Rural round-up

20/02/2021

Regenerative farming fight sad – Anna Campbell:

The New Zealand Merino Company and wool brands Allbirds, Icebreaker, and Smartwool have announced they are working collectively with 167 sheep growers to create the world’s first regenerative wool platform, which represents more than one million hectares in New Zealand.

Consumers want products produced through regenerative farming practices. In the United States, the high-end supermarket chain, Whole Foods Market, declared that regenerative agriculture was the No 1 food trend for 2020. Given some of the environmental challenges we have in New Zealand farming, regenerative farming surely makes sense from a production and marketing perspective?

Well maybe — it certainly sounds good, but do we understand what regenerative farming means and what it means specifically in a New Zealand farming context? . . .

Native trees come with some caveats – Richard Rennie:

Planting more native trees for carbon sequestration features strongly in the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) recommendations released this month. Scion scientists Dr Tim Payn and Steve Wakelin are leading work to help provide a better understanding of how native trees can be integrated back into New Zealand’s landscape and carbon soaking toolbox. Richard Rennie reports.

While recommending more native trees be planted in coming years, the CCC also notes there is limited knowledge on cashflows and carbon absorption rates for natives.

Steve Wakelin and Dr Tim Payn agree in principle with this goal to plant more natives for carbon benefits, but also want to highlight the additional environmental and biodiversity benefits of this focus.

They also note there is a devil in the detail behind the commission’s recommendations. . . 

Grand house’ hosts eco-tourism business – Mary-Jo Tohill:

You can take the farmer out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the farmer.

Catlins eco-tourism couple Lyndon and Gill McKenzie supposedly left agriculture 21 years ago for pastures new.

Mr McKenzie grew up at Merino Downs at Waikoikoi, between Gore and Tapanui, and Mrs McKenzie at Mataura.

Since they sold the farm in 2000, life has taken the dynamic duo on a series of jobs and ventures in Wanaka, Cromwell, Dunedin and Australia. They’ve done hospitality, mining and even run an outback diner. . . 

Kate Stewart – her story:

The confidence to create my career 

Next Level graduate Kate Stewart on taking charge of her future in agriculture, following the AWDT leadership and governance development programme. 

“I have a checklist now to vet any new opportunities that come my way. It’s called the ‘is this what Kate wants and is good at’ checklist.”

For Kate Stewart, Next Level was about taking ownership of her new career. At 24-years old, the Palmerston North local and Dairy NZ regional consulting officer was considering new leadership opportunities, but unsure of where to turn next. . .

A day in the life of an arable farmer  – Simon Edwards:

New Zealand’s arable industry is worth $2.1 billion each year to the economy, and earns us $260 million in export sales.  It also employs more than 11,300 Kiwis.

It’s a diverse sector, and a world leader in both volume and quality producing the likes of radish seed, white clover seed and carrot seed.

But while many New Zealanders could probably offer some general details about what a dairy or sheep and beef farmer gets up to in working day, the daily tasks facing an arable farmer might be more of a mystery.  So we decided to ask some Federated Farmers arable sector leaders what they’re currently busy with, starting in the deep south… . . 

£1m micro food business scheme to open in NI :

A £1m capital grant scheme will open in March to help small Northern Irish food firms upscale production to secure new markets for their produce.

The aim of the Micro Food Business Investment Scheme is to enable firms that are processing primary agricultural produce to expand.

Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 will be made available to micro food and drink manufacturing businesses.

A micro enterprise is defined as an enterprise which employs less than 10 full time equivalent employees with a total annual turnover of less than £1.8m. . . 


Rural round-up

14/02/2021

Stoush brews between Environment Minister and farmers over freshwater rules – Rachael Kelly:

A stoush is brewing between Southland farmers and Environment Minister David Parker over the Government’s new freshwater rules.

About 94 per cent of farmers that registered to attend a meeting hosted by farming advocate group Groundswell to discuss the freshwater regulations indicated they would not pay their Environment Southland rates in protest against the new freshwater rules introduced by the Government last year.

The group also polled farmers on holding more tractor protests and not applying for resource consents, and which has prompted Parker to again remind Southland farmers that ‘’no one is above the law’’. . . 

Almost half vehicle related deaths on farms could be avoided if seatbelts were used :

WorkSafe is advising farmers to buckle up after an analysis of vehicle-related fatalities found that nearly half those that occur on farm could have been avoided if a seatbelt was being used.

The data analysis, completed by WorkSafe New Zealand, revealed that not wearing seatbelts while on the job was the largest single factor contributing to fatal work-related accidents.

The data analysis coincides with the launch of a new side-by-side vehicle simulator which will spend the next six months travelling New Zealand’s agricultural Fieldays and featuring in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. . . 

Rural contractors say red tape obstructing access to overseas workers – Sally Round and Riley Kennedy:

The rural contracting industry says red tape means they can’t make the most of some overseas workers who’ve been allowed into the country.

Last year, with borders restricted due to Covid-19, the government granted more than 200 critical worker visas to machinery operators to help with the summer harvest.

Rural Contractors New Zealand chief executive Roger Parton said just under 200 came in and the season had progressed reasonably well.

However he said there had been some bureaucratic issues which meant some workers had not been allowed to move to another employer. . .

New Zealand Merino Company launches apparel industry’s first 100% regenerative wool platform:

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and global Merino wool apparel and footwear brands Allbirds®, icebreaker®, and Smartwool® announced they are working collectively with 167 sheep growers to create the world’s first regenerative wool platform that represents 2.4 million acres (more than one million hectares) in New Zealand. They are doing their part to tackle the impact of the global fashion industry, which is responsible for 10% of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

“We are on a journey of continuous improvement that recognises and celebrates progress over perfection. Through our industry-leading carbon footprint work with our leading brand partners, and with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries, we know on-farm emissions represent approximately 60% of the emissions associated with woollen products and are our biggest opportunity to lower our impacts,” says John Brakenridge, NZM CEO. “ZQRX is an important and necessary evolution of our ethical wool program, ZQ. Through the adoption of regenerative practices that both store more carbon and emit less, we could reduce our on-farm emissions down to zero.” . . 

Small steps boost biodiversity vision:

Farmers discovered that there are many ways to protect and enhance mahinga kai and biodiversity values while visiting Waimak Farm in Eyreton last week.

The 612-hectare farm includes the largest remaining kanuka stand in North Canterbury and due to its important biodiversity values this area is being protected by farm managers Richard and Susan Pearse.

Richard says the kanuka stand provides an important seed source and seedlings have been taken from the area to try and recreate a similar ecosystem in other dryland areas. He is aiming to plant approximately 1000 native trees per year throughout the entire farm. . . 

Farm environment plans optimised on digital platform:

The government’s fresh-water regulations are close to being fully in place, and most in the primary sector acknowledge regardless of which government is in power, the rules will by and large remain in play. Included within them is the need for all farms to complete a farm environment plan (FEP), identifying the farm business’s land management units and how environmental risk within them will be managed and mitigated.

Ideally, farmers want to take ownership of their FEP. They know their farm best, they know its limitations and challenges, and how to work sustainably within them. More often than not, it is simply a case they hold this in their heads, rather than on any formal plan template.

But FEPs have to be more than a compliance driven “box ticking” exercise, and need to deliver real benefits not only to the environment, but to farmers’ profitability, given the time and commitment required to complete them. . . 

 


Will Icebreaker VF deal get OIO tick?

04/11/2017

Icebreaker, one of the company’s that made merino fashionable, is selling to a USA company  but the deal needs OIO approval:

US-based VF Corporation needs Overseas investment office approval to buy Kiwi merino clothing maker Icebreaker, meaning the deal is worth at least $100 million. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Merino producers have been getting a lot of pressure to sign up to 10-year contracts with Icebreaker. The proposed sale explains that and a good number of committed producers would have made the deal more attractive to the buyer.

VF Corporation has a market capitalization of around US$28 billion and its portfolio includes The North Face, Timberland, SmartWool, Vans, Wrangler and Lee. In its third-quarter result, the company forecast its 2017 revenue would be approximately US$12.1 billion.

Icebreaker had annual sales of $220 million, of which 86 percent were in offshore markets. Its own outlets and e-commerce sales make up 32 percent of sales, according to the company’s latest statement.

While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Icebreaker confirmed the need for OIO approval due to the size of the transaction, implying a minimum value of at least $100 million. In a separate statement, VF said “the purchase price is not material to VF.” It also clarified that it expects the transaction to close in April 2018. . . 

I would think the deal would be worth considerably more than $100 million. Regardless of how much more, closure by next April is probably very optimistic.

Friends who have had dealings with the OIO, as sellers and buyers, said it was a very time-consuming process.

Unless it gets a straight decline from the outset, it won’t be any faster under the new government.

According to Icebreaker, the deal creates an expanded opportunity for the New Zealand merino industry. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our global Icebreaker team and for our New Zealand wool suppliers to introduce a whole new universe of consumers to the benefits of sustainably farmed, ethically sourced, New Zealand Merino wool,” said Icebreaker founder Jeremy Moon.

John Brakenridge, CEO of the NZ Merino Company, noted VF have also had a long-term commitment to the New Zealand Merino industry through their investment in SmartWool and NZ Merino has worked with SmartWool in areas such as sustainability and social responsibility.

“Today we are seeing record demand and prices for New Zealand merino wool …the synergy of these two brands working as sisters from the same stable to build increased awareness of the Merino apparel category represents an exciting new development for the New Zealand merino wool industry,” he said. . . 

People tend to be less opposed to selling land to foreigners than selling companies.

But no matter who owns it the land and the business carried out on it stay here.

When a company is sold, there is no guarantee anything will stay in New Zealand.

Icebreaker is a New Zealand company and its clothing is designed here using locally grown merino wool but manufacturing has been done overseas for several years.

If the sale does go ahead, people who want New Zealand made merino will still have the choice of buying from companies like Glowing Sky and Mons Royale.

 


Rural round-up

09/05/2016

Women motivate NZ dairy industry’s survival – Kelsey Wilkie:

Stress, money management and solidarity were the themes of a women in dairy conference. Kelsey Wilkie reports.

Hundreds of women dairy workers came together to talk milk prices, cash cows and rugby in Waikato this week.

The Dairy Women’s Network event at Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton  attracted 340 women keen to to discuss farming issues in the wake of a devastating downturn in milk prices..

Fonterra’s forecasted payout has fallen from $5.25 a kilogram of milksolids down to $3.90/kg. . . 

From wet feet to wool sock success – Sally Rae:

It all began with cold, wet feet.

American couple Peter and Patty Duke were long-time ski instructors before embarking on a business career which has resulted in their launching outdoor apparel brand SmartWool.

The company, based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was later sold to Timberland and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the VF Corporation, which owns other well-known brands such as Wrangler, The North Face and Lee.

After a break away from the industry, the apparel entrepreneurs got back into business, continuing their passion for merino wool with their woollen sock company, Point6. . .

Landcorp/NZM ink carpet deal:

Landcorp and The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) have signed a contract to supply wool to Australia’s most exclusive carpet manufacturer.

The agreement with Prestige Carpets will see 120 tonnes of wool sent to Australia through their New Zealand-based supply chain.

Prestige uses pure New Zealand wool and a cutting-edge tufted construction method to create carpets targeted at Australia’s leading designers and architects. . . 

Objects of the exercise:

They are the unsung heroes of the Golden Shears World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships.

Millers Flat farmer Trevor Peters is supplying more than 2000 Romney sheep for the event which is being held in Invercargill in February.

The sheep would present the world-class shearers with a good challenge, Mr Peters said.

The Peters family farms six properties: Spylaw, at Dunrobin, Bullock Range, at Moa Flat, Clutha Downs, at Beaumont, Attadale Station, at Middlemarch, Teviot Valley Station, at Millers Flat, and a finishing farm at Waikaka. . . 

Farming difficult but not all gloom and doom – Steve Wyn-Harris:

There is an increasingly growing level of anxiety in this part of the world as the dry conditions reduce options for building up some feed covers as we head in towards winter.

If we don’t get proper rain in these last two or three weeks of May then we can, at best, expect 10kg DM/ha/day or a total of 600kg DM/ha for June and July, which for most is about maintenance.

So early August feed covers are going to be around end of May covers and for many this will be too short for lambing and calving. . .

Old-fashioned farming and good old-fashioned common sense – Peter Burke:

The name Johnstone has been synonymous with breeding bulls in the Whanganui district for at least 90 years.

There are now five generations of Lindsay Johnstones: the latest one is Lindsay – call him Lindsay the fifth.

Back in 1925 Lindsay’s grandfather started off by developing a herd of Herefords. He managed to breed some pure white Herefords and, remarkably, Lindsay has kept that tradition going and has 25 of these animals on his property; more in memory of his grandfather than for commercial gain. . .

Feijoa-geddon could be coming to New Plymouth – Jermey Wilkinson:

Peter Peckham has collected bugs of all kinds for nearly 80 years and had never seen a guava moth until last month.

The New Plymouth man said he was in the shower when he saw the Pacific Island guava moth and rushed to get his bug net to capture it.

“They have quite a distinctive flight pattern, they fly quite slowly unlike other moths,” he said.  . .

 


Rural round-up

11/03/2013

China consumers to be surveyed on lamb preferences – Sally Rae:

A consumer research programme, to be launched by Alliance Group, will survey Chinese consumers on the taste and quality of New Zealand lamb, in comparison with Chinese and Inner Mongolian lamb.

A Chinese delegation recently visited Alliance Group before the launch of the programme, which is funded by Alliance Group, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and Grand Farm, Alliance Group’s in-market partner. . .

Wool growers’ US visit inspires confidence– Sally Rae:

When Andrew Paterson visited a factory in the United States that turned his fine wool into socks, he came away feeling extremely positive about the future.

Mr Paterson and his wife, Tracy, from Matakanui Station, near Omakau, are among the growers contracted to supply fibre to SmartWool, through the New Zealand Merino Co (NZM).

SmartWool, which has been working in partnership with NZM for 14 years, is an outdoor apparel brand which has direct supply contracts with NZM for ZQ Merino fibre for use in its socks and garments. . .

Jack Russell terriers race for hotly contested title – Lucy Ibbotson:

Regular runs from Alexandra to Clyde – much too fast-paced to be called taking the dog for a walk – paid off for the winner of the hugely popular Jack Russell race during the Upper Clutha A&P Show at the Wanaka Showgrounds on Saturday.

Clad in a neon-bright vest, 4-year-old terrier Kate, of Alexandra, put in an impressive performance to take the hotly contested title, beating about 65 other canine competitors to the finish line.

”She’s a nutcase,” Kate’s owner Hannah Hutton (10) said of her energetic pet, after the race. . .

On a pasture based dairy farm the sky is always blue – Pasture to Profit:
The sky is always blue! This is NOT a reference to the lack of rain in Australia & New Zealand. The dairy industry is a place of optimism and opportunities. In every crisis there is both danger and opportunities. The key is to see the opportunity! Believe me the sky is always blue! Pasture based dairy farming is a place of optimism!

 

Every time I fly the sky is always blue! From the ground it may not seem to be. It’s easy to get pessimistic. Even as the aircraft takes off you are not absolutely sure. But it is always very reassuring to experience that joy of breaking through the clouds. Dark as the clouds might seem. The sky is always blue!  The sky is always blue is a glass half full attitude! . .

Drought costs will be billions – Hugh Stringleman:

Drought declarations have extended across the bulk of the North Island as the government begins to count the cost in billions of dollars to farmers and to the economy.

From their trade mission in Latin America Prime Minister John Key and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said the drought was now a wide-scale adverse event with serious economic ramifications.

South Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Rotorua-Taupo and Hawke’s Bay joined Northland under drought declaration last week, with East Cape, Manawatu-Rangitikei, Taranaki and possibly some regions of the South Island expected to follow soon.

The area already declared is wider than in the 2007-08 drought, which was blamed for pushing New Zealand into recession ahead of the Global Financial Crisis.

“So we know it will have an economic impact, it’s just a matter of how much. No one is quite sure,” Guy said. . .

Public invited to ‘Farming in Drought’ Farm Days:

Special ‘Farming in Drought’ Farm Days will be held in Wellington (Sunday 17 March), Rotorua (Sunday 17 March) and Tauranga (Sunday 24 March).  Free and open to the public, they are intended to show how farmers and farms cope with drought.

“Given current drought conditions, we feel the public will want to know more about both how we and our farm animals cope,” says Jamie Falloon, Federated Farmers Wairarapa provincial president, whose province is likely to be declared in drought this week.

“Wellington’s Farm Day runs on Sunday 17 March between 10am and 3pm at the Battle Hill Farm Forest Park in Pauatahanui.  We are bringing in other types of farm animals so it is a great chance to meet farmers and have a family outing close to Wellington. . .

Adverse event drought information:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has added South Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay to Northland as areas affected by a medium scale adverse event (drought). Given conditions as far afield as the South Island’s West Coast, Federated Farmers expects further declarations in the coming week.

What an adverse event declaration means
• Rural Support Trusts (0800 787 254) are local and will coordinate farm advisory and counselling services. This advice is invaluable in aiding business recovery and helping individual families cope with the stresses caused.

• A declaration allows discretion from Inland Revenue on things like Income Equalisation. This allows Inland Revenue to accept later deposits to the income equalisation scheme than is usual, but this needs to be arranged by your farm’s accountant. . .


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