Rural round-up

November 19, 2018

The sky’s the limit –  Andrew Stewart::

Intergenerational knowledge has long been a sort of secret ingredient to success in sheep and beef farming in New Zealand. Though that component was vital in the early years of Tom and Sarah Wells farming careers they are also using their passion, drive and determination to forge their own brand of sustainably farmed products. Andrew Stewart reports.

Both Tom and Sarah Wells used to work in completely non farm careers. 

Sarah was a television journalist covering breaking news in a time poor, mentally draining role. 

“I grew up mustering with my father on horseback on the station and I wanted to be a shepherd right through school but somehow lost my way,” she said.

“But there was always a pull back towards the farm.” . . 

 

Farmer tells hearing of importance of irrigation -Mark Price:

The complexities of farming with irrigation in the Lindis and Ardgour valleys of the Upper Clutha were spelled out at an Environment Court hearing in Cromwell this week.

Bruce Jolly, who owns 3000ha “Ardgour” farm, which has 160ha of irrigated land, was the final witness before the hearing was adjourned until January 28.

After seven days of evidence from hydrologists, ecologists and specialists on trout, Judge Jon Jackson ended the hearing a day earlier than planned, admitting in a light-hearted moment, he was somewhat “overwhelmed” and needed a day to reflect on what he had heard.

The Otago Fish & Game Council is arguing 900litres per second of water flowing in the river is required to sustain the brown trout population, while the Lindis Catchment Group (LCG) considers 550litres per second is necessary to sustain irrigation systems. . . 

Council ruminating on re-run rules :

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council is working on the rules for the next election to fill the vacancy on the board that resulted from the incomplete 2018 director election.

Council chairman Duncan Coull said there is a range of scenarios and potentially the second election will not be held until early next year.

The constitution gives discretionary powers over the election procedure to the council and therefore the possibilities are quite wide-ranging, he said.

In the meantime, the board can appoint an interim director but not be one of the three unsuccessful candidates – Ashley Waugh, Jamie Tuuta and John Nicholls. . . 

Tahi Ngātahi enters the workplace:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see a new safety initiative made accessible for the wool industry workforce.

Education is key to improving most aspects of someone’s life, says Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne.

With that attitude in mind it is great to see the successful launch of health and safety programme Tahi Ngātahi at the New Zealand Agricultural Show today, she says. . . 

Sanford’s move up the value chain overcomes climatic vicissitudes –  Jenny Ruth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Sanford says annual earnings fell short of its expectations due to “challenging” climatic conditions leading to a decline in harvest volumes.

However, that impact was more than compensated for by the company’s efforts to extract more value from both its wild and farmed fish and seafood and its underlying earnings rose 1.5 percent.

The fishing company lifted net profit 12.9 percent for the year ended September to $42.3 million, but that was largely driven by an insurance settlement for damage caused to its Havelock mussel processing facility by the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016. . . 

Te Wera forest agreements secures growth for Taranaki :

China Forestry Group NZ (CFGNZ) is once again backing local wood processing with a ground-breaking agreement on harvesting and processing wood from Taranaki’s largest forest.

China Forestry Group NZ and Taranakipine sawmill in New Plymouth have signed a supply agreement today that supports long term wood processing in New Plymouth and employment for the 170 workers at Taranakipine. It’s another initiative that demonstrates China Forestry Group NZ’s ongoing commitment to New Zealand. . . 

Apple and stonefruit industry members pleased relationship between MPI and US facility now heading in the right direction, but it is just the start for MPI :

The nursery and fruit-growing companies at the heart of the legal action against MPI over seized apple and stonefruit plants and plant material have been working hard to facilitate the rebuilding of the relationship between MPI and the USA-based Clean Plant Centre North West (CPCNW).

Overnight last night at the CPCNW facility in Prosser, Washington, representatives from MPI held their first face-to-face meeting with members of the CPCNW since a discontinued audit in March. . . 

B+LNZ calls for director nominations for annual meeting:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) today announced nominations have opened for two B+LNZ director roles and one position on its Directors’ Independent Remuneration Committee (DIRC).

Under the requirements of the B+LNZ constitution, two electoral district directors and one existing DIRC member retire by rotation at the Annual Meeting. . . 


Rural round-up

June 9, 2018

Clear-cut forestry might make a profit, but local communities pay the price – David Hall:

It’s one thing to plant a billion trees; it’s quite another do it well.

Recent floods in Tasman, and now the East Cape, signal what’s at stake. Witness the logs piled up against Mangatokerau Bridge in Tolaga Bay. Or the hillsides scoured with slips in Golden Bay, left vulnerable to erosion by clear-felled forest lands. With extreme weather events expected to increase due to climate change, it is critical that we don’t plant one billion of the wrong trees in the wrong place with the wrong management system.

Our future forests need to be financially viable, environmentally sustainable, and resilient. Crucially, we also need forests that people want to live with, to be nurtured and protected in future decades. . .

Source unclear but charges likely:

It is becoming increasingly evident pinpointing an exact path for the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis into New Zealand might never happen though charges for Biosecurity Act breaches are pending.

The Primary Industries Ministry has not said how it thinks the organism entered the country.

While speculation is rife that European-sourced semen is the most likely suspect, Biosecurity NZ head Roger Smith said investigations do not support that.

The M bovis strain has been confirmed as of European descent but is also occasionally found in America. . . 

FROM THE RIDGE: Showing resolve and compassion– Steve Wyn-Harris:

As we all know, the Government has made the big call to have a go at eradicating Mycoplasma bovis from the country.

It is supported by our own industry bodies.

They were damned if they tried and damned if they didn’t but have shown faith in the scientists and experts and believe there is a reasonable chance of achieving the goal.

Leadership can be a difficult place at times like this and I respect the resolve, compassion and decision-making Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor have shown over this very difficult matter.

I’ve had several conversations with farmers from South Canterbury who have been dealing with the consequences of this disease. . . 

A smorgasbord of agricultural issues – Keith Woodford:

[For the last three years I have been writing fortnightly columns for NZFarmer, which is delivered free to all New Zealand farmers. However the agricultural press in New Zealand is undergoing major change. One part of that change is that Stuff (formerly Fairfax) is now moving towards a digital focus and will cease to publish the weekly NZFarmer. This was my farewell column  to NZFarmer.]

With the impending demise of NZ Farmer, this will be my last article published here. So, I had to give a lot of thought as to what I wanted to say.

Right now, we are surrounded by forces for change. There are so many topics that could be covered. So, I have decided to provide a smorgasbord of key issues.

Mycoplasma bovis
It would be impossible to walk away without saying something about Mycoplasma bovis.  This disease, and the way we have chosen to respond to it, will change many aspects of dairying going forward. My personal perspective is that we might struggle to eradicate the disease, but if we do fail, we will still succeed in managing the disease. There are many worse diseases. . . 

Significantly more Māori farms are grassland, stats show :

Four times as much Māori-owned farmland is grassland, compared to the rest of New Zealand farms, statistics show. 

By June last year, an average of 590 hectares of Māori farmland was grassland, compared to an average 147ha of other farms. 

The Statistics New Zealand figures showed more than eight times more Māori-owned land was covered in plantation crops. . . 

Sanford appoints Fonterra executive Katherine Turner as new CFO – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Sanford has appointed Katherine Turner as the new chief financial officer of New Zealand’s largest listed seafood company.

Turner has worked for 25 years in various finance roles, almost 12 years of which were with the country’s largest company, Fonterra Cooperative Group, where she was most recently commercial director for Fonterra Brands, New Zealand’s biggest fast-moving consumer goods business responsible for brands such as Anchor, Mainland, Fresh’n Fruity and Tip Top. Prior to Fonterra, Turner had nine years in finance roles with French dairy company Danone in New Zealand and France. . . 

Fit for calving – Farmstrong:

Canterbury dairy farm contractor Nicole Jackson is on a mission to reduce the number of injuries to female calf rearers during the physically demanding calving season.

She’s created a six-week online conditioning and strengthening initiative for women to prepare their bodies for the physically gruelling calving season, which is currently under way in many parts of the country.

“There’s a lot of information out there about things like getting meals and the kids ready for calving season but not a lot about getting your body ready,” says Nicole, a mother of two young boys. . . 

New Zealand scientists are breeding sheep to fart and burp less – Jon Daly:

New Zealand researchers are curbing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions one sheep fart at a time.

Scientists at Invermay Agricultural Centre in Mosgiel, about 360km south-west of Christchurch, have bred climate-friendly sheep that produce 10 per cent less methane than their gassy counterparts.

Livestock emissions are the biggest contributor to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and make up about 10 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse emissions. . .

 


When locals can’t/won’t work . . .

July 25, 2017

Industry groups and individual employers were unhappy with government proposals to tighten immigration requirements.

They let the government know that and it’s listened:

Immigration was due to be tightened on August 14 but there’s been a backlash from employers and the regions.

Sources have told Newshub the Government is set to back down and keep the gates open.

Examples of the revolt include Southland, which wants 10,000 more people.

“Good Kiwis are hard to find. Guys don’t want to let their good Kiwis go,” farmer Hayden Nicholson told Newshub.

“I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t let any good Kiwi go.”

Jono Breach also knows how hard it is to get a “good Kiwi”. He just got an application from one, so checked his Facebook page.

“His first picture was with wads of cash and bags of drugs, and I’m like, ‘Well!’,” he told Newshub.

That’s why farmers down in Southland have turned to immigrant labour, mainly Filipinos, like “Choco”, who loves the work, and even says he likes the Southland frost.

“This is the weather that I really like… because it is frost in the morning, but after 9am or 10am, it’s really warm and really good weather.”

Mr Breach says those are the types of people they need in Southland. But there’s a problem. The Government has proposed a tightening of immigration rules, due to come into force next month. Under the proposed changes, any immigrant earning less than $23.50 an hour, or $48,859 a year, will be deemed “unskilled”.

They will face a three-year cap on working here, with a one-year stand-down from New Zealand. They also can’t bring their families and children with them. . . 

Before an employer can take on an immigrant now they have to establish there are no locals who can do the job. A common complaint from employers is that out-of-work locals aren’t work-ready:

South Canterbury fisheries are calling out for skilled workers, saying many job seekers don’t have basic numeracy, literacy or communication skills. . . 

Sanford’s Timaru spokesperson Karen Duffy said they always had several vacancies at any one time, but it was getting harder and harder to fill those positions.

The fishery employed 90 workers, one of the largest job providers in the city.

“We are experiencing great difficulty with employing people into our business … and finding the right candidate has become extremely difficult,” she said.

Ms Duffy said local talent was difficult to come by, and she said many job seekers lacked basic literacy, numeracy and communication skills.

“Ability to problem solve, basic communication skills … those skills around communication and working as a team … it’s becoming harder to find suitable candidates”, she said. . . 

South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith said the area was in the grip of a skilled labour shortage, but it was a victim of its own success.

She said rapid growth in some businesses was quickly overtaking the supply of potential workers. . . 

Ms Smith said bringing in overseas workers could help fix the problem. . . 

“We would like to see regional variations in place … we are quite concerned a blunt policy is being applied that might work for Auckland, but is probably not very applicable for down here”, she said. . . 

When locals can’t or won’t work, businesses have to employ immigrants.

The proposed changes would have had a serious impact on a range of businesses, including dairying:

DairyNZ is backing calls for the Government to rethink its new immigration policy, saying dairy farmers rely on skilled people from overseas who are wrongly classified as lower-skilled, locking them and their employers into a cycle of uncertainty.

“Many of the best performing teams on dairy farms include migrant staff,” says DairyNZ’s chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. “Some of these people are being classified as lower skilled workers when, in reality, their experience and skillset should be considered mid-skilled.”

Dr Mackle says the dairy sector and the wider New Zealand economy will not benefit from the policy changes to the essential skills visa conditions which will result in farmers not being able to retain their best migrant staff.

“The requirement of the new policy is that herd managers and farm assistants here on work visas must have their visas reviewed every year, and that they must leave New Zealand at the end of three years. This means our farmers will lose some of their best staff.”

With the objective of ensuring there were no unintended outcomes with the new policy, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, recruitment advisors, and others including farmers, made submissions to Government.

“As stated in our submission, on behalf of dairy farmers, we want to see migrant dairy staff who are currently classified as lower-skilled to be recognised as mid-skilled when they are paid within the mid-skilled remuneration band.

“With this policy there is no provision for farm roles between the low-skilled classification and the high-skilled bracket. It is crucial that this be addressed so that our farmers can continue to tap into this pool of workers when there are no New Zealanders available,” Dr Mackle says.

“Without being able to retain skilled migrant staff, dairy farms in several regions, especially Southland and Canterbury, will be severely impacted in terms of profitability. There’s the real likelihood that with fewer skilled, and consequently more unskilled staff on the ground farmers would also not be able to keep up their high standards of care for the environment they live and work in, or for such aspects as animal welfare and health and safety.”

Dr Mackle says migrant staff and their families are good citizens, making vibrant and viable contribution to the rural communities they live and work in.

“They bring their cultures and values with them. Many partners of the primary visa holders are working in the likes of aged care, supermarkets, and cafes, where they’re also valued for their work ethics and reliability. Their children attend local schools and, far from putting pressure on class sizes, many rural schools may not be viable if not for these kids.”

Dr Mackle adds that what is being faced in many rural communities – and impacting employers in all sectors – is not so much an immigration issue, but one of migration.

“In many rural areas in the South Island, especially Southland and Canterbury, people have moved away to cities. With the decrease in rural populations, the pool of available workers has shrunk too – impacting all business, not just dairy. Quite simply, there’s a shortage of Kiwis in these rural areas – migrant staff are the answer for many.”

A stable, skilled, and productive workforce is essential to the success of any business, he says.

“Farmers are the foundation of the dairy sector which earns this country upwards of $12 billion in exports, and contributes to the lifestyle, infrastructure, and technology all Kiwis enjoy, rural and urban. Farmers must be able to employ – and retain – the staff they need to run their businesses.

“Dairy deserves the best. Like most Kiwi employers, dairy farmers might not hire people from overseas as their first choice – due to language and visa bureaucracy – but often they have no other choice.”

DairyNZ says the industry provides 35,000 on-farm jobs, including contractors and staff – 3,774 of these jobs are currently filled by people from overseas.

Other sectors are also relieved that government has listened.

We are pleased to hear that the Government is planning to review incoming immigration changes with a specific focus on how they will affect the regions. Effectively addressing skills shortages in manufacturing and other sectors needs to remain a core part of our immigration system – notwithstanding changes that may be required to address other issues associated with current high levels of net migration, say the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NZMEA).

NZMEA Chief Executive, Dieter Adam said, “In particularly, the 12-month stand-down after three years did not make any sense to businesses – having to send quality workers back home not long after they completed the inevitable on-the-job training required to become fully productive and integral to their business operation. The skills they may take with them often simply cannot currently be filled by New Zealanders.”

“Unlike in other sectors, labour shortages in manufacturing are almost completely in the skilled workers category, especially for those with trade skills and experience.

“The Government’s approach to use pay levels as a surrogate for skill level was seen as a sensible approach by some of our members, where it was seen as potentially a smoother pathway to fill high income skill shortages, but others argued it is crude and has a number of issues. It ignores the fact, for example, of regional variation in pay for jobs at the same skill level, and it may unintentionally lead to wage inflation by artificially setting a base line across the country for what machine operators, for example, should be paid.

“The NZMEA is not simply advocating for a continuation of current immigration policies and practises, which have led to immigration outcomes that may well be unsustainable in some areas. The Government needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with changes that address these issues without cutting off the much needed supply of migrants to fill skill shortages, especially in the regions outside of Auckland.” Said Dieter.

The regions have a serious shortage of both skilled and unskilled workers. Unemployment is around the level where those without work are unemployable nationally and in a lot of small towns unemployment is well below the national rate.

Restaurateurs in Oamaru and Wanaka have told me how difficult it is to get local staff who are prepared to work the required hours. They want to start later and/or finish earlier than the business requires or they simply don’t have the attitude and work ethic that’s needed.

Advertising is expensive. It costs several hundred dollars each time a new staff member is required and immigrations rules require that the business goes through that process of trying to employ locals each time there’s a vacancy, even if they’ve only just done that and established there isn’t anyone suitable.

In small towns and provincial areas, employers know the locals and would usually know anyone who was willing and able to work when there’s a vacancy without needing to advertise.

The requirement to prove there are no locals available to work simply becomes an expensive exercise in futility that puts strain on businesses and their staff.

Auckland has problems with too many people for the available housing and infrastructure but that should not be used as an excuse to make business so hard outside the city.

It is possible to ensure immigrant workers stay in the regions when their visas are tied to specific employers.

Opposition MPs are making their triennial discovery of life outside big cities as they try to court votes. That they have softened their anti-immigration stance shows that they have realised the difficulties businesses are facing.

It’s difficult for government’s to win on something like this – if they don’t listen they’re criticised, if they do they’re accused of doing a u-turn.

But most employers aren’t interested in the politics, they’re just grateful that the government has heard their concerns and will be acting on them.


Rural round-up

November 17, 2016

Quake carnage raises 10m new hill at Clarence River – Tim Cronshaw:

A 10 metre high hill pushed up by the 7.5 earthquake on a previously flat river paddock has left valley farmers along the Clarence River completely flabbergasted.

The hill has appeared from nowhere on farmland along river flats about eight kilometres up the valley.

“It was completely flat and now there is a 30 foot hill in the middle of Priam’s Flat and the whole river has come up,” said Matariki farmer James Murray. “it’s unbelievable and if you hadn’t know what it looked like before you would never notice it.” . . .

Fairlie couple 2016 South Island Farmer of the Year:

A husband-and-wife “super team” has secured the title of the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year at the 2016 finals held tonight (Wednesday 16 November).

Chief Judge Nicky Hyslop says that Neil and Lyn Campbell won the judges’ praise with the “efficient, incredibly flexible and adaptive” approach to the way they have developed their dryland property. Their focus has been on systems that allow them to pursue activities that generate the most profit at the most effective point of time, with land stewardship always the foundation of their decisions.

The Campbells’ farm consists of 769ha of rolling hills and flats in Middle Valley near Fairlie in South Canterbury, producing sheep, deer breeding and finishing, and a variety of crops. . . 

Nattrass eyes another stint on Fonterra board:

Former Fonterra director Stuart Nattrass is making a bid to rejoin the co-op’s board. The South Canterbury farmer has been confirmed as a self-nominated director candidate.

He will face off with the two board-nominated directors Michael Spaans and Donna Smit.  

The self nomination process allowed any Fonterra shareholder (with the support of 35 different shareholders) to put themselves forward as a director candidate and be considered for election by their fellow shareholders alongside the previously announced Independent nomination process candidates. . . 

Fonterra running normally, helping quake-hit farmers – Mark Daniel:

With the South Island earthquake dominating our screens, Rural News Group had the opportunity to catch up with Fonterra’s Director of Farmer services, Matt Bolger at Wednesday’s Farm Focus Day at Owl Farm, Cambridge.

Bolger confirmed that since the seismic event they had been in close contact with their teams on the ground in the area, and could confirm that there were no injuries to Fonterra staff or suppliers.

He also told the largely farmer based audience that all factories in the organisation were running normally, although some had shut down automatically due to aftershocks, but were now all back on line. . . 

Crayfish confused by quake ushered back into the water – Kate Newton:

Disorientated crayfish, thrust out of the ocean onto the Kaikoura coastline, have been slowly ushered back into the water by locals.

Along the Kaikoura coastline, earthquake conversation keeps turning to the native crayfish for which the coast is named.

A horde of escaped crayfish (koura) was a side effect of Monday’s massive 7.8 magnitude shake, according to Ward resident Kerry Snell.

“When we got to the [Burkhart Fish] factory, the crayfish that were ready for the load-out, all the bins had tipped over and there were crayfish crawling everywhere. A couple of hundred. I think it was two tonnes of crayfish, just all crawling around. Disoriented too, as we all were.” . . .

Appeal Court turns down Fonterra’s bid to keep inferior terms for ex-NZDL suppliers – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group has lost its bid to overturn a High Court ruling against inferior terms offered to the suppliers of the failed New Zealand Dairies Ltd business in South Canterbury. 

The Court of Appeal bench, comprising Justices Tony Randerson, Helen Winkelmann and Brendan Brown, today rejected Fonterra’s application to throw out a ruling that it breached the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act by imposing less favourable terms on farmers who had previously supplied NZDL.  . . .

Sanford’s Move From Volume to Value Helps Boost Profit 152%:

Sanford Limited (NZX:SAN) has today posted a 152% increase in net profit after tax to $34.7m for the year ended 30 September.

The Group posted an 85.5% increase in reported EBIT to $57.7m, with revenue up $13.2m to $463.5m.

Sanford CEO, Volker Kuntzsch said it’s a pleasing result after a year of focus across the business on executing the company’s volume to value strategy. . . 

Sanford annual profit more than doubles on weaker kiwi, cheaper fuel – Paul McBeth:

BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed fishing group, more than doubled annual profit as a weaker kiwi dollar and cheaper fuel bolstered earnings in the face of a smaller catch, and as year-earlier impairment charges weren’t repeated.

Net profit rose to $34.7 million, or 37.1 cents per share, in the 12 months ended Sept. 30 from $13.8 million, or 14.8 cents, a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue rose 2.9 percent to $463.5 million, even as the volume of its catch shrank 11 percent as the company extracted more from a higher-value catch and a weaker kiwi generated bigger export receipts. . . 

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd v McIntyre and Williamson:

PARTNERSHIP AND ORS (CA736/2015)
[2016] NZCA 538
PRESS SUMMARY

This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It does not comprise part of the reasons for that judgment. The full judgment with reasons is the only authoritative document. The full text of the judgment and reasons can be found at http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz.

1. The Court of Appeal has today dismissed an appeal brought by Fonterra against a High Court ruling that Fonterra had discriminated against a group of dairy farmers by offering them less favourable terms on which it would purchase their milk.

2. The respondents are South Island dairy farmers who were contracted to supply milk to New Zealand Dairies Ltd (NZDL) when it went into receivership in May 2012.

Fonterra successfully tendered to purchase NZDL’s plant in Studholme. As part of the deal, NZDL’s suppliers agreed to switch to selling their milk to Fonterra. . . 

Good news for wine and spirit industries:

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith has welcomed the passing of a bill which will enable New Zealand wine and spirit makers to register the geographical origins of their products.

“The value of our wine exports has now reached $1.6 billion. We must jealously guard the reputation of New Zealand wines if we are to continue growing our wine exports,” says Mr Goldsmith.

The Bill amends the Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Registration Act (the Act) to ensure the process for registering geographical indicators runs smoothly. . . 

Largest robotic farm taking shape:

A 6500-head dairy farm in Chile will become the world’s largest robotic dairy after signing an agreement to install 64 DeLaval VMS milking robots.

The farm, owned by AgrÌcola Ancali and part of the Bethia Group, already has 16 DeLaval VMS installed and averages 45.2 litres for the 920 cows going through the robotic milking system.  

Ancali AgrÌcola chief executive, Pedro Heller, says the expansion follows good results from first stage of the robotic dairy. . . 


Rural round-up

October 6, 2016

Industry condemns skipper’s actions:

Seafood New Zealand supports the prosecution of a commercial fishing boat skipper over the death of albatross at sea.

“Industry is very disappointed in this skipper’s actions that were totally out of line. We support the Ministry for Primary Industries in the action they have taken against him,” says Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst.

“There is no excuse for his behaviour. He was required to use a tori line, a device using streamers to scare off birds. . . 

Dairy price effect still hurting NZ SMEs:

The dairy downturn is still having an impact on small to medium enterprises in many parts of the country, although there are definite green shoots in the economy according to the latest MYOB Colmar Brunton Business Monitor Survey.

More than one third (34 per cent) of all agribusinesses have been affected by low dairy prices in the past six months, with 12 per cent saying the impact is ‘very negative’.

For the many businesses connected to the agricultural economy, that remains a problem. Compared to a national average of 39 per cent, just 25 per cent of rural SMEs saw their revenues improve in the last 12 months, according to the latest Business Monitor, and 24 per cent reported a decline in income over the period. . . 

New Zealand farming leaders check in on Brexit:

Britain’s arrangements for leaving the European Union (EU) by the summer of 2019 and progress towards an EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement, will be on the agenda when Beef + Lamb New Zealand meets British and EU farming representatives during a northern hemisphere visit.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons and Southern South Island farmer director Andrew Morrison are in Britain, France, Ireland and Belgium this week to meet with New Zealand’s farming counterparts, to discuss areas of common interest including lamb consumption and maintaining year-round supply for European consumers. . . 

$3m in new projects for High-Value Nutrition:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge is investing $3 million in its Consumer Insights and Science of Food research programmes.

“The research into high-value nutrition is hugely important in moving our food production from volume to value”, Mr Joyce says.  “These projects will help product development that brings maximum returns for New Zealand food exporters.”

The Consumer Insights research programme is focused on understanding consumers’ beliefs, perceptions, attitudes and behaviours.

“Up to $1.5 million has been allocated to research the science of consumers, with a focus on health and wellness needs of Asian consumers. It will research what is needed to establish a habitual consumption of high-value nutritional foods, which is vital in ensuring investment is directed in areas that will resonate most with consumers. . . 

Ancient sheep breed alive and well in Wimbledon – Christine McKay:

Jacob sheep are an ancient breed with their story appearing in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

For Wimbledon farmer, Brian Hales, the story of the Jacob sheep is something special.
“Their story and how they came to be in New Zealand, is truly magnificent,” he said.

Jacobs are brown sheep with white spots or white sheep with brown spots. Their breed, Manx Loughtun, is unique for having one, two or three sets of horns. . . 

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards offer benefits to farm owners and employers:

Excitement is building as the date for entries to open for the 2017 The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards entries nears. Entries for the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be accepted online at dairyindustryawards.co.nz from October 20 and will close on November 30, with Early Bird entries closing at midnight on November 9.

The Awards encourage best practice and the sharing of excellence and also identify and promote the dairy industry’s future leaders. They enable people to progress through the awards as a person progresses through the dairy industry – from farm worker to herd manager, farm manager and contract milker to share milker.

The Awards are supported by DairyNZ, De Laval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridan Energy, Ravensdown, Westpac and industry partner Primary ITO. . . 

Sanford gets Marlborough innovation award – Tracey Neal:

Sanford fishing company’s Marlborough operation has received a civic award more than a year after major job losses at the company.

Its Havelock processing facility is one of the largest in New Zealand, employing 300 people and contributing around $15 million annually to the local economy in salary and wages.

The company’s mussel processing operation in Havelock was yesterday given the Marlborough Award, last presented in 2006, which recognises significant contribution to the district through innovation. . . 

Fonterra Moves to Reduce Sugar Content in Kids’ Yoghurt – Anchor Uno:

Fonterra’s Anchor Uno now contains the lowest levels of sugar (per 100 grams) in any kids’ yoghurt brand in New Zealand, with 40 per cent less sugar than the original Uno formulation.

Good nutrition is important for growing children as they are developing nutritional habits that can continue throughout their lives. The Anchor team recognise this and has come up with a way to provide a healthier alternative that kids still enjoy.

Anchor Cultured Brand Manager Nicola Carroll says Anchor is committed to continuously improving its product portfolio to reduce the use of added sugars without compromising the quality, taste and texture of the product. . . 

A day down on the farm: Owl Farm’s first Annual Public Open Day:

Owl Farm in Cambridge is opening its gates to urban communities for its inaugural Open Day on Saturday 15 October, 11am until 4pm.

The theme, ‘From our grass to your glass, how your milk is made’, aims to close the gap between town and country by giving the communities in which Owl Farm operates an up-close experience of a working dairy farm.

“It’s vitally important that the dairy industry engage and demonstrate what dairy is all about, and where our milk comes from,” says Demonstration Manager Doug Dibley. “The event will be a fantastic opportunity for a fun and educational day on the farm for the whole family”. . . 

Auditing Stock – A crucial component to mitigating stock losses:

The recent theft of 500 dairy cows has been another harsh wake up call for the industry as farmers consider if they are taking the right precautions in protecting their second largest asset. Michael Lee, an agribusiness audit specialist at Crowe Horwath, advises how the introduction of simple systems can mitigate potential theft.

The Federated Farmers’ dairy industry chairperson, Andrew Hoggard points out if a bank was robbed there would be uproar, but police don’t tend to see stock as cold, hard cash.

Lee agrees saying, “Stock theft is extremely important for farmers as not only do they lose their capital when stock is stolen, which for a dairy cow can be up to $2,000, they also suffer the loss of revenue from that stock.” . . 

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Rural round-up

May 30, 2016

Dairy farmers not  looking for handouts – Jamie Gray:

Farmers want better infrastructure, roads and greater access to broadband, but are not looking for any handouts from the Government in Thursday’s Budget.

Dairy farmers across the Tasman are looking to politicians to support them through the current milk price slump but their New Zealand counterparts do not expect any such treatment from the Budget.

Deputy Australian Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, after a three-day trip to Victoria, last week called for a bipartisan approach to develop a dairy industry support package to help dairy farmers struggling with milk price downgrades from the two biggest players in that market – Murray Goulburn and Fonterra.

But New Zealand dairy farmers, many with memories going back to the farm subsidy days of the 1970s and early 1980s, don’t expect any special treatment from the Budget. . . 

Guy looks to trim access to Fonterra’s raw milk for big processors in DIRA review – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk)Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is seeking feedback on proposals to reduce the amount of raw milk Fonterra Cooperative Group has to sell to large independent processors in the latest step towards full deregulation of the dairy sector.

The minister’s discussion paper on proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act was triggered last year when independent processors in the South Island passed the threshold needed to review the law. Guy’s preferred options would amend regulations for raw milk so Fonterra didn’t have to sell to large, export focused processors and reduce the volume of raw milk available to other processors by 60 percent over three years. Submissions close on June 29. . . 

New Zealand hoki fisheries meet international best practice standard for sustainability:

Following a report from the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has confirmed that the New Zealand hoki fisheries meet the high requirements of the MSC Fisheries Standard, widely recognised as the world’s most credible assessment of the sustainability of wild-caught seafood.

In 2001, New Zealand’s hoki fisheries became the first large-scale whitefish fisheries to achieve MSC certification, and have since been re-certified twice in 2007 and 2012. To achieve certification, fisheries must demonstrate to a third party certifier that they: ensure the long-term sustainability of fish stocks; minimise impacts on the marine environment; and are well managed, with effective governance and enforcement systems. Certification requires robust evidence to demonstrate that requirements are met. . . 

It  all started at school for beef ambassador – Kate Taylor:

A high school careers expo led Gisborne’s Emma Pollitt into an agricultural career and a love of working with cattle.

The 23-year-old was named the Allflex Senior Beef Ambassador at the Future Beef event held during the 2016 Beef Expo in Feilding. Wellsford 16-year-old Cara Doggett is the new Allflex Intermediate Beef Ambassador.

Pollitt grew up in Gisborne city and attended Gisborne Girls’ High School, where a careers expo opened her eyes to the possibility of farming.  Pollitt says she was into horses at high school, in terms of local shows and pony club, but hadn’t thought about any career options. She was accepted into Taratahi in Masterton and completed a Certificate of Agriculture (Levels 1-3) in the first year, staying an extra six months to complete Level 4. 

Her first job was on high country station Loch Linnhe at Kingston, near Queenstown, for a couple of months. . . 

NZ Yarn targets high fliers with the ‘Viagra’ of carpet – Amanda Cropp:

A high tech process to make the “Viagra” of carpet that doesn’t mat down is helping NZ Yarn carve out a niche market for custom-made floor coverings among the jet set. 

The Christchurch company recently sent samples to two American companies that carpeted the oval office and presidential plane, Airforce One, and executive chair Ross Callon said getting NZ Yarn product into the White House would be quite a coup.

The company, which exports its entire output, is also targeting the specialist carpet market for private jets, super yachts and high end apartments.  . . 

Manawatu stock buyer is about  to retire after 45 years on the job – Jill Galloway:

Kerry Lewis has been a prime stock buyer for 45 years. Jill Galloway talks to him about the changes he has seen from the 1970s to today.

In the 1970s there was only one phone in the Kerry Lewis’ household. These days there are two phones, a fax and Lewis always has a cellphone at his side.

Keeping pace with technology has been part of the job for Lewis who is retiring after 45 years in the business as a “fat” stock buyer in Manawatu.

The buying veteran has been through a few companies in his time. . .. 

Seeka’s avocado policy pays off for its growers with improved returns:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries’ commitment to its avocado growers has paid off with average export returns of $26.86 per export tray for the 2015-16 season, well up on last season’s $16.64 per export tray.

“Our growers have done a great job in producing really good quality fruit,” said Simon Wells, Seeka General Manager Grower Services.

“And because Seeka is fully integrated, we are able to control our supply chain and manage the quality of the fruit all the way through from orchard to market.” . . 

Sanford almost doubles first-half profit; shares rise to month high – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, the country’s largest listed fishing group, almost doubled its first-half profit as it focused on lifting values over volumes and benefited from lower fuel costs and a weaker New Zealand dollar.

Profit jumped to $18.8 million, or 20.1 cents per share, in the six months ended March 31, from $9.6 million, or 10.2 cents, a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue from continuing operations edged up 1.3 percent to $215.6 million even as sales volumes sank abut 20 percent as the company extracted more value from its catch. . . 

Fonterra Co-operative wins major health and safety award:

Two innovative employee health and wellness initiatives from Fonterra Co-operative Limited brought the company the WorkSafe New Zealand and ACC sponsored Supreme Award at last night’s Safeguard Workplace Health and Safety Awards in Auckland.

The company won WorkSafe’s category award for the best initiative to address a workplace health risk with a programme addressing milk tanker driver fatigue. Fonterra also won another category award for its employee wellbeing initiative which created a village concept where facilities for all contractors and subcontractors on site were centralised in one spot. . . 


Rural round-up

September 2, 2015

Tap turned on at Hororata irrigation scheme – Annabelle Tukia:

The tap has officially been turned on for one of the country’s largest irrigation projects.

The Central Plains water scheme will irrigate more than 20,000 hectares of Canterbury farmland.

One Hororata farmer says the massive scheme, which runs off the Rakaia River, will enable him and his neighbours to completely transform their operations.

Rodney Booth has waited a long time to turn the irrigators on at his Hororata farm. . . 

Dairy and travel still our largest export earners:

New Zealand earned $2.3 billion more from exports than we spent on imports during the year ended June 2015, Statistics New Zealand said today.

In the year to June 2015, total exports of goods and services were $67.5 billion, while total imports were $65.1 billion.

Dairy remains New Zealand’s largest export commodity, earning $12.0 billion in the June 2015 year. However, this was down from $15.8 billion in the June 2014 year. Spending by international visitors to New Zealand (travel exports) increased $2.4 billion, reaching $11.7 billion in the June 2015 year.

“Dairy and travel are New Zealand’s biggest export earners,” international statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “A fall in dairy exports to China, combined with the increase in expenditure by overseas visitors to New Zealand, has narrowed the gap between the two.” . . 

App helps keep hives humming – Sally Rae:

Brice Horner gets a buzz about educating others about beekeeping.

Now the Dunedin police officer has developed a phone app that helps beekeepers identify whether they have the destructive bacterial disease American foulbrood (AFB) in their hives.

AFB kills bee larvae and infected hives have to be destroyed by burning, as the disease is very difficult to combat. After destroying the bee larvae, spores could survive outside a bee colony for more than 35 years.

It is a serious issue, and beekeepers are legally required to advise the AFB Management Agency within seven days of noticing an outbreak and to destroy the disease by burning within the same period. . . 

Kiwi dairy farmers feeling the pinch are right – their payout is the world’s lowest – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand dairy farmers bracing for the lowest payout in a decade probably won’t welcome the latest analysis of global trends in the industry – their counterparts in every other dairy-producing country are being paid more.

An expected uplift in dairy prices in the overnight GlobalDairyTrade auction won’t change the fact Kiwi dairy farmers are the lowliest paid. AgriHQ analysed milk prices from around the world converted to NZ$/kilogram of milk solids to allow valid comparisons, although some dairy farmers incomes in other countries are boosted by subsidies and support schemes.

Fonterra’s forecast farmgate milk price, which is the price setter in the New Zealand dairy industry, is $3.85/kgMS for the current season, the lowest in a decade. That compares to China at the other end of the scale at $11/kgMS, the United States at $8.15/kgMS, Argentina at $7.57/kgMS, and the UK at $6.95/kgMS. Of the countries analysed, Ireland’s payout of $6.10/kgMS was the closest to New Zealand’s. . . 

OceanaGold raises 2015 production estimate to reflect Waihi acquisition – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – OceanaGold Corp expects 2015 production to increase while costs fall after the gold miner takes control of Waihi Gold Mine later this year.

The acquisition of the Waihi mine from Newmont Mining Corp is awaiting approval from the Overseas Investment Office this month, and once completed, OceanaGold expects to assume the economic benefits and costs associated with Waihi from July 1, the Melbourne-based miner said in a statement. The company increased its 2015 production estimates, and reduced its costs forecast to reflect lower copper and diesel prices and a weaker New Zealand dollar, it said. . . 

Sanford quits Pacific tuna business, lines up buyers for vessels – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed fishing group, will quit its underperforming Pacific tuna business and put the unit’s fleet up for sale.

The Auckland-based company sold its San Nanumea vessel and is in talks with a potential buyer of San Nikunau, its other Pacific tuna ship, after reviewing the viability of the business, Sanford said in a statement. On April 9, it entered into a conditional agreement to sell both international purse seiner vessels, according to Sanford’s interim report released in June. . . 

Rural Equities posts 27% decline in annual earnings after milk prices slumped – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, posted a 27 percent decline in annual earnings as milk prices plummeted.

The Hastings-based company said operating earnings before interest and tax fell to $4.67 million in the year ended June 30, from $6.43 million a year earlier as Fonterra Cooperative Group slashed its milk price payout to $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids from $8.40/kgMS the previous year. While that impacted its seven dairy farms, the company said its Waikato Puketotara sheep and beef property had a record year and it had steady income from leasing 15 of its 25 farms.

“Operating earnings were satisfactory given the substantial reduction in milk price,” said executive chairman David Cushing. “The company’s portfolio, with a mixture of directly operated and leased farms and diversity by property type and geography, helped provide balance.” . . 

Government grant for East Coast stream restoration:

An $89,700 grant from the Community Environment Fund for the restoration of the Whangawehi stream on the Mahia Peninsula was announced today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith during a visit to the catchment. 

“New Zealand has a major challenge to improve the management of our waterways, which has to be achieved stream by stream, river by river and lake by lake. The key to the success of these restoration programmes is getting all parties – landowners, iwi and hapū, district and regional councils as well as the Government – working together. This has been achieved on this project and that is why the Government is providing funding support,” Dr Smith says.  . . 

Fonterra Farmers Can Now Apply for Co-Operative Support:

Fonterra farmers can now apply for Fonterra Co-operative Support, a loan to help them deal with the current challenging conditions.

Chairman John Wilson said Fonterra is well placed to help its farmers because of the Co-operative’s underlying strength.

“Being able to help our farmers is all about standing together as a Co-operative and using our collective strength to get through these tough times,” said Mr Wilson. “We have had a lot of interest from farmers who appreciate what the Co-operative is trying to do for them to assist them with their farming businesses in a tough financial climate, and we are anticipating a large number of applications.” . . .

 


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