Rural round-up

March 17, 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. . . 


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