continues to play a critical role in the global beef market despite a slowing economy. Although the domestic market has been volatile due to the impact of the grey channel, it will continue to offer sustainable opportunities for the rest of the world. . . 

NZ lamb exports likely to drop this season amid weak demand in China, UK – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand farmers are heading for lower returns for their lambs this season amid weakness in the country’s two largest export markets in China and the UK.

While prices for the first of the new season lambs processed in October and November for the UK Christmas chilled market were similar to last year, that won’t be enough to offset weakness in the broader market as the season cranks up to its peak production period from now through till May, according to AgriHQ senior analyst Nick Handley. . . 

1080 report shows poison being used responsibly:

The latest report by the Environmental Protection Authority on the use of 1080 in New Zealand provides further reassurance to the public that the poison is safe and is being used responsibly, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“1080 is a vital tool in protecting our native wildlife, like Kiwi, and preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis. The area of land treated has doubled to almost one million hectares because of the “Battle for our Birds” but with very few incidents. This is a huge credit to the professionalism of the Department of Conservation (DOC) and TBFree New Zealand. . . 

Landcorp inks agreement with iwi for Sweetwater farm in Northland – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, will continue to be involved in the management of Northland farm Sweetwater after iwi take ownership of the property under a Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

Northland iwi Te Rarawa and Ngai Takoto will take ownership of the 2,480 hectare property near Kaitaia tomorrow, as part of a 2010 settlement. Landcorp, which has been managing Sweetwater in consultation with the iwi, will continue to provide farm management expertise, livestock and technology under a new joint-management and profit-sharing arrangement, the Wellington-based state-owned enterprise said in a statement. . . 

HBRIC Ltd Update:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC Ltd) is confident it can confirm a preferred investor mix for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme before the end of the year.

HBRIC Ltd told today’s Hawke’s Bay Regional Council meeting that intensive work is being done with three potential investors and it continues to target the end of the calendar year to confirm investors for the scheme. However it says it won’t make the decision public until very early in the New Year. . . 

Kaingaroa Timberlands profit rescued by foreign exchange gain as log prices fall – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Kaingaroa Timberlands, the nation’s biggest forestry business, posted a 37 percent gain in full-year profit as a foreign exchange gain more than made up for a drop in international log prices.

Net profit rose to US$332.8 million in the year ended June 30, from US$243.7 million a year earlier, according to the company’s financial statements. Profit included a US$281 million gain on foreign exchange movements, compared to a year-earlier charge of US$149.7 million. Revenue fell 22 percent to US$355.2 million, of which the bulk came in reduced log sales. . . 

Rural and Southern businesses best place for work life balance:

If you are planning to start a new business in the New Year and still want to have some time to enjoy the best of the Kiwi lifestyle, it could be worth thinking about moving to the country or heading down South.

According to the latest MYOB SME research, a net 54 per cent* of business operators working in rural New Zealand are satisfied with their work/life balance, while only 45 per cent of those working in the city are happy with how they split their time between work and leisure. . . 


DOC approves land swap for Ruataniwha

05/10/2015

The Department of Conservation has approved a land swap which is necessary if the Ruataniwha irrigation scheme is to go ahead:

An application by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company to exchange land required for the Ruataniwha water storage scheme has been approved by DOC Director General Lou Sanson.

Lou Sanson says he has approved the land exchange because it will mean a net gain for conservation.

The decision means that the Department of Conservation will receive approximately 170 hectares of private land containing beech forest and regenerating native bush, in return for 22 hectares of the Ruahine Forest Park.

“The public will gain three times the area of black beech forest under this proposal, plus the new land will extend and complement the adjacent Gwavas Conservation Area,” he says.

The 170 hectare exchange block also includes two additional wetland sites, and is promising habitat for skinks and geckos, he says.

“On the other hand, the 22 hectares to be removed from the Ruahine Forest Park has been heavily logged in the past, is partly infested with weeds such as willow and Darwin’s barberry and contains a former house site,” Lou Sanson says.

Mr Sanson says the decision follows a thorough and open public process and the careful assessment of the ecological values of both sites.

The Director General has decided to revoke the protected status of the 22 hectares of Ruahine Forest Park to enable the exchange to take place.

Under the Conservation Act, proposed land exchanges must result in an overall conservation gain for public conservation land and promote the purposes of the Act.

“I believe this land exchange well and truly meets that test,” he says.

Lou Sanson says the land exchange is conditional on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company undertaking extra conservation programmes to help eradicate wilding pines from the exchange land and to restore whio/blue duck habitat.

The exchange is also conditional on the Ruataniwha water storage scheme going ahead.

In a separate decision, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company will be required to trap and transfer native fish species present at the dam site.

Full details of the decision are here.

The El Niño forecast predicts drought for much of the east coasts of both the North and South Islands this summer.

North Otago has had less than half its annual rainfall and the drought which struck North Canterbury last year still hasn’t broken.

Hawkes Bay had a deluge a couple of weeks ago but if the forecast is right, it won’t get much more this summer.

Any farmers on dry land who could afford to take up irrigation and haven’t yet, need to think of the next generation.

As my farmer told a meeting on the scheme when we were in Hawkes Bay a couple of years ago – think ahead fifty years. Do you want your grandchildren thanking you, or calling you silly old Bs for passing up the opportunity to drought-proof your farms.


Rural round-up

01/09/2014

Agri-careers promoted – Sally Rae:

Agriculture is ”far more than milking cows and drafting sheep”.

That was the message from Jacqueline Rowarth, professor of agribusiness at Waikato University, to a group of Dunedin secondary school pupils last week.

”It’s everything that New Zealand does because New Zealand business is agribusiness … Our whole lifestyle is from what we export,” she said. . . .

Effluent making power, hot water :

Dairy effluent could be used as a source of heat and electricity on Southland dairy farms.

If trials are successful, the dairy farming waste product could become a valued resource in the future.

Monitoring at two farms in Dacre and Pukerau has shown that anaerobic digestion of dairy farm effluent in unheated effluent ponds, is consistently producing large volumes of methane, even during the cold conditions of the Southland winter. . .

Retiring Fonterra director looks for new challenges  – Gerald Piddock:

Jim van der Poel has lived and breathed Fonterra for more than a decade.

But after serving on the board of the country’s biggest company for 12 years, the Waikato farmer will step down as a director at Fonterra’s annual meeting in November.

A board member since 2002, van der Poel was immensely satisfied with the role he played in Fonterra’s development over the past decade. . .

No excuse now – Richard Rennie:

The right kit, the right market conditions, and high-quality supply mean there will be no excuses for Fonterra’s executive not to deliver higher dividends and milk prices to its shareholders.

Large-scale south Waikato farmer Ian Elliott believes that after last week’s $1.2 billion investment announcement into plant and Chinese market ventures, the company should be poised to achieve its full potential for New Zealand and farmer shareholders.

“Having investment into plants that can produce higher value products removes that last barrier to achieving the optimum returns for farmers,” Elliott said. . .

Time to leverage export dominance

Fonterra has given its value-creation wheel a strong crank by announcing more processing plant construction at home and a new joint venture with Beingmate, the No 1 infant formula company in China.

Its borrowing intentions of $1.2 billion will increase the debt:equity ratio to 45%.

At home it needs to expand peak processing capacity and avoid the constraints which cost farmers about $900 million last season in foregone revenue. . .

Council approves dam funds –

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has approved an advance of $3.1 million to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) to cover the period until financial close on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

The decision was made in a public-excluded session of Wednesday’s council meeting and supported by all councillors present.

Given the lodging of appeals to the High Court on the proposal, financial close for the scheme will no longer occur by September 30, with the best estimate now March 31 next year.

All investment funds contributed by the council in this development phase are part of its overall financial contribution to the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.  . . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

13/07/2014

The power of water – Bryan Gibson:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers are still confident catchment landowners will invest in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Takapau farmer Richard Dakins believes the scheme will reach investment goals, even though many farmers are still digesting the Environmental Protection Agency board of inquiry’s final report on the $265 million dam.

Dakins, who farms a 350ha mixed-arable operation, with 150ha irrigated, at the southwestern end of Ruataniwha Plains, said the scheme was vital for Central Hawke’s Bay.

“The region is not in a good state, really, but the scheme will give landowners the confidence to invest in their properties and that will benefit everyone downstream,” he said.

Rob Wilson, who farms a few kilometres from the proposed dam site, agreed. . .

‘Safety first’ call goes out to weather-hit Northland farmers:

Federated Farmers Northland calls for farmers to put safety first with no farming fatalities or serious injuries to date.  With the wet weather set to continue and the power out in some areas, it wants neighbours to band together.

“I think you can safely say the drought’s over give the biblical amount of rain that’s come our way,” says Roger Ludbrook, Federated Farmers Northland provincial president.

“Right now it’s a cracker of a day up here in fact you can call it steamy.  I just hope policymakers regionally and nationally will remember these past few days if we’re talking El Nino come the summer.   Water storage would have been awesome given what we’ve had. . .

Core Truths: 10 Common GMO Claims Debunked – Brooke Boral:

Later this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture may approve the Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden, the first genetically modified apples to hit the market. Although it will probably be another two years before the non-browning fruits appears in stores, at least one producer is already scrambling to label its apples GMO-free.  The looming apple campaign is just the latest salvo in the ongoing war over genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—one that’s grown increasingly contentious.

Over the past decade, the controversy surrounding GMOs has sparked worldwide riots and the vandalism of crops in Oregon, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Philippines. In May, the governor of Vermont signed a law that will likely make it the first U.S. state to require labels for genetically engineered ingredients; more than 50 nations already mandate them. Vermont State Senator David Zuckerman told Democracy Now!, “As consumers, we are guinea pigs, because we really don’t understand the ramifications.”

But the truth is, GMOs have been studied intensively, and they look a lot more prosaic than the hype contends. To make Arctic apples, biologists took genes from Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties, modified them to suppress the enzyme that causes browning, and reinserted them in the leaf tissue. It’s a lot more accurate than traditional methods, which involve breeders hand-pollinating blossoms in hopes of producing fruit with the desired trait. Biologists also introduce genes to make plants pest- and herbicide-resistant; those traits dominate the more than 430 million acres of GMO crops that have already been planted globally. Scientists are working on varieties that survive disease, drought, and flood. . .

Winemaker takes on black beetle

A winemaker has teamed with researchers to find biological controls to manage brown beetles.

The brown beetle (Costelytra zealandica) can be kept under control with insecticides but causes problems for organic or biodynamic vineyards. 

This same beetle in its immature stages is known as the grass grub, a pest to farming pastures for decades. 

Kono Beverages, producer of Tohu and Aronui wines, is co-leading a project to study the life cycle of the brown beetle to find sustainable ways to stop the damage it causes in vineyards. 

They have teamed with PhD student Mauricio González Chang and Professor Steve Wratten, from the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University.  . .

 

Top genetic selection produces biggest antlers  – Heather Chalmers:

Producing deer with some of the biggest antlers in New Zealand takes careful genetic selection and a dollop of luck, says South Canterbury deer farmer Chris Petersen.

Just as others follow the breeding lines of thoroughbred racehorses, Petersen does the same for deer.

“I know all the top stags and hinds in New Zealand. I study them.”

Farming Highden Deer Park with his wife Debra at Sutherlands near Pleasant Point, his stags are highly regarded for their antlers, both for trophies and velvet. The 130 hectare rolling downlands farm carries 364 spikers and mixed-age stags, 122 mixed-age hinds and 55 18-month hinds, as well as this season’s progeny. Most stags are grown out to seven years old for the trophy market, with 27 out of 30 sold last year. . .

 


Rural round-up

12/07/2014

Trade deal with Japan could prove too costly:

Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, must have noticed a striking difference between New Zealand and Australia when he visited the countries on consecutive days this week. In New Zealand he found a firm commitment to a comprehensive trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership. In Australia he was able to sign a soft bilateral “free trade” agreement, settling for much less on agriculture than other food producers hope to gain from the TPP. Australia is not a team player on trade – it is prepared to undermine collective efforts when offered a lesser but exclusive deal. Japan’s attitude is more important.

It is a country in economic and demographic decline but it is still one of the world’s largest economies, second only to the United States among the 12 nations negotiating the TPP. Its side-deal with Australia was disappointing, bearing out New Zealand’s expressed doubts that admitting Japan to the talks was a good idea. But elsewhere hopes persist that Mr Abe is serious when he uses the TPP as leverage for much needed and long overdue reforms of Japan’s economy. . .

Council not investing in water scheme:

Another potential investor has decided against putting money into Hawke’s Bay’s controversial Ruataniwha water storage scheme.

The Central Hawke’s Bay District Council says it believes the proposed $600 million scheme, which could irrigate about 25,000 hectares, could be a huge money- and job-spinner for the region.

But deputy mayor Ian Sharp said on Friday the council won’t be investing in it, now that residents have overwhelmingly opposed borrowing the $5 million needed to do so.

“I think it’s important we distinguish between support for the water scheme and borrowing money to invest in the water scheme,” he said.

“A number of the submitters who did not want us to borrow money to invest are 100 percent behind the scheme, they just felt it was fiscally irresponsible for the council to borrow money to invest in the scheme.” . . .

Reappointments to FSANZ board:

Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye today announced the reappointment of Andrew McKenzie and Neil Walker to the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) Board.

Dr McKenzie has a background in veterinary public health, food safety, food regulation, international and financial management.  He has extensive knowledge of the New Zealand food regulation system having led the New Zealand Food Safety Authority from its inception in 2002 until 2010.

Mr Walker is a food scientist and has spent 35 years working in senior roles in New Zealand’s dairy industry.  He has strong governance experience and has been a chair, director, trustee and committee member of public councils and authorities.

The reappointments were proposed by New Zealand in a formal process that required acceptance by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation. . .

Fonterra and Abbott to Form Strategic Alliance for Dairy Farming in China:

First Farm Expected to Produce Milk in First Half of 2017

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd and Abbott today announced the signing of an agreement to develop a proposed dairy farm hub in China. The strategic alliance, which is subject to Chinese regulatory approval, will leverage Fonterra’s expertise in dairy nutrition and farming in China and Abbott’s continued commitment to business development in China.

Dairy consumption in China has been rising steadily over the past 10 years. The continued development of safe, high-quality milk sources is essential to meeting this growing demand from Chinese consumers. Fonterra and Abbott are pleased to be able to work together and through this alliance to make a positive contribution to the growth and development of China’s dairy industry. . . .

Fonterra seeks Hokkaido farmers for dairy study:

Fonterra is seeking four Hokkaido dairy farms to take part in a study to increase the efficiency and profitability of grassland dairy farming in Japan.

The study, which begins in December this year, will involve the collection and monitoring of physical, production and economic performance data from four leading Hokkaido grassland dairy farms. The analysis will take place over one production season and include data collection over summer outside grazing periods and during indoor winter housing.   . .

Top food science award for Massey professor:

MASSEY UNIVERSITY Professor Richard Archer has been awarded the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology’s most prestigious honour, the JC Andrews Award.

The annual award is in memory of Massey’s first Chancellor, Dr John Clark Andrews, who proposed that New Zealand’s first food technology degree be established in 1964. The award recognises institute members who have made a substantial contribution to science and technology and leadership in the food industry. . .

A brilliant new wound care products – Medihoney:

Now available at the SummerGlow Apiaries online store is the Comvita Medihoney range of products.

Medihoney combines leading wound care and therapeutic skincare products made with an exceptionally high quality medical grade Manuka Honey.

Comvita uses advanced scientific knowledge to maximise this honey’s potential in all of its therapeutic products.

Medihoney products challenge the reliance on synthetic medicines and treatments and provide a natural alternative for wound and skin care, suitable for use by the whole family. . .

It's Cow Appreciation Day! Let's pause for a little moment and think about all the  amazing cows in the world. It’s easy to forget how awesome these animals are and how integral to our daily life. #CowAppreciationDay


BOI conditions damn dam?

27/06/2014

The Board of Inquiry on the Tukituki Catchment Proposal has granted consent for the Ruataniwha Water storage project with strict conditions.

The Board’s decision is to allow the Plan Change request with amendments, grant the 17 resource consent applications, and confirm the Notice of Requirement (NoR) for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme (RWSS) subject to the conditions.

The Board of Inquiry adopted a ‘dual nutrient’ approach in the Plan Change to manage both phosphorous and nitrogen in the Tukituki catchment. This included setting an in-stream dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) limit/target, as well as on-land [maximum allowable] leaching rates for nitrogen, based on the Land Use Capability Classification System (LUC).

Following comments received on the Draft Report and Decision, the Board has, in addition to other drafting changes:

• Corrected an error and amended the rule that would have required individual farmers to observe the DIN limit/target in receiving waters. If an individual farmer complies with the LUC leaching rates (and meets the other requirements of the rule other than the DIN limits) the use of production land is a permitted activity;

• Resolved an anomaly in the rules relating to the use of production land by raising the upper threshold for exceedences of LUC leaching rates (from 10% to 30%) before a restricted discretionary activity becomes non-complying; and

• Clarified that compliance with the LUC leaching rates should be determined using a four year rolling average of either measured or estimated leaching rates derived from annual nutrient budgets. . .

These conditions don’t only potentially damn the dam, they will severely curtail existing farming activities.

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council might appeal the decision:

. . . Radio New Zealand News understands HBRIC has been preparing a High Court challenge to the Board of Inquiry’s final decision. These decisions can only be challenged on points of law, and it is unclear whether the nitrogen limits can challenged on this basis.

Mr Wilson said on Wednesday he would not comment on whether the council would challenge the board’s decision. It was waiting for the final decision and was seeking to find a balance between environmental protection and economic growth. . .

That balance is important and it is possible to get economic growth without environmental degradation but this decision doesn’t appear to do that.

The BOI’s decision is here.

 

 


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