Rural round-up

July 15, 2016

Aussie townies put us to shame over support for dairy farmers – Jon Morgan:

A campaign in Australia to support hard-pressed dairy farmers by paying an extra dollar for milk has – surprise, surprise – been a roaring success.

Like us, the Aussie farmers are struggling with low prices. But for them, the perceived villain is closer to home.

Because the Australians have a large domestic market, sales of fresh milk to supermarkets are a big money-earner. But this is being undermined by competition between the two big chains, Woolworths and Coles.

They have used milk as a loss-leader and retail prices have plummeted to as low as $1 a litre. Dairy farmers have struggled because of this, and factors such as international prices and drought, and the call has gone out to city folk to help out. . . 

There are not two sides to the GMO story – Julia A. Moore:

Regarding the May 18 Politics & the Nation article “Are GMO crops safe? Focus on the plant, not the process, scientists say”:

Enough already! How many National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reports does it take to give the answer that after decades of research there is no conclusive evidence that genetically engineered crops pose heightened health risks or environmental problems?

Whether it is GMOs, climate change or evolution, two critical issues persist. First, how do you stop partisans from ignoring the weight of scientific evidence and cherry-picking or buying research findings that suit their prejudices or self-interest? And second, how do you build public trust in and regulate scientific and technological knowledge that is hitting us, to quote Isaac Asimov, “faster than society gathers wisdom”? . . 

You can’t buy the rain – Nick Hamilton:

You can’t buy the rain….

Thursday afternoon last week I was rung by a reporter asking if I had time to comment on the effect the drought was having. I got the feeling that she had absolutely no idea when I had to explain the term ‘grazing’ to her, but we pushed on. When she hung up the phone I thought to myself, at least the general public will know that we are still struggling with this bloody drought. Doesn’t help us much but it’s nice to know we are not being ignored.

On Friday morning I got a nice message on Facebook from my Aunty congratulating me on my article in the paper. Must have a look at that at some stage I thought as I leapt out of bed, helped Megan make the school lunches, let the dogs off for a quick run then headed off to work, not on the farm, down the road at Sherwood Estate wines. I was driving the tractor up and down the frosty rows of pruned vines when I got a text from a footy mate. “They’re talking about the drought on Newstalk ZB”. . . .

The story to which he refers is:

Two-year drought drives long-term farmer off his land – Leah Flynn and Gerard Hutching:

The farm has been in Nick Hamilton’s family for four generations, but today it sits barren and stockless.

Hamilton was born on North Canterbury’s Minnivey Downs, but abandoned it after two years of drought made the farm unsustainable. 

He took up work pruning grapes in Waipara to make ends meet.  . .

Recognition for passionate young sheep farmer – Sally Rae:

Ever since he was a young lad, Will Gibson’s passion for the farming sector has been remarkable.

Whether it was exhibiting his coloured merino sheep and fleeces at A&P shows, entering stock-judging competitions with considerable success, or embracing life at home on the farm, he displayed maturity beyond his years.

He was always destined to go places in the industry and, last week, that passion was recognised when he received the emerging talent award at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand sheep industry awards in Masterton. . .

Yards ‘sold out from under us’ – Sally Rae:

Some Upper Clutha farmers are outraged by the sale of the Cromwell saleyards to a property developer, labelling the loss of the facility as a “disaster”.

Tarras farmer Beau Trevathan described the attitude of the Cromwell Saleyards Company’s directors as “bizarre”, saying they were elected to run the facility and ensure it was there for future generations.

“They’ve allowed it to be sold out from under us. As far as the farming community here is concerned, the majority of people are bewildered, to say the least. . . 

Breeding bulls for efficiency :

MILLAH Murrah Angus has taken part in the sire benchmarking program from the outset, with stud principal Ross Thompson a member of the program’s steering committee.

“The program has reached a state of useful maturity,” he said, noting that nominations were now being called for a seventh annual trial.

Mr Thompson said: “Traits such as feed conversion efficiency are very hard to measure without a structured progeny test and that’s one great positives of the sire benchmarking program. . .

Dorper value-adding idea leads Kings to LamHam – Sally Cripps:

It was a flourishing organic Dorper lamb grazing operation, combined with an online paddock to plate business that led Andrew and Maree King to a new lamb food marketing venture that is turning heads around Australia.

The couple were in Dubai in 2014, at the world’s largest food trade show, one of the prizes offered as MLA’s 2013 Queensland Sheepmeat Producer of the Year, when Maree had a “lightbulb” moment.

“We went over there with opportunities for our fresh Dorper lamb in mind but it all changed while we were eating at our hotel, where there were so many smoked offerings – turkey and fish and the like – standing in for bacon and pork. . . 


Rural round-up

July 14, 2016

Dairy farmers urged to plan for volatility – Sally Rae:

Dairy farmers need to strengthen their business structures by rebuilding equity in the next price upcycle and further develop flexible production systems that can easily reduce costs when prices fall, a new report from Rabobank says.

The severe price downturn marked the third trough in the past decade and the sector must plan for inevitable future volatility, report co-author and dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

“Tough decisions will need to be made in the next upward cycle. Farmers will need to make a careful and considered decision whether to put some debt to bed or chase a profit margin through increased investment and spending. . . 

Million kg milestone for milk futures:

NZX celebrated a milestone in the development of its New Zealand milk price futures contract on Friday, with more than one million kilograms of milk solids (kg/ms) traded since the product launched at the end of May.

The total number of contracts traded since launch was 184 at close of trading on Friday. Each contract is worth 6000 (kg/ms), totalling 1,104,000 kg/ms.

The 2016/17 contract has traded at an average price of $4.53, while the 2017/18 average contract price was $5.60. . . 

Critical shortage of doctors in NZ small towns:

There’s almost no such thing as a ‘community doctor’ anymore, health expert Professor Ross Lawrenson says.

There’s a critical shortage of doctors in small towns across New Zealand, and Waikato University’s Prof Lawrenson wants medical students sent to rural practices earlier to combat the problem.

“The two medical schools did a survey of medical students who were just qualifying, and only two percent of them wanted to live in a community of less than 10,000 population – there’s a real issue there.”

He says the system is at crisis point, and he believes the way doctors are trained is letting down rural communities. . . 

Meat and dairy exporters secure largest ever container ship for Asia run – Pattrick Smellie

 (BusinessDesk) – The Kotahi joint venture between Fonterra Cooperative Group and Silver Fern Farms is launching a new weekly service to Asian export markets using the largest container ship ever to call at a New Zealand port.

The service will operate through the Port of Tauranga, where a $350 million port expansion and dredging operation will allow visits by a ship capable of carrying more than twice the usual number of containers seen on cargo ships operating through New Zealand.

The new service will see ships with a capacity of 9,500 TEUs – 20-foot container equivalents – calling at Tauranga on their way from the west coast of South America before heading to ports in North Asia. . . 

Rabobank New Zealand announces new CEO:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Daryl Johnson to the position of chief executive officer.

Effective immediately, the appointment sees Mr Johnson take over the role from Crawford Taylor, who has served as CEO in an interim capacity since October 2015.

Announcing the appointment, Rabobank New Zealand Chairman John Palmer said the bank was very pleased to have a highly-experienced banking executive of Mr Johnson’s calibre take the helm of the business as it continues its growth and development in the New Zealand market. . . 

MOU with Foshan City kicks off global Food Integrity Conference:

Chinese representatives visiting from Foshan city will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity tomorrow morning at the opening of the Food Integrity Conference 2016.

The MOU is an exciting step for the APCFI to work closely with colleagues in China on food safety education in Foshan. Foshan has a population of more than 7.2million and is the third largest city in the Guangdong province.

This agreement is a huge opportunity for the Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity, Executive Director and Conference Organiser, Dr Helen Darling. . . 

New salmon farms for Marlborough:

The opening of two new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds today is a welcome development for New Zealand’s aquaculture industry, Environment Minister and Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith says.

“Salmon is a healthy, sustainable and high-value product and we should be proud that New Zealand is the world’s largest producer of farmed king salmon. New Zealand King Salmon’s Marlborough Sounds operation supports 440 jobs and $115 million in annual export earnings, and comes from just 8 hectares of farms in the 800,000 hectare Sounds. No other primary industry is able to support so many jobs and families from such a small area.”

The two new salmon farms in Pelorus Sound, the Waitata Bay farm and the Kopāua farm in Richmond Bay, add to King Salmon’s operating farms in Queen Charlotte Sound. They will eventually take the company’s production from 6000 to 10,500 tonnes per year, and boost earnings to more than $170 million. . . 

Million dollar mouse pest drops completed:

The ambitious Million Dollar Mouse pest eradication project on remote Antipodes Island in the sub-Antarctic has been completed ahead of schedule, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

A second helicopter drop of rodent bait across the island was finished yesterday afternoon, following a first phase completed on June 29.

“Despite very unsettled weather conditions, the Million Dollar Mouse team have done an outstanding job of making use of every available weather window to get the bait drop completed,” Ms Barry says.

“This is the most challenging pest eradication ever carried out in New Zealand and is a globally significant conservation achievement, safeguarding a unique, remote and forbidding land and the many extraordinary species living there.” . . 

Lamb flap prices rise to a year high in June; beef, lamb leg stable – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand lamb flap prices rose to their highest level in a year, driven by increased demand from China where the meat is used in traditional hotpot dishes.

Lamb flap prices rose to US$4.40 per kilogram in June, up from US$4.05/kg in May and the highest level since the first week of June last year, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly sheep & beef report.

Chinese demand for lamb flaps has helped turn the offcut into a premium cut and lifted the overall return Kiwi farmers can get from their animals. The meat is processed into a lamb roll and sliced thinly for hotpot, the dominant cooking style for lamb and a staple of the Chinese national diet. . . 

Strong 2016 vintage confirms positive outlook for NZ wine:

As demand for New Zealand wine continues to grow in the key markets of the USA, the United Kingdom and Australia, the industry is rising to the challenge. That’s according to Alistair King, Crowe Horwath’s viticulture specialist, who says the outlook is positive, particularly with a plentiful grape harvest for the 2016 vintage.

“The wine industry is targeting a goal of export earnings of $2-billion by 2020; after a poor vintage in terms of volume for 2015 where just 312,000 tonnes of grapes came in, this year is looking considerably better,” he says. . . 

Mission Estate Selected as One of the World’s Best:

Mission Estate, New Zealand’s oldest winery, has further cemented its place on the global wine map by having its Jewelstone Syrah 2013 selected to appear at WINE Explorers’ Grand Annual Tasting 2016.

WINE Explorers is a unique four-year project to take an inventory of all of the wine producing countries of the world. Now in it’s third year, the unprecedented task has seen the WINE Explorers travel to 92 countries, visiting 250 winegrowing regions, surveying a total of 1500 vineyards and tasting over 15000 wines. . . 


Rural round-up

July 11, 2016

Sharemilking remains a viable career path – new report:

Sharemilking as a career path is alive and well, according to a report recently released on progression in the dairy industry.

The DairyNZ and Federated Farmers-resourced Dairy Progression Pathways report, undertaken by AgFirst, explores the latest trends and statistics relating to sharemilking and examines the issues created by milk price volatility.

Federated Farmers sharemilker farm owners’ section chairperson Tony Wilding says the report shows opportunities for progression still exist but the career pathways have been changing and will continue to do so. . . 

Feds pleased Ruataniwha gets another green light:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme in Hawke’s Bay has another green light with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) confirming its intention to invest in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

HBRC today approved its $80million investment with a 7-2 vote, agreeing that all four of the conditions required for investment had been met.

The investment follows more than 190 Signed Water User Agreements in support of the scheme. . . 

Cost cutting blamed for lepto increase – Glenys Christian:

An increase in leptospirosis cases in Northland has been blamed on dairy farmers’ efforts to cut costs in a low-payout year.

While no cases were reported last year, the Medical Officer of Health has reported seven confirmed cases so far this year in the region with another under investigation.

Malcolm Fuller, Federated Farmers’ field officer for Northland, Auckland and Hauraki-Coromandel told the Auckland federation’s executive meeting he had heard of two northern farmers who were not vaccinating their herds this year.

“They can’t afford to get the vet in,” he said. . .

Support To Increase Voluntary Wool Contribution By 0.5c Gains Momentum:

Last month, one of New Zealand’s major wool growers and trustee for the Campaign for Wool (CFW), Renata Apatu of Ngamatea Station, front–footed an increase in contribution to the CFW’s activities by making an immediate commitment to up his contribution to 1c/kg, an increase of 0.5c, and challenging others to do the same.

Wright Wool Ltd, Kells Wool Ltd and Fred Tate Wools Ltd have accepted the challenge, increasing their contribution to 1c/kg also. They are now challenging others to join them, especially the bigger players who could really affect a positive increase.

“Having directly witnessed what the wool industry gets out of the activities of the CFW, an additional 0.5c/kg is one of the best returns on investment I have made,” says Mr Renata Apatu. . . 

Southland backs $250m Hollyford Highway:

The Southland District Council has unanimously backed the proposed Haast-Hollyford Highway going forward for government approval.

The controversial 130km toll road, planned by a private company, would pass through the Fiordland National Park. It is expected to cost $250 million.

The road has the support of all four West Coast councils and many local people, but needed Southland’s backing to proceed.

After a short discussion this afternoon, all councillors voted to support the project going into both the regional and national land transport programmes, to be investigated and assessed further. . . 

Shocks versus structural change is the big dairy question – Keith Woodford:

Right now, the focus of almost every New Zealand dairy farmer is on survival. It is a time when cash is king.

In the short run, it is all about turning cash inputs into milk. There can be no argument that this means using all available grass, but it also means not having hungry cows. Each farmer will find his or her way of achieving this. It may be through decreased stock numbers or it may be through appropriate supplementation to match feed deficits. In times like these, it is more important to travel the chosen path efficiently rather than to jump wildly from one path to the other.

Despite the focus on survival, it is also a good time to be thinking strategically. At the industry level, have we got it right?  In regard to what we are currently experiencing, how much of it is from one-off shocks and how much is due to structural change within global markets. . . 

The launch of The Snow Farmer ignites Cardrona’s spirit of fun – Beattie’s Book Blog:

John and Mary Lee (below right) have been at the heart of life in Cardrona for decades, establishing a world famous ski facility and saving the iconic Cardrona Hotel from dereliction. The importance of community has been integral to the Lees’ vision, their activities and adventures, significantly underpinning the local economy. Small wonder then, that the local community should gather in force to celebrate the launch of The Snow Farmer, penned by Otago Daily Times agribusiness reporter Sally Rae, at two very special events.

The first and official book launch was held at the Cardrona Alpine Resort, which the Lees hosted along with Paper Plus Wanaka. The infectious happiness of the Cardrona staff set the perfect scene, with Sally remarking that “it was like watching the characters in the book come to life.” The Lees neighbour Ed Taylor MC’d, skilfully recounting past incidents and keeping everything humming along nicely. Friend Shaun Gilbertson rather colourfully related past tales and Lyall Cocks spoke on behalf of the local council, praising John’s efforts and foresight. John responded with gratitude to Sally Rae and photographer Stephen Jaquiery for so expertly telling and illustrating his life story. John said that they were wonderful to work with and have put life into the story. He also thanks everyone who gave their time to tell their story and helped to enhance the book. . .

You can listen to Kim Hill’s interview with the Lees here. (Thanks Freddy for pointing me to this).

  Crossroads Wines to move winemaking to Marlborough:

The Crossroads Winery, in Hawke’s Bay, celebrates 25 years of quality winemaking in New Zealand. A large part of Crossroads’ success has come from its boutique, hand-crafted winemaking and small parcel sourcing within the Hawke’s Bay. In 2011, Yealands Family Wines acquired the winery and vineyards and continued to focus on the small lot, hand crafted winemaking strategy as they looked to grow the brand globally.

Yealands Family Wines was established in August of 2008 as the world’s first winery to be carboNZerocertTM since inception. Over the past 8 years, the Yealands Estate Winery has grown and developed into a state of the art winery and vineyard in Marlborough New Zealand, focused on high quality winemaking and site specific sourcing throughout the Seaview Estate Vineyard, and both the Awatere and Wairau Valleys in Marlborough. . . 

Changes to Milk NZ:

Milk New Zealand today announced that Andy Macleod, CEO of the Pengxin New Zealand Farm Group, has resigned with effect from 8 July 2016.

Milk New Zealand oversees the management of 16 farms located in the Central North Island and 13 in the Canterbury region.

Macleod joined Pengxin New Zealand Farm Group in 2013 and Terry Lee, Managing Director of Milk New Zealand, said the company valued and appreciated his contribution to the business and wished him well for the future. . . 


Rural round-up

July 5, 2016

The Snow Farmer – John Lee of the Cardrona Valley – Beattie’s Book BLog:

The Snow Farmer

John Lee of the Cardrona Valley
Sally Rae
Photographs by Stephen Jaquiery
Published by Random House NZ; July 1, 2016; RRP: $50

“John’s story is one to inspire others. It’s a story of a man with a vision, and the strength of personality and the strong relationships with others to make it happen. It’s a Kiwi story of grit and determination of which we can all be proud.” –

Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999-2008).

John Lee has always been a law unto himself. Entrepreneurial, inventive, determined, he hailed from a farming background in the Cardrona Valley; the third of five boys. Schooled in Oamaru, the young John Lee was no fan of the classroom – he was good at maths, but struggled with words– preferring to spend his time dreaming about the day he would farm in his beloved Cardrona Valley. . . .

Fed Farmers launch new sustainability scheme:

An initiative aimed at directing farmers towards sustainable use of land and water has been launched by Federated Farmers.

The farming lobby group’s president Dr William Rolleston, announced the establishment of the Land Water Stewardship initiative at its conference this morning.

Dr Rolleston said the initiative would be a small group that would work together to propose solutions to take the economy and the environment forward and engage with farmers . . .

‘Best in the world’ fruit in demand – Jill Herron:

The Cromwell Basin is now producing around half of New Zealand’s export cherries and they are “the best in the world”.

Quite a claim, but one that can be confidently made, in relation to the Asian palate anyway, newly-elected chairman of Summerfruit NZ, Tim Jones, says.

“We think they are the best in the world and our market is telling us they are. That’s one of the reasons we can charge up to $25 a kg, because we deliver on the promise that when someone over there lifts the lid on a box of our cherries, they will go wow.”

Cherry plantings around Cromwell had expanded in recent years, mainly into the Mount Pisa area, as the Southeast Asian markets developed, Mr Jones said. . . 

Silver Fern confident – Sally Rae:

September 30 has been agreed in principle by Silver Fern Farms and Shanghai Maling as the revised date to meet Overseas Investment Office approval for their joint venture.

SFF has been awaiting an announcement from the OIO since farmer shareholders voted in favour of the deal last October.

More time was needed to answer the further information requests from the OIO and then to provide sufficient time for the OIO and then Government ministers to consider the application.

SFF continued to believe the investment would be approved “given its substantial merits”, chief executive Dean Hamilton said in a statement. . . 

Waterways project wins environment funding:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox have announced more than $376,000 of funding to improve water quality in seven waterways in the Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki regions.

Local iwi Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi will lead the Te Kāhui o Rauru Trust’s Waterways Restoration Project, working with both local and central government.

“The Government is committed to improving water quality in the Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki regions. This initiative is focused on the Kai Iwi, Ototoka and Ōkehu streams, the Waitōtara riverbank, Tapuarau Lagoon, the middle reaches of the Waitōtara River and the Whenuakura River,” Dr Smith says.

“Te Kāhui o Rauru Trust clearly understands the issues in these waterways and its project offers realistic, achievable objectives. It has focused clearly on protecting and restoring the seven waterways and moreover has recognised the need to develop ways to monitor the ongoing health of these rivers, lagoon and streams.” . . 

Marlborough Sounds Salmon Working Group to be established:

The Marlborough District Council and the Ministry for Primary Industries will establish a Marlborough Sounds Salmon Working Group to consider options to implement the Best Management Practice Guidelines for Salmon Farming in the Marlborough Sounds (the guidelines). Other agencies that will have input into the process include the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment.

The working group will meet starting in July and provide recommendations to Marlborough District Council and the Government on implementing the guidelines.

Ministry for Primary Industries Deputy Director General Ben Dalton said the public, the council, government and industry have shown a commitment to implement the guidelines. . . 

Guy attending primary sector leaders’ bootcamp:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy departs for Stanford University today to attend a primary sector leaders bootcamp, focused on developing collaboration and innovation. 

“The week-long conference is part of the Te Hono movement, bringing together Chief Executives and leaders with a vison to accelerate the transformation of the primary sector by adding value and creating demand,” says Mr Guy.

“As a Government we have a goal of doubling the value of primary sector exports by 2025 and sector leaders share our ambition to explore new ways of collaboration and building capability in our people. . . 

10 Reasons Why Kids Brought Up in Agriculture Make the Best Employees – Raised in a Barn:

Kids involved in agriculture are truly one of a kind. They possess a unique skill set unlike anyone else. For the record, there are more than 10 reasons why you should hire an ag kid, but here are some of the best and most important reasons why ag kids make the best employees.

  1. They understand the importance of being on time.

For Ag kids they know that time is of the essence and wasting daylight is not an option. Even if your five minutes late feeding that show lamb, it will notice. You can expect us to be 15 minutes early because that’s what we’ve learned from our time at the barn.

  1. Respect is something they value more than anything.

They have worked hard in the show ring to be well-respected so they understand that respect isn’t something that’s given it’s EARNED. FFA taught them to, “…believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others.” . . .

 


Rural round-up

June 27, 2016

Brexit has major implications for the New Zealand sheep and beef industry:

“We are concerned about the future of New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports to the UK and the EU following the UK’s vote to leave the EU,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand.

“Our sheep and beef trade to both the UK and EU are inextricably linked through quota access and both are likely to be affected,” said Sam McIvor, CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The EU is New Zealand’s most valuable market for red meat and associated co-products, accounting for over NZ$2 billion in trade last year. . . 

Banks put heat on meat co-ops – Neal Wallace:

Banks appear to be running out of patience with meat company debt, asking both co-operatives to reduce their level of borrowing.

Both Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have confirmed they have been told by their banks to reduce seasonal and core debt, but Alliance chairman Murray Taggart said his board had decided to do that anyway.  

Late last month Alliance chief executive David Surveyor told shareholders at the Alliance Pure South Conference banks had sent a strong message to the co-operative to reduce debt. . . 

Changing world will suit our red meat sector – Allan Barber:

When sheep and beef farmers are questioning whether they will ever receive the returns they need, there is potentially considerable hope for the future. The changing demographics and spheres of global influence indicate a substantial change in the relative economic power of the markets with which we trade.

The ANZ Bank’s June report focuses on new horizons in Asia, highlighting the top six countries we already trade with, representing 80% of New Zealand’s bilateral trade with Asia, and a second division of up and coming prospects. The report’s focus on Asia means our trade with the rest of the world is excluded from the analysis, but it provides a timely reminder of the opportunities available in markets not previously seen as easy or possible to develop.

These opportunities are further underlined by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations held recently in Auckland involving 16 Asian countries which importantly include India. . . 

Dairy cow cull eases – Alan Williams:

Dairy cow cull numbers are finally reducing after spending most of the processing season in line with the high tallies of last year.  

Most people expected the cull to end early in the season but the numbers have only been falling since the end of May, week 33 of the killing season.

Going in to that week the tallies were down only 0.3% on the same time last year, at about 800,000; then the week itself was down 7% on last year and the companies have indicated the trend has continued. . . 

Silver Fern Farms seeks extension on Chinese deal :

Meat processing company Silver Fern Farms is seeking a time extension for official approval of its controversial deal with a Chinese company.

It also wants to defer a special meeting called by unhappy shareholders.

The joint venture with China’s biggest meat processor, Shanghai Maling, was approved by a majority of shareholders last October but still needs government and Overseas Investment Office approval. . .

Vineyards in growth mode – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s vineyard area could expand by as much as 7000ha during the next five years, an almost 20% boost to the present producing area.

The expansion was under way, with an estimated 1800ha of grapes in the ground coming into production by the 2018 vintage, ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report said.

Marlborough would remain the epicentre of the sector at 65%-70% of the growing area, with the next largest areas being Hawke’s Bay, Otago and Gisborne. . .


Rural round-up

June 23, 2016

Retiring prof’s work continues – Sally Rae:

Prof Frank Griffin describes his lengthy career in animal science at the University of Otago in his own inimitable way.

“It’s been absolutely amazing. I’ve had a party every day; it’s really been fun,” he said.

Official retirement might be looming at the end of the month for the popular professor but his association with the university, where he has worked since 1973, is unlikely to end. . . 

Port dairy cows spared – Sally Rae:

Port Chalmers dairy farmer Merrall MacNeille is looking at various options to get his milk back on the market.

He was recently ordered to stop selling raw milk after a tuberculosis-positive heifer was discovered on his property.

He was able to supply milk for pasteurisation and, using a small pasteuriser, hoped to have “something on the shelf” by the end of August.

Other options were also being explored and Mr MacNeille said they would “get there one way or another”. . . 

Zespri raises profit forecast range to recognise $50M of Gold3 licence revenue :

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri International, the kiwifruit marketer, raised its full-year profit forecast to take into account licence revenue of $50 million from the release of 400 hectares of Gold3 licence in 2016.

Zespri is now forecasting profit of $70 million to $75 million for the 2016/17 year, up from the range of $25 million to $30 million it gave in April. The earlier forecast excluded revenue from the release of Gold3 licences that were tendered in May.

The closed tender bid process attracted broad participation from the industry with 1,376 hectares bid and 266 successful bidders for the 400 hectares of the SunGold licence, Zespri said. Half the hectares were restricted to Green and Green14/Sweet Green growers to provide an opportunity for existing green growers to convert over to SunGold, it said. . . 

Seeka handles record volumes:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Limited advises that it has completed kiwifruit packing operations in Australia and New Zealand for the 2016 season. The Company has handled record volumes in the packing season, with more than 30M trays handled in New Zealand for the first time. Seeka now heads into the storage and inventory management portion of the season in New Zealand, while at the same time it completes its kiwifruit sales program in Australia. The Australian pear selling season is anticipated to complete in October.

New Zealand volumes handled by Seeka were up by 16.6% at 30.8m trays. This figure includes approximately 700k trays that will be removed from the inventory or at time of packing, through crop management. All volumes have been handled within the company’s infrastructure, and Seeka now moves to managing more than 16M trays in store. . . 

Police investigate ‘dear old lady’s’ pet sheep:

An elderly Waikato woman has been left distressed after four of her pet sheep were killed and their body parts strewn across her paddock.

Cambridge police say someone jumped the “dear old lady’s” farm fence on Tirau Road on Friday night and killed the four pregnant ewes.

“They left the offal and heads in the paddock for her to find the next morning,” police said on their Facebook page. . .

Greenpeace launches legal challenge against controversial $1b dam plan:

Greenpeace NZ is launching a legal challenge against a controversial plan to build a dam that’s set to cost close to $1 billion and will pollute a region’s rivers.

Today, Greenpeace will file a judicial review of resource consents granted by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to extend the area of land area that can be irrigated by the Ruataniwha scheme, which will aid the expansion of dairy farms in the region. 

The motion, to be lodged at the High Court in Napier, challenges two resource consents given to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company in January, which were granted without public notification on the basis of a Council assessment that any environmental effects would be no more than “minor”. . . 


Rural round-up

June 16, 2016

Meeting the market – Sally Rae:

A group of Silver Fern Farms supplier shareholders, led by chairman Rob Hewett, recently flew to China, visiting Shanghai, Inner Mongolia and Beijing. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae joined the group to learn more about opportunities, and challenges, in the country. 

Diverse and complex – that’s China.

It’s a country of extreme contrasts; travel from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to the inner city on the maglev train and reach a relatively sedate speed of just over 300kmh (it has a top speed of 430kmh).

City footpaths are swept by old-fashioned straw brooms, while latest model cars sweep past, somehow – albeit narrowly – avoiding the melee of ubiquitous scooters, bicycles and pedestrians. . . 

 

Chilled meat market to come – Sally Rae:

Chilled meat exports to China are likely to be “some time away yet”, Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett says.

In April, Prime Minister John Key announced New Zealand and China had agreed to protocols relating to chilled meat.

That was lauded as being set to add hundreds of millions of dollars in returns from red meat exports. . .

Dramatic improvement in water quality expected from aquifer project:

A project that provides fresh ways to improve water quality in New Zealand rivers opened to the public today.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis said “The Hinds/Hekeao Managed Aquifer Recharge project will take clean Rangitata River water and put this into the aquifer, helping solve current water quality issues as well as improving stream flows.

“The recharge project in combination with improving farm environmental performance, through nutrient limits and audited farm environment plans, will allow waterways in the zone to regenerate and thrive,” he said. . . 

 

Rural businesses target growth strategies;

Fieldays focus on helping rural businesses shift to the cloud

Despite the challenging effects of the dairy downturn, businesses in rural New Zealand remain focused on growth strategies, with strong investment intentions for the coming year according a new report on the sector released on the eve of Fieldays.

The latest MYOB Colmar Brunton Business Monitor survey of 210 businesses from across rural New Zealand highlighted that over half (57 per cent) acquired new machinery and equipment in the last year, a third (33 per cent) invested in technology and just under a quarter (23 per cent) spent money on employee training. . . 

A2 Milk lifts guidance for full-year sales, earnings as trading exceeds targets – Jonathan Underhill

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk raised its guidance for full-year sales and earnings, saying trading is exceeding its targets and the milk marketing company is well placed to cope with changes to regulations for infant formula in China.

Revenue is forecast to be in a range of $350 million to $360 million in the year ending June 30, from a previous forecast of $335 million to $350 million. Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are projected to be $52 million to $54 million, up from the $45 million-to-$49 million range it gave with its first-half results in February. . . 

Wrightson lifts earnings forecast on strong retail, sees tough 2017 – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson raised its earnings guidance, saying its retail unit is likely to beat last year’s record result, although the rural services firm expects 2017 to be tough.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are expected to be between $65 million and $68 million in the year ending June 30, up from a previous forecast for ebitda of $61 million to $67 million, the Christchurch-based company said in a statement. That’s still down from $69.6 million a year earlier due to the slump in dairy prices eroding farmers’ incomes. . . 


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