Rural round-up

May 13, 2014

Environmental manager’s job an ideal fit – Sally Rae:

When Beef and Lamb New Zealand decided to create a new environmental extension manager position, it was an ideal job for Erica van Reenen.

The role combined two of Ms van Reenen’s passions – agriculture and the environment.

It was established earlier this year to support farmers wanting to achieve environmental best practice on-farm, while maintaining profitable businesses.

Ms van Reenen (29), who grew up in Wanaka, has had a long-standing love of farming, which was coupled with an equal passion for conservation and the environment. . . .

Nominations open for 2014 agribusiness leadership awards:

Nominations have opened for this year’s prestigious Rabobank Leadership awards – recognising the contribution of outstanding leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s food and agribusiness industries.

The annual awards, which are now in their ninth year, acknowledge the important role played by senior leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s agribusiness and agri-related industries with the Rabobank Leadership Award, which was last year won by New Zealand wine industry luminary Sir George Fistonich, the founder and owner of Villa Maria Estate.

A second award category introduced for the first time last year, the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award, recognises up-and-coming young leaders in the sector. In 2013, this award went to Australian grains industry advocate Georgie Aley, the managing director of the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. . . .

National Ploughing Champs prove challenging – Dave Goosselink:

Soggy ground conditions have proved a challenge for competitors at the National Ploughing Championships in Blenheim.

Clydesdale horses and vintage tractors added to the spectacle, with all competitors aiming to plough in a straight line.

It’s a hard row ploughing the perfect field, but competitors at the 59th National Ploughing Champs are happy to take their time.

“It’s certainly not a speed event,” says Palmerston North ploughman Eddie Dench. “We’ve got 20 minutes to do what we’ve just done. And then after we have lunch and make some adjustments, we have two hours 40 to finish the plot.” . . .

Perendale breeders’ work recognised – Sally Rae:

The Mitchell family, from Clinton, have been highlighted as an example of what the ”Perendale spirit” is all about.

On Friday, Rae Mitchell was made a life member of the Otago Perendale Breeders Club, during the Farmlands Perendale New Zealand national conference in Otago.

During a conference tour visit to the Mitchell family’s farm, home of the Hillcrest Perendale stud, PerendaleNZ chairman Tim Anderson said it was a family farm, working together and producing top sheep.

Mr Mitchell was ”very humbled” by the presentation, saying involvement with the breed had played a major role in his family.

There had been ups and downs, but also a lot of highs, and they had made many friends. . .

Americans want what we’ve got – Stephen Bell:

More Americans want safe, sustainable, pasture-fed, free-range meat but the biggest threat to the opportunities there is ensuring continuity of supply, Lamb Co-operative chief executive Shane O’Hara says.

O’Hara, a Kiwi who has worked in the American meat industry for 26 years, said New Zealand produces what a new generation of Americans is increasingly looking for but keeping products in front of them 52 weeks a year is a struggle.

Domestic lamb production in the United States had been declining since subsidy removal in the 1970s though total consumption had remained stable, he told the opening session of the AgInnovation conference in Feilding by video link from Connecticut. . . .

Drone speeds up wheat selection – Kim Honan:

It would be hard to miss the large helium-filled tethered balloon, floating above the wheat fields in Mexico’s Yaqui Valley, near Obregon.

However, you could be forgiven for thinking a bird is buzzing in the airspace around it, but it is a drone.

Both the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and the 8-metre long blimp, are fitted with cameras by researchers, at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT).

The instruments are used to measure the physiological properties of the thousands of wheat lines in the trial plots at the Norman E. Borlaug Experiment Station. . .


Rural round-up

October 19, 2013

Pengxin, Synlait founders make $85.7 mln offer to take over Synlait Farms – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Shanghai Pengxin, which bought the Crafar family farms in a controversial deal last year, and the Synlait founders are offering $85.7 million to buy South Island dairy farmer Synlait Farms.

SFL Holdings, a joint venture between Pengxin and Synlait Farms chief executive Juliet Maclean and director John Penno, is offering $2.10 a share to Synlait Farms investors in a full takeover bid for the company which operates 13 dairy farms and a total herd of almost 13,000 cows. That’s a 31 percent premium to the $1.60 price the shares last traded at on the Unlisted platform.

If the takeover is successful, SFL plans to inject a further $20 million in fresh capital to reduce debt and accelerate investment. It also plans to reinvest all surplus cash to fund further growth. Penno and Maclean will hold about 26 percent of SFL, with Pengxin owning the rest via New Zealand Standard Farm, a subsidiary of its Milk New Zealand unit. . .

Spierings blames ‘she’ll be right attitude’ for Fonterra botulism scare – Christopher Adams:

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings compared the company’s botulism debacle to Emirates Team New Zealand’s near-capsize during the America’s Cup. Photo / Greg Bowker

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings says a “she’ll be right attitude” was one of the causes of the company’s botulism fiasco.

Business leaders have gathered in Auckland today for the annual China Business Summit.

The event’s main focus this year is the ongoing impact of Fonterra’s whey protein contamination scare, which led to a global recall of consumer products, including infant formula, but turned out to be a false alarm.

Addressing the summit, Spierings said Fonterra was world class in manufacturing and food safety but the company still needed to “lift its game”.

“That was one the key learnings [of the botulism scare] – a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude is not acceptable,” he said. . .

Primary Growth Partnership enhances world-class Mozzarella technology:

A Primary Growth Partnership programme is helping deliver world-leading patented technology for the production of quick-frozen grated mozzarella.

The Transforming the Dairy Value Chain programme is driven by Fonterra, Dairy NZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership. The technology, which is being expanded at Fonterra’s Clandeboye site in South Canterbury, enables quick-frozen, natural, shredded mozzarella to be produced in just a day—a process traditionally taking around two months.

“This is a key demonstration of the type of innovation that is being enabled by the Primary Growth Partnership,” says Justine Gilliland, Director Primary Growth Partnership, MPI. . .

Creating the ‘angus moment’ – Gerald Piddock:

Angus beef must position itself as a guilt-free indulgence for wealthy consumers around the world if it is to prosper in the modern world, a leading brand strategist says.

But to achieve this would require a new way of thinking, Brian Richards told farmers at the World Angus Forum in Rotorua.

It meant angus farmers viewing themselves not just as sellers of protein but also as producers of a food experience, Richards said in his keynote address at the forum. . .

New Zealand wine industry ‘icon’ receives 2013 trans-Tasman agribusiness leadership award:

New Zealand wine industry luminary Sir George Fistonich has been named the recipient of the 2013 Rabobank Leadership Award for his outstanding contribution to agribusiness.

A pioneer of modern-day winemaking in New Zealand, Sir George, the founder and owner of Villa Maria Estate, was presented with the prestigious trans-Tasman honour at the annual Rabobank Leadership Award Dinner in Melbourne last night.

Australian grains industry advocate Georgie Aley was named Rabobank Emerging Leader, a new award category recognising up-and-coming young leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s food, beverage and agribusiness industries.

Announcing the award winners, Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group managing director Thos Gieskes said Sir George Fistonich had spent five decades at the forefront of New Zealand’s wine industry and had been an instrumental figure in the rise of New Zealand wines on the world stage.

“In a career spanning 50 years, George Fistonich has exemplified true leadership along with an extraordinary passion for the New Zealand wine industry – successfully leading not just his own business, but helping to pioneer and drive an entire industry and inspire and mentor those around him,” Mr Gieskes said.  . .  (I posted on the award yesterday, but this is the official media release).

Waiting for Nuffield – RivettingKateTaylor:

It’s Nuffield time of year again.

Years ago, a Young Farmers friend, arable farmer Hugh Ritchie, was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship. I think I was working for radio or the HB Herald Tribune at the time and did a story on his selection.

Now I work for Nuffield NZ in a freelance journalist role and see the scholars come and go (literally – six months of overseas travel/research is an integral part of a scholarship). . .

Oaklands Milk now from A2 dairy herds:

Local dairy farmer Julian Raine, has announced that all Oakland’s milk naturally contains A2 beta casein proteins. He says “Centuries ago all cow’s milk contained this protein but as dairy herds around the world have been bred and selected for higher production the incidence of the A1 variation has increased.”

Through genetic testing Mr Raine has been able to select cows from his two Nelson dairy herds that have only the A2 gene. These cows are milked separately and it is only this pasteurised milk that is currently sold through vending machines located at Oakland’s farm gate. . .

Kiwi company takes the spotlight with its world-leading technology:

Global players in the fresh produce industry will this weekend get a first-hand look at innovative fruit sorting solutions from Kiwi company BBC Technologies, the world’s leading supplier of blueberry sorting and packing machinery.

BBC Technologies, specialists in the development and manufacturing of advanced processing technology, will be showcasing its range, for the first time, at the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention & Expo in New Orleans.

PMA’s Fresh Summit is one of the largest trade shows held in the United States, drawing more than 18,000 visitors from over 60 countries. North America is a key market for BBC, with the thriving New Zealand company recording 30 per cent year on year growth. . .


Sir George Fistonich wins Rabobank leadership award

October 18, 2013

VIlla Maria founder Sir George Fistonich has won the 2013 Rabobank Australasian Agribusiness  Leadership Award.

Fistonich, the son of Croatian immigrants, grew up with wine on the table at lunch and dinner every day.

He founded and owns Villa Maria Estate and was knighted for services to the wine industry in New Zealand.

Now he has been recognised with an award celebrating outstanding achievement in the food, beverage and agribusiness sectors in Australia and NZ.

The award, established in 1999, is an annual peer-nominated award for an industry leader who creates sustainable growth and prosperity at corporate and industry levels while demonstrating commitment to society.

At a dinner at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last Thursday night Rabobank Australia and NZ group managing director Thos Gieskes told guests good leaders didn’t just materialise spontaneously.

“The winner is not just from NZ, he is so highly regarded I think he would be considered one of their national treasures,” Gieskes said in announcing the award. . .

The story gives some background on Sir George and his achievements and there is more on VIlla Maria’s website.

The inaugural award for an emerging agribusiness leader was also presented last night.

It went to Georgie Aley, 28, managing director of the Grains and Legumes Nutritional Council.

You can read more about her here.

 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

November 1, 2012

Wool’s future far from woolly:

Farmers are counting down the days to when major shareholdings in New Zealand Wool Services International (NZWSI) will be on-sold by the receivers.

“In a green-aware age, bales of wool should be flying out of our woolsheds. As they are not, is why management consultants could describe the wool industry as a ‘problem child’,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson. . .

New Head of Farm Environment Trust Ready for Challenge:

Well-known Wanganui farmer Alistair Polson has been elected chairperson of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

He takes over from North Waikato farmer Jim Cotman who has stepped down after six years in the role.

Mr Polson’s extensive experience in farming politics and business management includes serving as national president of Federated Farmers from 1999 to 2002.

Since 2004 he has been Special Agricultural Trade Envoy for New Zealand. He is a former director or committee member of a number of rural-based organisations, including AgITO, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Veterinary Council of New Zealand and NZ Landcare Trust. . .

Deep in the current – Bruce Munro:

Graeme Martin has been described as everything from a compassionate, principled, visionary genius to an inflexible, stubborn, demanding taskmaster. Bruce Munro examines pieces of the puzzle that make up the influential, complex and soon to retire chief executive of the Otago Regional Council.

“I shan’t forget a very large fist waved very close to my face” Graeme Martin says.

He is sitting in a comfortable chair in a corner office with city, harbour and peninsula views.

Three hundred and sixty kilometres and 45 years separate him from what happened that day in the Addington railway workshops.

But there is no denying the edge to his voice.

“A fist waved in my face because I was working too hard.” . . .

Winemaker celebrates 50 years:

The staff lunchroom might not seem an obvious stop on a tour of a picturesque winery. But Villa Maria’s is immaculate – largely due to the writing on its wall. 

One side of the lunchroom at the company’s winery in Mangere, Auckland, is dominated by information about its lean manufacturing programme, Achieving Continuous Excellence (ACE), running in the company for the past two years. It’s brought efficiencies to the business, but benefits in the physical environment are also obvious. Nothing – not even in the caf – is out of place.

It’s a point of pride for founder Sir George Fistonich, but also gives an insight into how the company, which celebrates its 50th vintage this year, has continued to grow in a tough industry. . .

Soil biology is key to saving saving fertility – Peter Watson:

Complacency is costing us some of our best soils, says ecologist and educator Nicole Masters.

New Zealand is losing 11 tonnes of topsoil per hectare a year, more than 10 times the global average, she said during a recent Beef + Lamb New Zealand field day held at Claire Parkes and Simon Vincent’s farm near Wakefield, and attended by about 35 farmers.

“We live in one of the most blessed soil environments in the world.

“We are fertile, we have good carbon and beautiful rainfall, but we are losing all this topsoil and it’s not sustainable.” . .

Convert to sustainability – Tim Cronshaw:

A farmer with nearly 9000 deer who once never put much thought into improving the environment on his farm, has become a fully converted believer.

Graham Carr estimates he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars during the past four years fencing off waterways and putting in settling ponds, so the water coming off his farm at Peel Forest Estate in South Canterbury is crystal clear.

Carr has built up one of the largest deer herds in the country, since emigrating to New Zealand 25 years ago from Britain, where he came from a joinery background. . .

A2 Corp to take control of NZ marketing, enter North America:

 A2 Corp, which markets milk products with a protein variant claimed to have health benefits, wants to directly enter the New Zealand market and is looking to expand into North America and some European nations having wrapped up a strategic review to speed up growth.

The alternative-market listed company will shift its focus to a number of opportunities in a bid to ramp up growth, including directly marketing into New Zealand, it said in a statement. A2 plans to expand rapidly include entering markets in North America, German, France Italy and Spain via joint ventures, using local contract manufacturers or investing in regional processing, it said. . .


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