Rural round-up

July 20, 2017

Woman of the land counts herself lucky – Rose Harding:

Kate MacFarlane has always known what she wanted to do.

She grew up on Waiterenui Angus Stud at Raukawa so is a farm girl “to her DNA” and considers herself lucky in her life.

Lucky that her parents, Will and Viv, told her to follow her dreams, lucky she was able to travel and gain experience overseas, lucky she got the jobs she wanted and lucky with all the “amazing people” who have helped her. . . 

The mysteries of grass-fed milk – Keith Woodford:

Here in New Zealand, we live the notion that milk from grass-fed cows is superior to milk from cows fed other rations. Supposedly it is better for health. And supposedly the cows are happier if they can dance around in the sunshine doing what comes naturally. And supposedly it makes us more cost-efficient than our international competitors.

There is an element of truth to all of the above notions. But more often than not there is lots of myth intertwined with truth. Here, I want to tease out what is truth, what is myth, what depends on specific context, and some things that are still unknown. . . 

Sunless season dries up olive oil production – Susan Murray:

New Zealand’s olive oil producers have had a tough production season.

Harvesting is just ending, and for some growers their fruit volume and oil production is less than half last year’s.

Andrew Priddle is a Wairarapa olive grower and harvester and said there has been a lack of sunshine hours in summer and autumn, and the crops had matured three weeks later than usual.

He said the late crops led to more bird damage and coincided with an “off” year for the biennially producing trees. . . 

“Nightmare’ kumara season for farmers:

A kumara famer has described this year as a nightmare, with horrendous weather cutting the yield of red kumara by up to 45 percent.

The low yield of all varieties has had a big impact on prices as Statistics New Zealand reported kumara hit a high of more than $8 a kilo last month.

John Adolf from the kumara co-operative Delta Produce, said this year had been a shock for farmers after last season’s bumper crop.

A wet, cold spring, a long dry summer and heavy downpours through autumn caused major headaches for farmers, he said. . . 

$300,000 to help preserve native bush and fauna:

The Forest Bridge Trust has been awarded $300,000 from the Community Environment Fund, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson announced today.

“The vision of The Forest Bridge Trust is to create a connected landscape of healthy forest and flourishing indigenous wildlife from the Kaipara Harbour in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. They plan to achieve that vision by connecting up bush remnants, fencing, planting and doing weed and pest control throughout the area,” Mr Simpson says. . . 

CropLogic plans A$8 mln IPO in ASX listing – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – CropLogic, the agricultural technology company, has launched its prospectus and is planning an A$8 million capital raising before listing on the ASX.

The Christchurch-based company is offering 40 million shares at 20 Australian cents each with a minimum subscription of 25 million shares, or A$5 million. The capital will be used to fund market development, research & development, ASX listing costs and working capital, it said. In May, it completed an A$2 million pre-initial public offering funding round. . . 

Polluted waterways issue widens town and country divide:

The contentious issue of our polluted waterways is deepening a country and town divide, with many farmers saying they are being unfairly blamed by city folk.

“We get lambasted by these allegations for polluting the rivers when in Canterbury we have very few polluted rivers whatsoever,” Canterbury dairy farmer Willie Leferenk said.

Further north sheep and beef farmer Lydia Murchison has noticed that townies seem to have lumped all farmers together. . . 

Farm sales and prices inch down in three months to June on year – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – The number of farms sold in the three months inched down on the year as did the median price per hectare for all farms, pointing to a softening tone in the rural real estate market, the Real Estate Institute said.

There were 459 sales in the year ended June 2017, 13 fewer than the same period a year earlier, or a decline of 2.8 percent. The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to June 2017 was $25,992 versus $26,361 in the same period a year earlier, a decline of 1.4 percent.

Eight regions recorded increases in sales volumes on the year in the three months ended June. Otago recorded the largest increase in sales, with 13 more sales, followed by Gisborne where nine more farms were sold. . . 

Nominations for Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election Open Monday:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election open Monday, 17 July with an election to be held for three farmer-elected Directors.

The Independent Nomination process will be run first with nominations needing to have been received by the Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp of electionz.com by 12 noon on Monday, 7 August 2017.

The Returning Officer will announce the Independent Nomination process candidates on Monday, 11 September 2017. . . 

Autogrow announces global first API Solution for indoor agriculture:

Autogrow has become the first of the established players to launch an API (Application Programming Interface) for indoor agricultural growers; greenhouses, vertical urban, containers, plant factories, offering access to data traditionally not available to them.

Called MyData(v0.2), this is the first release in a series of cloud-based solutions offering a universally accessible API to recent and historical growing data including light and relative humidity, wind speed, pH and EC. With a 24-hour data refresh and 180-day historical data available, growers will be able to utilise their information to discover operational insights or even custom-build or develop their own data solutions, services or apps without limitations. . . 

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Oh you did 20 reps at the gym? Cool story Bro. #AgProud


Rural round-up

June 15, 2017

More funding to support rural mental wellness:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have committed another joint funding boost to rural mental health.

The Ministers committed $500,000 for Rural Mental Wellness at the opening of the Fieldays Rural Health Hub earlier today.

It will go towards 20 workshops for rural health professionals treating people at risk of suicide, continued support for the rural Clinical Champions and Medical Director, as well as support aimed at younger rural workers.

“The Government recognises that rural life goes in cycles, and we want to support our rural communities through the ups and downs,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Rural Mental Wellness initiative is administered by Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and Rural Support Trusts. . . 

Helping farmers return home safely:

Last year, 18 people died as a result of work-related incidents in agriculture, accounting for 36 per cent of all work related fatalities in 2016. This is significantly higher than any other primary industry.

The introduction of the 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act and WorkSafe’s ongoing scrutiny requires businesses to understand and adapt to minimise potential for harm to employees and contractors.

To help agri-businesses keep their employees and contractors safe, Safetrac has partnered with MinterEllisonRuddWatts to develop an interactive online training course. . . 

Sustainable farming fund hits 1000th project:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Louise Upston have tonight celebrated the 1000th Sustainable Farming Fund project, and awarded two Emerging Leaders scholarships at an event kicking off National Fieldays.

“The Sustainable Farming Fund supports the primary sector’s own forward thinking and kiwi ingenuity – which in turn helps keeps New Zealand ahead of the game,” says Mr Guy. 

“1000 projects have now been funded since the fund was initiated in 2000. This represents around $150 million in government funding alongside a significant level of sector support.

“The fund has supported projects as diverse as reducing nutrient run off on lowland farms, reducing use of antimicrobials when managing mastitis, and increasing the market share for New Zealand olive oil,” Mr Guy says.

Ms Upston says much of the success of the fund is due to its grass-roots nature. . . 

Commonsense prevails on firearms recommendations says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that Police Minister Paula Bennett has listened to the concerns of the rural community on the Parliamentary Select Committee report into the illegal possession of firearms.

Minister Bennett rejected 12 of the 20 recommendations made by the committee that would have significantly impacted on licensed firearms owners- but done little to stop firearms getting into the hands of criminals. . . 

Vegetable prices up 31 percent in year to May:

Higher lettuce prices helped push vegetable prices up a record 31 percent in the year to May 2017, Stats NZ said today. Overall, food prices increased 3.1 percent in the year.

“Our wet autumn has pushed vegetable prices to their highest level in almost six years in May, with the largest annual increase to vegetables on record,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “The increase was more pronounced because warmer-than-usual weather in the 2016 growing season resulted in cheaper-than-usual vegetable prices in May last year.” . . 

NZ agriculture needs to latch onto tech faster:

New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.

A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says. . . 

Smaller NZ wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however, export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . 

Bellamy’s to pay Fonterra A$28M to change supply contract as it struggles to crack China – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bellamy’s Australia plans to raise A$60.4 million from shareholders and will pay nearly half of that to New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group in order to change their milk supply contract in its quest to comply with Chinese import regulations.

The two companies have been in negotiations this year after announcing changes to their take-or-pay organic powder contract. Fonterra and Bellamy’s first entered into a five-year, multi-million dollar deal to manufacture a range of baby nutritional powders at the Darnum infant formula plant in south-east Victoria in November 2015. . . 

Wrightson warns wet autumn will weigh on annual earnings Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, whose chief executive yesterday signalled his departure at the end of the year, warned a wet autumn sapped the performance of its seed and grain business and will weigh on annual earnings.

The Christchurch-based company said it expects operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be in the bottom half of its earlier guidance for earnings of between $62 million and $68 million, while net profit will be near the low end of its previous forecast for between $46 million and $51 million. . . 

Rural sector stabilises despite challenges:

Rural businesses show signs of improvement despite facing constrained business environment

However, 1-in-5 rural businesses expecting no change from technology a “cause for concern”

As Fieldays 2017 kicks off, a new survey by accounting software provider MYOB reveals rural businesses are showing strong signs of economic improvement despite a constrained environment. . . 

Fieldays an opportunity for careers advice:

More than 500 students will be offered advice on careers in the primary industries as they pass through the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays this week.

Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Louise Upston says that with strong growth in the primary sector anticipated over the next few years, the Government was encouraging more young people to consider careers in primary industries.

A number of schools, totalling more than 500 students, have registered to visit the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Careers NZ will be among those offering advice to young people considering such a career. . . 

Plenty to celebrate for Zespri at Mystery Creek :

Kiwifruit’s growing importance to the rural economy is being celebrated at Fieldays 2017 at Mystery Creek this week, together with the 20-year anniversary of the Zespri brand.

The kiwifruit marketer has a large presence at the biggest agricultural and horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, hosting growers and industry stakeholders at its hospitality site over the four-day event. . . 

Wrightson boss Mark Dewdney to leave at the end of the year – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson chief executive Mark Dewdney will leave the rural services firm at the end of the year, by which time a new leadership team is expected to be in place.

Dewdney will end three-and-a-half years in charge of the Christchurch-based company at the end of 2017 “to pursue private interests”, and will help the board install a new leadership group by 2018, Wrightson said in a statement. Chairman Alan Lai said Dewdney had done an “excellent job” in building staff engagement and targeting growth in certain areas of the business.. . 

Vodafone calls on rural Kiwis to check their coverage at this year’s Fieldays:

Thousands of rural Kiwis are within reach of better broadband and Vodafone is on a mission to end their ‘buffering blues’ at this year’s Fieldays.

The company is challenging visitors to use its brand new interactive coverage wall to see if they can get a faster and more reliable broadband connection where they live.

In addition to super-fast wireless broadband, Vodafone has a range of coverage solutions on display to help rural New Zealanders improve their connection to the world. . . 

BEC Feed Solutions expands to meet growth:

BEC Feed Solutions has expanded its New Zealand operation with the appointment of Rhys Morgan as South Island Sales Representative. The new position was created following substantial business growth after a successful three years in business, and the desire to expand BEC’s presence in the South Island.

Reporting to BEC Country Manager, Trina Parker, Mr Morgan will be accountable for growing the business via the sale of ingredients, solution-focused feed additives and premixes within the South Island. He will also have responsibility for developing the company’s presence in the dairy sector, in addition to account managing a number of existing clients across New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

May 19, 2017

Farmers ‘dead keen’ to improve water practices – council – Alexa Cook:

A group of farmers near Whakatāne are working with the regional council to try and improve water quality by changing the way they farm.

Agribusiness consultant Ailson Dewes has gathered about 15 dairy farmers on behalf of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to understand more about how their farming systems can impact water quality.

Ms Dewes said the group was facing the issue head-on.

“They are sitting around the table, they are exposing all their numbers in terms of the health of their business, their environmental footprint, the way they farm – and they’re saying ‘we realise the way we farmed in the past is not the way we can farm in the future’. . . 

2017 Dairy Award Winners Environmentally Conscious

The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners and finalists represent a group of people who are acutely aware of environmental issues and the dairy industry’s role in farming responsibly.

In front of nearly 550 people at Auckland’s Sky City Convention Centre last night, Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley were named the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Hayley Hoogendyk became the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Clay Paton was announced the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $190,000. . . 

Fonterra Australia to pay more in 2017/18 season with improving business, milk price –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group says an improvement in its Australian business and rising milk prices mean it will be able to pay its suppliers more in the season that kicks off in six weeks.

Fonterra Australia expects to pay its Australian suppliers a range of A$5.30-to-A$5.70 per kilogram of milk solids in the 2017/18 season as well as an additional payment of 40 Australian cents/kgMS. It paid A$5.20/kgMS in the season that is just ending. . . 

Counterfeits, name recognition a challenge for Zespri in quest for Chinese market dominance – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group’s expansion into China is continuing at pace, after the country last year overtook Japan as its biggest retail market, though the company is battling against counterfeiting and theft from local growers who want a slice of its market.

Lewis Pan, the fruit marketer’s China country manager, says Zespri is focusing on brand recognition to shore up its dominance in the market. China delivered almost $300 million in revenue in the 2016 financial year, a 60 percent lift on a year earlier, and accounting for 16 percent of Zespri’s total $1.91 billion of revenue that . . 

Wilding pines control work nears million hectare mark:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say wilding pines control work has nearly reached its first year target of a million hectares.

“20 per cent of New Zealand will be covered in unwanted wilding conifers within 20 years if their spread isn’t stopped. They already cover more than 1.8 million hectares of New Zealand and until now have been spreading at about 5 per cent a year,” Mr Guy says.

“The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme was put in place in 2016 to prevent their spread and systematically remove them from much of the land already taken over.” . . 

Ten years after the crisis what is happening to the world’s bees? –  Simon Klein:

Ten years ago, beekeepers in the United States raised the alarm that thousands of their hives were mysteriously empty of bees. What followed was global concern over a new phenomenon: Colony Collapse Disorder. The Conversation

Since then we have realised that it was not just the US that was losing its honey bees; similar problems have manifested all over the world. To make things worse, we are also losing many of our populations of wild bees too.

Losing bees can have tragic consequences, for us as well as them. Bees are pollinators for about one-third of the plants we eat, a service that has been valued at €153 billion (US$168 billion) per year worldwide.

Ten years after the initial alarm, what is the current status of the world’s bee populations, and how far have we come towards understanding what has happened? . . .

Delegat grape harvest growth slows, still has enough stock to meet projected sales – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Delegat Group recorded a small gain in its Australian and New Zealand grape harvest but has enough stock on hand to meet its projected sales targets for the coming year.

The Auckland-based winemaker, whose brands include Oyster Bay, had a 4 percent increase in the New Zealand harvest to 34,595 tonnes, while its Australian harvest grew 6 percent to 2,760 tonnes, it said in a statement. Last year, Delegat’s New Zealand harvest expanded 33 percent from a weather-affected crop in 2015, while the Australian vineyards delivered a 56 percent increase in 2016. . . 


Rural round-up

February 24, 2017

Isn’t agriculture really just at war with liberals? – Uptown Farms (Kate Lambert):

Last week after a speech, a young college student approached me. Eager to connect, she started with, “Do you ever get completely frustrated with these liberals?”

Her question was intriguing to me. Not because it was unique, the exact opposite. Because it was so common.

Almost without fail, when I get the chance to talk to producers about the desperate need to tell the story of agriculture, someone asks a similar, politically loaded question.

But it’s a fair question, isn’t it? In this politically correct era, surely a blogger can still call a spade a spade?

Because isn’t the reality that our enemies are easily identifiable? Isn’t agriculture really just at war with liberals? . . .

WTO agreement a victory for NZ exporters:

Trade Minister Todd McClay has welcomed the entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) saying it is a big win for New Zealand exporters.

“The TFA will benefit all New Zealand exporters and is particularly good for small and medium sized enterprises. The TFA reduces the cost, administration and time burden associated with getting products across borders and into the marketplace,” Mr McClay says.

“New Zealand’s agricultural exporters will also benefit significantly from a provision to hasten the release of perishable goods within the shortest possible time.”

A rising tide of protectionism could hit NZ dairy sector hard: NZIER –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s economy would be hard hit if there is a retreat to protectionism in the global dairy sector, a report from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has found.

“In the current global trading system, the tide of protectionism is rising. Brexit and the initial trade policy proclamations by Donald Trump both point to a challenging environment for further trade liberalisation, at least in the short term,” said NZIER in the report for the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand. Against this backdrop there is an increasing risk that tariffs could be lifted rather than reduced, it added. . . 

Bobby calf death rate halved over a year – but still room for improvement – Gerald Piddock:

Bobby calf deaths more than halved after a big improvement in their transportation welfare last spring.

A new report from the Ministry for Primary Industries showed the mortality rate went from 0.25 per cent in 2015 to 0.12 per cent last year.

Last year 2255 calves were reported dead or condemned during the time they were collected for transport to their slaughter from 1,935,054 calves processed.

Young NZers chase endless shearing season – Alexa Cook:

The declining number of sheep in New Zealand and changes in weather patterns are driving more shearers to chase work around the globe.

The national sheep flock is now about 27 million, a big drop from the 70m or so sheep that the country had in 1982.

Jacob Moore from Marton is part of a group of about 60 young shearers who follow the summer seasons for work.

Mr Moore said for shearers who were at the top of their game and established locally, there was full-time work and contractors tended to hold on to them for many seasons.

Wool market strengthens:

NZ Wool Services CEO John Dawson reports 4600 bales on offer this week saw an 87 percent clearance with mostly positive results, with lambs wool increasing considerably.

The weighted currency indicator is down 0.34 percent having a small but positive impact.

More growers are continuing to hold back wool, further reducing volume which is restricting supply in some categories.

Mr Dawson advises compared to the last South Island selection on 16 February; . . 

A2 CEO, chair sell down holdings following strong first-half earnings – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co’s chief executive and chair have sold down their stakes in the milk marketing firm, less than a week after reporting first-half profit more than tripled as demand for its A2 Platinum infant formula surged in its key Australia, New Zealand and China businesses.

Chair David Hearn sold 1 million shares for about $2.5 million, or $2.48 a share, on Friday, while chief executive Geoffrey Babidge sold 900,000 shares for $2.2 million, or an average price of $2.49, yesterday. Hearn gained the shares by exercising 1 million of his 5 million options, for which he paid $630,000, with the sale to facilitate a property transaction in the UK to move his personal residence, according to documents published to the NZX. . . 

Maize crops ‘worst in 30 years’ – Alexa Cook:

Farmers in drought-hit Northland battling with a shortage of stock feed are also experiencing the worst maize harvest in 30 years. . 

Northland Regional Council is warning farmers to be careful with feed reserves and not get too excited about the recent rain.

The council said the drought meant some farmers had already used up their extra supplementary feed, which was being saved for the autumn and winter months.

Northland dairy farmer Even Sneath said it had been a terrible season for growing crops. . . 

Busy summer for MPI biosecurity staff:

Faced with record numbers of international visitors this summer, Ministry for Primary Industries biosecurity staff have intercepted risk goods ranging from the bizarre to the potentially devastating for New Zealand’s economy and environment.

Some of the unusual airport interceptions so far this summer include:

• A chilly bin of live spanner crabs from Thailand presented to officers at Wellington Airport.

• Fruit fly larvae in mangos found at Auckland Airport inside a suitcase from Malaysia jammed full of plant produce and other food. . . 

New Zealanders Offered Sweet Investment:

New Zealanders are being invited to invest money for honey in a revolutionary hive sharing initiative launching today.

Whanganui-based Canaan Honey has launched a PledgeMe crowdsourcing campaign for investors looking to get a sweet return: a lifetime supply of honey.

A launch party last night saw the season’s first harvest of honey with a 3kg bonus honey offered to the first 10 signups.

Hive Share lets backers around New Zealand become beehive owners, without the fuss of having to look after the hive. . . 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2017

Global milk production downturn bodes well – Simon Hartley:

The global downturn in milk production bodes well for New Zealand’s dairy farmers for much of 2017 and is increasing the likelihood of a boost in estimated payouts.

Between the key whole milk powder prices rising 45% during the past six months and six of the seven major dairy-producing countries reporting production declines, Rabobank’s dairy quarterly report paints a reasonably positive outlook for 2017.

However, recovery may become the catchphrase of the current season, as opposed to outright profitability, and the US currency may yet have a major impact, and on various markets.

Co-author Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins said the recent rally in global dairy prices heralded further positives as global efforts to increase overall production would take time. . . 

A woman valued and connected within the dairy industry – Anne Boswell:

Anne Boswell talks to an Atiamuri dairy farmer who can’t sit still, busy with family, friends, land and organisations helping farming women succeed.

Connection – to one’s family, friends and like-minded people – is fundamental to personal wellbeing but can be challenging for farmers, says Atiamuri dairy farmer and Dairy Women’s Network trustee Karen Forlong.

“Fundamentally we are hard-wired to need to belong to something, to feel a connection to something over and above ‘I am what I work at’,” she says. 

“Farming’s a business, but it’s so much more than that, and equally, the success of my farm does not define me as a person.” . . 

Ryan looks forward to challenges:

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s new General Manager James Ryan is looking forward to the challenges the new job will bring.

Christchurch-based James Ryan, a former policy manager with DairyNZ, was appointed in October this year.  

He says the Trust will play a crucial role in guiding farmers through an era of increasingly complex sustainability issues. . . 

Fonterra & LIC Set to Release Farm Performance System – Agrigate:

Fonterra and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) are in the final stages of developing an online tool, Agrigate, designed specifically to help farmers improve their farm performance through the use of their existing data.

Agrigate has been developed by the two farmer-owned co-operatives to make it easier for farmers to:

• access key information about their farming business in one place

• identify areas where they can benchmark their performance on a scale that they have not been able to in the past

• make smarter and faster decisions

• manage their environmental information (e.g. nutrient management) . . 

NZ commodity prices rise for eighth month, buoyed by dairy recovery – Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand commodity prices rose in December, the eighth consecutive monthly gain, as dairy prices continued to improve.

The ANZ Commodity Price Index advanced 0.7 percent in December to 277.3 and was up 16.5 percent on an annual basis. In New Zealand dollar terms the index increased 2 percent in the month and rose 9.4 percent on an annual basis as the kiwi eased against the greenback and the British pound.

Dairy was the standout performer as tight global milk supplies and improved Chinese import demand continued to be the main drivers, said ANZ agri economist Con Williams. . . .

Comvita expects to realise $30M from sale of Medihoney, shares in US partner – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the manuka honey products company, has sold its Medihoney brand to US partner Derma Sciences for about $19 million, and will reap a further $11 million selling Derma shares in a takeover offer of the Nasdaq-listed company.

The gross proceeds of the Medihoney deal will amount to US$13.25 million, with a US$5 million earnout payable on sales milestones being achieved, Comvita said in a statement to the NZX. Comvita also owns 1.1 million shares in Derma Sciences, which announced on Jan. 10 that it will be acquired by Nasdaq-listed Integra LifeSciences for US$7 per share by the end of March. That values Comvita’s stake at about $11 million, it said. . . 

Fonterra extends sway over Aussie dairy industry with Bellamy’s ‘poison pill’ – Brian Robbins:

Fonterra is in the box seat to control the future of Australian company Bellamy’s Organic under an effective “poison pill” arrangement that can be triggered if a shareholder group controls more than 30 per cent of Bellamy’s capital.

The troubled infant formula group outlined details on Wednesday of a new arrangement with Fonterra that allows the New Zealand group to terminate a key supply deal if a shareholder group controls more than 30 per cent of the Tasmanian company’s capital.

The disclosure, along with news of the replacement of Laura McBain, the chief executive of Bellamy’s, by another senior executive, Andrew Cohen, on an interim basis, came as part of a trading update to investors. . . 

Tasmanian dairy company Bellamy’s CEO Laura McBain to leave after price plummet – Caitlin Jarvis:

Launceston-headquartered dairy company Bellamy’s has replaced chief executive Laura McBain.

The embattled baby formula company announced to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) that Andrew Cohen has been appointed acting chief executive.

The announcement was made by the organic dairy company’s chairman Rob Woolley. . . 

Bid to heritage list Brumbies – John Ellicott:

Brumbies may be protected for their cultural heritage value in new legislation being drawn up and already, according to the proponents, met with approval by NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro.

With  the expected release soon of the new Wild Horse Management Plan, lobby groups are fighting to preserve substantial brumby populations in national parks, especially  in Kosciuszko National Park.

The Snowy Mountains Bush Users Group wants to prevent a culling of brumbies, which may form part of the new management plan – with ground shooting touted as the most likely form of control. . . 

North And South Island Wool Auctions Receive Varied Support:

New Zealand Wool Services International ltd’s CEO Mr John Dawson reports that the wool auctions in the North and South Islands this week produced considerable price variations for comparative types with the North Island levels well below the South’s.

Of the 19500 bales on offer, 7804 percent sold with the weighted currency indicator, compared to the last sale on 21st December was 1.62 percent higher, adding more downward pressure on local prices.

Mr Dawson advises that the South Island sale compared to when last sold on 15 December saw; . .. 

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Only a farm kid ‘gets’ this.


Rural round-up

November 9, 2016

MIE tried hard but couldn’t make a difference – Allan Barber:

MIE’s decision to disband after three years trying to persuade the red meat sector it was going to hell in a handcart has come as no surprise. But the organisation’s founders and directors are not unnaturally disappointed at their inability to gain support for their plan to solve the endemic problems of the industry.

MIE’s chairman Dave McGaveston has blamed everybody for MIE’s failure, including the government, directors of Silver Fern Farms and Alliance (especially the MIE candidates who were appointed to their boards), the rural media, Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb NZ. The last named organisation actually provided nearly $300,000 of financial support for farmer awareness meetings, business plan preparation and production of the Pathways to Sustainability report. But it incurred MIE’s displeasure when it refused to provide further funding for a roadshow to drum up support for the group’s plans, correctly recognising this was beyond its remit. . . 

China’s Binxi Cattle to mount $25.3 million takeover for Blue Sky Meats –  Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – China-based Heilongjiang Binxi Cattle Industry Co intends to make a $25.3 million takeover offer for Blue Sky Meats, the Southland-based meat processor whose shares trade on the Unlisted platform.

NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods, a subsidiary of the Chinese company, will offer $2.20 per share for up to 100 percent of the shares, Blue Sky said in a statement to Unlisted. The formal takeover offer has not yet been made but is due within 30 days of the notification of intention. . . 

Lamb flap prices jump to 18-month high on Chinese New Year demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Lamb flap prices jumped to their highest level in a year and a half, driven by increased demand from China where buyers are stocking up for New Year celebrations.

The price for lamb flaps rose to US$4.70 per kilogram in October, up from US$4.50/kg in September and US$3.80/kg for the same period a year earlier, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly sheep & beef report. That’s the highest level recorded by AgriHQ’s since April 2015. . . 

Sydney shows off ag’s opportunities:

GROWING confidence in global agricultural is putting fizz back into the farm sector, and Rabobank’s innovation summit in Sydney today is yet another example of the investment communities’ interest.

Focused on food trends and new business development, 1000 local and international farmers are mingling with ag start up companies, investors and industry leaders on Cockatoo Island, formerly a convict prison barracks, Navy dockyard and now a UNESCO world heritage site. . . 

 

New programme tackling disruptive innovations for primary industries:

Five years ago, a small team of tech enthusiasts laid the groundwork for a new primary industry event for Australasia, MobileTECH. The objective was to bring together and showcase mobile innovations designed to increase productivity within the sector.

In a sector where meetings, conferences, expos or field days run every other week, it was always important that this event had to have a clear purpose. Those involved were excited about the growth in mobile technologies for the rural sector and in the rapid developments in cloud computing, wireless sensors, big data, satellite imagery and others.

In its design, it needed to be an independent programme about the technology and what it can do; not about politics, markets or the business buzzwords of the day. . .

Vegetable industry joins GIA partnership:

The vegetable industry has become the twelfth industry partner to join the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“It’s great to have Vegetables New Zealand Incorporated signed up and working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and other industry partners,” says Mr Guy.

“It means we can work together on managing and responding to the most important biosecurity risks. . . 

Fresh vegetable industry signs biosecurity agreement:

Vegetables New Zealand Incorporated today signed an agreement with Government to better protect the fresh vegetable growers it represents in managing biosecurity procedures.

Vegetables NZ Inc is the governing body representing 900 commercial growers who produce more than 50 crops, with a farm gate value of over $390 million per annum, to supply the increasing demands of sophisticated customers both in New Zealand and in our export markets.

The Deed of the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for Biosecurity Readiness and Response was signed by representatives from Vegetables NZ Inc and government at Parliament, with Martyn Dunne, chief executive of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew in attendance. Vegetables NZ Inc joins 12 other primary sector industry groups that have joined with the government in the GIA partnership. . . 

Are dairy fats beneficial for good health?

For decades, experts advised people to reduce their fat intake, however they now agree that fats are actually beneficial for people’s health, and dairy fats have an important role to play.

Fonterra Senior Research Scientist and Nutritionist, Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum, explained that the idea that fat makes you fat was flawed. Research today shows that, people who eliminated fats from their diet often replaced them with refined carbohydrates, which in turn is thought to have contributed to the double burden of obesity and diabetes.

“Fat not only provides a valuable source of energy, but also delivers key building blocks for the body and essential, fat-soluble vitamins. Dairy, which is a natural source of fat, plays a key part in this because it is packed full of nutrients. . . 


Rural round-up

May 26, 2016

Record-breaking 2015/16 kiwifruit season: volumes, returns grow:

The 2015/16 kiwifruit season broke records for the industry and Zespri with the biggest-ever total return to growers, highest-ever Green return per hectare and record sales volumes for both Zespri Green and Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains total sales revenue for the season also grew to hit $1.9 billion, up 21 percent from the previous season. The total fruit and service payment to growers for New Zealand-grown fruit increased 22 percent on the previous year to $1.143 billion, with average return per hectare reaching a record $60,758. . . 

FMA concludes assessment of complaints against Silver Fern Farms:

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has concluded its assessment of complaints received about Silver Fern Farms Limited (SFF) and will be taking no further action.

The FMA received a small number of complaints in April 2016 relating to Silver Fern Farms Limited and documents released to its shareholders in September 2015. A complaint was also made about the resolution approving the transaction with Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co. Ltd (Shanghai Maling).

The FMA considered whether information sent to SSF’s shareholders could be substantiated and concluded that SFF’s Notice of Meeting and Shareholder Information Pack, dated September 2015, was not misleading or deceptive. . . 

International Campaign Set to Boost NZ Dairy Exports:

A new multi-million-dollar marketing campaign has begun to educate Australian, Chinese and ultimately U.S consumers on the health benefits of New Zealand’s grass fed dairy products.

The international campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the benefits of consuming milk products from grass fed cows over those raised organically. It’s all part of the introduction of new Munchkin Grass Fed™ milk-based formula and toddler drinks. Milk matters because it is the key ingredient in infant formula and toddler milk drinks, constituting up to 65% of the powder. . . 

Higher fruit exports offset dairy fall:

Goods exports rose 4.0 percent in April 2016, up $166 million to $4.3 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today. Fruit exports led the rise, up $59 million (16 percent), offsetting a similar fall in dairy values.

Gold kiwifruit rose $53 million (53 percent), but was partly offset by a fall in green kiwifruit, down $38 million (35 percent). Apples rose $39 million (29 percent), with apple exports to Taiwan up $16 million (91 percent). Taiwan was New Zealand’s top destination for apples in April 2016, beating out the United States and the United Kingdom.

Among other export commodities, untreated logs, foodstuffs such as dietary supplements and savoury fillings, and beef and lamb all rose in value this month. . . 

Comvita to beef up honey supply in new joint venture – Sophie Boot

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand manuka honey products maker Comvita is linking up with Blenheim-based apiary operator Putake Group to form a South Island-based honey business to meet global demand for manuka honey.

The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a 50:50 joint venture, named Putake Group Holdings, which would develop a wholesale honey business in the South Island, Te Puke-based Comvita said in a statement. Putake owns 1,200 hives and manages another 2,800 hives through separate joint venture arrangements. . . 

Advisory boards can offer guidance for farmers during a period of uncertainty:

As the agricultural sector grapples with high levels of dairy debt and increased volatility, Crowe Horwath’s Head of Agribusiness, Neil McAra, says farmers need to look at getting sound governance support.

McAra is a strong advocate for advisory boards which can assist farmers with the ability to make better decisions and can help improve business governance.

The value, scale and complexity of New Zealand farming operations have increased significantly over the last two decades. . . 

Rural Contractors annual conference coming up:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is encouraging all of its members – and any others interested in the agricultural contracting sector – to attend its annual conference being held in the Bay of Islands later next month.

Chief executive Roger Parton says this year’s RCNZ annual conference is being held at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort, in Paihia, from June 27-30.

“The conference is now only a month away and for those who have not registered yet; now is the time to do so,” he explains. “We will be unable to hold any accommodation past the end of this month, so if people want come they need to get their registrations in now.” . . 


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