Rural round-up

September 3, 2019

FMA looking into Fonterra’s asset write downs and financial performance following complaint – John Anthony:

The Financial Markets Authority is seeking information from Fonterra after receiving a complaint expressing concerns about the dairy cooperative’s expected record annual loss and asset write downs.

In early August Fonterra said it expected to make a loss for the 2019 financial year of between $590 million and $675m due to asset write downs of up to $860m.

A Financial Markets Authority (FMA) spokesman said it recently received a complaint about Fonterra’s financial reporting, and its audited financial statements over the last few years.

The complaint came from shareholder Colin Armer, who said he and his wife owned 10 million shares. . . 

Passion for sheep runs deep – Sally Rae:

She is known simply as “Sheepish Sophie”.

In the world of social media, Sophie Barnes – who has a strong following – is more well-known by that moniker.

Most recently, the young English shepherd and lamb-rearing specialist has been documenting her travels around the South Island with partner Dorrien Neeson and six dogs, working on various stations and farms.

At present stationed in the Waitaki Valley, Ms Barnes (27) admitted she had tried to find other hobbies apart from sheep farming and genetics but for her they did not exist . . 

The battle for trust – Peter Burke:

With distrust growing in consumers, even for science, gaining their trust is now more valuable to win than ever.

Tim Hunt, the head of RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness in Australasia, says trust is becoming more complex to succeed in and more valuable to win because of what is happening in New Zealand’s markets.

He says in emerging markets, such as China and Southeast Asia, consumers are placing enormous value on the safety of products, whereas in western markets they increasingly value sustainability, animal welfare, fairness and provenance.

Five years of Water Accord show dairy farmers doing their bit to improve water quality:

One of New Zealand’s biggest hands-on environmental efforts has created a wave of change on dairy farms across the country and is contributing to progress in improving water quality.

Today, the Sustainable Dairy: Water Accord farmers and partners announced their achievements to date, including:

  • fencing off dairy cattle from 24,249km (98.3%) of significant dairy accord waterways (waterways which are more than one metre wide and more than 30cm deep). That’s the equivalent of nearly 12 road trips from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Excluding stock from waterways is one of the most beneficial ways to improve water quality
  • installing bridges and culverts on 100% of stock crossing points dairy cows use
  • preparing 10,396 nutrient budgets – up from 6,400 budgets in the first year of the Accord. Nutrient budgets allow farmers to carefully plan nutrient applications and manage nutrient losses
  • assessing 100% of Accord farms for effluent management practices – this process checks that farms have appropriate infrastructure and systems in place to manage effluent
  • developing riparian management plans to protect water quality on 52% of Accord farms with waterways. . . 

Taking the bad with the good in dairy industry report:

Federated Farmers congratulates the dairy industry on another robust environmental report, which shows there are some good things to celebrate and some things that need further work.  

Today’s release of the now five year’s running Sustainable Dairy: Water Accord report shows there are still areas that need work, but overall dairy farmers should be proud of what they’ve achieved in a very short timeframe.

Amongst those matters that need further work are the 6.15% of significant non-compliance with effluent management requirements.

But overall Federated Farmers wants to give a big positive shout-out to what hard working farmers have achieved for the environment in the last 12 months. . .

Lamb export prices spring to a new high :

Export prices for lamb reached their highest point in the June 2019 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

This level is the highest since the series began in 1982, and follows steady increases from the second half of 2016.

“Both lamb and beef prices rose this quarter, up 4.7 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, on the back of strong overseas demand,” overseas trade statistics manager Darren Allan said. . . 

Burgers and climate: the real beef

I have two burgers. One is a beef burger from McDonald’s on the left and the other on the right is a Beyond Meat, plant-protein burger from A&W.

You’ve been told by companies, groups and the media to choose; to eat less meat because one is better for the environment, and we’ve been led to believe that by picking one over the other, we’re doing our part in climate change and being more environmentally-friendly.

What if I told you that both burgers are doing their part and all agriculture is part of the solution, not the problem? What if I told you it’s not one versus the other when it comes to climate change? What if I told you there is more to the story than these companies are sharing? . . 


Rural round-up

July 11, 2019

New Zealand scientists lead the way to global breakthrough in methane reduction – Kate Nicol-Williams:

An international research programme led by New Zealand scientists has revealed a breakthrough in their fight to reduce agricultural greenhouse emissions.

After two years of work, researchers from AgResearch and Otago University, along with researchers from Australia, the United States and Japan, have discovered which bacteria in a sheep’s first stomach produce hydrogen as part of the digestion process, and the specific enzymes inside the bacteria that are responsible.

They’ve also found which organisms use the hydrogen as a food source in the production of methane. . .

Visiting expert showcases footrot vaccine – Sally Rae:

Footrot is a nasty and complex disease.

Estimated as a $10 million problem for New Zealand’s sheep industry, the infection caused major changes to the hoof, resulting in lameness and loss of production.

Dr Om Dhungyel from the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney has devoted much of his career to footrot research.

Last week, Dr Dhungyel was in Otago, talking to farmers about footrot and a vaccine he has helped develop which is now on the market. . .

Winter grazing must not compromise animal health and welfare:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association says there is no place in modern farming for winter grazing practices that compromise animal health and welfare.

“The time has come to transition away from winter grazing practices that result in poor animal welfare for livestock,” says NZVA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Helen Beattie.

Intensive winter grazing is commonplace and can lead to poor animal welfare and environmental damage, particularly during prolonged periods of wet weather. . .

Winner of 2019 Nelson Young Fruitfrower announced:

Jono Sutton has won the Nelson Young Fruitgrower of the Year for 2019.

He will go on to represent the fruit and vegetable sectors at the Young Grower of the Year competition in Tauranga on 1-2 October, where contestants will compete for their share of $40,000 worth of prizes.

Nelson Young Fruitgrower of the Year Coordinator, Richard Clarkson, says his focus has always been on education. . .

Retailers warn of an egg shortage, hike in prices:

Gilmour’s, the country’s largest supplier of wholesale food and beverages, is warning that the price of eggs is set to increase and the breakfast favourite may be harder to come by as egg farmers move to meet changes to the law.

In an email sent to customers today, the retailer owned by supermarket giant Foodstuffs, said “huge investment” was required by the industry to meet the Animal Welfare Code of Practice for Layer Hens which in turn would drive up the price of eggs. 

“There is currently uncertainty around supply as farms struggle to gain resource consent for new production whilst other suppliers exit the supermarket sector and/or industry altogether.  . .

Mulan trailer features Waitaki beauty:

The majestic grandeur of the Waitaki district is on display in the first glimpse of Disney’s live-action remake of the animated classic Mulan.

On Sunday, Walt Disney Studios released the first trailer for the film, filmed in part in the Ahuriri Valley, near Omarama, last year.

About 800 to 900 crew were in the Mackenzie Basin for about a month in spring.

The film was shot by Whale Rider director New Zealander Niki Caro and stars Chinese-American actress Yifei Liu in the titular role. . .


Rural round-up

June 19, 2019

Oh DIRA – Elbow Deep:

As a Fonterra supplying dairy farmer you have every right to be disappointed with the release of the Government’s changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Fonterra will still have to supply raw milk at cost to new, presumably foreign owned processors who can then export value-added product in direct competition with the co-op, all without having to establish their own supply chain.

Fonterra will still have to accept new milk under the open entry provision, albeit with a few tweaks around new conversions and environmental concerns, which is worrying enough, but wait until you delve deeper: the flawed reasoning behind keeping this provision is MPI’s  belief Fonterra can already control supply through the milk price. How this belief persists when legislation exists specifically to prevent milk price manipulation is beyond me, and this is where my disappointment turns to anger. . .

Dairy champion: a balancing act – Ross Nolly:

Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin is a primary school teacher, full-time farmer and a passionate environmentalist among other things. Ross Nolly reports.

When Trish Rankin heard her name announced as the winner of the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award she was completely taken by surprise. 

She has always followed her passions but never set out to strategically target an award.

Entering the 2013 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards and winning the 2016 Northland share farmer competition set the ball rolling for her. It brought about a realisation that people, many in the higher echelon of the dairy industry, are interested in what she has to say.  . .

Pets or steak? The inside story of a bovine brouhaha in the ‘burbs – Alice Neville:

An urban farm in Auckland has been raising cows for meat for years. This time, they decided to involve the community in the process – but the backlash was so intense, the plan was canned. Alice Neville talks to those involved about what went down, and what we can learn from the saga. 

Asprawling, hippy-esque bucolic paradise surrounded by multimillion-dollar white villas, Kelmarna Gardens is a bit of an anomaly at the epicentre of one of Auckland’s most bougie neighbourhoods.

Covering four and a half acres of council land on the Grey Lynn/Ponsonby/Herne Bay border, it’s a city farm and organic community garden headed by a trust and mainly run by volunteers. In recent years, local chefs have got behind the gardens: you’ll see Kelmarna produce name-checked on menus all over town. . . 

The foul-smelling bugs threatening NZ wine – Farrah Hancock:

Hold your pinot noir a little closer tonight. If brown marmorated stink bugs establish themselves, New Zealand’s red wine could taste unpleasant. Italian stink bug expert Professor Claudio Ioriatti visited New Zealand and shared lessons from Italy’s smelly bug invasion with local growers and scientists.

Tasting notes for New Zealand’s red wines could look very different if brown marmorated stink bugs establish themselves here.

New Zealand Winegrowers biosecurity and emergency response manager Ed Massey said stink bugs could cause a loss in production as well as a serious quality issue.

“They’re called stink bugs for a reason.” . . 

Organic product to tackle selenium deficiency in soils – Chris Balemi:

A new generation of organic selenium supplementation will be introduced into New Zealand this year, helping to solve NZ soil’s issue of low selenium.

Selenium is an essential trace element for ruminants and required for growth, fertility and the prevention of mastitis and calf scours. However, selenium deficiency is prevalent in soils NZ-wide. This presents an issue every farm manager would benefit from understanding better.

A new generation of organic selenium supplementation (called Excential Selenium 4000) will be introduced into NZ this year. It’s an important development because it will greatly improve on previous options for selenium supplementation on the farm.. . 

Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate – Frank M. Mitloehner:

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences. . . 

Trump’s $16 billion farm bailout criticised at the WTO – Bryce Baschuk:

The European Union joined China and five other World Trade Organization members in criticizing the Trump administration’s $16 billion assistance program for U.S. farmers, indicating the bailout may violate international rules.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest farmer assistance program could exceed America’s WTO subsidy commitments and unduly influence U.S. planting decisions, according to a document published on the WTO website June 17. .  .

 


Grass Roots

June 15, 2019

Tangaroa Walker reckons he is living the best life.

The Southland contract milker, originally from Tauranga, was the inaugural winner of the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award in 2012.

As well as diligently working his way up the dairy ladder towards farm ownership, Tangaroa owns a local gym, is a keen rugby player and manages an educational Facebook page.

Tangaroa is one half of a new series by RNZ’s Country Life farming programme, following young farmers over a year, showing what they do – their highs and lows. . . 

At Omarama Station in Otago, Sophie Barnes is mustering merinos and crutching lambs.

Originally from the UK, Sophie reckons she “has been fleeced”. Her love affair with sheep began nine years ago and has led the 27-year-old to New Zealand and now she’s a roving shepherd with her New Zealand boyfriend and their six dogs. . . 

You can read more about Tangaroa here and Sophie here.


Rural round-up

May 4, 2019

The prospects for post-Brexit trade with New Zealand – Mike Petersen:

In spite of the uncertainty in the UK with regard to Brexit, the key message from New Zealand is that we will continue to be a constructive and valuable partner for the UK on agriculture and trade issues after Brexit.

Of course, our relationship is not without its challenges, but we are like minded on so many levels. The issues facing farmers the world over are largely the same, and I firmly believe there are compelling reasons for the UK and New Zealand to work together to tackle agricultural trade issues after Brexit.

New Zealand agricultural trade profile

New Zealand is a dynamic, outward looking economy with a highly diversified export market profile. This market diversification can only succeed with improved market access. While governments negotiate to open up and maintain market access in the WTO and through trade agreements, industry itself plays a critical role in identifying and utilising these market access opportunities and navigating constantly changing international commercial challenges and trends. . . 

Mum, teacher, farmer, winner – Annette Scott:

Taranaki dairy farmer Trish Rankin was a self-acclaimed townie having never been on a farm until her husband decided to go dairy farming. Now the passionate environmentalist has been crowned Dairy Woman of the Year. She talked to Annette Scott.

Dairy farmer, passionate environmentalist and part-time teacher Trish Rankin has taken out the prestigious Dairy Woman of the Year 2019 title.

The Taranaki mum headed off the field of four finalists at the Dairy Woman’s Network conference in Christchurch last week.

Rankin balances full-time farming with her husband Glen and their four boys with teaching part time at Opunake Primary School. . . 

Huge pond enhances efficiency – Toni Williams:

Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation’s (BCI) new multi-million dollar water storage facility was made on time and within budget. It will give BCI members access to water at peak times. Reporter Toni Williams found out about BCI and the Akarana Storage Pond construction.

Akarana Pond gets its name from the farm site where it sits, on Barkers Road near Methven.

The pond was designed by NZ company Damwatch Engineering, and built by Canterbury based contractors, Rooney Earthmoving Limited.

Carrfields Irrigation, Electraserve and Rubicon Water Management were also involved. . .

Duck hunters’ delight: is this the world’s best mai-mai?:

A group of duck hunters from Gore have built a mai-mai that is giving “pride of the south” a whole new meaning.

From the outside the hut is inconspicuous, with long grass growing over the roof, but inside it has all the comforts of home.

It’s equipped with a six-burner stove, a bar laden with Speights, two fridges, couches and four beds. The fully functional bathroom even has a hand dryer.

But the most luxurious features must be the Sky TV and a closed-circuit video feed of the pond outside constantly displayed on another screen. . .

Opportunities Party identifies safe and valuable use of genetic technology:

The Forest Owners Association and Federated Farmers congratulate the Opportunities Party for its balanced and sensible gene editing policy, which recognises the significant economic and environmental benefits gene editing technology can provide.

The presidents of the respective organisations, Peter Weir and Katie Milne, say the time for an informed public debate is well overdue as genetic technologies have changed dramatically in recent years and their safety and value has been proven oversees. . . 

Summer Cervena 2019 campaign launched in Europe:

Alliance Group, Duncan NZ and Silver Fern Farms are working together with Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) in the third year of Passion 2 Profit (P2P) Primary Growth Partnership activity raising awareness for Cervena for Northern European summer menus.

This year’s Summer Cervena campaign, running from late-March through to August, has a primary focus on foodservice. The venison exporters are building on the previous activity and now working together with their respective importers/distributors in Benelux and German markets to lift sales to chefs and foodies in the region.

The predominantly foodservice campaign is seeking to attract the attention of high-end and more casual-upmarket establishments, in particular, says DINZ venison marketing manager Nick Taylor. . .

7 mistakes rural marketing managers make and how to fix it – St John Craner:

Over the years I’ve worked with some great rural marketing managers and I’ve also met some poor ones. It’s the same for most of us, a mix of good and bad. So what distinguishes the best rural marketing managers from the worst? The worst commit the crimes below. However they can improve their careers and remuneration prospects if they follow the recommendations below.

Do you want to be a more effective and valuable rural marketing manager who craves more reward and recognition for what you do?

Do you want to secure that raise and promotion this year? Yes? . . 


Rural round-up

January 17, 2019

Dairy farmers leading charge to clean up water – Tim Mackle:

In the past week, I’ve opened two newspapers to two cartoons that constitute a cheap shot at dairy farming, both frustrating and offending the dairy farmers of New Zealand.

One cartoon portrayed a dairy cow polluting the sea, and the other showed dairy cows polluting a river.

My wish for 2019 is that all New Zealanders, cartoonists and media, are up with the play on what is actually happening on dairy farms before they make comment. . . 

Raspberry grower takes delight in ripening crop – Sally Brooker:

The canes at Matsinger’s Berry Farm are ”blazing with raspberries”, owner Leanne Matsinger says.

The family property at Peebles, in the lower Waitaki Valley, has been growing the sought-after fruit for about 30 years. Mrs Matsinger took over the business after her husband, Simon, died at the age of 45, nine years ago.

She said if this was her first season at the helm she might have been dismayed, but now she was ”more educated” about the fluctuations that occurred due to the climate. . . 

Alliance beefs up black stilts’ diet – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group might have customers in 65 countries but a group of long-legged consumers living in Twizel are among the most unusual.

Each week, ox hearts from Alliance plants are frozen and sent to the Smithfield plant, where they are put through a very specific process to meet requirements for the Department of Conservation’s captive breeding programme for endangered black stilts (kaki).

The hearts are thawed and trimmed of excess fat, then minced, refrozen and cut into blocks for delivery to the programme. . . 

Hemp deal to spin green yarn – Annette Scott:

A new strategic partnership between New Zealand Yarn and Hemp NZ is set to be the catalyst for market-leading hemp fibre processing.

It will lead development of innovative products developed from hemp yarn, wool and hemp blends and non-woven hemp products.

NZ Yarn is owned by Carrfields Primary Wool (CPW) and independent investors including farmers, wool growers and others passionate about the wool industry and showcasing NZ wool yarn on a global scale.  . . 

That was 2018 – now for 2019 – Allan Barber:

2018 is over and it’s now timely to look at how many of last year’s key challenges will continue into the New Year.

From a New Zealand domestic perspective the attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis has had the biggest impact on farming, most of it focused on the relatively small number of properties forced to cull their entire herd, some of it directed at those properties under surveillance or Notice of Direction, and some of it on the agricultural service industry, including meat processors, cartage contractors, stock agents and saleyards, as well as calf clubs and A&P shows.

Following calving MPI is optimistic the disease may have been eradicated which would be the first time any country has achieved such an outcome. However it is still too early to say with complete confidence the hitherto impossible has been achieved. 2019 will almost certainly be the year we know for sure, one way or the other. . . 

 

94-year-old ‘shepherding legend’ scoops prestigious award

A 94-year-old ‘shepherding legend’ has scooped an award dedicated to recognising farmers who make a significant contribution to farming in the Inner Hebrides.

Hill farmer Sandy McKirdy, from Dalmally in Bute, is this year’s recipient of the Stalwart award, presented annually by NFU Scotland.

The award was created in 2016 in recognition and memory two Inner Hebrides farmers, Bert Leitch and Lachlan MacLean, who passed away in 2015. . . 

Global timber and wood products market update:

Declining trade of softwood lumber, plummeting lumber prices in the US and slowing wood demand in China were some of the biggest international lumber developments in the 3Q/18, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly.

WRQ – 31 Years of Global Wood Price Reporting

Global Softwood Lumber Trade

Global trade of softwood lumber from January through September 2018 was down 2.5% as compared to the same period last year. China, Japan, the United Kingdom and the MENA region reduced their imports, while the US and continental Europe have imported more lumber this year than in 2017. . .


Rural round-up

November 11, 2018

Sheepish by name not by nature – Andrew Stewart:

As a teenager Sophie Barnes decided she wanted to be a very good sheep farmer. Then she heard the best sheep farmers weren’t in her native Britain but on the other side of the world. Undaunted, she sold up, packed up and came to New Zealand. Andrew Stewart charts her journey.

Seventeen is a very young age to know exactly what you want to do with your life. But it was when Sophie Barnes discovered her love for sheep farming and realised it was going to be her lifelong passion.

The young girl from Nottingham was working on a British farm when she saw a ewe giving birth in an indoor barn at 3am.

Experiencing the birth and offering some help was an epiphany for Sophie and from that moment on there was only one thing she wanted to do – be the best sheep farmer possible. . .

 

Lack of rural health professionals will result in crisis – GPs :

Shortages of doctors and nurses in the regions are reaching crisis level, warn rural GPs. 

The Rural General Practice Network is backing calls for rural health schools to embed a wide range of health professionals inside rural communities.

Its chief executive Dalton Kelly said such programmes had proved successful in Canada and Australia – but New Zealand had been slow to act.

“Already a quarter of rural practices have vacancies that we are struggling to fill and it is harder and harder to attract medical professionals into rural communities,” he said. . .

Opportunity for Fonterra: smaller, more focused, more profitable, says FNZC – Pattrick Smellie:

Fonterra has a rare opportunity to shed assets that aren’t performing, write down others to attract investment partners, and become a company more focused on value than volume, says First NZ Capital.

Head of institutional research Arie Dekker says the new senior management, by dropping capital expenditure intentions in the year ahead to $650 million from $1.005 billion, have already given an important signal that they will “address one of the key hygiene factors necessary to make it a more investable proposition.”

“Fonterra Shareholders Fund needs to show greater respect in its use of what we continue to highlight is scarce access to capital,” Dekker said in a note to clients. “Farmers and investors have lost considerable wealth from poorly thought-out and executed investment outside the core business in recent years.” . . 

Happy medium needed in hops growth – Pam TIpa:

NZ Hops Ltd has at least quadrupled the value of its co-operative during the past 10 years.

Chief executive Doug Donelan says the Tasman-based 27-member producer co-op has grown from about $8 million to about $35m gross revenue.

But he says the co-op believes growth needs to be managed to ensure the significant increases in volumes that are coming on stream can be marketed. . .

Young Viticulturist wins Young Horticulturist of the Year 2018:

A huge congratulations to Annabel Bulk from Felton Road for becoming the Young Horticulturist of the Year 2018. Having won the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year competition at the end of August, she went on to represent the viticultural sector in this tough and prestigious competition.

The competition was held over the 7th and 8th November, where Annabel competed against five other finalists from other horticultural sectors – Landscaping NZ, Horticulture NZ, NZ Plant Producers, NZ Flower Growers and NZ Amenity Horticulture. . .

Cattle quadruple the protein value of corn – Abby Bauer:

It takes approximately 1,400 pounds of corn to finish out a steer. Would we be better off feeding that corn to humans instead?

Associate Professor Tyron Wickersham and colleagues at Texas A&M University have done work to answer that very question. He shared this information during a media event coordinated by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

He explained that there is a subset of people who favor the adoption of a plant-based diet, believing it is a better option for optimizing the food supply and human health, protecting the environment, and maintaining social justice. Yet, humans in general prefer and demand livestock protein sources when they have the money to buy them. . . 


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