Rural round-up

July 30, 2014

Speech to Red Meat Sector conference – Nathan Guy:

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to address you all tonight.

Following some challenging years, there are strong indications of improved results for many companies in the sector this year.

This resilience is a reflection of the hard work of people throughout the red meat sector.

The meat and wool sectors make up 21 percent of total primary sector export revenue at an estimated export value of $8 billion for the year ending 30 June 2014, which is a record.

The recovery of dry stock numbers after last year’s drought and the productivity improvements need to be acknowledged.

In the face of forecast decreases in stock numbers these capabilities will be important assets for the future. . .

Growth in global milk pool ‘unusual,’ says Spierings, in cutting forecast – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The global market for dairy products have been in the unusual situation where most producers have been lifting supply, while demand weakened in China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, says Fonterra Cooperative Group chief executive Theo Spierings.

The world’s biggest dairy exporter today cut its Farmgate Milk Price forecast for the 2014/2015 year to $6 a kilogram of milk solids from a previous forecast of $7 kgMS, reflecting a slide in global dairy prices, which touched their lowest levels since December 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction. It flagged a dividend of 20 cents to 25 cents, up from last year’s 10 cent payment.

“All milk pools around the world showed significant growth – we see milk coming from everywhere,” Spierings said. “On the demand side, China is looking at pretty high inventories” although in-market sales “are still very, very strong in China.” Demand in Southeast Asia and the Middle East had dropped off faster than expected as rising prices were passed onto consumers, he said. . . .

Agri industry passion leads to new appointment – Rabobank:

With a clear passion for the agricultural industry and strong knowledge of the sector, Georgia Twomey is thrilled to be appointed as a commodity analyst in Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory team.

Based in Rabobank’s Australia/New Zealand head office in Sydney, Ms Twomey will oversee sugar, cotton and wool – three key sectors for Rabobank’s business in the region.

Ms Twomey says she has always loved working in the agricultural industry, particularly being raised with a farming background, growing up in Goulburn in southern New South Wales.

“I love the agricultural industry and believe the sector really holds the key to Australia’s future economic security,” she says. . .

More emphasis on microbes required in food safety

Current concepts regarding food safety and security may be inadequate for fully addressing what is an increasingly complex issue. That’s according to Lincoln University Senior Lecturer in Food Microbiology, Dr Malik Hussain.

Dr Hussain has been invited as a representative of the University’s Centre for Food Research and Innovation to the Asian Food Safety and Security Association Conference to be held in Vietnam in August. He will also chair a workshop at the conference on risk assessment and management with regard to food safety.

Although the matter of food safety and security may sound simple enough, it is, in fact, a multi-dimensional and complicated issue, made all the more so from increasing pressures stemming from rapid population growth. . .

Steve Yung appointed as new Sealord CEO:

Sealord Group Ltd’s Board of Directors has appointed experienced food industry leader Steve Yung as the company’s next CEO.

Canadian born Yung has most recently been Managing Director of McCain Foods Australia/New Zealand and will take up his new role, based in Auckland on the 25th August 2014. He was a member of the global Senior Leadership Team at McCain.

Sealord Group Chairman Matanuku Mahuika said Yung has a strong set of skills that will help the company’s growth and development, particularly in the Australian market. . . .

Protecting your winter grazing business:

Both graziers and those sending animals for grazing have obligations under the NAIT programme to record the movements of animals from farm to farm. It is the grazier’s responsibility to record a NAIT movement from the grazing block to the home farm for animals that have been wintered on their property.

It’s also important that the person in charge of the animals at the receiving home farm confirm with NAIT when the cattle arrive back from grazing.

This can be done through movement related notification emails that include a direct link to the NAIT system, where animal movements can be confirmed or rejected in just a few clicks. Alternatively, you can contact NAIT on 0800 624 843. . . .

UK supermarket giant partners with New Zealand Ag-Tech company for major R&D collaboration:

British supermarket Sainsbury’s is teaming up with New Zealand’s Techion Group to run an international, cutting edge, technology project. The two-year international research & development project will roll out on-farm technology to effectively manage parasites increasing product quality and profits for farmers.

 J Sainsbury Plc, in conjunction withTechion Group Ltd, has announced Sainsbury’s will support the cost of implementing Techion’s technology, the FECPAK G2 system, both in New Zealand and the UK. The project team includes meat processors Alliance Group (NZ), Dunbia (UK) and Randall Parker Foods (UK).

Greg Mirams, Founder and Managing Director of the animal parasite diagnostics company, Techion, is at the centre of the project. He is confident it will have a significant impact on farmers’ profit and efficiency here and in the UK. . .  .


Rural round-up

October 12, 2013

Living up to our global responsibilities – Bruce Wills:

Not to give you the wrong impression, but I am writing this column from Geneva, where I have co-presented the World Farmers Organisation’s trade policy to the World Trade Organisation. I am back in Europe thanks to the WTO but it has helped to advance New Zealand’s agricultural diplomacy.

As a trading nation, we absolutely depend on trade in a world that is utterly dependent upon food. There are some things which keep me awake at night. Adverse weather events and biosecuirty being chief among them but there is a third which increasingly gnaws at me. That is a perfect storm of food production not keeping pace with a world population expected to hit 9.3 billion stomachs in the year 2050; an amazing 2.3 billion more than today.

Henk-Jen Brinkman, of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, called food insecurity “a threat multiplier”. . .

Angus farmers see grass is greener – Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand’s grass-based feeding system for cattle was the main talking point of 110 international visitors at Te Mania Angus, during one of the first stops of a South Island tour, before the World Angus Forum in Rotorua next week.

Overseas visitors were treated to a wide selection of angus heifers with calves, mature calving cows, yearling bulls and herd sires, at the breeding operation at Conway Flats, south of Kaikoura.

They were also impressed by food prepared by celebrity chef Al Brown for their Monday visit at one of the largest angus breeding operations in New Zealand, and its setting next to the sea, with a snow-topped mountain backdrop. . . .

Milk powder scare will cause long term disruption – Alan Barber:

It may be a statement of the obvious, but the effects of Fonterra’s botulism scare will last much longer than originally hoped or imagined. Its impact on New Zealand’s international trade reputation gives the impression of being more disastrous than an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, always assumed to be the biggest disaster that could possibly happen.

Economically there is no comparison between the two, because the botulism that wasn’t has initially done no more than cause infant formula manufacturers a loss of business. There has been no apparent impact on dairy payouts or even global auction prices. Fonterra appears to be pretending the whole saga wasn’t even its fault, if its reaction to Danone’s damages claim is any guide.   . .

Sainsbury’s evaluating merits of docking – Alan Williams:

Big United Kingdom supermarket chain Sainsbury’s will be guided by the science on issues it is working on with leading lamb supplier Alliance Group.

These are the docking of lambs’ tails and the use of high-sugar grasses as a livestock feed in New Zealand.

Animal welfare and sustainable production were key parts of Sainsbury’s strategic vision and its work with Alliance was part of the process to have matching values between the main UK lamb supply group and NZ suppliers, the chain’s agriculture manager Philip Hambling said.

The first year of a three-year tail-docking research programme, reported in The New Zealand Farmers Weekly, has been completed.

It produced interesting findings but it was too early to draw conclusions, Hambling said. . .

Gisborne forest boom predicted – Pam Graham:

The harvesting of forests in the Gisborne-Tairawhiti region on the East Coast will create 630 jobs by 2020, potentially reducing drug abuse and crime in the region, according to a report.

A study by Waikato University for the Eastland Wood Council says that by 2020 up to 10 percent of the population of Gisborne will be involved in, or derive a living from forestry.

Salaries and wages to Gisborne residents are likely to increase to $151 million a year in that period.

The number of people receiving welfare benefits will go down, schools will benefit from having parents employed and there may be less drug abuse and crime. . .

Weather helping croppers – Murray Robertson:

THE weather has been helping the district’s croppers in the past week to catch up with their planting programmes after heavy rain last month.

This is a crucial time for every crop and cropper in the district.

Leaderbrand general manager Richard Burke said they had everything they needed at this time.

“Things are pretty good really. . .

Awards offer chance to put spotlight on sustainability – Sue O’Dowd:

There’s no time like the present to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, says national judging co-ordinator Jamie Strang.

Earlier this week the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) confirmed eight entries had been received for the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The prestigious awards, which are held in 12 regions, are being staged in the province for the first time.

While some farmers said they wanted to delay entering the competition because they thought their farm wasn’t quite ready, often they’d say the same thing in following years, Strang said.

Many farmers did not like being in the spotlight, but entering the awards offered many benefits. . .

Solid start to avocado export sales:

The first of this season’s New Zealand avocados have started hitting the supermarket shelves in Japan this week in a buoyant start to export sales there, and opening prices in Australia are at their best.

Rival Mexican supply is lower, which has allowed Avanza, the international export brand channel for AVOCO, to start early season negotiations in Japan at significantly improved market prices. While this is partly offset by an unfavourable exchange rate it still reflects a significant improvement in grower OGR (orchard gate returns).

At the same time, interest in New Zealand avocados is proving to be strong in developing markets such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and there are encouraging signs that Avanza sales will resume in Hong Kong after a two-year absence. . .


Lamb cheaper here and there

January 17, 2013

Butterfly legs of lamb have been selling at an Oamaru New World supermarket for $19 a kilo.

I appreciate that as a consumer but as a producer realise that is reflecting lower prices for our stock.

The red ink in meat companies’ annual reports showed that last years prices were higher than they should have been and we’re paying for it now.

We’re not in this by ourselves, the National Sheep Association in Britain is calling for supermarkets there to favour local lamb ahead of ours:

The National Sheep Association has claimed supermarkets are not stocking UK lamb as it is ‘out of season’ and instead opting for New Zealand meat.

The association said it was a ‘bitter blow’ for sheep farmers at a time when many are not receiving financial returns to cover the cost of production.

Farmers are losing £29 on average for every lamb they sell at market after new figures revealed farm gate prices have dropped by a fifth in the past year.

Lamb prices are at their lowest in three years due to a poor summer, rising production costs and a longer finishing period.

“Given that New Zealand lamb on supermarket shelves is not as cheap as it has been historically, a better pricing structure in supermarkets, a wider selection of UK cuts and better presentation on the shelf would all benefit shoppers and farmers alike” the NSA said.

But Sainsbury’s pledged to increase the amount it pays for lamb until the end of February at more than 60p/kg above the market rate.

The news came after several farming groups called on retailers to show a ‘genuine commitment’ to their British suppliers and customers.

More than 800 farmers who supply Sainsbury’s own brands will receive £3.80/kg for lamb, in a move that will ease the burden on some already hard-pressed farmers struggling with the collapse in the price of lamb.

“Sainsbury’s has recognised that sheep farmers cannot run businesses on current prices. It’s clearly time for the whole trade to now show they are committed to a sustainable UK lamb industry” said NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe. . .

The recession has had an impact on demand and therefore prices for better cuts, notably lamb racks.

But the problem of low returns isn’t just due to meat prices, it’s also caused by low demand for wool and other by products.


Rural round-up

October 31, 2012

Customers attack Sainsbury’s for ditching Red Tractor – Alistair Driver:

SAINSBURY’S has come under fire on its own website over its decision to drop the Red Tractor logo from the food it sells.

Customers have branded the decision a ‘disgrace’ and some are threatening to stop shopping at Sainsbury’s stores until the logo is reinstated. The move has also been attacked by TV presenter Jimmy Doherty, who described it as ‘an odd thing to do’.

The UK’s third biggest retailer announced it was ditching the Red Tractor logo last week, blaming concerns that consumers were becoming confused about the number of labels on food packaging. It is planning to phase the logo out across its products lines, beginning with fresh meat. . .

CAP reform must not overshadow collaboration on family-owned farms –  Tom Levitt:

SMALLER family farms need better access to rural development funds to enable them to break free of subsidy dependence, a meeting of the Family Farmers Association (FFA) in Westminster heard last week.

NFU vice-president Adam Quinney, whose wife now runs the family farm near Redditch, West Midlands, told the audience that CAP funding was still inaccessible and unfavourable to smaller farm enterprises.

He was especially scathing of rural development funding, split between environmental schemes, modernising the farming sector and helping the rural economy. He said it had been largely ‘wasted’. . .

Times change for big show – Jill Galloway:

A & P shows used to be the the highlight of the social calendar for many people. They were the event of the year and there were public holidays, so people had time off to go to the show.

Now there are just two which have statutory holidays – Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury celebrate their anniversary days the weekend of their shows.

“Twenty years ago, it was about the promotion and sale of livestock,” says Manawatu and West Coast A & P president Lawrence Satherley. Now, Manawatu Showtime, being held at Manfeild Park this weekend, is competing against the Tour de Manawatu bicycle race, the Feilding horse races at Awapuni and the stock cars in Palmerston North. . .

Farm Environment Trust Leader Bows Out After Constructive Tenure:

North Waikato farmer Jim Cotman has stood down from his role as chairperson of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust after a very successful six years at the helm.

Since the Trust was established, its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, has gone from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of New Zealand’s premier farming awards. The Trust has also developed a range of other initiatives designed to promote environmental sustainability in New Zealand agriculture.

Mr Cotman says the Trust has played a key role in showcasing sustainable farming practices. . .

What NZ agriculture can learn from the i-Phone –  Milking on the Moove:

. . . New Zealand’s agricultural sector could do well to study Apples business model and supply chain design. I’m really struggling to think of a major NZ agribusiness that even attempts a vertical supply chain.

Fonterra is New Zealand’s economic saviour, but Fonterra is a commodity supplier. It is equivalent to a Korean company that supplies a component to Apples iPad or iPhone and receives less than 7% of the final retail price.
The red meat sector is in the same, farmers are relegated down the value chain and as a result receive only a small fraction of the retail price.
Australian dairy farmers are at the mercy of the supermarkets because they don’t control their supply chain. The same is true for our UK dairy farming friends too. . .

Standards met through pond course:

Over 100 contractors and designers of farm dairy effluent (FDE) ponds are the first to complete a training course aligned with new industry standards.

The Farm Dairy Effluent Pond Training Course was established by DairyNZ in conjunction with InfraTrain New Zealand and Opus International Consultants (Opus).

The course is based on Practice Note 21: Design and Construction of FDE Ponds, released by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) at the end of last year. . .

Australia on top in new Trans-Tasman series opener:

New Zealand has suffered a double defeat in the machine shearing and woolhandling tests against Australia in Warnambool, near Melbourne.

The Shearing Sports New Zealand team did however derive some success, with a victory to its two blades shearers denying Australia a clean sweep of the three matches at Saturday’s Romney Shears, which also incorporated the Australian national championships. . .

Public Consultation Begins On Proposed Agricultural Vehicle Rule Changes

The NZ Transport Agency is seeking public feedback proposed changes to agricultural transport law.

The proposed changes would establish a two-tier system for agricultural vehicles, based on a 40km/h operating speed. Vehicles operating below this speed will be exempt from warrant of fitness and work time requirements. The proposed changes aim to reduce compliance costs and provide greater operational flexibility for vehicle owners, without comprising safety. . .


Rural round-up

June 20, 2012

Beefing up the research team at Rabobank:

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand has announced the appointment of Sarah Sivyer as the senior animal proteins analyst in its Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) division.

Ms Sivyer will undertake high quality research of the animal proteins sector – beef, sheepmeat and pork– supporting Rabobank’s analysis of key markets in the food and agricultural sectors in the region.

Announcing the new appointment, Rabobank general manager for the bank’s Food and Agribusiness Research & Advisory division Luke Chandler said Sarah would be a valuable asset to the research team given her experience across a range of agricultural industries.

“Not only has Sarah been involved with the hands-on and strategic running of her family cattle property, she has also built a career working with leading global agricultural companies, which gives her an excellent foundation for her role at Rabobank,” Mr Chandler said. . .

Beef + Lamb NZ supports wool innovation:

Funds left over from wool levies collected by Meat & Wool New Zealand – now Beef + Lamb New Zealand -have supported the development of a new fabric that blends waste rice straw and New Zealand strong wool.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Operating Officer, Cros Spooner welcomed the innovation from Wellington company,  The Formary, the same company that transformed Starbucks coffee sacks into upholstery fabric for the coffee chain’s furniture.

“The Formary and Managing Director Bernadette Casey have made some valuable contacts in China which produces about two hundred million tonnes of rice a year. This makes vast amounts of waste rice straw and this latest innovation uses the waste rice straw and blends it with 29 micron wool to make upholstery weight fabric. . .

Milking the carbon question – Dr Jon Hauser:

This month I have been asked to comment on the dreaded carbon tax and associated government policy. It is a massive question and the Australian government is pouring an enormous amount of taxpayer’s time and money into the issue. This article provides a perspective on what is it all about and what it means for Australian dairy farmers.

Why is carbon a problem?

Many would say that the climate change is the underpinning driver for the carbon tax and associated government policy changes. Depending on your viewpoint climate change issue is either (a) a fiction and a conspiracy propagated by scientists and other political and economic opportunists (b) it is real but a natural climate cycle outside our control (c) a man-made phenomenon arising from our consumption and emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses. Irrespective of your personal view, governments around the world are taking option (c) very seriously. At an international level co-operation and direct action to reduce CO2 and the associated climate effect remains patchy. There is none-the-less a consensus that something should be done to reduce the rate of increase of greenhouse gas emissions and work towards a net reduction. . .

Top price for Gimmerburn bull – Sally Rae:

Maniototo stud cattle breeder Bev Helm was thrilled to    achieve the top price at the South Island Shorthorn sale in Temuka.   

 Rough Ridge Primo 1004 sold for $10,200 to Bill Callwood, of      Northland. It was also the top-priced Shorthorn bull in New  Zealand this year.   

 Mrs Helm, who farms at Gimmerburn with her husband Malcolm      and their three children, was “absolutely stoked” with the result. . .

Sainsbury cadets visits Alliance :

Representatives from one of the UK’s major supermarkets have gone behind the scenes at Alliance Group.   

      Two cadets from Sainsbury’s have been visiting the meat  company to gain an insight into the industry including meat processing, research and development and livestock procurement.   

  Lisa Quinn, of Ireland, and Mark Chaddock, of Manchester, were in New Zealand as part of the supermarket’s six-week Taste the World programme, in which students worked with Sainsbury’s suppliers and partners around the world. . .

Grass growth key to farm improvement – Sally Rae:

It is all about grass. Forget the stock, or even yourself –      Farmax Ltd general manager Gavin McEwen reckons the biggest asset a farmer has on their farm is the ability to grow      grass.   

 Farmax, which is 50% owned by AgResearch, specialises in decision support systems for pastoral farming enterprises.   

 Mr McEwen gave an address entitled “Converting Pasture Into Profit” during the recent PGG Wrightson seminar series at  Waimate.   

  New Zealand was very good at producing protein, particularly safe, reliable high quality animal protein, he said. . .

RX Plastics launches major product innovation at Fieldays:

This year’s Mystery Creek Fieldays was the platform for New Zealand pipe and irrigation specialists RX Plastics to launch their biggest range of pipe fittings yet for the farm irrigation market.

The result of a year’s worth of research and development time, prototyping and tooling up, the injection moulded range is glass reinforced nylon, and will firmly cement the company’s position as New Zealand’s premier fittings manufacturer and distributor.

According to industrial designer and project engineer, Chris Clay, this is the first time in the company’s history that such a major product development process has been undertaken. . .


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