Rural round-up

18/12/2013

Fonterra faces big milk problem – Chalkie:

If Heath Robinson designed a contraption to pluck the feathers from a mallard with barbecue tongs, it would be the epitome of elegance compared with Fonterra.

Our giant dairy co-operative, bless it, is like an elephant balancing on a stool built by engineering students out of toothpicks – a gravity-defying feat of complexity that threatens to go crashingly wrong at any moment.

The elephant hit the deck big time last week when Fonterra had to press the manual over-ride on its intricate milk pricing machinery and Chalkie reckons the damage will be more than a few splinters in the bum. . .

Farmer loses cows to feed ‘hardware’ – Sandie Finnie:

Carterton dairy farmer Chris Engel is out of pocket but better informed after two of his cows died of “hardware disease”, the industry term for cows that die from ingesting metal fragments in palm kernel expeller supplementary feed.

Now he wants to alert other farmers to the importance of reading the fine print on their PKE supply deals.

Mr Engel sought compensation of $12,522.23 from PKE supplier INL through the Masterton District Court Disputes Tribunal.

It would have covered the death of the cows, lost milk production, veterinarian fees and other costs. . .

New Chancellor for Massey University:

Wellington businessman Chris Kelly is Massey University’s new Chancellor.

Mr Kelly replaces Dr Russ Ballard, who has been Chancellor for the past five years. Mr Kelly is a veterinary science graduate of Massey and highly regarded New Zealand business leader with multiple directorships. This year he retired as chief executive of state-owned Landcorp Farming Ltd, a role he was in for 12 years. He has been on the University Council since August 2005 and has been Pro Chancellor – deputy chair of the council – since July last year.

The University’s new Pro Chancellor is Michael Ahie, also from Wellington. . .

Meat industry takes stock:

The Red Meat Sector Strategy coordination group has released a progress report on how the sector is tracking towards the goals of the Red Meat Sector Strategy, released in May 2011.

The Red Meat Sector Strategy was developed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association, with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. It identified ways to secure improved and sustainable growth for the sector against a background of volatile sales and variable profitability, over the past decade in particular.
 
Just over two years after the launch of the strategy, this report outlines the progress in each of its focus areas and towards realising the opportunities outlined. The report records where progress has been made and where work is actively ongoing. It also identifies the areas where progress has been limited. . .

Fitch gives Fonterra thumbs up over unchanged farmgate payout, dividend cut – Paul McBeth:

Fitch Ratings has praised Fonterra Cooperative Group’s [NZX: FCG] decision to hold the forecast payout to farmers and slashing its dividend by two-thirds amid a growing gap in prices between milk powders and its cheese and casein products.

The Auckland-based company’s decision is “characteristic of the fiscal discipline that underscores its credit rating,” Fitch said in a statement. Fonterra has an AA rating. Earlier this month the cooperative surprised analysts by holding the forecast payout for this season at a record $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids and cutting its expected dividend to 10 cents from 32 cents. . .

Better water quality won’t happen overnight … but it must happen – Jenny Webster-Brown:

If we cannot stop ongoing water quality degradation, and effectively restore degraded water environments, we stand to lose much that we value about New Zealand and our way of life. We will lose recreational opportunities, fisheries and our reputation for primary produce from a “clean” environment. We will lose functioning ecosystems, the ecosystem services they provide and the beauty of our iconic water features. We will have to pay for increasingly higher technology to treat drinking, stock and even irrigation water … like so many drier, more populous or older nations, who have long since lost their natural water amenities. This is not what we have known, or what we wish for our children, or their children. To improve water quality, we need only three things: the will, the means and the time. . .

Wine industry shows increased profitability in 2013:

Financial benchmarking survey optimistic despite challenges for smaller wineries

The turnaround in the New Zealand wine industry has continued in 2013 on the back of improved profitability, especially for large wineries, according to the eighth annual financial benchmarking survey released today by Deloitte and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Vintage 2013 tracks the results of wineries accounting for almost half of the industry’s export sales revenue for the 2013 financial year. New participants provided data this year making for the most even spread across the revenue band categories in the survey’s history. . .

How to count grass – Baletwine:

The Pasture Meter™ automatically takes 200 readings per second so takes thousands of readings per paddock. At 20kph it is taking a reading every 27mm or 18,500 readings in 500 meters.

Towed behind an ATV / RTV or utility vehicle at up to 20kph, this machine provides a fast, practical method of measuring grass cover particularly over large areas over all terrain that can be safely covered by an ATV/vehicle.  The Pasture Meter™ automatically takes 200 readings per second so takes thousands of readings per paddock. At 20kph it is taking a reading every 27mm or 18,500 readings in 500 meters. Developed and proven in New Zealand, there are 3 models ranging from manual paddock ID entry to fully GPS with auto paddock start /stop. . .


Rural round-up

22/07/2013

‘Real people’ contact informs policy – Sally Rae:

Representing the farming community has been a ”privilege” for Matt Harcombe.

Mr Harcombe is leaving Federated Farmers, after 12 years working for the rural lobby organisation, to join the Ministry for Primary Industries in a Dunedin-based policy role.

The main highlights of his time with Federated Farmers had been the relationships established with farmers and working closely with the organisation’s provincial presidents and national board, he said. . .

Rise of the machines – robotics meet farming – Dr William Rolleston:

In the very near future ‘drones’ could well take the place of workers in forestry and a host of different industries.  It may be a case of not wishing too hard for what the CTU wants because an obvious solution to “carnage,” as CTU President Helen Kelly graphically described forestry, is to completely remove the person from the risk equation.  No person, no accident.

The CTU has demanded to know how forestry will stop the “carnage” and we know agriculture is also in the CTU’s crosshairs.  In 2010, the Forest Owners Association was one of the first to enter into a Primary Growth Partnership with the Government.  This has flown under the CTU and media radar but the PGP’s vision is “no worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw”.

The outcome will likely be drone logging machines reflecting an increasing use of robotics on-farm and in our farm system. . . 

Fleeces ‘absolutely fabulous actually’ – Sally Rae:

Ask Marnie Kelly what she likes about Matakanui Station’s fine-wool fleeces and the answer is simple – ”they’re absolutely fabulous, actually”.

Mrs Kelly is the general manager of Central Otago-based Touch Yarns, which produces mostly hand-dyed wool yarns which are exported to Europe and the United States, as well as sold in shops throughout New Zealand and Australia, online and through a retail shop in Clyde. . .

MIE seeking farmer registrations – Sally Rae:

Meat Industry Excellence is seeking registrations from farmers to ensure they are up to date with what the organisation is doing in its bid to drive reform in the meat industry.

While the group had been ”a bit slow off the eight-ball” communicating with farmers, a website had now been launched, chairman Richard Young, of Tapanui, said.

Farmers were encouraged to register on www.mienz.com and also provide details on their farming operations, including what meat companies they supplied. . .

Maori farmers launch a new network – Murray Robertson:

A GROUND -breaking new collaborative initiative to develop Maori farming in Tairawhiti sprang out of the major Maori agri-business hui in Gisborne on Thursday.

More than 160 people attended the day-long event at Shed 3 at the Gisborne port and heard a range of impressive presentations.

The word “collaboration” was the common theme and a challenge was issued to Maori agri-business leaders to work together to capture more value for their owners. . .

Milder flavours in latest olive harvest

Customers of Nelson olive oils can expect milder, better balanced products from this year’s harvest, say growers.

After a tough, wet growing season last year, which made it difficult to produce top oils, the long, dry summer has been much kinder, although rain before and during picking caused some disruption.

The region’s biggest grower, Roger Armstrong, of Tasman Bay Olives, is pressing about two-thirds of a record crop of about 280 tonnes – 40 tonnes more than in 2011 – and he’s happy with what he’s seen. . .

Hemp growers ready for success – Sandie Finnie:

Waikato couple Dave and Anne Jordan are prepared for a cropping venture which slots into the new “greenwave” of products in demand around the world.

For the last four years the Jordans have trialled growing industrial hemp and are now building up their seed stocks so they can do large plantings.

Meanwhile they sell hemp oil for skin care and related products at their local farmers’ market and can barely keep up with demand. . . .


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