Rural round-up

October 20, 2018

Politicised fads don’t sway EPA’s science. Consumer localism fads don’t support real farmers. Prices retreat for livestock although to still-healthy levels – Guy Trafford:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced recently their ‘top’ 40 chemicals they believe are worthy of a closer look.

One of the more interesting aspects of the list is that glyphosate is not on it. This is a small victory to science over uninformed public opinion.

As the general public and ratepayers they have a say over what chemicals may and may not be used within cities and city councils have certainly responded with many councils through-out the world no longer using it.

Councils have found other, arguably more appropriate, ways to manage weeds, sometimes by just ignoring them and getting used to the idea that parks are allowed to look a little scruffy around the edges. . .

Global Dairy Trade looks to boost liquidity, add new markets  – Rebecca Howard:

The Global Dairy Trade platform is looking to boost liquidity, GDT director Eric Hansen told the NZX Global Dairy Seminar in Singapore.

As of May, the 10-year-old platform had seen US$23 billion traded across multiple products in more than 200 trading events. While growth had been significant “we really need to do a lot more work to boost liquidity on the platform,” he said. . .

Sir Michael Fay’s hill country station on the market – Eric Frykberg:

A prestigious hill country station in the Wairarapa is being put up for sale by Sir Michael Fay.

The Lagoon Hill Station includes 1360 hectares of plantation forest.The Lagoon Hill Station includes 1360 hectares of plantation forest.

Lagoon Hill Station comprises of more than 4,000 hectares between Martinborough and the Wairarapa coastline, and has been owned by Sir Michael since 1993. It comprises a sheep and beef farm, plantation forest and a private hunting block. . . 

Tractor fatality – farmer in court:

Tractors are an integral part of farm businesses, but they are also a key contributor to New Zealand’s agricultural industry’s unacceptable number of farm deaths. In the last six years 30 New Zealanders have died while using them.

And WorkSafe is warning farmers that they are legally required to have an effective way of identifying and managing the risks involved in their work on farms, this includes the risks involved in the use of vehicles
. .  .

Glowing Sky – New Zealand merino clothing – Tim Brewster:

Wool is finally on the comeback trail.

Coveted as a cloth for luxurious garments, resilient enough for harsh outdoor environments, the finest stuff is still found on the back of merino sheep up in the South Island’s high country. Aficionado’s of merino wool have always known its natural attributes outperformed synthetics.

Now sustainability and ethical provenance are also key influencers in customer choices and the wool of kings is enjoying a valuable advantage over its traditional rivals. Deep down south, those qualities were never in question when Glowing Sky’s New Zealand merino clothing products, proudly made by a local sewing crew, first hit the shelves in 2005. . . 

Early birds catch the prize:

Time is running out to be in to win an Early Bird prize when you enter the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Online entries don’t close until midnight November 16, however those that enter before midnight on October 20 will go into the Early Bird Entry Prize Draw and be in with a chance to win prizes from Honda. . .


Farmers acting for good of nature

June 17, 2014

The number of landowners who have put in place covenants on parts of their land for the good of nature is set to pass 4000 for the first time.

It is a great untold story of New Zealand landowners, mostly farmers, taking a selfless stand for good, said Mike Jebson, chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth II Trust. It works with private landowners, who make a contribution to conservation, including those making covenants to perpetually protect parts of their land.

Jebson spoke to the Sunday Star-Times after Labour sought to make political capital out conservation money being spent to eradicate pests from Great Mercury Island, owned by Sir Michael Fay and David Richwhite.

The Government, which says endangered species don’t care who owns the land they live on, funds the QEII Trust. At the end of June last year, the trust had 3803 registered covenants and the number was rising fast.

“We are just shy of 4000 registered covenants. That milestone will be coming up in the next 12 months. It’s a huge achievement,” said Jebson, who is due to announce new large covenants in coming weeks.

The area covered by the covenants is the size of three national parks, the Aoraki/Mt Cook, Egmont/Taranaki and Abel Tasman national parks, he said.

“It should be part of the New Zealand story because a lot of our covenants are on working farms,” Jebson said.

A lot was heard about farmers and dirty dairying but almost nothing of their conservation efforts, he said.

“This is an untold story of New Zealand farmers and other landowners, which is helping to give real substance to New Zealand’s clean, green international image,” Jebson said in the trust’s last annual report. . .

Farmers who covenant their land do get help with fencing and pest control but it doesn’t cover all their costs and it doesn’t compensate for the loss of earnings from retired land.

However, they do it as good stewards of the land, understanding the importance of protecting native species and leaving an enduring legacy for future generations.

You can read more about the trust on its website.


Xenophobia robs opportunities

January 23, 2012

The Australian government has warned that a “xenophobic campaign” would rob farmers of opportunities presented by the increasing demand from Asian countries for secure food supplies.

Just 1 per cent of agricultural businesses by number, 11.3 per cent of farmland and 9 per cent of water entitlements have some foreign ownership, a report released yesterday says, according to The Australian Financial Review.

Assistant Treasurer Mark Arbib said foreign investment had significant benefits and that there were already rigorous controls.

However, the Coalition said the report relied on faulty data and the National Farmers’ Federation called for the threshold at which the Foreign Investment Review Board must examine foreign investment in agriculture to be slashed to about $23 million from $231 million.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences’ report acknowledges growing public concerns but cautions against bowing to them.

“Concessions to concerns about sovereignty, distrust or fear of foreigners are likely to come at an economic cost to countries that restrict the inflow of foreign capital,” it said.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson echoed this, warning Australia could pay a high price for “Hansonite” opposition to foreign investment in agriculture.

“Pessimists and political opportunists see the desire for food security of major emerging countries as a threat. In truth, it is an unsurpassed opportunity for Australian farmers,” Dr Emerson said.

The growing demand for safe, high quality food is also an opportunity for New Zealand farmers and the wider economy.

Some see that threatened by foreign ownership of land and that is partly what is behind the opposition to the proposed acquisition of the Crafar farms by the Chinese company Penqxin.

But as Fran O’Sullivan says:

I don’t believe it is in New Zealand’s long-term economic interest to allow xenophobia, whipped up by a rival (late-comer) bid, to damage a relationship cemented by years of diplomacy by officials in this country and China.

There will be more to the OIO decision than mere political cosmetics. Penqxin will have made sure that its business plan includes processing milk powder from the Crafar farms within New Zealand and to export branded high-value products back to China. Thus it ought to pass the OIO’s muster.

That is also where the value proposition for New Zealand-sourced dairy production lies. Not simply in exporting vast quantities of milk powder to Fonterra’s customers and competitors offshore (including within China) for them to refine. This will lead to more jobs in New Zealand – not fewer.

Appealing to xenophobia in their increasingly vehement opposition to the Penqxin bid does the consortium led by Sir Michael Fay no credit.

The receivers are duty-bound to get the best return for the farms and it appears the New Zealand bid is well short of the Chinese one.

If it wasn’t for the relatively new markets for our primary produce in Asia, particularly in China, New Zealand’s economic position would be in a very dire position.

It is in our mutual interest to further trade and other relationships.

Providing safe-guards are in place to ensure farms aren’t mined and produce meets the high standards on which our reputation is based we have more to gain than lose from foreign investment.


Landcorp has conflict of interest – Fay

December 15, 2011

Sir Michael Fay who is part of a group of dairy farmers and Iwi wanting to buy the 16 Crafar farms says the bid is being kneecapped by Landcorp.

“Landcorp is lending a New Zealand face and New Zealand expertise to an overseas bid that fails to meet the Overseas Investment Office test of adding value to an asset,” says Sir Michael. “Shanghai Pengxin admits it knows absolutely nothing about dairy farming.

Landcorp’s involvement is nothing more than an attempt to sanitise a deal that stinks in the minds of most New Zealanders.

“Chris Kelly says Landcorp is doing a good deal to enhance dividends to the Government, Landcorp’s owner. But Landcorp is effectively helping to shut out a New Zealand bid, competing against our own dairy farmers and flying in the face of public opinion polling that shows more than 80% of New Zealanders want the Government to actually step in and stop the sale of the Crafar farms to foreign buyers.

The SOE should be enhancing dividends but Fay isn’t the first to complain that it competes with private individuals and companies in doing so.

“Under its Statement of Corporate Intent Landcorp is supposed to have regard to the best interests of the community in which it operates. Clearly in this case it is direct conflict with the interests of the Central North Island farming community and the New Zealand public in general.

“It’s no wonder so many New Zealand farmers have had a gutsful of Landcorp if they can’t see this conflict. Perhaps Landcorp should be the first SOE to be sold off and the whole lot can be returned to New Zealand farmers who will certainly do a better job of running those farms than a Government department.”

The difficulty in selling the Crafar farms as an entity shows that it wouldn’t be sensible to try to sell Landcorp as a going concern. But I’d be happy for it to gradually sell off its farms one by one until it put itself out of business.

If the government has a role in farming it is in training, research and irrigation, not in business which competes with the rest of us.

Sir Michael says the argument about Landcorp being charged with making good returns for Government was a stupid line to run to justify the SOEs involvement in the Shanghai Pengxin Crafar bid.

“The Government will do much better out of the 16 farms being retained in New Zealand ownership with all the dividends staying in New Zealand and all the wages, salaries, payouts and taxes flowing into local communities and the Government’s coffers

“Landcorp is at best an average farmer of the vast tracts of land it holds and generally returns much lower production figures than their neighbours. Now they are setting themselves up as tenant farmers of land that the public demands should be retained in New Zealand ownership.

“Where’s the sense or their mandate for that?”

I don’t have a problem with foreign ownership per se. Regardless of who owns the farms most of the wages, salaries, and taxes would be paid in New Zealand. If they’re owned by foreign-based people or companies some of the payout and dividends would go overseas, but only after overseas money came in for the purchase and further investment.

But I agree that Landcorp’s return isn’t particularly good.

The $1.6 billion tied up in its assets would be better used elsewhere and not in competition with the private sector.


Fay led local team ups offer for Crafar farms

September 21, 2011

A group of North Island farmers, led by Sir Michael Fay has increased its offer for the Crafar farms.

The original offer was for only nine of the 16 farms, the new offer is to pay $171.5 million for all 16 farms.

The Overseas Investment Commission is appraising an offer for the farms from a Chinese based group.

“Our group of farmers is the only other buyer for all the farms in this sales process and following satisfactory due diligence we are ready to go,” said Sir Michael. “As soon as we have a signed deal with the receivers they can hand over the keys and we’re ready to walk onto the land. Obviously that’s subject to the Overseas Investment Office rejecting the current Chinese contract.”

Sir Michael said the group was a mix of Iwi and local farmers who already own dairy farms in the Central North Island and who don’t have the complication of needing OIO approval.

“We’d like to be on the farms before Christmas to get them up to full production for the new season starting in mid 2012.”

Sir Michael said the average per hectare price was an accurate reflection of current land, asset and herd values and the opportunity to closely inspect production figures would need to confirm the value of the $171.5 million farmer group offer.

Steve Bignell, of Stretton’s Chartered Accountants in Taupo is the lead negotiator for the group of farmers and says the average $28,500 per hectare offer placed the contract price in the leading bracket for dairy farm sales in the area and across New Zealand.

Federated farmers says the bid is the best option for keeping the farms in New Zealand hands but the Overseas Investment Office should complete its investigation of the Chinese offer without bias.

“As a Kiwi would I like these farms to remain in Kiwi ownership? You bet I would,” says Robin Barkla, Federated Farmers Dairy Vice-President who farms in the Bay of Plenty. . .

“While my heart says one thing my head says that because there’s a live OIO application, we need to let it go through all the necessary hoops.

“The OIO process must be clean for if there’s any hint of favouritism or bias, then we risk becoming a South Seas Venezuela. Anything like that would spook international investors and dangerously drive up interest rates.

“That said, Sir Michael Fay is doing exactly what Federated Farmers has called for. Assembling a group of Kiwi investors to make a sizeable but credible bid for these farms.

“It certainly provides the receiver with a great option should the Pengxin Group bid fall over,” Mr Barkla concluded.

That’s a reasoned response.

The Chinese offer was first on the table is, I think, for a higher price and is part way through the OIO process.

The receivers have a responsibility to get the best price  accept the best offer for the creditors on whose behalf they are working. If the OIO accepts the Pengxin Group bid then it would be difficult for the Fay-led bid to succeed if it is offering a substantially lower price.

If however, the locals increase their offered price so it is close to that of Pengxin then the receivers might have a more difficult choice to make.

UPDATE:

RadioNZ reports the receivers say the Pengxin offer is still the best.


Rural round-up

May 29, 2011

Photovoltaic energy neutral grass based dairy farms – Pasture to Profit writes:

Two grass based dairy farmers in the Pasture to Profit Network(one in Herefordshire & the other in Brittany, France) have or are about to achieve “Energy Neutral” status (with regard to electricity use on farm). Both have installed solar panels on their farm shed roofs. http://www.solon.com/global/
Energy neutral status is where 100% of the energy that is consumed is actually generated by the farmer user. . .

Lancashire biogas plant is go – Paul at Business Blog writes:

A £3m farm-based anaerobic digestion plant in Lancashire has been officially “switched on”.

The Carr Farm plant, near Warton, will produce biogas from silage and energy crops grown on surrounding land to generate 800kW of electricity, enough to power more than 1,000 homes. . .

2010 kiwifruit season lifts return to growers:

A strong 2010 kiwifruit season has lifted total payments to growers above season forecasts, with a particular highlight being a significant boost in returns to GREEN kiwifruit growers over the 2009 season, ZESPRI’s 2010/11 financial results show.

Total returns to growers in 2010/11 improved from $849.0 million to $883.3 million compared to the prior year, an increase of four percent, with average Orchard Gate Returns to ZESPRI GREEN growers increasing nine percent to $32,234.

Net global kiwifruit sales increased one percent to $1.511 billion in 2010/11, despite the global volume of ZESPRI(r) Kiwifruit sold falling one percent in the same period. . .

Daily grind taking for the dairy farmer

The alarm clock shrills. It’s half- past-bloody-four and another farming day is under way.

At least it’s not raining, but he still needs the Swanndri. It’s cold. And actually the farm could do with some rain. Too dry; too wet. Seldom just right.

It’s a long haul to the shed from this night paddock. Always a toss-up whether to go for the best feed overnight and accept extra distance and time required in the morning.

He pressures the tailenders with the farm bike and acknowledges there are times when a dog might come in handy. The heifers at the back of the mob are playing up a bit, skirmishing across the track, head-butted by a few dominant older girls in the herd.

The lights in the shed snap on, a startling line of illumination ahead in the rural darkness, so Toni will be washing down the concrete, getting organised. . .

Hat tip: Lou at No  Minister (The comments on his post make interesting reading too).

Payout good for NZ – Sally Rae writes:

“It’s a great time to be a farmer.” South Otago farmer Stafford Ferguson was responding yesterday to Fonterra’s announcement of a record payout for the season.

Describing the news as very positive, Mr Ferguson said it was a good time to pay debt back, while the forecast third-highest payout on record for next season “just eases pressure” looking forward a year out . . .

Win from Wheelchiar special – Sally Rae again:

Grant Calder pulls no punches when he says “life in a wheelchair is a bit of a s … “.

However, he hopes his remarkable success at the recent South Island sheep dog trial championships will send a message to disabled people that “it’s not the end of the world”. . .

Find true quality? The scan man can –  more form Sally Rae:

Peter Clulee is enjoying a well-deserved break.

Mr Clulee, who operates Otago Ultrasound, doing both eye muscle and pregnancy scans on sheep, has had a hectic few months.

Since the end of January, he has been travelling the South Island doing muscle scanning, working as far north as Blenheim and right down to Southland. . .

Sir Michael Fay still milking it – Bevan Hurley writes:

Sir Michael Fay, one of the country’s richest men, has swapped the bank for the barnyard and bought a $9.2 million slice of New Zealand’s dairy heartland.

The investment banker and island owner now lists “farmer” as his occupation when filling out immigration forms. . .

Strawbwerry pav pigues US media interest

 

Luxury Queenstown hotelier The Rees and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have showcased the country’s fine wine and cuisine at US culinary institution The James Beard Foundation, described by Time magazine as the “Oscars of the food world”.

 

The event, dubbed “Flavors of New Zealand”, was hosted by New Zealand’s consul general in New York, and included a themed luncheon followed by an evening banquet featuring handpicked ingredients from 14 producers, matched with wine varieties from eight vineyards represented by Complexity Fine Wine Group. . .

An insatiable thirst for knowledge

Each day, as he goes around the dairy farm he manages, checking on the health and welfare of his human and animal friends and the land they share, Jason Halford carries with him two other dairy farmers.

“Geoff Arends is on my left shoulder and Bruce McCluskey is on my right,” he says. “I look at each situation and think what they would do. One day I’m Geoff, another I’m Bruce.”

They are the farmers who have influenced him most in the 17 years since he left school at 16 to go into dairying. . .

 


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