Rural round-up

July 1, 2019

Climate change should not be blamed on farming alone – Anna Campbell:

My mother has returned from visiting my brothers who live in England. To make that trip, she was responsible for contributing more than three tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere.

After finding this out, my mother who is a farmer, is feeling pretty outraged that in New Zealand farmers are the ones under attack for climate change. She is vowing to fly less and write letters of concern – why is the New Zealand Government so focused on agriculture while tourism flies under the radar – so to speak.

My mother has a point, according to data analysed by Dr Frank Mitloehner, a professor of air quality at the University of California, Davis. He has reviewed the full carbon life cycle of livestock products and transportation and has published in peer-reviewed scientific journals . . .

Successes or failures riding on Lindis minimum flow decision – Sally Rae:

‘‘You don’t just get a free ride here at all.’’

Tarras farmer Jayne Rive sits at the kitchen table of the Cloudy Peak homestead in the Ardgour Valley, her piercing blue eyes ever-animated as she talks about the uncertainty involved with securing irrigation water for the family farming operation.

In late January, Environment Court Judge Jon Jackson adjourned the hearing of, and reserved the court’s decision on an appeal brought by the Lindis Catchment Group and the Otago Regional Council against an ORC decision which, among other things, imposed a minimum flow of 900 litres per second for the Lindis.

The LCG was proposing a 550 litres per second minimum flow, saying that level was crucial to enabling irrigators to have sufficient reliability of supply.

Ms Rive has been part of that group, which represents irrigators using Lindis River water. Going through the process has been ‘‘incredibly worrying, incredibly draining and incredibly frustrating’’. . . 

Breeders seek seed law overhaul – Richard Rennie:

Plant breeders are seeking an overhaul of New Zealand’s plant variety legislation, claiming the existing act risks putting NZ behind the rest of the world in varieties grown or developed here.

New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association general manager Thomas Chin said successive governments had dragged their feet when it came to updating this country’s 30-plus year old Plant Variety Rights Act. 

However there was now an opportunity for breeders to push for changes to the act,as the government seeks industry submissions on options to reform it. . . 

Stock agent reflects on varied life – Yvonne O’Hara:

A prostate cancer diagnosis led to Rural Livestock Ltd stock agent Terry Cairns, of Invercargill, making significant changes to his business to ensure job security for those who worked with him.

He has been a stock agent for almost 40 years, but trained as a lawyer, and has driven livestock trucks, worked on farms and worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

”I came to the job by a rather circuitous route, leaving school to train as a lawyer, which did not work that well,” Mr Cairns said.

”Roman law, the Goths, the Vandals, the legal system and other things pertinent to the noble profession didn’t hold my attention. . . 

Barn boosts milk take – Samantha Tennent:

Farming on a waterfront comes with flood risks and for Tony and Fran Allcock.

One or two floods each year is the norm.

Their 97-hectare property at Te Rore, west of Hamilton, runs along the Waipa River. It has been in their family for 130 years and Tony is the third generation to farm it.

The soils are heavy, mostly Horotiu sandy loam with some river silt and every winter 8ha goes under water. To help combat the weather the Allcocks built an Aztech cow barn, which they have dubbed the MOO-Tel, in 2013. . . 

Long White Cloud Genetics:

Long White Cloud Genetics is overwhelmed to announce the forming of a South Island based medical cannabis company focused on local production & manufacturing, creating new career opportunities and supporting local communities. Based in the South Island, Canterbury is the backbone of New Zealand’s farming and agriculture industry and is etched deep in its history.

Long White Cloud Genetics is currently in the process of designing and developing a high- tech indoor cultivation facility. Ultimately creating long term career opportunities in South Canterbury, which is home to some of the best farming technology and agricultural research and development. We have strategic partnership opportunities that will allow us to hit turnovers of 20M+ NZD annually which we intend to not only fulfil but to put some of that money back into local community projects and support mental health here in New Zealand. . . 

Can Minnesota save its dairy farms? – Greta Kaul:

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture rolled out a state program that aims to inject cash into the state’s struggling dairy industry.

More than 1,100 Minnesota dairy farms closed up between 2012 and 2017, leaving only about 3,600 farms in an industry beset by years of low milk prices and a long, hard winter that delivered enough snow and wind to collapse the roofs of at least two dozen dairy barns.

The Minnesota Legislature passed the $8 million Minnesota Dairy Assistance, Investment and Relief Initiative (DAIRI) this year, in response to crisis in the dairy industry in Minnesota, the seventh-biggest dairy producer in the United States. . .


Rural round-up

May 13, 2018

Farming programme empowers Maori women in Northland – Bayley Moor:

A programme aimed at upskilling and empowering Māori women in the farming industry has seen its first cohort from Northland graduate.

Graduates from across Tai Tokerau with backgrounds as private farmers, trustees on Māori land and working in the dairy and beef industries were presented with their certificate after completing the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s Wāhine Māia, Wāhine Whenua programme. 

Wāhine Māia, Wāhine Whenua is an intensive programme providing participants with skills from industry experts including measuring farm performance and potential, business planning, finding and accessing financial information – all condensed down into three, full-day workshops, to make it more accessible for time-poor women.  . .

DIRA distorts Fonterra decisions – Hugh Stringleman:

The review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act is well overdue considering the degree of added competition recently, which has implications for the open entry rule, Fonterra says.

“The industry has become highly competitive with a relatively large number of new entrants often backed by deep capital and global businesses,” it said.

“Open entry limits our farmer-shareholders’ and the industry’s ability to maximise value.

“It distorts investment decisions and leaves Fonterra’s farmers underwriting risk for competitors, who cherry-pick their suppliers.” . . 

Farmers want rules for agents – Nigel Stirling:

Mulitple lawsuits being brought by farmers against a South Island livestock firm looks like being the catalyst for regulation of the industry.

Five civil claims against Rural Livestock and a Serious Fraud Office investigation into a former employee of the Christchurch firm have prompted Federated Farmers to call for livestock agents to be licensed in a similar manner to their counterparts in the real estate industry. . . 

Scoring carbon emissions – Brian Easton:

A powerful social law suggests we often explain or do things the wrong way. This may be particularly true when we try to address Global Warming.

Gilling’s Law, one of the most powerful laws in the social sciences, states that the way you score the game shapes the way it is played.* A simple example is that once rugby was boring with a typical score of 9 to 6 – three penalties to two. Later the score for a try was raised from three points to five, bonuses were given for scoring a lot of tries (and also to a loser who gets close to the winner). The changed incentives led teams to take risks to score tries with the result of much bigger scores and a livelier game. . . 

Low cattle pressure, yet an environmental problem in New Zealand – Robert Bodde:

Mark and Pennie Saunders are milking 2,000 dairy cows on the New Zealand South Island. Due to the scale, the cost price is lower than average despite the solid financing. The entrepreneurs see availability of labor and environmental measures as the biggest threats.

Their cows and young cattle older than two months walk 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in the meadow. Mark and Pennie Saunders have therefore invested little in buildings. At the home location in Ashburton, 90 kilometers south of Christchurch, there are three pilots, one of which is out of use. One is for the housing of sober calves, and one contains some tractors and machines. The 4 tractors from 45 to 120 hp are 20 to 45 years old. They are, according to Mark, not worth more than € 165,000, including the tools.

The 80-stall rotary milking parlor, an outdoor fancier from 2004, has also been depreciated. In the first years, 1,200 cows went through twice a day. After an increase in business in 2007, 1,650 per day, 10 months per year. Since 2015, there are only ‘1,450’. That year they bought 130 hectares of the neighbor and they started a new location with 600 dairy cows on a 54-stall rotary milking parlor. “The decision to start at the second location was prompted by the scarcity of capable people”, says Mark. “It is certainly financially more attractive to milk for longer in the 80 stands. But with 1,650 cows, the employees were milking for nine hours a day. Then you will not keep your people. You can only bind them to you if they have varied work. ” . . .

(This was translated from Dutch, as internet translations do, it doesn’t get every word right).

Texas ranches manage cattle to improve pasture and watershed health – Sandra Postal:

The following is an edited excerpt from Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity by Sandra Postel, published by Island Press.

Few animals get as bad a rap these days as cattle do. They are blamed for soil erosion, water depletion, overgrazed rangelands, greenhouse gas emissions, and, when eaten, human heart disease. Often missing from such indictments of the mooing, tail-wagging, and, yes, methane-emitting bovine, however, is our role. How we choose to manage cattle determines their environmental impact, not the animals themselves.

“Ninety percent of people think cattle are bad,” said Robert Potts, president of the Texas-based Dixon Water Foundation. “But grasslands need well-managed grazing to stay healthy. We need to educate people about that.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 24, 2017

Young farmer’s wife (33): ‘He kissed me goodbye, told me that he loved me… but then my whole life was ripped apart’:

 The wife of a young farmer who was killed in a freak farm accident has appealed to farmers to slow down and work safely.      

Diane Banville, whose husband Kevin died on the family farm in Newbawn, New Ross last year said her “whole life was ripped apart” just ahead of the couple’s first wedding anniversary.  

Kevin was killed when a silage bale fell on him on March 17th, just one month after Diane had given birth to the couple’s second child. . .  

Farm thinking to build supercity Glenys Christian:

After leaving school at 17 Bill Cashmore started at the bottom of the farming ladder and worked his way up.

Then six years ago he thought the creation of Auckland as a supercity could cause problems for rural people so he got into politics and again started at the bottom and worked his way up so he’s now second in charge. He told Glenys Christian about his aim to be not just a voice for rural people but to take a New Zealand Inc approach to the job.  

When Bill Cashmore built fences on his Orere Point farm he made certain they would be around in 50 years time by using eight wires and plenty of battens.  “You mightn’t put up so many but you were sure they would last,” he said. . . 

Comvita warns annual earnings to slump on weak honey harvest, slow China sales – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita shares sank 14 percent after the manuka honey products maker warned annual earnings will tumble by about two-thirds as the nation’s unseasonably wet and windy weather saps the honey harvest and slow sales via China’s informal trading channels.

Te Puke-based Comvita expects after-tax operating earnings of between $5 million and $7 million in the year ending June 30, having previously predicted it would be in line with 2016’s earnings of $17.1 million. However, the company’s sale of its Medihoney brand and shareholding in Derma Sciences will bolster the bottom line, with net profit expected to be between $20 million and $22 million. . . 

Water woes for CHB farming couple – Nicki Harper:

Central Hawke’s Bay’s Helen Powley checks the rain gauge every day at her and husband Matthew Powley’s property near State Highway 50 on Smedley Rd.

Her record shows they’ve had 10mm of rain so far this month.

This time last year they’d had 130mm.

It’s dry, but making matters worse is that for the first time since they have farmed the 160ha property, their 200ft well dried up last April.

In addition, a pipe they had installed to take water from the Mangaonuku Stream as of last weekend is no longer supplementing stock water because the access point on the stream has also dried up. . . 

Ewes flock to annual Hawarden fair – Amanda Bowes:

The number of sheep on offer at the upcoming Hawarden Ewe Fair has surprised stock agents and has resulted in a two day sale this week.

Livestock agent for Rural Livestock Kevin Rowe says after a meeting of agents it was decided to split the sale.

“There is around 33,000 ewes on offer and realistically the sale yards can hold about 19,000 so the sale will be on the Tuesday and Friday.” . . 

 

Hawkes Bay kiwifruit farm sells for $40.2mn Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry continues to surge ahead and a recent orchard sale underscores confidence in the sector.

A 66-hectare kiwifruit orchard in the Hawkes Bay area recently sold for $40.2 million, something PGG Wrightson Real Estate general manager Peter Newbold said was unusual.

“Not many of this size come on the market. Kiwifruit orchards normally sell in the 100s of thousands or single digit millions,” he said. . . 

Beyond Jamaica’s beaches – a day on a Jamaican farm – Uptown Farms:

We have just returned from a week trip to paradise, also known as Jamaica. While there, we had the opportunity to spend a day off the resort at a farm, learning about the agriculture on the island.

The island itself is the third largest of the Caribbean islands (square miles of land), measuring approximately 4200 square miles with a population approaching 3 million people. Forty-five percent of the population lives in rural areas of the island with only 51% of those people having access to potable water.

Comparatively, our home state of Missouri measures over 69,000 square miles and has a population of just over 6 million with only 30% of us living in rural areas. . . 

 


Norgate’s last stand?

May 3, 2010

The Press (not online) reports that Craig Norgate has given up on Rural Portfolio Investments, the parent company of Rural Portfolio Capital:

Norgate has essentially thrown in the towel on Rural Portfolio Investments . . . saying he cannot raise enough funds for the next dividend on the $60m of preference shares.

It is unlikely the preference shareholders will get the face value of that $60m investment back in the short term and the market has already priced in a much lower return.

The security for the RPC preference shares is 46.76m PGG Wrightson shares (which closed at 53c yesterday) and 10m NZ Farming Systems Uruguay (NZFSU) shares (41c) was well as $742,314 held in a dividend escrow account. . .

RPI and its financing subsidiary Rural Portfolio Capital are the investment vehicles for Norgate and the Otago-based McConnon family, and will very likely be wound down. . .

Norgate contributed to the McConnon family fortune when, as general manager of Kiwi Dairy, he bought Mainland Products from them. He’s now taken a large chunk of that away through his encouragement for them to invest in PGW.

He thought he could capture the rural servicing market by amalgamating Williams and Kettle, Pyne Gould Guiness and Wrightson. But farmers never bought into his plans and the combined market share of those companies fell from more than 70% to less than 50%.  PGW’s share price went from around $2. 80  two years ago to just 53 cents on Friday.

The decline of PGW provided opportunities for competitors Combined Rural Traders and new companies of stock agents set up by former PGW agents, including Hazlett Rural and Rural Livestock.

The only positives for PGW at the moment are the arrivals of Sir John Anderson as chairman of the company and former PGG general manager George Gould as a director.

One of Norgate’s biggest mistake was failing to gain finance for the purchase of 50% of Silver Fern Farms. While the financial meltdown has been blamed for this many farmers cannot believe how he ignored the fundamental basics of business which require securing funding before doing a deal.

His foray into dairying in Uruguay was big on promises but has yet to deliver. Share prices peaked at $2 and were at 41 cents on Friday.

From the outside, the investment in Uruguay looked simple. However, Norgate failed to take full account the challenges of farming in South America with language, cultural and political difficulties and a very different climate from New Zealand.

You only have to look  at the difficulties New Zealand companies have when investing in Australia, where at least the language, culture, banking and legal systems are similar, to realise that what works so well here might not  transfer easily to Uruguay.


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