Rural round-up

April 5, 2018

Feds welcomes NAIT recommendations:

Federated Farmers says its members will jump at the chance to contribute to the drive for improvements to the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme.

A report detailing a major review of NAIT, with 38 recommendations aimed at streamlining processes and boosting access and compliance, was released today after a long process involving OSPRI, MPI and a host of industry groups including Federated Farmers. . . 

Organic produce sitting pretty in a tasty $90 billion global market – Neil Hodgson:

The perception of organic fruit and vegetables is often of misshapen produce that doesn’t look very appetising, and it is fair comment.

However, the reality is many of those perfect looking fruits and vegetables have a beautiful appearance because producers use synthetic products to treat various bugs and diseases.

If you grow your own produce at home, then chances are they won’t look as perfect as the goods piled high on the supermarket or general food store shelves because chances are you don’t use too many synthetics in your garden at home.

You might use a bug spray and you probably add fertilisers and that is about it. . . 

Unusually, farmers and meat processors doing well at the same time. Beef prices slip. Deer prices get boost from pet food market – Guy Trafford:

SHEEP
Since allowing Shanghai Maling to purchase 50% of Silver Fern Farms (SFF) the meat company has had a significant turn around of fortune. For the twelve months from the $261 mln injection from Shanghai Maling, SFF has paid of $203 mln worth of debt and has managed to achieve a $15.4 mln after tax profit.

In the past it has often been a toss up between farmers and processors as to whom makes the profit. Rarely is it both. . . 

International acclaim for Whitestone:

Whitestone Cheese Co. is riding a wave of international critical acclaim after recent achievements at the world’s biggest cheese competition in Wisconsin USA and a trophy from the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

At Wisconsin, Ohau Goat’s Blue achieved the highest accolade with 4th place in its category with a near perfect 99.7 out of a 100 – an incredible result and just 0.1 points off the bronze medal. Ohau Goat’s Blue is a new addition to Whitestone’s Premium Black Label range. The goat milk comes from a Washdyke farm just north of Whitestone’s Oamaru cheese factory, and the cheese is made with Whitestone’s Windsor Blue culture. . . 

Samantha is a cut above the rest – Robyn Bristow:

The knives were out last week as Samantha Weller, from New World Rangiora, trimmed her way to the title of World Champion Apprentice Butcher.

The 23-year-old travelled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, with New Zealand’s butchery team, the Pure South Sharp Blacks, to compete in the cutting test.

She competed against 10 others from five countries, who had two hours to turn a beef rump on the bone, a side of lamb, and a loin of pork belly into a display of value-added cuts – much like that seen in a butcher shop or supermarket. . . 

Seeka  sells out of Zespri after opposing changes to constitution tying shares to trays – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka, New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit grower, has sold out of Zespri Group after opposing constitutional changes at the monopoly export body that tie shareholdings to trays of fruit produced.

The changes were approved by more than 75 percent of shareholders last month but among the resolutions was that shareholders who voted all their shares against the overhaul could require Zespri to buy back their shares. . . 

OIO signs off on Icebreaker sale to US clothing giant VF Corp – Sophie Boot:

Icebreaker Holdings has been sold to US-based VF Corporation for at least $100 million after the Overseas Investment Office approved the deal.

In a media release today, North Carolina-based VF Corp said the OIO signed off on the transaction, which completed the transaction. The acquisition “is an ideal complement to VF’s Smartwool brand, which also features merino wool in its clothing and accessories. Together, the Smartwool and Icebreaker brands will position VF as a global leader in the merino wool and natural fibre categories.” The brand is expected to be immediately accretive to VF’s earnings per share, it said. . . 

Kiwi apple remains ‘Envy’ of others in USA:

American’s have once again selected New Zealand-born Envy™ apple as their favourite in a consumer competition run by the US Apple Association.

The interactive tournament-style competition called on American apple fans to vote for their favourite from 16 different apple varieties during the month of March.

Kiwi grower, T&G Global, was well represented in the competition with three of its premium apples namely JAZZ™, Envy™ and Pacific Rose™ being voted on by apple-lovers. . . 

Berry orchard sale offers horticultural operators a sweet growth opportunity:

One of the North Island’s most diverse boutique orchards –encompassing blueberry, raspberry and avocado production operations – has been placed on the market for sale.

Tomo Orchard at Pukenui near Houhora in the Far North, is an intensive 6.2 hectare horticultural venture growing blueberries under some 10,000 square metres of fully-enclosed framed canopies and 8000 square metres of covered netting. . . 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2017

Shearing record falls:

Hawke’s Bay shearer Rowland Smith has smashed a World shearing record in England.

The 30-year-old father-of-two shore 644 romney and crossbred ewes in eight hours at Trefranck Farm, near St Clether in Cornwall, beating the previous record of 605 set by Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels in Southland earlier this year.

It was the latest in a string of world shearing records in the family, including the ultimate record of 731 ewes in nine hours by Matthew Smith at Tefranck on July 26 last year. . .

Knee-deep and wanting to cry – Sally Rae:

“It’s just the worst thing to happen to a farm,” Taieri dairy farmer Katie Clark rues as she stands in knee-deep floodwater in front of her home.

Calving is due to start in two days on the Clark family’s property, on Otokia Rd West, yet most of their farm remains under water.

Yesterday, their house was surrounded by water, firewood was floating in the yard, they could not use the shower or toilet, a mattress had floated from a shed into the garden, and there was no sign of the water level dropping.

Ask Mrs Clark how she is faring and she says “it’s horrible. We just want to cry. Look where our cows are.” . . 

Optimism follows record rain – Annette Scott:

Canterbury soils are saturated, crops have drowned and pastures have transformed to mud bowls, but in the aftermath of the worst-ever rain event on record, there are positives.

“Despite the fact we are sludging on in extremely trying conditions, and more rain, the positives would outweigh the negatives,” Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury vice-chairman David Clark said.

In the worst-hit parts of the South Island, the deluge dumped up to 180mm across Mid Canterbury in what has been recorded as the biggest rain event ever for the region, while in South Canterbury 67mm of rain fell in 12 hours, more than its average July rainfall of 40mm. . .

Ballance delivers strong FY2017 result and returns $54m to farmers:

• Gross trading result up $22 million to $56.8 million

• Shareholder rebate of $45 per tonne, with total distribution of $54 million

• Record urea production of 277,224 tonnes, with staged investment in Kapuni

• $35 million investment in distribution network and digital transformation. . .

Silver Fern CEO Dean Hamilton steps down – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms announced the resignation of chief executive Dean Hamilton, who will leave at the end of the year, and said a search is underway for his replacement.

Hamilton has been chief executive of Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s biggest meat company, for three years and steered it through the Shanghai Maling investment and partnership. No reason was given for his resignation but co-chairman Rob Hewett said “we been discussing for some time the demands on him of working away from home” and the board “appreciates and accepts” his desire for change. . .

Wool prices firm ;

At yesterday’s South Island sale, longer 37-micron crossbred second-shear wool increased 40 cents to $3.15 a kilogram compared to last week’s North Island sale, while mid-length fibre gained 25 cents to $2.70/kg and shorter styles were firm at $2.40, according to AgriHQ. Meanwhile, 31-micron lamb wool was also up week on week by 80 cents to $3.70/kg.

Compared with the last South Island sale two weeks ago, 37-micron crossbred fleece was up 5 cents to $3/kg. Meanwhile the improvements in the second shear were not as large due to the premium that is typical for the South Island. The longer 37-micron second shear was up 5 cents to $3.15/kg while the shorter style was firm at $2.40/kg, AgriHQ said. . .


Rural round-up

November 23, 2016

Dog shot after more sheep maulings – Mike Dinsdale:

Four sheep dead, at least 14 more badly mauled and at least one of the dogs responsible dead.

It was a weekend of death near Dargaville as landowners again saw their sheep killed or mauled by marauding dogs, but at least one of those responsible was caught this time.

Overnight on Friday two dogs went onto two properties at Colville Rd and attacked flocks of sheep belonging to Lynley Thompson in one paddock and neighbour Nick Thompson in another. . . 

Search for perfect horse proves fruitful – Sally Rae:

On a farm near Ranfurly, there is a big grey stallion living the life of Brian.
Ballineen Blue Mountain, aka Brian, is making a name for himself in equine circles. As well as the Irish Draught’s own plaudits, success is now coming for his offspring, notably Trevalda Mountain Storm, who was recently recognised as one of five outstanding exhibits at the Canterbury A&P Show in Christchurch.

Such an accolade was “pretty cool” and “a little bit unexpected” for Trevalda Mountain Storm’s breeder and Brian’s owner Tracy Crossan. . . 

Silver Fern sale to complete ahead of schedule

The controversial deal which will see meat processor Silver Fern Farms sell a 50% controlling stake to China’s Shanghai Maling for $267 million in cash is to completed before the end of the year.

The transaction, which was approved by farmer shareholders at two separate meetings, was due to proceed by January 4, 2017.

In a statement, SFF said it would now complete the deal prior to mid-December. Silver Fern Farms chair Rob Hewett said there was little merit in ” simply waiting”. . . 

Dairying in Argentina not for the faint-hearted – Pablo Fraga:

Argentina, once seen as a world ‘bread basket’, today faces many obstacles in achieving this. Argentinean student Pablo Fraga reports on the challenges of dairy farming in his country.

Let me first point out some figures, for context: milk production in Argentina is 11 billion litres per year (versus 20.7b L/year in New Zealand) – twice the production of the 1980s but static for the past ten years.

This places the country eighth in the world in milk production. Exports represent only 20% of national production, the balance being consumed domestically; we are big milk consumers. . . .

British Wool: a thriving industry, thanks to running the last marketing board in the country  Julia Bradshaw:

Every sheep is different, so every fleece is different, you open one up and never know what you’re going to get,” says Ian Brooksbank, a senior head grader for the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) – the country’s last surviving agricultural commodities co-operative.

Brooksbank works at its North of England depot, a massive warehouse on the outskirts of Bradford, next to the headquarters of the marketing board. There, he and a team of workers grade and package fleeces from the surrounding counties. Grading takes huge skill, and Brooksbank has years of experience. “I started here in 1990 when I was 16, just pushing the skeps,” he says as he touches the fleece in front of him, pulling out and inspecting the fibres to see how strong and uniform they are. . . 

Iowa farmer challenges activist Vandana Shiva after ‘myth-filled’ anti-GMO lecture – Michelle Miller:

As a farmer, writer, and public speaker, I work very hard to dispel the myths of modern agriculture. Over 90% of certain crop farmers here in the US are growing GMOs for good reasons which I’ve previously outlined here. So when I heard that one of the world’s most famous anti-GMO activists–Indian philosopher Vandana Shiva–was coming to my area in Iowa to speak at Drake University, I felt I need to hear what she had to say and hopefully get the opportunity in a Q&A to speak up.

And, fortunately I got my wish! She had a Q&A and I nervously approached the microphone to speak up on behalf of farmers everywhere. Shiva is known for spreading misinformation about agriculture. . . .


Shanghai Maling goes where shareholders wouldn’t

September 21, 2016

Shanghai Maling’s application to purchase a 50 per cent interest in Silver Fern Farms has been approved.

Minister for Land Information Louise Upston, and Associate Minister for Finance Paula Bennett, the decision-making Ministers, are satisfied that the purchase would create substantial and identifiable benefit for New Zealand.

“The Overseas Investment Office recommended that we approve Shanghai Maling’s application because it meets the criteria set down in the Overseas Investment Act 2005,” Ms Upston says.

“We are satisfied that the investment will be of substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealand, which is the test set out in the Act. The investment will put the company in a better financial position and allow it to increase its exports.

“New Zealand shareholders will continue to have 50 per cent ownership of Silver Fern Farms, while benefiting from the injection of funds from the new investor.”

Not surprisingly SFF has welcomed the decision:

The proposed investment is now unconditional and is set to complete on 4 January 2017, the first business day of the new financial year for the partnership.

Silver Fern Farms Chairman, Rob Hewett said the new partnership with Shanghai Maling creates a unique opportunity for Silver Fern Farms.

“Shanghai Maling’s financial investment will make Silver Fern Farms the financially strongest company in the New Zealand meat industry with the ability to confidently invest in our business.

“The partnership will help us accelerate our consumer focused plate to pasture strategy globally, and to grow sustainable value for our shareholders and farmer suppliers over time.

“It is very pleasing to now be at this point after nearly 12 months, and we look forward to the partnership getting underway in the new year.”

Shanghai Maling President Wei Ping Shen was pleased the partnership could now be completed. “We are very pleased with the regulatory approval for this partnership. It clears the way for us to move ahead with the partnership. New Zealand grass fed red meat is the best in the world and the Silver Fern Farms’ brand has the potential to become a leading red meat brand globally.”

Mr Hewett stated that after the investment completes the Co-operative will, as previously advised, pay a special dividend of 30c per share to all ordinary and rebate shares expected to be paid prior to 31 March 2017) and will commence the redemption of the remaining approximately $5m of Supplier Investment Shares outstanding.

 Federated Farmers says it’s a sensible decision for New Zealand:

New Zealand will enjoy benefits from the approval for Shanghai Maling Aquarius to acquire a 50 percent ownership stake in Silver Fern Farms.

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair Rick Powdrell says it’s a sensible decision for the country and aligns the company better to service the needs of global markets in a modern world.

“New Zealand farmer-shareholders will continue to own 50 percent of the co-operative and will enjoy the benefits of access to the growing Chinese market.

“This is exactly what the farmer-shareholders wanted, with a majority voting last month for the deal to be approved,” says Rick.

The decision has been met with the inevitable concerns over foreign ownership.

One of those was Winston Peters and Act leader David Seymour says the NZ First leader’s paranoia should be ignored:

Winston Peters’ call for intervention over the partial sale of a private company proves he is unfit to be in Government, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“It’s disturbing that Winston Peters, who could potentially hold the balance of power after the election, would override the recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office and block the partial sale of a private company,” says Mr Seymour.

“Why does Winston think he knows better than the thousands of Kiwi shareholders who voted for this sale?

Seymour is right – this is a decision for the shareholders, not politicians nor anyone else who has no money at stake.

However, he is a wee bit confused about what’s been sold:

“What’s Winston so afraid of? Does he think the cows will literally get shipped off to China? That the land itself will disappear? He’s just stirring up more anti-Chinese sentiment for cheap political gain.

SFF is a meat processing company which owns processing plants and the land they sit on but it’s not a farm.

“Blocking this sale would have prevented an injection of cash into the New Zealand economy, and would send a message to businesses that private property rights are not respected in this country.”

The critics fail to see that the decision brings money into New Zealand and, as Powdrell and Seymour say, it is what shareholders voted for.

They either didn’t have the money, or didn’t want to invest it in the company which would be in dire straits without it.

Shanghai Maling is going where shareholders couldn’t or wouldn’t.

This leaves just Alliance Group as the only co-operative in the meat industry and those farmers who aren’t happy about the SFF-Shanghai Maling deal have the option of supplying the co-operative or any of the other companies, New Zealand-owned or not.

Details of the decision are at Land Information NZ


Rural round-up

September 13, 2016

Producing more and more milk not New Zealand’s future: Landcorp head:

The chief executive of Landcorp, Steven Carden, on TV One’s Q+A programme says the business is reviewing all land conversions and looking for alternate uses for land that are economically more viable, and environmentally more suitable, than dairy farming.

“I think if you look at Landcorp – and we farm throughout the country – we are looking at all of our land portfolio and thinking, “What is the right land use for it?” And I think what we’ve found is that we can’t really find dairying as the justified new additional land-use conversion option,” he told Corin Dann.

“So we are looking at alternatives. I think New Zealand can sustain a few more cows, so long as there are the farm systems set up to do that. So people are looking at herd homes and other farm infrastructure which would require us to farm quite differently but allow us to produce more milk. Having said that, that’s not our future, I don’t think, as a primary-sector country, to just produce more of a commodity product like milk, necessarily.” . . 

Rustlers slit pet cow’s throat, take legs for meat – Phillipa Yalden:

The grisly slaughter of a pet dairy cow that was dismembered for meat has left a South Waikato farming couple fearful.

Thieves armed with a gun and knives broke into Bev and Trevor Bayly’s 172-hectare farm early one morning and slit the throat of their “friendly” Jersey.

When attempts to shoot the cow dead went wrong, the rustlers took to the animal with knives, cutting off the legs before leaving the carcass behind at the property between Wharepapa South and Arohena, near Putaruru. . . 

Shanghai Maling bid to buy Silver Fern Farms stake under consideration by Upston, Bennett – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office has sent its recommendation on a proposal for China’s Shanghai Maling Aquarius to acquire a half stake in Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s largest meat processor, to the relevant government ministers for a decision.

Land Information Minister Louise Upston and Associate Finance Minister Paula Bennett received the documentation from the Overseas Investment Office last week, and are now considering the application, spokesman Harley Thorpe said. The Ministers are aware of the Sept. 30 deadline Shanghai Maling and Silver Fern Farms had set for the deal and have that in mind, he said. . . 

Boom time for ag robotics:

Robots and drones have already started to quietly transform many aspects of agriculture. And now a new report is predicting the agricultural robotics industry, now serving a $3 billion market, will grow to $10 billion by 2022.

The report, by IDTechEx Research in Britain, is called Agricultural Robots and Drones 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets, and Players. It analyses how robotic market and technology developments will change agriculture, enabling ultra-precision farming and helping address key global challenges.

It describes how robotic technology will enter into different aspects of agriculture, how it will change the way farming is done and transform its value chain, how it becomes the future of agrochemicals business and modifies the way we design agricultural machinery. . . 

Helicopter’s beacon leads to farm rescue :

The pilot of a weed-spraying helicopter used his emergency locating beacon to raise the alarm about a seriously injured farm worker in the central North Island.

The pilot was about to start his spraying job on a farm near Ohura, west of Taumarunui, on Monday when he noticed a man on the property had apparently fallen from his horse. . . 

Lake snot the ‘new didymo’ :

Lake snot will have to be treated like a new didymo, says the Otago Regional Council, which has begun a two-year study into the spread of the algal slime.

The slime – also known as lake snow – was first found in Lake Wanaka in 2004, and has since been found in Lake Coleridge and Lake Wakatipu.

The lake snot has clogged up fishing lines, boat intakes and Wanaka’s laundromats, and has led the Queenstown Lakes District Council to install a filter on the Wanaka town water supply. . . 

Lamb day-care proves a hit:

A primary school north of Auckland has seen its roll surge in recent weeks with the opening of an unusual daycare.

Waitoki School near Kaukapakapa has built a daycare pen for lambs and is encouraging its 90 pupils to fill it with their own woolly companions.

“We have about seven to nine lambs on site at the moment. The kids bring them along and it’s their job to raise them, look after them and feed them,” said the school’s principal Chris Neison.

The lamb daycare was built in mid-August by a team of teachers, parents and grandparents. . .

Native Tree Plan Shows Positive Face of Scion’s Research:

The commercial propagation of indigenous trees in Ngati Whare’s new nursery in Minginui is an exciting development for all New Zealand and shows the benefits of ethical research that does not require release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms into the environment. [1]

Scion has been helping with the project by developing vegetative cuttings using leading edge technology that reflects community values. Ngati Whare and Scion are to be congratulated. This shows the acceptable face of Scion’s work and does not involve transgenic organisms or genetic engineering. Scion had earlier success with the propagation of seeds from the rare taonga plant Ngutukākā (white kaka beak), which have been planted on the ancestral lands of Ngāti Kohatu and Ngāti Hinehika. [2] . . 

Minister Goodhew on food safety visit to China:

Food Safety and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew will travel to China today for bi-lateral meetings and to open a new Fonterra dairy facility in the Shanxi Province.

“The relationship between New Zealand and China has never been stronger, and it is crucial for our economy that we maintain that strong relationship in food safety,” says Mrs Goodhew.

While in Beijing, Mrs Goodhew will meet with Vice Minister Teng Jiacai of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) for the third Joint Food Safety Commission meeting, to build upon the shared goal for increased communication and cooperation between the two countries. . . 

Events to help make the most of ‘money months’:

DairyNZ’s Tactics for Spring events kicked off in the Waikato last week, aimed at helping farmers manage their pasture during the most productive time of the year on-farm.

The nationwide events are taking place in September and October, the beginning of the ‘money months’ when more pasture will be grown and more milk produced than any other time of the year.

With uncertainty around where milk prices will go DairyNZ research and development general manager Dr David McCall is urging farmers to focus on what they can control. . . 

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The most memorable days end with the dirtiest clothes.

(that’s not a job that usually dirties clothes and I’m not sure why he’s using a ladder).

New winery future-proofs Rockburn Wines in Central Otago:

After leasing premises at the industrial McNulty Road site for 10 years, the team at Rockburn Wines recently completed their first vintage at their new winery in Ripponvale Road, Cromwell.

The award-winning producer acquired the existing winery site in September last year to meet increasing demand and future-proof its operation.

“Due to rapid growth and remarkable popularity of our wines, we were forced to outsource some processes in previous years due to capacity shortfalls. We’re very pleased to bring everything back under one roof from this vintage onwards. The old McNulty Road winery was getting near breaking point and we’re thrilled to have found a site at Ripponvale Road that sets us up for further growth,” says Paul Donaghy, General Manager of Rockburn Wines. . . 


Shareholders back SFF

August 15, 2016

Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders have backed the board in its plan to enter into partnership with Shanghai Maling:

A strong majority of 80.4% of votes in favour of the 50/50 partnership with Shanghai Maling reinforced Silver Fern Farms Board’s position that the partnership is in the best interests of shareholders and the Co-operative.

The resounding support from shareholders came at a Special Meeting requisitioned by Messrs John Shrimpton, Blair Gallagher and a group which included 31 other shareholders who supported a statement stating they wanted to stop the $261m investment into Silver Fern Farms.

The 80.4% of shareholders’ votes in support of the partnership follows the result of the October 2015 vote, where 82% of votes cast supported the transaction. Both vote results exceeded the 75% Special Resolution threshold put forward by the Requisitioners. Chairman Rob Hewett said it was pleasing shareholders remained overwhelmingly supportive of the partnership.

“While the Board has clearly stated its view that the outcome of this meeting could not bind the company given the valid and binding approval last October, it is pleasing to see shareholders reaffirm their support and maintain their confidence in this exciting opportunity to create a sustainable Silver Fern Farms,” Mr Hewett said.

Mr Hewett said the partnership would create a strong Silver Fern Farms.

“This partnership will enable us to generate higher, sustainable returns for our shareholders.

“Shareholders have again made it clear they want progress for their company. They want meaningful change and are genuinely excited about the prospects presented through this significant investment and partnership with Shanghai Maling.

“The Board has strongly disagreed with the negative stance on the transaction taken by Messrs Shrimpton and Gallagher. They have caused significant disruption and their actions have been damaging to the company. Their allegations have proven to be entirely unfounded. Independent reviews by both the Financial Markets Authority and the Registrar of Companies have found no issue with the information provided to shareholders in October 2015 or the actions of the Directors.

Chief Executive Dean Hamilton said the process to complete the transaction had continued with all outstanding information now with the Overseas Investment Office for its consideration.

“We remain confident that we will achieve OIO approval prior to 30 September, and proceed to complete the transaction by 4 January 2017 as previously announced.

“The clear message from the voters is to get on with it, and realise this opportunity ahead of us.”

2610 shareholders voted representing 62.15% of eligible votes.

John Shrimpton says he accepts that shareholders have spoken.

New Zealand First which has also been a very vocal opponent of the plan continues to show it doesn’t understand the issue:

New Zealand First says Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will regret selling majority control of their co-op to the Chinese but expects the Overseas Investment Office will greenlight it at breakneck speed.

“Today was the owners of Silver Fern Farms last chance to preserve one of New Zealand’s great assets for present and future farmers,” Mr Peters says. . . 

“How is it that foreigners can see value in what we produce, but the producers and this government can’t? Meat progressively joins forestry and increasingly dairying to condemn farmers as price takers at the bottom of the heap. . . 

This was a matter for shareholders not politicians.

SFF needs a large investment if it is to survive. Shareholders weren’t prepared to invest more and the company wasn’t able to get other investment from within New Zealand.

If the partnership doesn’t go ahead the company has no future, and even if it does get OIO approval, SFF has a lot of work ahead of it.

The deal leaves Alliance Group as the only co-operative in the meat industries, farmers who prefer that model can choose to support that company.


Rural round-up

July 26, 2016

Kiwifruit exports reach record levels:

In June 2016, kiwifruit exports rose $105 million (47 percent) from June 2015 to reach $331 million, Statistics New Zealand said today. Overall, goods exports rose $109 million (2.6 percent) in June 2016 (to $4.3 billion).

The June 2016 rise was across all our top kiwifruit export destinations, but particularly Japan (up $55 million) and China (up $39 million). The quantities of kiwifruit exported also rose (up 32 percent), with gold kiwifruit up 49 percent, and green kiwifruit up 21 percent. . . .

New researchers should focus on primary industry:

Federated Farmers wants a plan to attract the world’s top scientists to New Zealand to concentrate on those who will work on primary sector initiatives and the environment.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says it makes sense for the government’s $35 million ‘Entrepreneurial Universities’ programme to build knowledge in areas which are key to New Zealand’s economic and environmental needs.

The four year programme, announced by Minister Steven Joyce on Wednesday, aims to encourage the world’s leading researchers to bring their teams to work in New Zealand.

“This programme will help New Zealand keep up with the scientific developments already going on around the globe. . . 

Feds congratulates government on ambitious pest eradication project:

Federated Farmers fully backs the target to completely eradicate introduced predators from New Zealand by 2050 announced by the government today and agrees with the government that emerging technologies is now making such an ambitious target possible.

This project is going to require a team effort from scientists, farmers, government, politicians and rural communities.

“Our farmers live and work in our natural environment every day and in that sense are stewards of a significant part of New Zealand’s land, says Federated Farmers spokesperson for pest management Chris Allen.

“Farmers already spend a substantial amount of money on pest management. They also pay levies to OSPRI, to control vectors of tuberculosis, such as stoats and possums. . . 

Beekeepers stung by swarm of hive thefts –  Wilhelmina Shrimpton:

Beekeepers are seeking an urgent meeting with police as an increasing number of sticky-fingered thieves make off with beehives across the country.

The most recent incident was in Northland, where around $500,000-worth of hives were stolen from Topuni Forest more than a week ago. 

Some call the honey liquid gold – and for very good reason.

“If you’re getting high-grade manuka honey, the beekeepers can expect to get about $60 a kilogram,” Apiculture New Zealand’s Daniel Paul said. . . 

Profit warning makes Silver Fern Farms’ deal more critical – Allan Barber:

Last week’s profit warning from SFF chairman Rob Hewitt confirmed what industry observers suspected – this season has been affected by a combination of factors which has made achievement of the budgeted profit more remote than ever. At the half year Hewett had already warned the year end result would be materially different from budget without specifying numbers. The latest warning indicates break even at best.

The current season has suffered from reduced livestock volumes, regular rain and grass growth in most parts of the country which even out supply patterns, and an obstinately strong NZ dollar. Processors have been squeezed at both ends, paying too much for livestock and not earning enough from the market. . .

Nervous times at Silver Fern Farms – Keith Woodford:

Silver Fern Farms announced last week to its farmer suppliers that it now expects no more than a breakeven return for the year ending 30 September 2016.  This should focus the minds of its farmer shareholders, who vote on 12 August as to whether or not Silver Fern Farms should proceed with the partial takeover by Shanghai Maling. 

The disappointing projected financial outcome – which could yet get worse – reinforces the notion that Silver Fern Farms lacks the necessary financial resilience to go it alone. There is increasing risk that without completion of the Shanghai Maling buy-in, that Silver Fern Farms will lose the support of its bankers and be placed in receivership. That is not an attractive option, for what has in recent years been New Zealand’s largest meat processor. . . 

UK milk production drops 10% in a year – Alexa Cook:

Many British dairy farmers are getting out of the industry due to plummeting milk prices and production, says a UK dairy analyst.

Farmers are being paid from 10 to 30 pence a litre at a time when most farms need 25 to 30 pence a litre to meet the cost of production.

The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – the British equivalent of DairyNZ – has reported more than 1000 farms have closed since June 2013, leaving about 9500 in operation.

The board’s senior dairy analyst Luke Crossman said milk production had fallen off sharply. . . 

Pea growers work with MPI to rid Wairarapa of weevil pest:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and local pea growers, are planning urgent action to eradicate a small Wairarapa population of a newly discovered weevil that damages pea crops.

The pea weevil (Bruchus pisorum) has been found in pea seeds grown on 8 different Wairarapa properties. It has also been found in 3 seed storage facilities in the region.

The weevil larvae feed on growing pea pods, damaging crops. Its discovery in the Wairarapa has long-term implications for pea production in New Zealand and the pea growing industry is strongly supportive of moves to attempt to get rid of it. . . 

NZDF-Led Projects Boost Drought Resilience of Tongan Communities:

Community projects undertaken by a multi-national task group led by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) are expected to reduce the vulnerability of remote communities to the impact of drought, Tongan officlals say.

The projects, designed to improve water storage in two main islands in Tonga’s Ha’apai island group, were undertaken as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight 2016 and have been formally handed over today to the Tongan Government.

“Tropic Twilight conducted a vast range of activities that will directly improve the resilience of communities in Ha’apai in addressing some water security issues and safety equipment shortages. It was also an opportune time to collaborate with partners to address health issues,” said Tongan Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni. . . 

Punakaiki Fund Invests in Agtract:

Taranaki rural job management software Agtract has closed a funding round with high-growth investorPunakaiki Fund.

The Agtract software drastically reduces the time it takes for rural contractors to do management tasks and create invoices, saving them up to a week’s work each month.

“Agtract does the administrative grunt work so rural contractors can do what they do best: helping farmers,” says CEO Chris West, who co-founded Agtract with his brother James after feeling the pain first hand of having to do admin work for a rural contractor.

“I was an employee of a contractor in Taranaki and had to fill in job sheet after job sheet. So much of what I did was repetitive, and even more of what the contractor did could’ve been automated. I created an early software solution, saw that it saved time and money, and realised I was onto a winner. Agtract is the result.” . . .


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