Rural round-up

May 24, 2019

RWNZ leader encourages rural women – Sally Brooker:

Rural women are underpaid and undervalued despite their multiple contributions to their farm, family, home and community, Fiona Gower says.

The national Rural Women New Zealand president spoke in Oamaru this month at a workshop called ”A Leading Voice”. Organised by local Rural Women members, it aimed to help women gain confidence, express themselves, and network with like-minded people.

Ms Gower said women’s input to the farm and household should be recognised by their peers and family.

And women should take the words ”just” and ”only” out of their vocabulary when describing themselves. . .

Feed grain not among good options – Annette Scott:

Good returns for store lambs and strong signals from the milling industry mean arable farmers are opting out of autumn feed grain plantings.

Growers are hunting out their best options and after a good year last year with lambs they are at the top of the priority list for many arable farmers again this year, Federated Farmers grains vice-chairman Brian Leadley said.

The market signals coming from the mills are also encouraging for New Zealand’s drive towards self-sufficiency. . .

Dairy’s top woman backs recycling – Pam Tipa:

Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin has a message for all farmers: recycling systems work and it is worth doing your bit.

“There is a misconception that recycling just gets stockpiled somewhere,” Rankin told Rural News.

“Actually, it doesn’t. Everything that is sent to AgRecovery gets recycled. I think if people knew that they may take the time to triple rinse their containers and take them to their local AgRecovery depot to drop them off to recycle.” . . 

Edible bale wrap developed to reduce farm waste :

Three PhD students have invented an edible bale wrap to reduce farm waste.

The patent-pending BioNet biopolymer was developed specifically for farms to wrap hay and silage.

It is the brainchild of three Imperial College London PhD students: Nick Aristidou, Will Joyce and Stelios Chatzimichail.

The trio came up with the idea after Mr Joyce, who grew up on a farm in Rutland, noticed his parent’s beef herd was creating a lot of wrapping waste. . . 

2018/19 season results: Zespri operating revenue exceeds $3 billion:

Zespri’s returns to growers and the industry reached new levels on the back of strong growth in both volume and value and across all fruit categories last season, with operating revenue from global kiwifruit sales and licence release revenue exceeding $3 billion for the first time.

The results reflect continued strong international demand, with Zespri selling a total of 167.2 million trays of kiwifruit in 2018/19, a 21 percent increase on the 138.6 million trays sold in the previous season. Revenue generated by global kiwifruit sales and SunGold licence release increased by 26 percent to $3.14 billion. . .

A recollection – Adolf Fiinkensein:

When Adolf graduated from Lincoln as a valuer and farm consultant he went off to Australia and, by accident, fell into commerce where he remained for forty or so years.  Many of my colleagues had come over and introduced Canterbury farming techniques.  Some did very well, others not so well

I well remember a crusty old West Australian wheat cocky remarking that ‘those bastards charged us a fee for telling us when we would go broke. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

May 15, 2019

Tip Top sale half of debt target – Hugh Stringleman:

The sale of Tip Top to a joint-venture northern hemisphere company, Froneri, for $380 million has achieved almost half of Fonterra’s debt reduction target.

When its Beingmate shareholding is divested and a half share of DFE Pharma is sold, Fonterra should reach its $800m reduction target by July 31.

The Beingmate stake has a market value of about $280m and the DFE share about $200m, based on annual sales figures.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell has therefore made a good start on promised financial reforms of substantial debt reduction, cuts in capital and operational expenditure and 7%-plus return on capital invested by farmer-shareholders and unit holders. . . 

Gisborne woman takes out SI Sheep Dog trials event:

Gisborne’s Jo Waugh has won the zig zag hunt at the South Island sheep dog trial championships, the first time a woman has won the event in more than 100 years.

And not only did the 30-year-old and her huntaway dog, Guy, get on the podium, but two other women also joined her in the top seven, clocking up another achievement in the usually male-dominated event.

The South Island Sheep Dog trials were held in Hanmer Springs this week but farmers and shepherds have been competing since the sport first landed in New Zealand in the 1800s. . . 

MIE man changed priorities fast – Neal Wallace:

Richard Young was elected to the Silver Fern Farms board on a platform of industry restructuring and agitating for a merger with Alliance. Six years later the Otago farmer is the co-operative’s boss. He talks to Neal Wallace.

Richard Young vividly remembers the induction for new directors the evening before his first meeting as an elected member of the Silver Fern Farms board.

It was 2013 and the newly elected directors were taken through the co-operative’s accounts ahead of the annual meeting the next day.

It was not pretty. . . 

Tiny farm run on ethical principles– Sally Brooker:

An Alma family is proud to have set up the district’s smallest dairy farm.

Bethan and Bryan Moore have a herd of just 13 Ayrshire cows with calves on 6ha alongside State Highway 1. They will soon be selling milk in glass bottles.

The Moores bought the land about 18 months ago, after four years of sharemilking in Tasmania. Mrs Moore grew up near Cardiff, Wales and met Mr Moore, a farmer from the North Island, on her travels to New Zealand. . . 

Seeka cuts earnings forecast on smaller crop – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit grower and marketer Seeka has cut its full-year earnings guidance by $4 million due to reduced harvests in both New Zealand and Australia.

Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are likely to range from $32.5 million to $33.5 million in the 2019 calendar year, down from the $36.5-$37.5 million range the Te Puke-based company signalled a month ago.

Seeka, the biggest kiwifruit producer in New Zealand and Australia, said unseasonably hot, dry weather in both countries has reduced fruit size and crop volumes. . .

Meeting of Otago Drought Group – Sally Rae:

The work of the Otago Drought Group is a great example of farmers and their organisations collaborating to manage climate challenges locally, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The group met again this week to update its discussions on the dry conditions in the Clutha district, how farmers were faring and what actions might be needed.

The group, which included Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, representatives from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, the Otago Rural Support Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, convened early in any adverse weather event. . . 

Flying Pig cafe going to market:

One of the Waitaki district’s most recognisable restaurants is on the market.

The Flying Pig Cafe, with its distinctive porcine pink exterior, has long been a landmark in Duntroon.

It has been closed since illness befell its owners in early 2017, and is now for sale.

An Auckland couple bought the cafe in 2007 after discovering it during a holiday driving around the South Island. Business began to soar after the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail opened in 2014. . . 

Hi-tech boosts growers’ bottom lines:

“Incredibly clever” technology that elevates cool rooms into a state-of-the-art controlled atmosphere chambers is helping Hawke’s Bay’s growers make the very best of their crops.

It is not just about chilling fruit, it is about controlling the air conditions inside the cooler to hold it in the best possible state until market conditions are optimal; which could be any time over the 12 months after the crop has been picked.

Next week, growers have the opportunity to learn more about that technology from the Europeans who make it. . . 


Rural round-up

March 26, 2019

Last calves go under the hammer – Sally Rae:

It was dubbed The Last Hurrah.

Rural folk from throughout the Catlins and further afield gathered on Thursday for the last-ever Owaka calf sale.

As the stories and nostalgia flowed – many commenting on how long it could take in years gone by to get home from the sale – there was also a touch of sadness.

PGG Wrightson, which owns and operates the saleyards, is moving the sale from next year to a special sale day at the Balclutha saleyards. . .

Pilot ‘trees and carbon’ workshop proves popular – Sally Brooker:

A pilot project helping farmers make the most of the One Billion Trees Fund has generated a lot of interest.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a series of workshops in the central South Island this month called ”Farms, Trees and Carbon”.

Experts from Wairarapa forestry and marginal land use advisory and management company Woodnet presented an overview of global warming and New Zealand’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.

Then they discussed possibilities for plantings on attendees’ land. . . 

‘Serious pest’ affecting avocado trees discovered in Auckland

An avocado tree-loving beetle, regarded as a serious pest overseas, has been discovered in Auckland.

The wood-boring granulate ambrosia beetle has been detected in four Auckland areas since late February, according to Biosecurity New Zealand.

The beetle is known to feed on a wide range of broadleaf trees, including horticultural species such as avocado, and can spread fungal diseases. . . 

Primary sector attitudes give lessons for life – Bryan Gibson:

It has been a challenging week or so in New Zealand as we all try to make sense of the events in Christchurch on March 15. We’ve all been doing some soul-searching, wondering about the foundations of our society and how it will recover from this tragedy.

As an island nation at the bottom of the world many of us might have thought we were isolated from the hatred that we see in much of the world at the moment.

But we’d be wrong to think that. Our nation was formed through conflict and to this day we often express our fear of others through anger. It might help for rural communities and primary producers to reflect on our make-up. People of all nationalities work the land, grow the crops, pick the fruit and milk the cows. There’s only four million of us here but we produce enough to feed many more people so we’ve had to form partnerships with other nations to sell our great food internationally. . . 

Dairy dramas – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers face a strange mix of uncertainties when contemplating with satisfaction the likelihood of a fourth consecutive season of $6-plus milk prices.

While extreme volatility in dairy product prices has calmed down and New Zealand farmers now receive as good as others in Europe and the United States, their institutions have developed cracks.

There might be no better time to rebuild the foundation, beginning with the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, part 2019.

Last week Fonterra’s leaders promised for the third or fourth time since the embarrassment of their first financial loss in 2018 a fundamental strategy review. . . 

NZ Champion of Cheese Medals Announced:

NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2019 has awarded 223 medals to locally-made cheese, proving the quality of New Zealand speciality cheese continues to improve.

Organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards has been run since 2003. The Bronze, Silver and Gold Medal winners have been announced today, with the Gold Medal winners vying for one of 26 cheese trophies, which will be announced in Hamilton in May. All the New Zealand Champion of Cheese medal winners are on the NZSCA website https://nzsca.org.nz/winners/. . .

Hawke’s Bay dairy farm opportunity on market:

A top-end Patoka dairy farm with consents in place to increase its output by 30 percent for at least the next 10-years has been placed on the market for sale. With Hawke’s Bay’s land values around half of some other districts, the returns from this property would likely be stronger than anywhere else.

Raumati Dairy some 41-kilometres north-west of Napier is a 458-hectare property milking a herd of between 730 – 750 cows, but with consent from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to stock up to 1000 cows through to 2028. It ticks all the environmental boxes too with riparian areas fenced off. A 60 bail rotary, 600 cow feed pad and all the bells and whistles make this a must view. . . 


Rural round-up

March 4, 2019

EU makes a galling offer – Nigel Stirling:

The European Union is pressing New Zealand to drop the use of some cheese names in free-trade talks but is refusing to open its own dairy markets to increased competition in return.

Negotiators met for the third round of talks in Brussels last week. NZ’s lead negotiator Martin Harvey said the talks had made progress since being launched in July last year and the EU had already tabled an offer on agricultural market access.

“The EU has made us an offer but it is not satisfactory.” . . .

Milk price up but decisions loom – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra decided not to pay an interim dividend because of its debt reduction priorities and steps to improve its operational performance, chairman John Monaghan says.

Fonterra lifted its forecast farmgate milk price range 30c to $6.30-$6.60/kg MS on the back of improved demand from Asia, specifically China, and bad weather slowing production in Australia and Europe.

Countering that, geopolitical pressure in Latin America has made trading conditions difficult in some countries, chief executive Miles Hurrell said. . .

History made as Canterbury woman qualifies for for FMG Young Farmer of the Year final:

A North Canterbury shepherd has made history after qualifying for the prestigious FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.

Georgie Lindsay, 23, won the fiercely-contested Tasman regional final in Culverden last night, beating seven other contestants.

She’s the first woman from the sprawling region to make it through to the grand final in the contest’s 51-year history. . .

Chance to lower N leaching – Ken Muir:

Southern Dairy Hub business manager Guy Michaels said the key takeaway from last week’s field day at the Hub near Wallacetown was that there is a range opportunities for farmers to save money and reduce nitrate (N) leaching. ”While it is still early days for our research, our monitoring programme being carried out in association with AgResearch is starting to provide a picture of the differences in nitrate leaching in different situations,” he said. . . 

Enterprising family’s team work bears fruit – Sally Brooker:

Usually, it’s the kids who leave home. In the Watt family, it was the parents.

Julie and Justin Watt own Waitaki Orchards, just east of Kurow. Their eight children have become so involved in the business that they have stayed to run different aspects of it.

“Justin and I and the youngest are in Duntroon,” Mrs Watt said when the Oamaru Mail called in last month. “We were the first to leave home.” . . . 

The high school where learning to farm is a graduation requirement – Mary Ann Lieser:

A group of teens gathers quietly in the predawn darkness. Dressed in warm clothing, they meet before breakfast to help capture and pack broiler chickens to be taken to a slaughterhouse. They fed, watered, and watched the birds grow; now they prepare them for their final trip. Eventually, the birds will return as meat and be cooked for the teens to eat.

High school students at Olney Friends School, located on 350 acres near Barnesville, Ohio, witness the cycle of birth and death time and again during their four years on campus. Founded in 1837 to serve the children of Quaker families, Olney has always had a farm program and students have been involved in its operation to varying degrees. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 23, 2018

P kicking out dope in the provinces – Richard Rennie:

Rural New Zealand is playing host to a wave of methamphetamine (P) lab production and consumption that has knocked cannabis off its pedestal as the recreational drug of choice in the provinces.

Research by Massey University associate professor Chris Wilkins has highlighted that contrary to popular belief it is rural New Zealand, not large metropolitan centres, where P’s availability has resoundingly surged.

His research work has revealed small towns and rural areas where gang influence predominates are targeted specifically for P use to maximise gang drug revenue. . . 

Heading for a TB-free future – Barry Harris:

Ospri Chairman Barry Harris says New Zealand farmers can be proud of the progress of the TB Plan towards eradicating the infectious livestock disease bovine tuberculosis.

Among the most important challenges facing New Zealand agriculture is managing and eradicating diseases that threaten our dairy and meat exports. 

While Mycoplasma bovis has hogged the headlines recently, the progress of the TBfree programme to eradicate bovine tuberculosis has been quietly progressing as planned.

TB, caused by the similar-sounding Mycobacterium bovis, has been a problem for farmed livestock since they arrived in the 19th century.  . . 

Push for authorities to subsidise farmers’ use of dung beetles to help reduce environmental impacts – Gerald Piddock:

A company that grows and supplies dung beetles to farmers wants to partner up with local government to lift the insect’s uptake across New Zealand.

The insects are another tool to help pastoral farmers mitigate their environmental impact, according to Dung Beetle Innovations director Shaun Forgie​.

Forgie, along with business partner Andrew Barber and Peter Buckley, outlined to Waikato Regional Councillors at a recent committee meeting why it would be economically and environmentally beneficial for landowners and local government to include the beetles in steps for improving water quality and soil health. . . 

Stud stock agent judge of qualities – Sally Rae:

Among the hordes of exhibitors and visitors through the sheep pavilion at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch last week, there was a familiar face.

Stud stock agent Roger Keach is a well-known figure within the New Zealand stud stock industry and  regular show attendee for many years.

This year, he was tasked with judging the Hampshire sheep section and  all-breeds wool ram hogget class. . . 

Getting in behind – Rebecca Harper:

A lack of practical experience made it hard for Ashley Greer to get a foot on the career ladder in the sheep and beef industry, but she refused to take no for an answer. After years of trying, she has landed her dream job shepherding on a progressive sheep and beef farm near Masterton. Rebecca Harper went to visit her.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. It’s an old proverb, but one that is particularly relevant for 28-year-old Ashley Greer.

Ashley set her heart on a career in the sheep and beef sector and began studying towards her Bachelor of Science, majoring in agricultural science and minoring in animal science, at Massey University. In her holidays, she needed to obtain placements on farm. . .

North Otago meat plants ‘flat out’ – Sally Brooker:

North Otago’s two major meat processing plants are working flat out.

Alliance Group Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker said the site just north of Oamaru was operating three chains, processing both beef and sheep.

”Lamb is continuing to come through strongly, with the plant having just completed a very busy period processing chilled Christmas orders for the important United Kingdom market. . . 

Thriving horticulture sector behind new degree at Massey University – Angie Skerrett:

A booming horticulture industry has prompted the introduction of a new degree course at Massey University.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) quarterly outlook figures for New Zealand’s primary sector estimates growth in the horticulture sector for the coming year will be 13.1 percent, a $0.7 billion increase on the previous year.

A three-year Bachelor of Horticultural Science degree is set to begin in February to cope with the expected growth. . . 


Rural round-up

November 6, 2018

Why Fonterra’ farmers should be wondering what the Irish could teach us – Point of Order:

It’s a critical week for the country’s largest company, Fonterra, which has to find a new direction after shipping out its chief executive, Theo Spierings, writing off more than $1.5bn from its balance sheet, and posting its first loss in its 17-year history.

Meanwhile, back on the farm, Fonterra’s suppliers are absorbing payout downgrades as well as a slump in dairy farm prices.

At the same time they are seeing the valuations of other companies in the dairy industry—notably A2 Milk and Synlait— soaring on the NZ sharemarket. . . 

Merinos, matagouri and moving on – Sally Rae:

 The Upper Waitaki has historically been known as the land of Munros, merinos and matagouri.

For more than a century, the Munro family have farmed Rostriever Run, a high country property alongside what is now the Otematata township.

But their roots in the area dated back to the 1860s, when William and Lavannah Munro first arrived in the district. In latter years, Rostriever has been farmed in partnership by three brothers — John, Ian and the late Ronnie — and their families.

But change is in the wind as the family have decided to put the pastoral lease up for sale. . . 

Wool group takes blanket approach – Annette Scott:

A working group tasked with seizing opportunities to create a sustainable and profitable wool industry will have an action plan to revitalise the languishing sector by the end of the year.

The working group made up of 20 wool producers, processors and wider industry stakeholders will continue the momentum of the Wool Industry Summit initiated by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in July in an attempt to move the industry forward with a new purpose and a fresh plan for action. . .

‘M. bovis’ action group vying for national award – Sally Brooker:

A group set up to help farmers stave off Mycoplasma bovis is vying for a national award.

Morven dairy farmer Hugh Le Fleming and Veterinary Centre Oamaru created the Morven Action Group to find pragmatic ways for farmers to safeguard their livestock from the bacterial cattle disease.

It was discovered for the first time in New Zealand on a Morven dairy farm in July last year. The vets and farmers sought best practice information, from which they compiled a ”Top 11 Checklist and Biosecurity Action Plan”.

It could be used for other potential biosecurity incursions as well as M. bovis. . .

Targeted share offer and buy-back strengthens ownership and alignment :

Zespri has made good progress in strengthening alignment and grower ownership and control of the company through a targeted share offer and buy-back programme.

The offer closed on 19 October and Zespri has accepted 427 applications to purchase over 12 million shares for a total of over $95 million. Participation was open to growers who do not own shares and to growers who hold less than one share per tray of their production. Over half of the applications were from previously unshared growers and the percentage of total shares in Zespri held by growers has increased to 85 percent.

Asparagus on a roll:

One of the great delights of New Zealand’s spring is asparagus rolled in fresh, white bread; steamed and served with a little butter; or juicy and delicious from the barbecue, says Mike Arnold, Chairman of the New Zealand Asparagus Council.

“The weather has been kind to us and the quality and taste of New Zealand grown asparagus is excellent this season, but it is going to be a relatively short season so people should start enjoying asparagus now. We expect asparagus harvesting to finish early to mid-December,” says Mike Arnold. . . 


Rural round-up

October 9, 2018

Alliance has work still to do on beef prices – Alan Williams:

Alliance has a lot of work to do to get up to competitive pricing for prime beef and bulls.

“We’re a mile off where we need to be,” chief executive David Surveyor told shareholders in North Canterbury.

It will be working to get a better offer in the market this season but there will not be an overnight fix.

“We need to get the price to a point where its profitable for us and for farmers,’’ he said afterwards.

The co-operative’s beef suppliers are loyal but it is important to be frank with the owners about the issues. . .

Recovery worries buyers – Hugh Stringleman:

Prospects of a good spring flush for milk production have again trimmed world prices at the most-recent Global Dairy Trade auction, when the index fell by 1.9%, the ninth consecutive fall.

Its is now mid May since the GDT index registered a rise and during that four and a half months the dairy market has lost a cumulative 15.7%.

That is a slow decline by international dairy market standards, showing supply and demand are balanced but the market is worried by New Zealand milk production recovery.

Rabobank said near-perfect weather and more cows milked over the winter resulted in production growth of 5% year-on-year during the seasonal trough from June to August. . . 

Giving rural people’s health top priority – Sally Rae:

Kelly Burnett’s career aspiration is simple: to continue helping rural people get the best out of their bodies.

The Dunedin-based osteopath has a passion for farming and the rural community, and her masters degree research looked at how to help farmers maintain their physical health.

As she put it, tractors and motorbikes were regularly serviced and working dogs went to the vet for any injuries or ailments. But rural people often did not see themselves as the most important tool on their farm or in their business. . . 

Kiwis win blade shearing, wool handling – Sally Brooker:

New Zealand won the transtasman blade shearing test and the New Zealand woolhandling champion won his third consecutive title at the Waimate Shears on Saturday.

The 51st annual two-day shears at the Waimate showgrounds attracted strong entries across its categories, which began with woolhandling at noon on Friday.That culminated on Saturday afternoon with the open section win to Joel Henare, who splits his time between Gisborne and Motueka.

A highlight of the programme was the test between Kiwi blade shearers Tony Dobbs,  of Fairlie, and Allen Gemmell,  of Rangiora, and their Australian rivals Johnathon Dalla and Ken French. The New Zealanders finished 13.63 points ahead. . . 

Sustainability experts join Fonterra’s new advisory panel: 

Fonterra has appointed an independent Sustainability Advisory Panel to guide the Co-operative as it strives to be a world leader in sustainably produced dairy nutrition.

The panel features a diverse range of experts including:

• Sir Rob Fenwick (Chair), who co-founded the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development and was the first New Zealander knighted for services to both business and conservation. . . 

Fonterra has three alternatives for its China Farms and none are attractive – Keith Woodford:

This is the second part of a two-part series putting Fonterra’s China Farms under scrutiny. The first part is here

In the preceding article I traced the internal thinking within Fonterra as to why Fonterra decided to produce milk in China. The underlying belief was that Fonterra had the necessary expertise but could not play the desired role within China without having in-country production systems.  By late 2009, having lost its key China partner San Lu from the melamine disaster, Fonterra decided to go it alone with an expansion that would become known as the Yutian hub. From there, additional hubs would be developed.

Fonterra decided it would work towards a supply of one billion litres of China-produced milk per annum and this would require about 80,000 cows milking at any one time. There was an assumption that high-quality milk from these farms would sell at a premium to other China-produced milk. Whether or not Fonterra would also undertake processing operations was seen as a question for the future, but with a likelihood this would occur. . . 

Profiting from precision irrigation: –  Andrew Swallow:
Economic, environmental and social benefits are prompting a growing number of Australasian and US farmers to adopt precision variable rate irrigation systems.

New Zealand, a country generally known for its ample annual rainfall and phenomenal natural crop growth, is an unlikely origin for a precision irrigation development that’s gaining traction globally. However, light soils and sporadic precipitation in some regions, plus readily available water for irrigation, mean close to 800,000 ha or 6.5% of the country’s farmland is artificially watered.

Originally, much of that was with flood irrigation using border-dykes but, in the drive for water use efficiency and environmental protection, spray irrigation has become the norm, mostly with centre-pivots. . . 

 


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