Rural round-up

April 18, 2017

Mentoring part of the prize – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton says he is ”humbled” to win the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in
2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013.

Mr Easton, along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney, was initially shortlisted for the award, along with Australians Anna Speer, Will Creek and Airlie Trescowthick. . . 

It’s not just farmers – Neal Wallace:

The country’s senior scientist has called for a more mature conversation on solving water quality issues and an end to the polarised positions that have characterised the debate so far.

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, said to have the pristine environment we all desired would not be achieved without having a conversation “where people are not threatened but will come together and discuss solutions”.

“Where we have gone is groups with extreme positions and people are not listening to each other.”

Farm’s efficiency gain, emissions fall impresses – Sally Brooker:

A South Canterbury farm has proved environmental gains can be made while production improves, scientists say.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand director Bill Wright and his wife, Shirley, have been farming a sheep and cattle property at Cannington since 1991. Their records have allowed scientists to study the profile of greenhouse gases while the farm evolved.

The the last two years’ data also gave insights into nitrogen-leaching.

“Farmers are conscious of their collective responsibilities to restore water quality and minimise their environmental footprint,” Mr Wright said.

“But this is material we are now only learning how to manage in a way that not only protects the environment but provides opportunities to be more productive with less impact.” . . 

Blue Sky left searching for positives after Binxi offer lapses – Allan Barber:

Invercargill based meat processor Blue Sky Meats is trying to put a positive spin on its prospects after being advised by Chinese cattle and meat company subsidiary NZ Binxi Oamaru that its takeover offer would not proceed. The main reason for the decision was failure to receive OIO approval by the 20th March deadline, but Binxi also cited a material adverse change in this season’s performance. As a result Blue Sky has advised shareholders they will continue to own their shares, 96% having already accepted the offer.

The offer for 100% ownership at $2.20 per share placed a value of $25.4 million on Blue Sky compared with a current valuation of just under $15 million based on the last trading price of $1.30. Chairman Scott O’Donnell made the point adverse seasonal conditions are part and parcel of agricultural businesses, while NZ Binxi has asked the OIO to continue to process its application in spite of its withdrawal. It also signalled its possible willingness to reconsider if the OIO were to come through with a positive response. . . 

UK will offer good trade deal :

New Zealand’s farmers and exporters will get a favourable post-Brexit trade pact with the United Kingdom but find a new European Union trade agreement much harder, Lord Sam Vestey believes.

The British peer and former owner of NZ meat processing plants under the name of Weddell until the 1990s was speaking at the opening of the Royal Easter Show in Auckland.

He was chairman of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth and a regular visitor to major shows in NZ. . . 

Southland dairy consultant in the running for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

A Southland woman who only milked her first cow seven years ago is one of three finalists in the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year awards.

Jolene Germann grew up on a Waikato sheep and beef farm and had no dairy experience until meeting her husband, Hadleigh, seven years ago. Now, she’s a busy dairy consultant with a full book and is an equity partner and sharemilker on a 200ha, 570 cow dairy farm in Aparima, Southland.

Germann’s husband nominated her for the Dairy Woman of the Year award and says her commitment to environmental sustainability and empathetic leadership style are her stand-out qualities. . . 

Dear Lady at the Bank – Ruby Uhart:

Last fall I went into the bank to deposit checks after we’d sold our calves.  The lady at the front desk wasn’t familiar with the company who had written the check.  I explained to her who they were and that we had sold two loads of calves.

She replied “wow.  I’m in the wrong business.”

At the time, it caught me off guard that she would say something like that and all I could do was chuckle a little and say “no.  You’re not.”

 I’ve been thinking about her all winter and different moments in particular made me wish I had said something to her other than what I replied in my dimwitted moment.  As with all of my best comebacks, they hit my brain later and are told with the story as “what I should have said was…”

So here goes.  Here’s my shoulda, coulda, woulda said….


Rural round-up

November 14, 2016

Alliance in good shape – Allan Barber:

Alliance has produced a solid result for the year ended 30 September with a pre-tax profit of $10.1 million compared with $7.9 million for the previous year achieved on 9% lower revenue of $1.366 billion. Of greater significance to farmers is the decision to distribute $9.8 million to shareholders, while the company’s equity position has improved from 58% of assets to 72%. Debt reduced from $129 million to $41 million with no seasonal debt at year end.

Alliance’s transformation programme has achieved improvements of $56 million compared with budgeted savings of $34 million and, according to chairman Murray Taggart, the company is only part of the way through the programme. In spite of the market challenges arising from global uncertainties like Brexit and the US presidential election result, Taggart told me he is feeling more optimistic than at any time since joining the Alliance board. . . 

Meat, wool lack NZ brand: report – Sally Rae:

One of the biggest weaknesses — and thus opportunities — for the meat and wool sector is the lack of a coherent New Zealand “brand” internationally.

That is a key point raised in Westpac’s latest Industry Insights report covering New Zealand’s largest primary industry.

Farmers, meat and wool processors, farm advisers and farm support business were among those canvassed for their views on the biggest risks and challenges for the sector. . . 

Stratford deposes world champ shearer Smith –

Reigning world champion Rowland Smith has been deposed by Southland shearer Nathan Stratford who will now represent New Zealand at the world championships in his home town.

The gruelling 10-month selection process ended in dramatic fashion at the Canterbury A&P show with Stratford causing the second boil-over in a many days after Mary-Anne Baty bolted into the wool-handling team with fellow Gisborne handler Joel Henare.

Stratford will team up with 2014 world champion John Kirkpatrick of Napier in the machine shearing team. . . 

Baty bolts into NZ woolhandling team:

A bolter. It’s an oft-used term in the sporting world, and it sits comfortably with Gisborne’s Mary-Anne Baty.

On Thursday Baty completed a remarkable three weeks by being named alongside Joel Henare in the CP Wool Shearing Sports New Zealand woolhandling team to compete at the 2017 world shearing and woolhandling championships in Invercargill in February.

Baty had to rely on a strong finish in the final qualifier of the six-event, year-long series in Hastings in October to sneak into the six-person selection final on a countback. She then made the most of her opportunity to qualify third from the semi-finals and take second place behind Henare to earn New Zealand selection. But it could have been a very different story. . . 

Binxi not only Blue Sky suitor – Neal Wallace:

A takeover offer by Chinese-backed NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods is not the only offer being considered by Southland processor Blue Sky Meats.

The company earlier this year employed Auckland consultants BDO to provide business options for Blue Sky and the $2.20 a share offer from NZ Binxi was the “first out of the blocks”, chairman Scott O’Donnell said.  

“They are not the only party talking to us.”  

The offer valued the company at $25.3 million, a significant premium on its market capitalisation value of $15m.   O’Donnell said the process of formally documenting the takeover offer, board consideration of its merits and finally making a recommendation to shareholders could take four to six weeks. . . 

Apple connoisseur to the core – Gerard Hutching:

Tony Fissette knows his apples. Hailing from Belgium’s growing heartland, he has been involved in the fresh produce business most of his working life.

As far as he is concerned, the jazz and envy apples he markets from his office near Brussels for T&G Global (the former Turners & Growers) are “the best apples I’ve ever eaten”.

European consumers agree. For the industry standard 18kg carton of jazz sold to supermarkets, growers receive an $8 premium over the old standby braeburn and royal gala varieties. . . 

Seafood New Zealand welcomes improvements to the management of our fisheries:

Seafood New Zealand welcomes the opportunity to review and refine fisheries management in New Zealand.

The Government proposes three strategic and two regulatory changes that focus on improving information gathering and management, and on ways to further minimise the industry’s environmental footprint, in the Future of our Fisheries report released by the Ministry for Primary Industries today.

“The report brings a renewed focus, for all those who love kaimoana, to work together to further improve New Zealand’s fisheries,” Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said. . . 

Image may contain: one or more people, text and outdoor

I think that if you were raised on a farm, you were born with dirt in your shoes, and once you get dirt in your shoes, you can’t ever get it out.

 


Rural round-up

October 25, 2016

Golden harvest from Fiordland farm – Sally Rae:

Growing saffron and Fiordland might sound an unlikely combination.

But Te Anau couple Steve and Jo Daley have big plans for their fledgling organic operation with an ambitious goal of becoming world-renowned for the costly spice.

“It’s just so damn exciting, the product, and people are so interested in what we’re doing,” Mr Daley said.

Mr and Mrs Daley have 1.5million crocus corms on their property and their intention is to  increase that  to 50million, which would make them the biggest saffron producers in New Zealand.

With a day job as a fencing contractor, Mr Daley, while stationed behind the post driver, got thinking about other ways to make a living.  . . 

Sand and milk: Dairy farming in the desert – Sally Rae:

For Clayton Buckley, the past 12 years working for Almarai — the world’s largest vertically integrated dairy company — have been quite an experience.

Suffice to say, it was ‘‘not like farming here’’, he said during a recent visit home. 

Mr Buckley (35) was brought up in North Canterbury, where his father Russ was a ‘‘part-time’’ deer farmer.

He used to head south during school holidays to stay with his aunt and uncle Gail and Trevor Meikle and help on their farm, near Oamaru.

He enjoyed it so much that when he was about nine, he announced to his parents he was going to buy Mr and Mrs Meikle’s farm, he recalled. . . 

Quad bike deaths at record high – Catherine Hutton:

The number of deaths from quad bike accidents has reached a record annual high of 14, and an agriculture expert says the rate is predicted to rise.

A quad bike accident in Taupō on Saturday night left one person dead and another with moderate injuries, bringing the number of deaths from quad bikes this year to 14, a record for a single year.

The former director of Lincoln University’s Telford campus, Charley Lamb, said the deaths were occurring as a result of crush injuries, which research showed roll bars would prevent.

“Very few bikes have roll over protection, which of course they should do. Whether people want to debate that and argue that, they can. But they used to do the same about safety frames on tractors and they did the same about seatbelts in cars.” . . 

DIRA changes don’t go far enough – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra has criticised proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act as not going far enough because they continue to impose constraints on the co-operative that help its competitors.  

The proposed changes to DIRA announced by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy provided a mixed bag for Fonterra which its Farm Source chief operating officer Miles Hurrell labelled a “lost opportunity to address artificial constraints”.  

While an end was in sight for the requirement to sell milk to its largest competitors, Hurrell said Fonterra was still obligated to accept and process all milk produced which meant shareholders having to invest in stainless steel. . . 

Age ousts three directors – Sally Rae:

Three directors, including founder and chairman Graham Cooney, have stepped down from the board of Blue Sky Meats due to an age-related clause in the company’s constitution.

A letter sent to suppliers of the Southland-based meat company this week, signed by chairman Scott O’Donnell and directors Peter Carnahan and Andy Lowe, said Mr Cooney, Peter Houlker and Malcolm McMillan were unable to continue as the constitution precluded any individual from being a director once they reached 65. . . 

Don’t blame staff – Annette Scott:

Agri businesses are bad at attracting the right staff rather than being victims of a shortage of skilled and experienced people, Synlait Milk chief executive John Penno says.  

“Effectively, I’m saying our primary industry business models are not strong enough to compete for the right people.  

“We need leaders growing up in our businesses and we need businesses growing these leaders.”  Penno focused on the challenges of knowledge and skills for land-based industries towards 2030, in a presentation to an Agricultural and Horticultural Science Institute forum.  

“This really made me think,” Penno said. . . 

A changing of the guard for DWN:

Dairy Women’s Network has a new skipper at the helm after today’s AGM, with incumbent chair Justine Kidd stepping down and Cathy Brown of Pahoia being warmly welcomed into the role.

A crowd of about 60 DWN members, staff and sponsors gathered at Wintec in Hamilton today to celebrate another successful year for the 9000-strong not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to supporting and inspiring women to succeed in the business of dairying.

Brown has been involved with DWN since the late 90s, first hearing about the organisation when she worked at CRV Ambreed. She quickly became a member of what was at that point a largely internet based network and attended the organisation’s first conference in 2001. . . 


Cathy Brown (left) with Justine Kidd.

‘Good dog’ makes dog training easier – Anna Holland:

Two words I find invaluable when training dogs are “good dog”.

The secret to their effectiveness is understanding, timing and correct usage; overuse them and their power is lost.

Not only do you need to understand when and how to use “good dog”, but the dog needs to understand the meaning. I once commented to someone, “You never say ‘good dog’.” And the next thing he was like a stuck record with the words; the trouble is he may as well have been speaking a foreign language because the words had no meaning for his dogs. . . 


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