Rural round-up

May 26, 2016

Record-breaking 2015/16 kiwifruit season: volumes, returns grow:

The 2015/16 kiwifruit season broke records for the industry and Zespri with the biggest-ever total return to growers, highest-ever Green return per hectare and record sales volumes for both Zespri Green and Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains total sales revenue for the season also grew to hit $1.9 billion, up 21 percent from the previous season. The total fruit and service payment to growers for New Zealand-grown fruit increased 22 percent on the previous year to $1.143 billion, with average return per hectare reaching a record $60,758. . . 

FMA concludes assessment of complaints against Silver Fern Farms:

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has concluded its assessment of complaints received about Silver Fern Farms Limited (SFF) and will be taking no further action.

The FMA received a small number of complaints in April 2016 relating to Silver Fern Farms Limited and documents released to its shareholders in September 2015. A complaint was also made about the resolution approving the transaction with Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co. Ltd (Shanghai Maling).

The FMA considered whether information sent to SSF’s shareholders could be substantiated and concluded that SFF’s Notice of Meeting and Shareholder Information Pack, dated September 2015, was not misleading or deceptive. . . 

International Campaign Set to Boost NZ Dairy Exports:

A new multi-million-dollar marketing campaign has begun to educate Australian, Chinese and ultimately U.S consumers on the health benefits of New Zealand’s grass fed dairy products.

The international campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the benefits of consuming milk products from grass fed cows over those raised organically. It’s all part of the introduction of new Munchkin Grass Fed™ milk-based formula and toddler drinks. Milk matters because it is the key ingredient in infant formula and toddler milk drinks, constituting up to 65% of the powder. . . 

Higher fruit exports offset dairy fall:

Goods exports rose 4.0 percent in April 2016, up $166 million to $4.3 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today. Fruit exports led the rise, up $59 million (16 percent), offsetting a similar fall in dairy values.

Gold kiwifruit rose $53 million (53 percent), but was partly offset by a fall in green kiwifruit, down $38 million (35 percent). Apples rose $39 million (29 percent), with apple exports to Taiwan up $16 million (91 percent). Taiwan was New Zealand’s top destination for apples in April 2016, beating out the United States and the United Kingdom.

Among other export commodities, untreated logs, foodstuffs such as dietary supplements and savoury fillings, and beef and lamb all rose in value this month. . . 

Comvita to beef up honey supply in new joint venture – Sophie Boot

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand manuka honey products maker Comvita is linking up with Blenheim-based apiary operator Putake Group to form a South Island-based honey business to meet global demand for manuka honey.

The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a 50:50 joint venture, named Putake Group Holdings, which would develop a wholesale honey business in the South Island, Te Puke-based Comvita said in a statement. Putake owns 1,200 hives and manages another 2,800 hives through separate joint venture arrangements. . . 

Advisory boards can offer guidance for farmers during a period of uncertainty:

As the agricultural sector grapples with high levels of dairy debt and increased volatility, Crowe Horwath’s Head of Agribusiness, Neil McAra, says farmers need to look at getting sound governance support.

McAra is a strong advocate for advisory boards which can assist farmers with the ability to make better decisions and can help improve business governance.

The value, scale and complexity of New Zealand farming operations have increased significantly over the last two decades. . . 

Rural Contractors annual conference coming up:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is encouraging all of its members – and any others interested in the agricultural contracting sector – to attend its annual conference being held in the Bay of Islands later next month.

Chief executive Roger Parton says this year’s RCNZ annual conference is being held at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort, in Paihia, from June 27-30.

“The conference is now only a month away and for those who have not registered yet; now is the time to do so,” he explains. “We will be unable to hold any accommodation past the end of this month, so if people want come they need to get their registrations in now.” . . 


Rural round-up

February 11, 2016

Mixed outlook for New Zealand agriculture in 2016 – industry report:

New Zealand’s agricultural sector is looking at mixed prospects in 2016, with dairy facing another difficult year but most other sectors expected to perform well, according to a new industry report.

In its Agribusiness Outlook 2016, global agricultural specialist Rabobank says dairy prices continue to be weighed down by strong supply growth, particularly out of Europe after the recent removal of quotas.

Releasing the report, Rabobank general manager Country Banking New Zealand Hayley Moynihan said the recovery in dairy prices now risks arriving too late to enable a confident start to the 2016/17 season. . .

Marlborough farmers battle two-year drought

Farmers in Marlborough are making the best of some of the toughest climatic conditions in a long time, Beef and Lamb New Zealand says.

The industry body’s northern South Island extension manager, Sarah O’Connell, said recent rain had lifted spirits in the region but had not broken the two-year drought.

The past two seasons were some of the hardest farmers have had, Ms O’Connell said. . .

Alliance plans to start docking farmer payments for shares to bolster balance sheet – By Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group, New Zealand’s second-largest meat cooperative, plans to start withholding some stock payments to its farmers from next week to bolster its balance sheet and force suppliers to meet their share requirements.

From Feb. 15, Alliance will withhold 50 cents per head for lamb, sheep and calves; $2 per head for deer; and $6 per head for cattle, it said in a letter to shareholders. The payments will go towards additional shares in the cooperative and will only apply to farmers who have fewer shares than required, it said.

Alliance is moving to entrench its cooperative status as its larger rival Silver Fern Farms waters down its cooperative by tapping Chinese investor Shanghai Maling Aquarius for capital to repay debt, upgrade plants and invest for growth. . . 

New PGP programme to boost wool industry:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed a new Primary Growth Partnership programme aimed at lifting the profitability and sustainability of New Zealand strong wool.

‘Wool Unleashed’, or W3, is a new seven-year $22.1 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and The New Zealand Merino Company.

The programme is expected to contribute an estimated $335 million towards New Zealand’s economy by 2025. . . 

New Primary Growth Partnership programme sets sights on strong wool:

A new collaboration between The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), announced today, aims to deliver premiums for New Zealand’s strong wool sector—a partnership that could see an additional $335 million contribution towards New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“‘Wool Unleashed’, or W3, is a new 7-year, $22.1 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme led by NZM that will derive greater value from New Zealand’s strong wool,” says Justine Gilliland, Director Investment Programmes at the Ministry for Primary Industries. . . 

World’s best Pinot Noir winner found passion by chance – Jendy Harper:

Imagine arriving in a foreign country at the age of 13, unaccompanied, knowing no one and not being able to speak the language.

This was Jing Song’s experience when she came from China to Christchurch 16 years ago.

At her family’s advice and expectation, she became an accountant but no one guessed she would find her true passion in a Central Otago paddock.

Fast forward 16 years and Ms Song collected the trophy for the best Pinot Noir in the world at the IWSC competition in London last year. . .

NZ beef exports to Taiwan rise to a record, propelling it to 3rd largest market – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand beef exports to Taiwan rose to a record in 2015, propelling it to the country’s third-largest beef market behind the US and China.

In 2015, New Zealand’s beef exports to Taiwan jumped 36 percent to $188.6 million, while the volume increased 20 percent to 23,442 tonnes, according to Statistics New Zealand data compiled by the Meat Industry Association. That pushed it above Japan in value and ahead of Japan and Korea in volume to become the country’s third-largest beef market.

Taiwan also takes higher-value meat, with an average value last year of US$5.68 per kilogram, compared with US$5.08/kg for the US, and US$4.94/kg for China, according to AgriHQ data. . . 

NZ small dairy farmers content with their lot:

New Lincoln University research has found many small dairy farmers are content with the size of their operation, despite the constant calls for economic growth.

Dr Victoria Westbrooke and Dr Peter Nuthall, from the Faculty of Agribusiness and Commerce, surveyed 330 randomly selected farmers running small dairy farms for the small farmers’ organisation (SMASH). The project was funded by  via OneFarm.

“It was clear from this research, and similar previous work, that the farmers were content to simply carry on working their current farm,” Dr Westbrooke says. . . 

LIC posts half year result:

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) has announced its half-year result for the six months ended 30 November 2015.

LIC total revenue for the six month period was $145 million, 9 per cent down on the same period last year. Net profit after tax (NPAT) was $15.9 million, down 46 per cent from the previous year.

LIC signalled reduced earnings in October (NZX, 20 October 2015), as a result of the lower forecast milk payout and reduced spending on-farm.

It is now expected that the year-end result will be closer to a break-even position, chairman Murray King said. . .

Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Awards 2015 winners announced:

Auckland’s Botswana Butchery has taken out the title of Premier Master of Fine Cuisine at the Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Awards, held in Auckland last night.

The popular restaurant also won awards for Best Beef Dish and Best Metropolitan Restaurant.

Executive Chef Stuart Rogan, who manages Botswana Butchery in Auckland and Queenstown as well as Auckland’s Harbourside Ocean Bar and Grill, impressed judges with his dish: Silver Fern Farms Reserve beef eye fillet, braised short rib with parsley, mustard and horseradish crust, carrot puree, asparagus, whipped garlic and cep jus. Head judge Kerry Tyack described Rogan’s dish as ‘consistent and faultless’. . . 


Rural round-up

October 1, 2015

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine – Uptown Farms:

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine on a sales call,

I wouldn’t have thought much about you before last night.  Chances are, if you had tried to call on my husband and ride along in his combine I wouldn’t have known about it.  Most likely I would have been on a different farm, with a different farmer, trying to do my job in the same way you are doing yours.

I didn’t think of you before – but now I will.  Last night I read a post from a woman who was upset that a young, presumably attractive female, made a sales call to the farm – and rode in the cab of the combine with the farmer (the poster’s husband).  

For anyone not in the industry, it may sound funny that you would get into a combine with a customer. This time of year, the combine often acts as an office.  People who need to see the farmer go to the field and are often invited to ride along while they keep working.  Roughly 70% of the time that farmer will be a man.  

Women poured out of the woodwork to attack the sales rep, calling her unprofessional, unthoughtful, disrespectful and worse. . . 

Turning point for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

The Shanghai Maling Aquarius offer for 50% of Silver Fern Farms may not be the restructuring catalyst that MIE and some shareholders of both cooperatives were hoping for, but it certainly presages a dramatic change in the industry’s dynamics.

Assuming a positive shareholder vote on 16th October, for the first time in years all the major processors will have relatively strong balance sheets and will be in a position to compete on an equal basis. This is unlikely to bring about an immediate change in livestock procurement calculations, but different companies will progressively move to payments based on quality and specifications supplied for individual markets.

For too long the meat industry has been affected by an excess of processing capacity, under-capitalisation, procurement battles, inadequate market returns and, as a consequence of all this, falling livestock volumes. The recapitalisation of the country’s largest meat company potentially provides a solution to several if not all of these problems. . . 

Silver Fern receives an offer it can’t refuse – Allan Barber:

No wonder the deal between Silver Fern farms and Shanghai Mailing took so long to conclude, but from all appearances it was worth waiting for. Not that you would necessarily think so, if you read about the disappointment of some shareholders and the MIE group about the board’s unwillingness to give serious consideration to an alternative farmer offer of $40 million or some of the business commentary.

Going back several years, SFF wanted $120 million from its shareholders, hoped for $80 million and actually received $22 million. Nothing has really changed since then – good and bad years have followed each other, as livestock numbers and market prices fluctuated and the business struggled under a huge debt burden. . . 

Value-add key to improved returns for shareholders – Westland Milk Products:

Continuing its move into more value-added production is the best strategy to ensure shareholders competitive and sustainable returns Westland Milk Products says, as the co-operative confirmed a company average operating surplus available to shareholders for the 2014-15 season of $4.95 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), before retentions.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says Westland, like dairy companies globally, has been adversely impacted by the “significantly lower” market prices in the last season, with total group revenue for the financial year 2014-15 down 23 percent on the previous year, at NZ$639 million.

However he says there is room for cautious optimism for an improvement and, accordingly, Westland has increased its forecast payout for the 2015-16 season by 30 cents to $4.90 – $5.30 per kgMS. . . 

Identifying insect species crucial to protect the environment:

Students at Lincoln University are covering the length and breadth of New Zealand to discover new insect species and keep ahead of potential threats to agriculture and the environment.

Bio-Protection Research Centre students, Francesco Martoni, Samuel Brown and Hamish Patrick have visited mountains, grasslands and forests to collect insect specimens. They have identified about 50 new species.

“This research, to understand what [insects] are present in New Zealand, is vital for us to recognise any change. Especially if it involves the introduction of species that may become pests, or spread disease,” says Dr Karen Armstrong, a Senior Researcher at Lincoln University, and the students’ supervisor.

“The only way to stay ahead of this, and to detect damaging interactions, is to know what is here. And for that, we need to produce experts in traditional taxonomy who are also trained to use modern technological approaches to describe and discover [insect species],” says Dr Armstrong. . .

Initiative gives support to rural schools:

Canterbury’s rural primary schools have been given a welcome boost, thanks to the support of local farmers and fertiliser company, Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd.

The initiative, calls on farmers to nominate a school that they feel could benefit from Hatuma’s ‘Growing Minds’ fund. Over the last six years, Hatuma has donated over $30,000 to New Zealand’s rural schools through the programme.

One such beneficiary of the fund is Glentunnel School in mid-Canterbury, which attracted huge support from farmers. . . 

Chinese developer harvests first crop in Western Australia’s remote Ord Valley – Tom Edwards:

The Chinese-backed company developing the Ord River Irrigation Area in Western Australia’s east Kimberley is harvesting its first crop.

Kimberley Agricultural Investment is halfway through harvesting 360 hectares of chia in the Goomig farmland of Ord Stage 2.

Farm manager Luke McKay said it was an exciting milestone for the company and for the Ord agricultural zone in general.

“There’s been a fair bit of interest obviously, a lot of excitement about getting to this point,” he said. . . 

Wine Industry welcomes progress with South Korea Trade Deal

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes news that the Tariff Amendment Bill was passed through Parliament on Friday, a big step towards implementing the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

The negotiators have achieved a great outcome for the wine industry, said Philip Gregan, ‘tariff free access into South Korea at the time the agreement comes into force represents a significant boost to our export ambitions in one of the key Asian markets.’ . . 

More Veterans Set to Go From Protecting America to Feeding America – Nicole Mormann:

For 200,000 U.S. service members transitioning out of the military each year, returning to civilian life will mean trading in their combat boots for a tractor and rubber galoshes, thanks to new farming-focused job-training programs created by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Last week, the USDA and the Department of Defense announced that agriculture will be one of the industries in which the government will provide career assistance and counseling programs to service members finishing their term of enlistment.
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The program will give veterans the opportunity to gain farming skills through classroom instruction and registered apprenticeships from experienced farmers. In addition to educational opportunities, the USDA will offer financial assistance to beginning farmers or ranchers who lack the funds to purchase necessary farming equipment, land, livestock, and other resources. Returning service members are also eligible for housing support programs, which can range from repair loans to emergency placement assistance. . . 

 


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