Rural round-up

June 3, 2016

Dairy price estimates are consistently wrong – Keith Woodford:

As occurs each year, the media have focused on Fonterra’s opening forecast for the coming year, predicted this year to be $4.25, as if it has significant meaning. To put that in perspective, here are Fonterra’s opening forecasts and actual payments for the last five years.
Fonterra price estimates

The overall tendency has been for Fonterra to be over-optimistic by $0.58 c per year. However, the average error in the prediction is $1.27c, ranging from minus $2.60 to plus $1.40. In three of the five years, Fonterra has been out by more than $1.30. . . 

NZ Merino inks 5-year, $45M contract with Italy’s Reda, supplier to Armani, Gucci – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Merino Company, which markets the nation’s wool to customers on behalf of suppliers, has signed a five-year, $45 million deal to supply fine wool to Italian luxury fabric manufacturer Successori Reda, its longest-ever contract.

The fixed-price contract for 2,500 tonnes of fine wool in the 15.8 to 19.2-micron range effectively locks up supply for all of the qualifying wool that New Zealand will produce over the five-year period, said NZ Merino chief executive John Brakenridge. Previously, NZ Merino’s longest contract period covered three years. . . 

Changes to firearms’ licensing programme will have a major negative impact on rural communities

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned about the changes to firearms’ licensing, training and testing, being proposed by the Mountain Safety Council (MSC). The MSC executive has been announcing these changes in a series of road shows around the country. Volunteer instructors are being told their services are no longer required.

The current MSC Firearms Safety Programme has about 480 volunteers with significant hunting and shooting experience. They are based in 150 locations in New Zealand. MSC propose to significantly reduce the number of trainers and the number of locations. . . 

China ‘a big country with lots of different moving parts’ – Tony Benny:

A group of Silver Fern Farms shareholder suppliers are back on their farms following a week-long tour of China where they discovered just how complex the market there is. Tony Benny joined them on tour.

As a 30-strong group of New Zealand farmers, Silver Fern Farms staff and guides – and including three reporters – streak into central Shanghai from Pudong airport aboard the Maglev train, the display in the carriage reads 315kmh.

They’re on the world’s fastest train service, even if this morning it’s down on its usual top operating speed 431kmh.  It will deliver them into a city of 36 million people, the sophisticated, vibrant and stylish heart of shipping and finance in China. . . 

Separation of South Island eel stock:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to quota management for eels in the South Island which will see the current single stock split into two – longfin and shortfin eels.

“Longfin eels are more vulnerable to environmental and other factors, compared to shortfin eels. Therefore it’s important to manage the two species as separate stocks with their own catch limits and sustainability settings,” says Mr Guy. 

“It means we can take into account the different characteristics and value of each species when setting limits, and take a more precautionary approach to longfin eels which are more vulnerable. It is also consistent with how eels are managed in the North Island and the Chathams.”   . . 

Agreement will build a stronger future for the golden breed:

Two organisations committed to the Jersey breed are joining forces and expertise to breed even better dairy cows into the future.

The breed society, Jersey New Zealand, and herd improvement company, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), have signed an agreement to work together to jointly select and prove the genetic merit of additional top young Jersey bulls.

The programme will add eight extra bulls to LIC’s current Jersey breeding programme, and will statistically lift the rate of genetic and productive gain for the breed within the industry. . . 

Farm Environment Trust Head Steps Down After Ten Years:

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust general manager David Natzke is stepping down after a decade at the helm of the organisation that administers the highly successful Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust chairman Simon Saunders said Mr Natzke has made a huge contribution to the Trust since his appointment in March 2006.

“Under David’s management the Trust has developed into a highly professional organisation that has grown the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) into one of our primary sector’s premier events.”

Mr Natzke worked with trustees to manage the Awards programme and expand the list of Trust activities. . . 

RBI cell tower completion boosts rural coverage:

Communications Minister Amy Adams today announced the completion of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) Phase 1 new tower programme with 154 new cell towers now built ahead of schedule.

Ms Adams was on site to celebrate the completion of the programme in Waipu, and said that under the RBI, nearly 300,000 rural families and businesses are now able to access high speed 3G and 4G broadband services.

Under original specifications, the fixed wireless broadband service was to provide at least 5Mbps peak download speeds. Recent testing shows the 4G service is delivering speeds nine times faster than originally promised.. . .

Kiwi Farmers plough through the most 4G data:

Spark has found that farmers and the rural sector are consistently the highest users of 4G data across all of New Zealand.

When analysing data traffic over the last month, Spark’s cell towers in both Waiuku and Te Puke show the highest use in all of New Zealand. Farmers and rural residents in these two locations are consistently using over 1 terrabyte of data every week – which is the equivalent of watching 1000 hours (or nearly 42 days!) of non-stop online TV content like Lightbox each week.

Other rural sites including Pukekura, Te Awamutu, Pukekohe and Te Kawa also rank extremely high in 4G data usage, demonstrating that Kiwi farmers are now using mobile technology to enhance their businesses – whether that’s at the farm-gate, on the road or in the paddock. . . 


Rural round-up

August 8, 2015

Removal of subsidies and tariffs to boost NZ farm incomes – econfix: (Hat tip: Utopia)

With most of the attention has been focused on the TPP the 161 countries of the World Trade Organisation had set a deadline of the end of July to agree on a “work programme” to substantially complete the Doha round of global trade talks later this year.

Launched in 2001, the Doha round was to pick up where the Uruguay round of global trade liberalisation left off six years earlier. The deadlock in negotiations is ultimately down to a belief that the EU and the US and the large developing countries of China, Brazil and India have each given up more than its fair share in liberalising agricultural trade and the other side should do more. . .

Canterbury dairy farms facing big bills as milk payout crashes:

South Canterbury farmer Ben Jaunay is “farming for free” and facing losing hundreds of thousands of dollars if milk prices keep falling.

Banks are tipping dairy giant Fonterra’s payout for its latest financial year to go below $4 a kilogram. The value of whole milk powder dropped sharply at Fonterra’s global commodity auction this week, increasing fears for its payout forecast on Friday.

Jaunay manages more than 3000 cows on two properties near Timaru.  . .  

Collaboration Paying Off For New Zealand’s Avocado Industry:

Plans to quadruple sales of New Zealand avocados by 2023 is off to a roaring start with the industry almost hitting the half way mark last season with a record 7.1m trays worth $135m harvested during 2014-15 season.

Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, Jen Scoular, says the goal is to achieve $280m worth of sales by 2023 through a five year Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“Confidence is riding high, and the industry is on track to achieve the PGP objectives and significantly boost avocado sales and productivity in less than ten years,” says Scoular. . .

 Russian ‘food crematoria’ provoke outrage amid crisis:

Russian government plans for mass destruction of banned Western food imports have provoked outrage in a country where poverty rates are soaring and memories remainof famine during Soviet times.

Even some Kremlin allies are expressing shock at the idea of “food crematoria” while one Orthodox priest has denounced the campaign, which officially began on Thursday, as insane and sinful. However, the authorities are determined to press on with destroying illegal imports they consider “a security threat”. . .

Pipfruit industry continues to ripen:

The boom behind the apple industry’s growth in recent years is being put down to new export markets and varieties.

Apple exports were worth more than $530 million in 2014, and the industry has a goal to reach $1 billion by 2022.

Ministry for Primary Industries chief assurance strategy officer Bill Jolly told the pipfruit industry conference in Wellington the industry’s growth was finally looking rosy.

“For ten years, we sort of stuck around that $320-360m mark, and then suddenly we got a real jump in 2012, and you guys have been going great guns ever since. The growth in this industry has been absolutely spectacular.” . .

Big increase in rural broadband for Wellington region:

Communications Minister Amy Adams says nearly 10,500 homes, workplaces and schools in rural parts of Wellington now have access to faster, more reliable broadband.

The latest results for the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) as at 30 June 2015 were released today.

“By 2016, 90 per cent of New Zealand homes and businesses outside the Ultra-Fast Broadband phase one footprint will have access to better broadband,” Ms Adams says. . .

 

New certification scheme for dairy farm systems consultants:

A certification scheme designed to give farmers confidence in the quality and standard of the advice they receive from their dairy farm systems consultants was launched today at the New Zealand Institute for Primary Industries Management (NZIPIM) national conference in Ashburton.

Development of the scheme has involved a collaborative partnership between DairyNZ, leading dairy farm systems consultants, and NZIPIM, who will continue to be involved in developing and testing the scheme’s assessment tools and associated training to ensure the material is kept current and relevant to the profession. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

June 18, 2015

Winning vet ever on the go – Sally Rae:

Oamaru-based veterinarian Dave Robertson has been described as ”someone who lives and breathes sheep and beef”.

Mr Robertson, a partner at the Veterinary Centre, has received the inaugural sheep and beef cattle vet of the year award from the sheep and beef cattle branch of the New Zealand Veterinary Association. . .

Never too busy for trialling – Sally Rae:

Newly elected New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association president Graham White may have a big year ahead of him – but he will still fit in some dog trialling.

”Too right”, Mr White (64), who already has several judging appointments for the next season, said. His involvement with dog trials spans more than 40 years and he has been vice president of the association for the past four years. . .

Tech expos for everybody – Sally Rae:

From the technophobes to the techno savvy, all farmers will be catered for at technology expos in Otago this month.

The Beef and Lamb New Zealand farming for profit technology expo is being held in Tapanui on June 25 and Alexandra on June 26.

The focus was on profiling innovative technologies designed to make farming more efficient, profitable and easier, AgFirst Otago agricultural business consultant Nicola Chisholm said. . .

Scientists reveal underpinning of drought tolerance in plants – American Society of Plant Biologists

Regions all over the globe are suffering from severe drought, which threatens crop production worldwide. This is especially worrisome given the need to increase, not just maintain, crop yields to feed the increasing global population. Over the course of evolution, plants have developed mechanisms to adapt to periods of inadequate water, and as any gardener can tell you, some species are better able to handle drought than others. Accordingly, scientists have invested much effort to understand how plants respond to drought stress and what can be done to increase the drought tolerance of economically important plants. . .

 

Africa must modernise its farms in order to fight hunger and poverty – Mark Lynas:

Africa desperately needs agricultural modernisation. With the most rapidly growing population in the world and hundreds of millions still suffering malnutrition, African leaders cannot afford to close the door to innovation.

Poverty is endemic and “yield gaps” mean that African farmers commonly harvest less than a tenth of the global average in maize and other crops.

Part of the problem has been political resistance to adopting new and improved technologies, particularly in seed breeding. Some of this unwillingness has been home-grown, but much has been imported to Africa by rich-country NGOs with a colonialist ideological agenda that see poverty as dignified and want to keep farmers permanently trapped in subsistence lifestyles. . .

Farmside to offer rural 4G:

Faster 4G internet is coming to parts of New Zealand previously denied access to the latest technology, and Farmside is happy to help roll it out.

“We are the leading rural supplier of 3G through the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) that gets in to some of the country’s most hard-to-reach places. Now Farmside, through Vodafone, can offer this next generation technology in selected areas,” says General Manager of Sales and Marketing, Stuart Cooper. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

August 27, 2014

$150 million boost for Rural Broadband Initiative:

National’s Communications and Information Technology spokeswoman, Amy Adams, today announced a re-elected National-led Government will establish a new $150 million fund to extend the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

Ms Adams made the announcement in Greymouth with Prime Minister and National Party Leader John Key.

“The RBI is making an immense difference to the way our rural firms do business, the way our kids learn and the way our health services deliver to us as patients,” Ms Adams says.

“Already, nearly 250,000 households and businesses have access to faster broadband under the RBI. However, National wants to see more rural homes and businesses benefit from faster, more reliable internet. . .

New partnership a boost for sheep and beef farming:

Lincoln University officially launched its lower-North Island base for vocational training and demonstration in lamb and beef finishing systems at a function in the Rangitikei today.

The University, along with the newly-formed Lincoln-Westoe Trust, will operate the 400 hectare Westoe Farm north of Bulls as a training facility, offering land-based certificate programmes for students looking to enter into primary sector careers. The training will have a particular emphasis on sheep and beef farming, and a special focus on training youth from Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apa.

Over time, the Westoe Farm will also be developed as a demonstration farm for the finishing of lambs and the raising and finishing of beef cattle. This demonstration activity will be underpinned by objective scientific measurement of the farm’s performance, including its environmental footprint. Demonstration activity will be supported by commercial sponsors. . . .

A1 beta-casein a threat to dairy industry – Keith Woodford:

Evidence that A1 beta-casein might be a human health issue has been available for more than 15 years. However, the mainstream dairy industry has always fought against the notion that it might be important.

Back in 2007, I wrote a book called ‘Devil in the Milk’ which brought together the evidence at that time. The mainstream industry and even some elements within the Government were not impressed. They made it clear that this was an issue which New Zealand did not need to air publicly. The industry, with considerable help from the Food Safety Authority, was largely successful in dousing the public concerns, leaving just a few little puffs of smoke to remind those who were watching carefully that the fire might not be totally out. . . .

Landcorp, keen user of Fonterra’s guaranteed milk price, looks to reduce dairy exposure – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp, New Zealand’s biggest corporate farmer, has been an enthusiastic participant in Fonterra Cooperative Group’s guaranteed milk price scheme as it reduces exposure to volatile dairy prices, while looking at ways to reduce the dominance of dairy in its portfolio.

The state-owned farmer’s milk revenue soared 70 percent to $129 million in the year ended June 30, contributing to a more-than doubling of operating profit to $30 million. It won’t see a similar benefit from dairy prices in the current year, given dairy prices have tumbled this year from their highs in February.

“We’re making sure we don’t get too reliant on dairy income so the more volatile dairy sector doesn’t become too dominant in the portfolio,” chief executive Steven Carden told BusinessDesk. Landcorp’s strategy includes exploring fixed-price contracts, hedging and greater cooperation with customers across both dairy and meat, he said. . . .

Country of origin law rejected – report:

The Meat Industry Association is supporting the finding by a World Trade Organisation disputes panel that has ruled against the United States over a country of origin meat labelling law.

Canada and Mexico, backed by New Zealand and Australia, amongst others, opposed a new US rule that requires more information on labels about the origins of beef, pork and other meats.

They regard the country of origin law as a potential trade restriction. . . .

Conservation grant supports bird recovery:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced Wildbase Recovery Community Trust is to receive a $90,000 grant from the Department of Conservation to put towards a new state-of-the-art rehabilitation facility for birds and wildlife.

“New Zealand’s most challenging conservation issue is the decline in our native bird populations. We need to raise public awareness of the threat from pests like rats, stoats and possums that kill 25 million native birds each year. We need facilities like Wildbase Recovery to improve public understanding of our special birds and save those birds that are injured and can be rehabilitated back into the wild,” Dr Smith says.

Wildbase Recovery Community Trust is a charitable trust formed in partnership with local iwi, Palmerston North City Council, Massey University, Rotary and the Department of Conservation for the sole purpose of building, operating and maintaining the community-funded Wildbase Recovery. . .

Benefits from dairy demonstration farm New Zealand wide:

 A new demonstration dairy farm in the Waikato has a key role in helping New Zealand achieve the Government’s target of doubling revenue from primary industries by 2025.

This was a consistent theme from speakers at the launch of the St Peter’s – Lincoln University Dairy Demonstration farm in Cambridge on Thursday 14 August. 

The Demonstration Dairy Farm has set its sights on being in the top 3% of farms in the region for both profitability and environmental performance.  The overall aim of the farm is to promote the sustainable development of profitable dairying, principally in the Waikato but also the greater North Island.  This will be achieved through the implementation of proven scientific research, best practice farming coupled with scientific monitoring of impacts in a collaborative environment with farmers. . .

Akarua Purchases Vineyards on Felton Road

Akarua is delighted to announce a major vineyard purchase with the acquisition of vineyards located in Felton Road and Lowburn finalised on Friday 22 August 2014.

Akarua, established in 1996 by Sir Clifford Skeggs is the largest family owned vineyard in Central Otago with single estate holdings in Cairnmuir Road Bannockburn, this recent purchase will significantly boost their total vineyard area to 100 hectares in Central Otago.

David Skeggs, Managing Director of the Skeggs Group said that that the company had been actively looking at purchasing developed vineyard in Central Otago for the last 2 years. . . .

New Zealand organic pioneers place farming unit up for sale:

A sizeable landholding which is part of one of New Zealand’s oldest organic farming operations has been placed on the market for sale.

The farms just north of Tolaga Bay on the East Coast and trading under the brand Kiwi Organics, have been run by the Parker family for more than 50 years – the last 23 of those under ‘certified organic’ branding. Owners Mike and Bridget Parker are former winners of the Heinz Watties Organic Farmer of the Year title.

Kiwi Organics farm and manufacture primary products for customers throughout the Pacific Rim – including Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Australia. The company’s products are Bio Gro Certified, USDA/NOP Certified, and EU Certified and Gluten Free. . .

 


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