Rural round-up

January 31, 2019

Brain tumour felled Fonterra’s last hands on chairman – Fran O’Sullivan:

John Wilson who died on Monday at just 54 years of age was possibly the last Fonterra chairman to take a hands on approach to governing New Zealand’s largest company.

It was inevitable that Wilson would play a strong and sometimes quite political role in public life in New Zealand – the upshot of Fonterra’s dominance of the dairy industry – at times locked into confrontational situations with equally strong-minded politicians on both sides of the House.

Wilson was passionately devoted to Fonterra; strong-willed, direct, not afraid of anyone – yet also imbued with sufficient charm, persuasiveness and an ability to ride through the hard-knuckled politics of the NZ dairy industry to survive many a battle until his last year as chair. . . 

‘Outrageous’: EU votes to reduce NZ export rights – Pattrick Smellie:

The European Union’s parliament has taken a decisive step towards unilaterally reducing New Zealand’s rights to export specified quantities of tariff-free sheepmeat, beef and dairy products to the trading bloc if and when Brexit occurs.

The move has been slammed as “outrageous” by former trade negotiator Charles Finny in a Tweet and “disappointing” by the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the proposed moves risk compounding “growing international economic uncertainty and rising trade tensions”. . . 

Expert evidence rejects water conservation order bid :

Evidence from nine experts supports Horticulture New Zealand’s evidence that a water conservation order (WCO) is not the way to ensure healthy Hawke’s Bay rivers, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

Horticulture New Zealand opposes the application for the WCO in the Lower Ngaruroro River and the Clive River.

“This impacts our economy and our food supply and a WCO is a blunt instrument that has been surpassed with better national and regional planning tools,” Mr Chapman says. . . 

Guy Trafford analyses the sheep meat market showing the changes to where our product goes, and where our rivals are focusing – Guy Trafford:

With the uncertainty around Brexit and what the balance of future access to both the EU and the UK for sheep meat maybe it could be timely to have a look at the drivers of international sheep meat trade.

Australia and New Zealand account for approximately 90% of international trade and both have declining flock numbers. Since 1990 Australia have dropped from 180 mln down to 65 mln and New Zealand from 58 mln to around 28 mln today. It has only been the increased productivity of both flocks, in regard to meat production, that has kept the industry viable with the critical mass required to remain competitive. . . 

Synlait follows Fonterra with lower forecast farmgate payout – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk has cut its forecast payout to farmers for the current season, following Fonterra’s lead, as weaker global demand and strong domestic production weighs on international prices.

The Rakaia-based milk producer expects to pay $6.25 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2019 season, down from its previous forecast of $6.75/kgMS. That projection will depend on commodity prices recovering for the rest of the season, something Synlait said it considers realistic. . . 

Scott Tech, Mt Cook Alpine Salmon in automated pin boning project – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Scott Technology and Mt Cook Alpine Salmon have teamed up to automate the removal of pin bones from King salmon with backing of more than $500,000 from Seafood Innovations.

Brent Keelty, Mt Cook’s processing operations manager, says the only way currently of de-boning King salmon is by hand. . . 

World first IoT farming tech trial  NZ

A pioneering arable farming tech trial is expected to make a quantum leap to help boost New Zealand’s primary export revenue.

New Zealand has a low understanding of how the internet of things (IoT) can assist with farm management and sustainability and adoption of precision agriculture techniques also remains low.

New Zealand’s primary industry export revenue is forecast to reach $43.8 billion for the year to June 2019, an increase of 2.5 percent from 2018. . .

TracMap Data Now Available in FarmIQ:

Integrating two of the country’s leading farm software systems means farmers can now have TracMap Proof of Application data seamlessly passed to their FarmIQ account, ensuring records are updated quickly and accurately for compliance and management needs.

“This is an important development for FarmIQ’s customers. Many farmers have been asking us for Tracmap’s Proof of Application and Proof of Placement data for some time,” said FarmIQ chief executive Darryn Pegram. . . 

Should primary producers do more to protect their data?:

While farmers and horticulturalists continue to integrate new digital technologies into their businesses, this data reliance does bring with it new vulnerabilities and risks. The next generation of producers are doing away with basic spreadsheets and building their businesses using a real-time data streams and cloud-based platforms for analysis and storage.

In the past, a simple computer backup was, in many cases, all that was needed. It has now been replaced by a complex web of data-points, data validation, storage, security access and data control. . . 

New funding for 31 community-led projects:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today announced funding of $9.8 million for 31 new Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) projects.

The SFF provides funding for projects led by farmers, growers, and foresters aimed at building economic, environmental and social sustainability in the primary sector. It has recently been replaced by MPI’s new Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) programme. The 31 projects were in the pipeline prior to its launch in October 2018.

“SFF has been instrumental in kicking off both small and large innovative, community-led projects, and laying the groundwork for SFF Futures,” says Steve Penno, Director of Investment Programmes.

“The new 31 projects cover areas from apiculture and dairy to soil management and horticulture, and are great examples of innovative thinking. . . 

Farmers furious at inclusion on Aussie Farms’ map – Alastair Dowie:

‘Ill-informed’ and ‘disgraceful’ are just some of the words Victorian farmers have used upon finding their details on the controversial Aussie Farms map.

Made public last week, the map identifies a large number of rural and farming enterprises, as well as some saleyards, abattoirs and intensive production operations, across Australia.

Many farmers are furious that their personal information has been displayed on the map without their permission. . . .

 


Rural round-up

September 6, 2016

Pukeuri boners get robotic workmates – Sally Rae:

A $7.5 million upgrade at Alliance Group’s Pukeuri meat works is the biggest investment at the site since redevelopment following a major fire in 2006.

Commissioning is under way of robotic  cutting machinery in the  boning room.

The machinery, developed by Scott Technology, features an X-ray unit that analyses each carcass and instructs two cutting machines where to cut.

The primal cutting machine separates carcasses into hinds, middles and forequarters.

A middles cutting machine then separates  middles into racks, loins, flaps and saddles. . . 

Water quality, farm model links asserted – Sally Rae:

New Zealand cannot continue to have conversations about protecting water quality without having a parallel set of conversations that change the farming business model, Taupo farmer Mike Barton says.

Speaking at the Institute of Forestry’s conference in Dunedin, Mr Barton questioned how to start that conversation if the model was to change.

“Food production is the biggest single component of our impact on the planet … We just don’t talk about that. Nowhere in the world do we internalise the environmental costs of food production,” he said.

About 150 years had been spent convincing consumers that food was cheap.

It would take two or three generations before environmental costs were internalised into the price model. . . 

Rakiura Maori Lands Trust & Real Journeys Announce Wild Kiwi Encounter on Rakiura/Stewart Island:

Rakiura Maori Lands Trust (RMLT) and Real Journeys announced today that their first joint tourism venture will be kiwi spotting on Stewart Island called Wild Kiwi Encounter.

These highly successful nocturnal trips were previously run by Bravo Adventures. Owner Phillip Smith, who began the original trips to see Rakiura/Stewart Island brown kiwi says he is delighted that he has been able to find a company with a solid conservation ethos to operate his Department of Conservation concession (authorisation to operate the trips).

“I’ve been running kiwi spotting trips for over a quarter of century now. I still love seeing the look on people’s faces when they see a kiwi in the wild for the first time, but was ready to put my feet up and let someone else head out into the night!” . . 

Higher lamb meat prices eroded by elevated kiwi dollar – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Limited supply of lamb meat is pushing up prices in overseas markets, however the gains for local farmers are being eroded by the higher value of the New Zealand dollar.

The benchmark CKT price for a leg of lamb in the UK rose to 4.10 British pounds per kilogram in August, from 4.05 pounds/kg in July and 3.40 pounds/kg in August last year, according to AgriHQ data. In New Zealand dollar terms, returns declined to $7.41/kg in August, from $7.53/kg in July, and $8.35/kg a year earlier.

New Zealand’s lamb numbers fell last season as farmers reduced sheep numbers to cope with drought conditions, and are expected to decline a further 2.9 percent to 23.3 million this spring, according to the Economic Service of farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker 2016 announced:

Congratulations to Jordan Hogg from Seresin – the Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker 2016. The National Final was held on Tuesday 23 August at MRC and the winner was announced at the Bragato Wine Awards dinner on Thursday 25 August.

Congratulations also goes to Alex Roper from Mission Estate, Hawke’s Bay who was the runner up. Tom Hindmarsh and Matt Fox were the other finalists, also performing strongly throughout the competition. . . 

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Female farmer – of course I don’t work as hard as men, I get it right the first time.

Buchan Uncorks New Design at NZ Winery:

Global architectural firm The Buchan Group has uncorked its design of the Mt. Beautiful Tasting Room in Cheviot, New Zealand, aimed at introducing food and wine enthusiasts to this internationally successful, locally grown wine label.

Mt. Beautiful is a premium North Canterbury wine brand grown and produced at Spotswood, 9 kilometres north of Cheviot. The tasting room based in Cheviot showcases its varieties in Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay. . . 

Rod McDonald wines scoop international design award for ‘One Off’ Pinot Noir:

Hawkes Bay wine company Rod McDonald Wines is the only New Zealand winery and business to win a prestigious prize in the 2016 Harpers Design Awards.

The internationally recognised design awards, made up of a high calibre judging panel, received entries from ten countries around the world, with only five picking up an award.

“The standard was high, with some stunning examples of enticing and engaging design, really lifting those products above the ordinary,” said Harpers editor Andrew Catchpole. “But our brief as judges went beyond purely aesthetical considerations, looking at how well the design of each product had been tailored to the client’s brief and its target market.” . . 


Rural round-up

October 16, 2015

SFF votes yes on China deal – Dene Mackenzie:

Silver Fern Farms shareholders have voted overwhelmingly in favour of selling a 50% stake in their company to Chinese-owned Shanghai Maling.

The outcome has just been announced following a special meeting at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

The vote was 82% in favour of the deal.

It means Shanghai Maling, an offshoot of state-owned food giant Bright Food Group, will inject $261 million into Silver Fern Farms, with the expectation it will be debt-free, with money in the bank, by this time next year. . . 

Robotic cutters go into boning rooms – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group is spending $15million in robotic technology destined for the boning rooms of its Smithfield and Pukeuri plants.

The major benefit of the custom built primal/middle cutting machinery from Dunedin company Scott Technology was higher product yields with additional productivity and safety benefits.

While the technology meant each boning room would require slightly fewer people, ”natural attrition” meant no redundancies would be made, Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor said. . . 

Dynamic businesses up for Enterprising Awards:

Dynamic businesses competing for Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2015

Eleven dynamic and innovative businesses are in the running for the Rural Women New Zealand Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2015.

“This is the seventh year we’ve held the Enterprising Rural Women Awards,” says Rural Women National President, Wendy McGowan. “We’re starting to see an emerging trend of dynamic rural businesses being run by women to meet the needs of the rural community but with wider appeal to urban residents and tourists.”

“We’re excited to see that the gradual rollout of broadband into rural communities is increasing business opportunities for rural enterprises to thrive online, even when operating from remote locations. . . 

Determination keeps the worms and eczema at bay – Kate Taylor:

Hawke’s Bay perendale breeders Graeme and Sue Maxwell believe in being proactive about improving their flock, particularly with testing and selection for worm tolerance and facial eczema tolerance.

“We are proactive and do these things so our clients get the benefits from us doing the work first,” says Graeme.

“The health of our sheep has gone through the roof since we started doing the faecal egg counts. It turned our commercial flock around,” adds Sue. . . 

Inside JJ Leahy’s pastoral empire – Peter Austin:

MEN who make a living – and in some cases, a fortune – dealing in pastoral land and livestock are by nature inclined to be reticent, shunning publicity and keeping their trade secrets to themselves.

That’s why a newly published book on the life and times of 20th Century mega-dealer John Jeremiah (“J.J.”) Leahy is likely to generate much interest – because it’s written by somebody “inside the tent”.

Gerard Leahy, the youngest (though now well into his 80s) and the sole survivor of J.J. Leahy’s seven children, has just completed a 10-year project of writing the story of his father’s eventful life. . . 


Silver Fern Farms PGW Plan Not Silver Bullet

July 1, 2008

The proposal for PGG Wrightson to take a 50% stake in Silver Fern Farms is not a silver bullet for the meat industry and initial reaction to the concept isn’t very positive.

… yesterday’s announcement went down like a “cup of cold sick” with shareholders, who fear farmer-ownership of New Zealand’s largest meat company will be diluted.

Mossburn farmer Stephen Cullen said he was “bloody shocked” that Silver Fern Farms wanted to effectively sell its soul to outside interests and alienate itself from the rest of the industry.

Farmers feel very strongly about retention of farmer-control in the processing industry.

Meat Industry Action Group chairman John Gregan said he was “staggered” that PGG-Wrightson wanted, what he believed, was a controlling share in Silver Fern Farms.

“There’s no doubt the current structure is failing us, but the loss of farmer shareholding will be a sore point for some,” he said.

Mr Gregan believed it would be a “big ask” to achieve the 75 percent voter threshold required to advance the partnership.

MIAG has gathered proxies from SFF & Alliance shareholders to call a special general meeting of both companies aimed at getting the two comapnies together. I don’t know whether the proxies will enable MIAG to vote on the SFF PGW deal as well.
Federated Farmers Southland meat & fibre chair Martin Hall agreed the 75% would be difficult and farmers would have to dedecide whether they wanted to be an owner of a meat company or just a participant.

“I’m a bit angry about it. They (Silver Fern Farms) didn’t dream it up last month. It takes a long time to put together something like this.”

MIAG is meeting SFF chair Eion Garden today. One of the questions they could ask is: why SFF let the Meat Industry Taskforce waste time and money starting the process of developing an industry strategy when they SFF must have already been planning the deal with PGW?

Garden believes shareholders will support the initiative becuase of the immediate benefits.

The new board of SFF would decide on the use of the $220 million, but a sizeable chunk would go on the upgrade of existing processing plants, including the use of robotic meat-cutting systems developed between SFF and Dunedin’s Scott Technology.

“This industry is starved of capital.

It’s one of the fundamental reasons we don’t have strong balance sheets and strong profits on a long-term basis,” Mr Garden said.

He is right that lack of capital is a problem, but it’s not the only one. The drastic drop in sheep numbers has resulted in an over-supply of killing space so whether or not the deal goes ahead there will be more works closures.

The other problem is marketing and SFF & PGW say more money would be spent on researching customers and stronger branding of New Zealand meat. But they also say the money won’t be used for reducing debt and high debt is one of SFF’s big problems.

I haven’t spoken to anyone who is wildly enthusiastic about the plan yet but perhaps I’m talking to the wrong people. The ODT found a more positive reaction from Otago Fed Farmers meat & fibre chair Rob Lawson because it involved Craig Norgate.

I am cautiously optimistic. I can see some really positive things, and one of those is the business acumen of Craig Norgate and the PGG Wrightson team.”

Other factors the Merton farmer saw as favourable were the injection of $220 million from PGG Wrightson; the move to an integrated supply chain linking consumers with farmers; the potential for industry rationalisation; and the market focus the investment would encourage.

All these are fair points and there is no doubting Norgate’s abilities, nor his powers of persuasion. If he fronts a road show to sell the concept he may be able to change the minds of at least some of those who aren’t enthusiastic about it.

The loss of total farmer control of SFF was a possible concern, but Mr Lawson said farmers had to ask themselves what farmer control of the meat industry had achieved so far.

That’s a fair question but as Fonterra found when they tried to persuade their shareholders to open up the company to outside investment that farmers aren’t keen to lose control.


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