Rural round-up

22/05/2020

RA 20 virus danger to NZ farming – Doug Edmeades:

There is another pandemic sweeping the nation. It is a new, exceedingly virulent virus, which is likely to do more damage to the New Zealand economy in the long-term than COVID-19, if left unchecked.

I am calling for an immediate lockdown – total elimination is essential to prevent New Zealand agriculture slipping back to the dark ages.

It is coded RA 20, but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. RA 20 is believed to have originated in the Great Plains in America. It quickly spread to the Australian Outback and then hopped the ditch to New Zealand.

Interestingly, like Covid-19, it is particularly severe in those weakened by other complicating factors. Some victims are known to have no knowledge of the important values of science, evidence, logic and reason. Another cohort includes those who know little about the principles of soil fertility, pasture management and animal husbandry.  . . 

Film gets monkey off his back – David Anderson:

A young Kiwi, Los Angeles-based, filmmaker has made good use of the lockdown period to help farmers battling with mental health issues.

Twenty-year-old Hunter Williams has shot and produced a short video that addresses the poorer mental health outcomes facing the rural sector. The short film encourages rural people to talk about the struggles they may be facing and not keep their feelings bottled up.

Williams told Rural News that he’d had his own mental health issues growing up and the film was something that was close to his heart. The eight minute documentary is called ‘The Monkeys on Our Backs’. Various farmers and organisations have been involved in the production, including the Rural Support Trust and Farmstrong.

Williams was raised in Hawkes Bay and comes from a large farming family. 

Venison marketers building on-line and retail sales :

Marketers of New Zealand farm-raised venison are making a concerted push to build sales through on-line outlets and through gourmet retailers. This gourmet product, normally sold mainly through food service distributors to chefs, has been particularly hard-hit by the sound of restaurant doors slamming shut around the globe.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says Covid-related restaurant shut-downs created a crisis for their food service suppliers and the farmers that supply them. Demand from chefs for NZ farm-raised venison – one of the industry’s greatest assets – overnight became a vulnerability.

“Fortunately our venison export marketers and/or their overseas partners already had small retail and on-line marketing programmes. They are now putting a lot of energy into generating more sales through these channels, while looking out for the green shoots of recovery in food service.” . . 

Potato prices reach all-time high in April:

Rising prices for potatoes, soft drinks (large bottles), capsicums, and fresh eggs saw overall food prices up 1.0 percent in April 2020, Stats NZ said today.

Potato prices rose 18 percent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo, an all-time peak.

Some media reports suggest the potato industry has seen a 30–50 percent increase in demand from supermarkets and a shortage of workers.

“Higher demand and a shortage of potato pickers, many of whom stayed home due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, could explain this large price increase,” consumer prices manager Bryan Downes said. . . 

Hunting industry requires domestic support:

New Zealand’s guided hunting industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and is appealing for support from domestic hunters looking for a unique hunting experience.

“Guided hunting was worth over $50 million a year to the New Zealand economy and provided primarily international visitors with fantastic Kiwi hunting experiences on both private and public land,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. “It has also been an extremely important employer in provincial regions and has a low impact on our environment.”

“It really has been a New Zealand tourism success story.” . . 

Why your rural sales reps won’t sell remotely – St John Craner:

Remote selling isn’t something new yet we’re seeing a lot of resistance to it right now.

Many clients are telling us their reps won’t sell remotely, complaining that they “need to see the customer”.

Whilst I buy that argument in-part, selling remotely has been around for a wee while. Phone, email or online have been a stable source of sales for years. They aren’t new technologies. 

The real reason why most sales reps feel they can’t sell remotely is because of fear. . . 


Rural round-up

02/03/2020

Global study to benchmark farms – Annette Scott:

A global study of regenerative agriculture is under way to identify chances to extract more value from sheep and beef exports.

Beef + Lamb is doing the study to understand the similarities and difference of regenerative agriculture to NZ farming practices.

The study will look at the opportunities for farmers and include a global consumer perspective to understand what potential there is for red meat exports.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said with increasing interest in regenerative agriculture here and abroad, sheep and beef farmers want to lead in that space.  . . 

The wool industry is still facing challenges – Pam Tipa:

The wool industry continues to face challenges with depressed wool prices for a third year in a row, says Primary Wool Cooperative chair Janette Osborne. 

“Combined with increased shearing and associated costs this now means a net loss on wool for many farmers,” she says in the co-op’s annual report

“We are also seeing an overall gradual decline in total wool volumes with both lambs and ewes going to the works woolly and lower grade oddments including dags being used on farm for environmental work.” . . 

Meat Businesswomen to address World Meat Conference:

Global networking group, Meat Business Women are stepping onto the world stage as they accept an invitation to speak at the World Meat Congress (WMC) in Cancun, Mexico on June 12. 

Touted as the most influential and informative event on the global meat industry calendar, the WMC brings together approximately 1,000 international delegates to discuss issues and trends affecting meat and livestock organisation which are fundamental for sector outlook. 

Meat Business Women Chair, Laura Ryan says she’s delighted with the opportunity to speak directly about the group’s goals to an audience that can instigate change.  . . 

History has a habit of repeating itself – St John Craner:

NZ Ag yet again faces a number of fronts. Plant-based food, trade wars, geopolitical tensions, coronavirus, commodity cycles and climate. Yet we have options. We can diversify our markets.

China’s coronavirus is highlighting the need for us to ensure we’re not over-reliant on one market. Maybe China is the easy option? Either way they say: “when you choose easy life can be hard, when you choose hard life can be easy”.

There are many other countries in South East Asia (49 to be precise) who want our world-class produce like India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Lao, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar. These countries’ economies are predicted to grow faster than China due to their own growing middle class who are earning higher incomes.  . . 

Farm societies have common issues – Ben Hancock:

This is the fifth and final in a series of articles written by the latest crop of Nuffield Scholars. This week Beef + Lamb insight and strategy analyst Ben Hancock looks at the possibility of farmers generating energy while combating climate change and being easier on the environment.

Farming the world over, as much as the context, production and scale vary, shows, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

After nearly six months on the road of my Nuffield journey I was struck by the similarities across continents and farming systems. 

So many of the issues we face in New Zealand can be translated to our counterparts around the world.  . . 

Elderly UK farmers should be paid to retire, says Minister :

UK Environment Secretary, George Eustice has an unusual solution to improving the environment: paying farmers to retire.

Speaking at the National Farmers’ Union’s 2020 Conference this week, Eustice said that some veteran farmers are ‘standing in the way of change’, reports The Telegraph.

He said that paying veteran farmers a lump sum would enable them to ‘retire with dignity’. . .


Rural round-up

24/09/2019

Consultant fulfilling passion for agriculture – Sally Rae:

He might not have ended up pursuing a hands-on farming or shearing career but Guy Blundell has still forged a profession in agriculture.

Mr Blundell is managing director of Compass Agribusiness, an agribusiness advisory, agri asset management and client partnership specialist.

Established a decade ago, it has head offices in both Arrowtown – where he lives – and Melbourne, where his business partner former Otago local Nigel Pannett leads the team, and has just opened a Dunedin office. . .

Fear, anger and mistrust in government at Mystery Creek freshwater meeting – Gerald Piddock:

Hundreds of angry farmers have confronted government officials at an environment roadshow. 

The Government’s freshwater policy reforms consultation event hit Waikato on Monday with over 500 people packing out the venue at Mystery Creek.

What officials heard was mistrust, cynicism and anger about the proposals from the largely rural audience. . .

Hawke’s Bay farmer’s heartfelt Facebook post goes viral :

A heartfelt social media post from Hawke’s Bay farmer Sam Stoddart has gone viral. In it he points out the strong connections New Zealand farmers have with the communities around them.

Stoddart told The Country he was surprised by the strong reaction to his post, which has had nearly 6000 reactions and nearly 3000 shares.

“For a vent to mates out of frustration on Facebook it certainly has gained some momentum.

I can’t believe the positive feedback though. For over 700 comments only about five are negative. Maybe the rural urban divide isn’t as big as we think. . .

Fonterra chairman John Monaghan due to step down in 2020 :

Fonterra chairman John Monaghan says he is due to retire next year and will work with the board to plan succession, but the company says he has not made up his mind about whether he will leave.

Monaghan was due to retire by rotation at next year’s annual meeting, at the end of his three-year term. 

“Having seen through the introduction of our new strategy, operating model, and with our divestment and debt reduction efforts well progressed, I will be working with the board in 2020 to facilitate chair succession. The timeline for that succession will be agreed by the board nearer to the time,” Monaghan said on Friday. . .

Food award finalist for preserved apricots in wine – Yvonne O’Hara:

Augustines of Central founder and Food Award finalist Gus Hayden, of Wanaka, is bottling “nostalgia”.

He was delighted and “pretty surprised” when he found out his preserved apricots in riesling and sugar syrup was one of 20 finalists in the Cuisine Artisan section of the New Zealand Food Awards.

Mr Hayden, who is a chef with Cardrona Terraces, Wanaka, uses spray-free apricots from two suppliers on Burn Cottage Rd, Cromwell, and Earnscleugh, near Alexandra. . .

Isn’t it time we stopped commoditising the crap out of everything. – St John Cramer:

Discounting destroys value and has always been a clear signal you’ve run out of ideas. So you end up pulling the crude cord called discounting.

Discounting is rife in Ag because it sometimes seems like it’s the only strategy we have left to compete which is always a race to the bottom.

We haven’t been very smart.

Discounting is disastrous for profits because the profit you didn’t make on that sale has to be replaced by the profit on the next sale. Worse, you condition your customers into lower prices and devalue your market positioning in the process. It also robs your business of the capital it needs to invest and grow in itself. . .


Rural round-up

22/09/2019

So farmers and businesses have ‘nothing to fear’ according to Ardern? – Henry Armstrong:

When the debate on a Capital Gains Tax was in full swing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was widely quoted as assuring farmers and small business owners that if a CGT were to be introduced, they had nothing to fear.

The productive sector and indeed most New Zealanders, quickly saw through this disingenuous claim and made their views known. The Ardern-led government quickly dropped that proposal-at least for now.

It seems the Ardern-led government learned nothing in the process. . . 

Under-siege farmers must engage – Alan Williams:

Sheep and beef farmers are under pressure on several regulatory fronts but still need to engage in the process, South Canterbury farming leader Mark Adams says.

“It’s really important that individual farmers get into this arena that they’re not comfortable in to convey their views and situations to the people making the decisions. 

“Those people need to hear from farmers on the ground.” . . 

Partnerships build success – Colin Williscroft:

Hard work, careful planning and a strong business focus helped George and Luce Williams win the 2019 Wairarapa Sheep and Beef Farm Business of the Year Award but, as the Tinui couple told Colin Williscroft, it’s been a team effort.

Well used to analysing their on-farm performance George and Luce Williams are forever grateful to the many other businesses that contribute to their farm’s smooth operation.

The Williams run Grassendale Genetics, a 1570ha (1040ha effective) farm on challenging hill country on Wairarapa’s east coast.

Though the location might be seen by some as isolated the couple have tapped into a community of talented rural and urban people to help build the strength of their business. . .

Award winners encourage entrants – Yvonne O’Hara:

Simon and Hilary Vallely are passionate about dairying.

They encourage those with a similar enthusiasm to enter the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ Southland/Otago regional competition. Entries open on October 1.

The couple, who won the 2018 Southland/Otago regional Share Farmers of the Year competition, are 50/50 sharemilkers near Gore with 490 cows and have a 210,000kgMS target. They also have bought land to raise beef animals as an investment.

The Vallelys recently became the new regional managers for the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, taking over the role from Darren Stenning. . .

‘Geogastronomy Club’ plan on menu – Hamish Maclean:

A forthcoming “Geogastronomy Club” proposal will outline what club members will need to commit to and what the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust can offer as benefits in return.

Waitaki District Council spokeswoman Lisa Heinz said a steering group would draft the proposal based on discussions at June “geogastronomy” workshops in Oamaru.

“The current mission is to tell our story through the sense of taste about how our land, soil, water and local artisanal creativity make Waitaki produce unique,” she said. . .

Time to grow the farmer not just the farm? – St John Cramer:

We talk a lot about capital gains but it’s time we spoke about the human capital of our farmers. Our farmers are resilient, hard-working, resourceful people who do the best with what they have but is this hard work ethic getting in the way of the working smarter ethic?

Farming isn’t getting any easier so we need to become smarter because sitting still isn’t going to work.

The level of complexity and compliance farmers now face can be cognitively challenging for anyone. . . .

Study: White Oak Pastures’ beef reduces atmospheric carbon:

Will Harris is many things to many people. To chefs and foodies, he is a legendary farmer producing some of the world’s best pasture-raised meats infused with the terroir of south Georgia. To athletes, body-hackers, and health-conscious consumers, he is the owner of White Oak Pastures, which ships humanely-raised, non-GMO, grassfed proteins to their doorsteps. To the communities surrounding Bluffton, Georgia, he is one of the last good ole’ boys and the largest private employer in the county. To his colleagues in agriculture, he’s a renegade and an inspiration. But Will Harris’ legacy might turn out to be something else entirely. He may be remembered as the cattleman who figured out how to enlist cows in future generations’ struggle to reverse climate change. . .

 


Rural round-up

14/05/2019

Zero Carbon Bill is just the start for agriculture’s greenhouse gas adaptation – Keith Woodford:

The Zero Carbon Bill introduced to Parliament this week answers some questions but raises many others.  There are big challenges ahead for everyone, but particularly for farmers and their leaders.

As always, the devil will be in the details. These details have yet to be spelled out. More importantly, it is apparent that many of the details have yet to be determined.

If rural leaders wish to have some influence on these details, they will need to be much better skilled-up than in the past.  The next few months will be crucial as the Bill works its way through the committee stages for enactment. . . 

Brit chefs tell good lamb tales – Neal Wallace:

Kiwi lamb is once again featuring on British restaurant menus, earning its place because of its provenance and quality.

Six chefs from the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore and four from New Zealand have spent the last week touring South Island farms as guests of Alliance.

The visitors said price had forced the lamb off some UK restaurant menus.

It is returning because of its provenance, consistent quality and portion size. . . 

Celebrating farming mothers – Trish Rankin:

Mums all around New Zealand should be celebrating another year of being superheroes on Mother’s Day. 

Early in May I was awarded the Fonterra NZ Dairy Woman of the Year title, totally unexpected and overwhelming. In my borrowed ‘new to me’ dress from my sis-in-law and awesome pink ‘borrowed’ shoes from my sister, my hair pinned up by me and my own make-up, I attended the Dairy Women’s Network Gala Dinner to award the Dairy Woman of the Year award. 

Mums all around New Zealand should be celebrating another year of being superheroes on Mother’s Day. 

Early in May I was awarded the Fonterra NZ Dairy Woman of the Year title, totally unexpected and overwhelming. In my borrowed ‘new to me’ dress from my sis-in-law and awesome pink ‘borrowed’ shoes from my sister, my hair pinned up by me and my own make-up, I attended the Dairy Women’s Network Gala Dinner to award the Dairy Woman of the Year award. 

I did not think I had a chance of winning. The other women were outstanding and I probably suffered from ‘imposter’ syndrome – not believing I deserved the title. . . 

Saffron a growing business – Gus Patterson:

Often regarded as the world’s most expensive spice, saffron is now being grown in the Waitaki Valley.

Kurow Saffron is a venture run by sisters Sarah Hines and Joanna Towler, who planted their first bulbs in January 2017.

The bulbs multiply over time, and this year had been more than twice as productive as last year, Mrs Hines said.

Saffron comes from the threads of the flower of Crocus sativus

It is a labour-intensive process, as about 100 flowers are needed to produce 1g of the spice. . . 

Third Time Lucky for 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award Winners:

The 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners are a smart, humble and practical couple who are doing very well at dairy farming on a challenging property in Northland.

In front of a capacity audience of 580 people at Wellington’s TSB Arena last night, Colin and Isabella Beazley from Northland were named the 2019 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Canterbury’s Matt Redmond became the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Nicola Blowey, also from Canterbury was announced the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $210,000.

Share Farmer head judge Kevin McKinley, from DairyNZ, says the Beazley’s impressed the judges with their resilience, team work and attention-to-detail. “They are such a great team and complement each other with their roles on farm.” . . 

New Zealand Olive Oils score in New York:

Results announced today show four New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oils were among the top winning oils in the world as judged at the 2019 New York International Olive Oil Competition

Loopline Picholene, which was Best in Show at the New Zealand 2018 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, won Gold.

Juno Picual, which was Best Boutique at the New Zealand 2018 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, won Silver. . . 

Why NZ ag needs many stories rather than just one – St John Craner:

Telling the same story over and over again gets boring. It becomes tiresome for the listener and then they stop listening. That’s the concern I have with all the talk I keep hearing about one NZ Ag Story when I attended this week’s fantastic ASB AgriFood Week (run by the very competent CEDA team).

Don’t get me wrong. A platform is great. Just look at the diversity of New Zealand wine brands who are prospering under the NZ banner. All the successful vineyard brands carve out a unique story that folds in the NZ narrative but they do it in a differentiated way, not a homogenous one. Stories can get stale with a limited shelf life just like our food.

This is why NZ wine are able to claim some of the highest price points around the world. The story they wrap around their product makes them brands that more people want to pay more for. . . 

Egg prices crack $4.43 a dozen:

The price of eggs reached a record high of $4.43 a dozen in April 2019, after rising for the past nine months, Stats NZ said today.

A national egg shortage may be one of the reasons for the rise in retail egg prices. Industry reports suggest that farmers are switching away from caged hens to more expensive free-range egg production, meaning that egg supply is down as hen flock sizes are reduced.

As a result, the weighted average price of both caged and  . . 


Rural round-up

04/05/2019

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

15/07/2018

Technology that allows coal ban a first for NZ dairy:

The engineers who were part of the ground-breaking decision to use electricity to power a dairy company’s major heat source say the decision showed courage and commitment.

In a first for Australasia, Synlait Milk is using an electrode boiler at its expanding plant at Dunsandel, south of Christchurch, choosing it over more traditional options including gas, diesel and biomass. Synlait had already rejected the use of coal on environmental grounds.

Babbage Consultants, the engineers who worked with Synlait to make the vision a reality, said electricity was the best option once the carbon footprint of the project was taken into account, and the electrode boilers they recommended were between 99.5 per cent and 99.9 per cent efficient. . . 

Do celebrity endorsements work for rural brands? – St John Craner:

Using the brand equity of someone else to prop up your own can signal a weak brand or a creative team who have run out of ideas. It seems if you have little brand credibility, you can simply purchase it. Or can you?

One of the more recent rural endorsements is Fonterra using Richie McCaw whose services are also employed by Westpac, Versatile Building, MasterCard, AIG and Air New Zealand. I could have missed others and some commentators suggest his dance card is full whilst farmer-shareholders I know felt that same money could have been better spent elsewhere. Whilst Fonterra’s Milk for Schools programme is a great initiative and one that should be applauded especially for those farmers who donate their milk freely, I believe the best ads Fonterra do are those that promote their own. . . 

Why milk, meat and eggs can make a big difference to the world’s most nutritionally vulnerable people – Silvio Alonso:

As the world becomes increasingly aware of the growing demands being made of our planet, more and more of us are making lifestyle choices to reduce our negative environmental impact and carbon footprint.

Understandably, this has led to calls for changes to our diets, including reducing the amount of livestock-derived foods, such as meat, milk and eggs, we consume.

However, a new, extensive review of research published h as found that these foods can make an important difference to nutritional well-being in the first 1,000 days of life, with life-long benefits, particularly in vulnerable communities in low-income countries . .

Ecuador and the world of bananas :

In Machala, south west Ecuador, the air is thick and hot, the road straight and as far as the eye can see are bananas.

Ecuador is the world’s biggest exporter of the yellow fruit, accounting for about 28.3% of global shipments in 2016, according to Pro-Ecuador (and an estimated 40% in 2017, according to FAO). Bananas make up 10% of Ecuador’s exports in value terms, according to Pro-Ecuador. In 2016 it exported 215 million tonnes of bananas, baby bananas and green bananas, worth US$ 110 million, mainly destined for Russia, the US, EU, Turkey and China.

Ecuador’s farmers are keen to expand, but government regulations restrict farm sizes. The industry has started a campaign to change this, so its farmers can grow and improve efficiency through economies of scale.

It has 5,000 growers, from small farmers to medium-sized growers and is organized through 300 co-operatives and 200 exporters, according to government trade body Pro-Ecuador. . .

Muddy Buns cleaning up the butter market:

Muddy Buns, Dirty Dirty Bread, or Zang Zang Bao as they’re known in China, are creating a social media frenzy and driving a further craving for butter around the world.

Fonterra Edgecumbe is all geared up to handle this global trend and is commissioning a new butter line which will nearly double the factory’s butter sheet production from 4,500 metric tonnes to 7,000 metric tonnes.

Fonterra General Manager Marketing, Global Foodservice, Susan Cassidy says “The Dirty Dirty Bread can best be described as a chocolate croissant. People love the flaky chocolate pastry that’s coated in rich chocolate ganache and sprinkled with cocoa powder. . .

South Dakota tractor taken by tornado found in Montana – Stephen Lee :

 Doug Davis finally found his tractor that had been swooped up by a tornado from his ranch in northwest South Dakota. Sort of.

“The tractor is mostly scattered in Montana,” he told the Capital Journal on Monday night.

The tornado came from the southwest on Thursday night, June 28, one of many that twisted their ways across Carter County, Montana, and Harding County, South Dakota. . . 

New Zealand Wine of the Year Awards 2018:

The best of New Zealand wine will be discovered at New Zealand Winegrowers’ refreshed wine competition later this year.

The New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards is the official national wine competition of the New Zealand wine industry, replacing the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and the Bragato Wine Awards, two of the industry’s major wine competitions.

The New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards will combine the very best components of the previous competitions, with a focus on rewarding the grape grower and their single vineyard wines (a core component of the Bragato Wine Awards), as well as championing New Zealand wine excellence on a larger scale (a key objective of the Air New Zealand Wine Awards). . . 


Rural round-up

28/03/2018

WRC Fencing Proposal Breeds Resentment in the Hills:

Drystock farmers have the most water on their land of any farming sector and are therefore key, in any final policy to improve water quality across Waikato. Under the proposed fencing rules contained in the Waikato Regional Council’s Plan Change 1, many hill country farmers will eventually be forced off their land by the costs of installing fencing and water reticulation. Worse than that, the installation such a vast amount of fencing will leave many of our smallest and cleanest streams – clogged and filthy with sediment.

Due to the nature of the ground, some hill country farmers may lose up to forty percent of their total grazing area, if the proposed fencing requirements are implemented without changes. “The absurd idea being espoused by some WRC staff, that farmers can somehow graze sheep on the sides of hills and cattle on the tops of hills is totally impractical and just shows how far out of touch the WRC is, with hill country farming realities” says Mr Andy Loader, Chairman of PLUG.  . . 

Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey Quarter 1:

New Zealand’s farmers have started the year with increasing optimism, with rural confidence edging higher after two consecutive sharp declines recorded in the second half of 2017.

The first quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey for the year – completed earlier this month – has shown the nation’s net farmer confidence index inched up to +15 per cent, from +13 per cent recorded in the December 2017 survey, primarily driven by an optimistic outlook among horticulturalists.

While the latest survey found the number of New Zealand farmers expecting the agricultural economy to improve in the year ahead had declined slightly to 27 per cent of those surveyed (compared with 29 per cent in the previous quarter) – those expecting agricultural economic conditions to worsen had fallen to 12 per cent (from 16 per cent previously). . . 

Why has Fonterra gone a2? – Keith Woodford:

It is now more than a month since Fonterra and The a2 Milk Company (A2M) announced that they are going to work together. After the initial shock, and with Malcolm Bell, National Market Manager from New Zealand-dominant dairy-semen provider LIC describing it as “the biggest announcement to come out of Fonterra since its formation”, there is a need for some analysis as to what it is going to mean.

From the perspective of A2M, there is a simple answer. It will provide a supply base of milk free of A1 beta-casein that A2M desperately needs for the coming years of growth.

For Fonterra, the issues are far more complex.  Why have they made a U-turn after 17 years of condescending denigration of the A2 concept?  And why is Fonterra doing it as a joint venture rather than striking out on its own? . . .

NZ log exports top 1M cubic metres in January, second-highest level ever for the month – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand exported more than one million cubic metres of softwood logs in January, only the second time in the country’s history that such a high volume has been shipped in the month.

The country exported 1.1 million cubic metres of softwood logs overseas in January this year, up 32 percent on January 2017, according to data from Global Trade Information Services published in AgriHQ’s monthly forestry market report. That’s the highest level for the month since 2014 and only the second time volumes have exceeded 1 million for a January month. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand elects new chairman:

Southland sheep and beef farmer Andrew Morrison is the new Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) following a Board election on 23 March.

Morrison takes the Chair after four years on the Board representing the Southern South Island region.

Along with his wife Lisa, Morrison farms a total of 1030ha of breeding and finishing units spread between Southland and Otago.  . . 

Feds and all farmers will be relieved by M.Bovis decision:

The government’s decision to cull all the livestock on properties so far identified as having been contaminated by the Mycoplasma Bovis disease will be a huge relief for all drystock and dairy farmers.

Federated Farmers applauds the Ministry for Primary Industries decision announced today to continue the cull on all the 28 farms so far infected by the nasty disease.

“Basically what this says to us is that the government and MPI are still committed to trying to eradicate this disease. Their determination to do the best we can to get rid of it should be acknowledged by all farmers,” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . . 

Beef + Lamb NZ welcomes certainty for infected Mp.bovis properties:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has announced that all cattle on properties infected with the Mycoplasma bovis (Mp.bovis) cattle disease will be culled and the farmers’ losses compensated.

“The MPI decision that cattle on all infected properties will be culled provides clarity to farmers that have been living with this uncertainty,” said Dave Harrison, General Manager Policy and Advocacy at B+LNZ.

“This has been a very trying few months for affected farmers who have been restricted from trading, borne extra costs, and suffered worry and anxiety about the future. . . 

Details of FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final in Invercargill revealed:

In less than four months Invercargill will be buzzing with FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final fever.

The iconic agricultural competition marks its 50th anniversary this year, a milestone worthy of celebration.

The last of the seven grand finalists will be decided at the Otago/Southland Regional Final in Winton on April 21st.

A sell-out crowd is expected at ILT Stadium Southland for the main quiz and awards night in July. . . 

NZ Ag: B+LNZ  future meat report – great on detail, what’s the solution? – St John Craner:

I was eager to read this report. As eager as I am to read their much anticipated Red Meat Story (which by my best guess will be about the provenance of real meat, and rightly so because it’s their only point of difference). Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) should be applauded for commissioning such a thorough analysis on the challenge and opportunities from alternative protein. Its Future Meat Report is a solid piece of work that will be doing the stakeholder rounds and roadshows up and down the country as we speak. However having read it what are the next actions? And does it go far enough?

Its Executive Summary suggests, in regards to our story, “we just need to tell it better”. It’s too simplistic to say this. To be fair and credit the agency Antedote, they recognise this too as they go deeper explaining each of the different strategic scenarios and responses which offers the greatest value to readers.

Being ready for the threat of alternative proteins and their cashed-up Silicon Valley investors will take far more than having a good story.  . . 


Rural round-up

15/12/2017

Fonterra releases first Sustainability Report on environmental and social performance:

Fonterra is proud to publish its first Sustainability Report, detailing its environmental, social and economic performance.

The Sustainability Report follows Fonterra’s recent announcements on emissions and clean water in New Zealand, and highlights the Co-operative’s commitment to an open discussion on how it is taking its responsibilities seriously and where it is making real progress. The report was compiled using the internationally recognised Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework and independently assured. This follows global best practice and underlines the integrity of the report.

The dairy industry is a cornerstone of the New Zealand economy but its environmental footprint is of national significance. The report gives an objective view of Fonterra’s environmental footprint and our contribution to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand launches drought resources for farmers:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has launched an online resource for farmers affected by the dry conditions.

The resources include a fact sheet outlining strategies to manage and mitigate the effects of drought, coping with stress on the farm and advice on feed requirements and animal welfare during the dry period.

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb NZ, says with the correct planning and use of tools such as early weaning, body condition scoring and feed budgets, farmers can make the most efficient and effective use of limited feed resources. . . 

Beef + Lamb NZ backs call for beef trade liberalisation:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) strongly supports the International Beef Alliance’s call for Ministers at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference to agree on a path to trade liberalisation while protecting beef producersâ ™ livelihoods.

The Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) of the World Trade Organization is being held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 10-13 December.

Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ, says: “We back the IBA’s call for Ministers at the WTO Ministerial Conference to reduce or eliminate the use of trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, amongst other production and market distorting measures. . . 

Dairy cattle numbers dip:

The number of dairy cattle dipped 2 percent from 6.6 million in June 2016 to 6.5 million in June 2017, Stats NZ said today.  

The provisional figures are from the 2017 agricultural production census. Final figures will be available in May 2018.

“From 2012, dairy cattle numbers have been relatively unchanged, after increasing over 20 percent or 1.2 million between 2007 and 2012,” agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said. . . 

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Census mirrors ‘better efficiency, better for environment’ approach:

Relatively small movements in livestock numbers in the year to June 2017 may indicate New Zealand agriculture is reaching herd equilibrium, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson Chris Lewis says.

Figures from Stats NZ’s 2017 agricultural production census show dairy cattle numbers dropped 2 per cent from 6.6m to 6.5m in the 12-month period.

The dairy cattle count has been largely stable since 2012.

“Farmers have a strong and increasing focus on sustainability and further improving their environmental footprint, and that is translating into maintaining or reducing dairy cattle numbers and instead looking for gains by boosting production per head,” Chris said. . . 

Pumpkin & kumara prices at record level:

Pumpkin prices increased 176 percent in the year to November 2017, to reach $5.78 a kilo, the highest price since the food price series began in December 1993, Stats NZ said today. Pumpkin and kumara are typically more expensive in November, but both hit record levels after larger-than-usual increases this year.

“Poor growing conditions due to the wet weather early this year had a huge impact on the supply of pumpkin and kumara,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “Pumpkin prices have reflected lower supply, with dramatic price increases in the last three months, while kumara prices increased more steadily through the year.” . . 

Low N cow project:

DairyNZ will lead a seven-year $21 million research partnership to contribute to cleaning up rural waterways.

The central idea is to breed cattle with less nitrogen in their urine.

Participating scientists will come from DairyNZ, Abacus Bio, A. L. Rae Centre for Genetics and Animal Breeding, AgResearch and Lincoln University.

The Government has granted $8.4m to the project, $11.5m will come from farmers’ levy payments to DairyNZ, and the balance will come from CRV Ambreed and Fonterra.

A2 CEO Geoff Babidge to leave in 2018, replaced by Jetstar’s Jayne Hrdlicka – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co managing director Geoff Babidge will retire next year, and will be replaced by Jetstar chief Jayne Hrdlicka.

Babidge has been in the role since 2010, and in the past two years has seen the share price jump from around $1 at the end of 2015 to a recent record of $8.75. The shares have soared on the back of successive strong sales, with the company’s infant formula attracting strong demand in China, and have gained recently on scientific evidence about the nutritional value of its milk, which comes from cows selected to produce only A2 beta-casein, unlike most dairy products, which contain both A1 and A2 proteins. . . 

Experienced senior manager joins AVOCO to strengthen market development:

 Steve Trickett has joined AVOCO’s senior management team to expand on market development in Asia and oversee grower communications at home.

A familiar face to many New Zealand avocado growers, Steve has joined the company as Marketing and Communications Manager and is responsible for market planning and performance with focus on new and developing markets where fruit carries the AVANZA brand. He will support the existing sales and marketing team, oversee contestable fund applications and develop AVOCO’s communications and profile among the grower community. . . 

NZ Ag: Why rural marketers need emotional intelligence (EQ) – St John Craner:

I’ve always been fascinated by why people buy since I was a kid. It started when my Dad took me to Twickenham every cold December to watch the Varsity (Oxford Cambridge match) which he’d do every year with his truck drivers as a thank you to them for all their hard work that year. As I sat in the stands I always wondered why did the Tetley, Whitbread or Coca Cola billboards on the pitch influence people to buy.

Over more recent years I’ve noticed rural marketers not sharing the same fascination by recognising and harnessing the power of emotion in their customer’s decision making and buying behaviour. Some continue to treat their customers as if they were predictable and rational which is the same mistake Economists make. If they could understand the emotional state and drivers of their customers more they would be rewarded with closer and more profitable relationships and higher level of referrals, let alone promotions.

Emotional drivers are a powerful force and comes in many forms such as: . . 

Bakers, farmers struggle to make any dough on poor wheat crop – Rod Nickel & Julie Ingwersen:

 Chicago’s iconic sandwiches – Italian beef heroes dripping with gravy, and hot dogs loaded with pickles and hot peppers – wouldn’t be such culinary institutions without the bread.

But this fall, bakers faced a crisis getting the right kind of bread to delis and sandwich shops locally and across the United States.

Gonnella Baking Co – which supplies the buns to Major League Baseball’s Wrigley Field – faced an unusual problem in October when flour from this year’s U.S. wheat harvest arrived at their factories containing low levels of protein. . . 


Rural round-up

24/10/2017

Miraka farmers lift milk quality – Peter Burke:

An incentive scheme to get suppliers to the Taupo-based Miraka dairy company to produce better quality milk and adopt best-practice systems is producing stunning results.

That’s the view of Miraka’s milk supply manager, Grant Jackson, who says only four of the company’s suppliers are not in the scheme, though they will be when they sign up to new supply contracts by the end of the year. . .

Could NZ ag be the Intel of clean meat? – St John Craner:

At its peak Intel was in the top 6 of the world’s most valued brands and installed in over 90% of PCs. It became so strong IBM saw it as a threat to its own brand but then came back only a year later after it lost significant sales to competitors Compaq and Dell.

When clean meat is getting a lot of press and billionaire directors James Cameron and Peter Jackson are getting into plant protein as well, NZ Ag would be foolish to ignore it. So could NZ Ag be the Intel inside, or ingredient brand, of clean meat?

Ingredient branding is defined as: “A symbiotic relationship that provides tangible benefits for both host brand and ingredient brand”. We don’t need to look far for proof of concept: Gore-tex, Lycra, Teflon, Bose, Visa, Dolby, Technicolor, Shimano, Pininfarina and of course Intel have been successfully deployed as ingredient brands helping host brands command a greater premium. . .

Riparian planting wisdom to be scientifically tested – Charlie Dreaver:

For decades farmers and community groups have planted trees and other plants alongside rivers to improve waterways, but the extent of riparian buffers and whether they’re working is still not known.

NIWA and Dairy NZ now want anyone who has planted along stream banks to formally record their work, to form a new national riparian database.

Riparian buffers are made up of plants which filter out sediment and faecal pathogens from waterways, stabilise stream banks and enhance biodiversity. . . 

Venison products win award – Sally Rae:

When Chris Thorn headed to Europe on his OE in his teens, he fell in love – with meat.

Despite not being a butcher, he has turned that passion into a business that has received national recognition.

Based in the small northern Southland town of Lumsden, Mr Thorn and his wife, Sally, run a small factory, churning out wild venison salami that is dispatched throughout the country.

Recently, their business, Gathered Game, won the artisan award for its premium wild venison salami and deer sticks in the New Zealand Food Awards. . . 

NZ wool yoga mat ready for launch – Sally Rae:

Dana McKenzie always felt it was somewhat of an oxymoron to be practising yoga on a ”stinky” PVC mat.

So, armed with a passion for wool – and a desire to find a use for it – the Romanian-born entrepreneur decided to do something about it.

This weekend, Mrs McKenzie has been at OM Yoga in London, the biggest yoga gathering in Europe, to launch wool mats to thousands of yoga enthusiasts.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times, having just set up her stall, Mrs McKenzie said it had been a ”big dream in the making” and she was thrilled to be there. . . 

Loss of fertile land fuels ‘looming crisis’ in Africa – Jeffrey Gettleman:

LAIKIPIA, Kenya — The two elders, wearing weather-beaten cowboy hats with the strings cinched under their chins, stood at the edge of an empty farm, covering their mouths in disbelief.

Their homes — neat wooden cabins — had been smashed open. All their cattle had been stolen. So had their chickens. House after house stood vacant, without another soul around. It was as if some huge force had barreled into the village and swept away all the life.

Sioyia Lesinko Lekisio, one of the elders, had no doubts who did this. Swarms of herders from another county had invaded, attacking any farm or cattle ranch in their path, big or small, stealing livestock, ransacking homes and shooting people with high-powered assault rifles. . . 

 


Rural round-up

01/01/2017

New Govt passing up prime opportunity for rural development:

The evidence this new Government will be no friend to farmers continues to stack up, National’s Primary Industry spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“During Question Time yesterday, I asked Regional Development Minister Shane Jones whether his $1 billion fund will support regional water storage and irrigation projects that can grow jobs and exports, and enhance the environment.

“Alarmingly, all he could say was that the final criteria for this fund is yet to be determined. . . 

Expanding global production set to increase competition in animal proteins sector in 2018:

Animal protein production is expected to expand around the world in 2018 increasing both trade competition and competition between different meat types, according to a new industry report from agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

Rabobank’s Global Outlook for animal protein in 2018 says production increases are likely in most regions with Brazil, China and the US expected to record particularly strong production growth. In New Zealand, beef and sheepmeat production is forecast to remain similar to 2017 levels.

The report says beef and pork will be the strongest contributors to global animal protein expansion – with global beef production projected to increase for a third consecutive year in 2018, and a further year of significant growth in pork production anticipated. . . 

CPTPP to the rescue – Allan Barber:

This is truly the age of acronyms – TPP morphed into TPP11 which has now added a couple of initials while actually shrinking in scope from its original intent. But unlikely as it has seemed at several points along its tortuous journey, the mother of all trade deals, or maybe now the stepmother, is still alive in spite of Trump’s and Trudeau’s unsubtle efforts to hijack it.

My major concern before the APEC meeting in Vietnam was the strong possibility the new government would withdraw from TPP11 as it sought to renegotiate the Investor State Dispute Settlement and foreign investment clauses, when all the other signatories were willing to accept them. I freely admit I was wrong to underestimate Labour’s commitment to free trade, while overestimating the influence of New Zealand First. In the lead up to the election all the signs pointed the opposite way, while the concession extracted by Winston Peters to pursue a trade agreement with Russia provided further evidence TPP and its successors may no longer be at the front of the queue. . . 

Beef + Lamb studies threat posed by alternative proteins, considers how to respond – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Beef + Lamb New Zealand is carrying out consumer research into alternative proteins in China and San Francisco in response to the rise of the rival products and wants to report back to the sector before the end of the year.

“What we have discovered is that for better or worse alternative protein is here. We are not seeing it as a replacement for now, but we are definitely seeing it as an alternative for certain types of consumers. The consumer research that we doing is to understand who those consumers are and what’s driving that behaviour,” Damien Cullinan, market innovation manager for Beef + Lamb, told BusinessDesk. . . 

New app to bring in water allowance sharing – Tracy Neal:

Farmers and growers in Marlborough will soon have use of an online tool that tells them how much water they can use on a given day.

The council is grappling with an increasing strain on water supplies, with projections for demand and the effects of climate change showing it is likely to get worse.

A new cloud-based digital system, from which users will be able to download information to a portable device, was presented to councillors at a meeting in Blenheim yesterday.

Gerald Hope of the council’s environment committee said the tool would allow real-time information that would lead to better use of water. . . 

New Zealand farmers and growers welcome EU glyphosate decision:

New Zealand farmers and growers welcome an EU majority decision backing a five-year extension to glyphosate’s licence, which was due to expire next month.

Glyphosate, a herbicide widely-used in agriculture and by gardeners, is “an efficient and cost-effective means to keeping our agricultural economy growing, our environment protected, and our country weed-free,” says Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross.

“The decision is good news for farmers as they won’t be forced to find an alternative solution for use on exports,” adds Ross. . . 

$21 million Government & dairy research collaboration to improve waterways:

The dairy sector welcomes the Government’s announcement today that it will invest alongside farmers in a seven-year $21 million research partnership that will boost the current effort to clean up rural waterways.

Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment, Dr Megan Woods, confirmed today MBIE will provide $8.4 million towards the project which aims to tackle the difficult nitrogen leaching question, nitrogen being one of the nutrients impacting water quality.

A further $11.5 million will be invested by dairy farmers through the levy they pay to DairyNZ, with additional funding support to make up the $21 million coming from CRV Ambreed and Fonterra. . . 

How NZ ag can stop getting beaten up –  St John Craner :

NZ Ag is always on the back foot. Despite the rhetoric from leaders in industry about how we need to tell our story better, we continue to be out-gunned by lobby groups like SAFE, PETA and Greenpeace. Whether it’s bobby calves, PKE, dirty dairying or most recently false free-range eggs, we’re always playing a defensive position that risks our social licence to operate.

NZ Ag could learn from those brands that have had the foresight and planning to build a strong equity. SouthWest airlines is a great example. When 9/11 occurred they were inundated with customers sending them cheques because they were worried about their viability. This was because their customer base had a fond affection for them and what they stood for: everyone has a democratic right to fly. When the botulism scare kicked in for Fonterra they found they had few friends. GSK’s Ribena got caught out after its false claims of Vitamin C was unearthed by two 14 year old school girls from Auckland. I doubt they’ve ever restored consumers’ trust. . .

NZ structural log prices rise to 24-year high, A-grade export logs hit record – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand structural log prices rose to the highest level in 24 years and A-grade export logs hit a record as local mills compete with the export market to secure supply for the domestic construction market amid strong demand from China.

The price for structural S1 logs increased to $130 a tonne this month, from $128 a tonne last month, marking the highest level since 1993, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. Export log prices lifted between $2-to-$5 a tonne for the majority of grades, with the price for A-Grade logs touching $128 a tonne, up from $127 a tonne last month and the highest level since AgriHQ began collecting the data in 2008.. . .

Jason Minkhorst to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients:

Senior Fonterra executive, Jason Minkhorst, has been confirmed as General Manager Sales for Ballance Agri-Nutrients, joining the farmer-owned Co-operative in early March 2018.

Jason is currently Director Farm Source Stores of Fonterra’s rural retail business, Farm Source, and has extensive commercial experience from more than 15 years in senior executive and governance roles in the dairy sector.

Ballance CEO, Mark Wynne, says Jason’s deep knowledge of agri-business and genuine passion for the primary sector will be hugely valuable as Ballance focuses on the changing needs of New Zealand farmers and growers – providing tailored nutrients and advisory services, backed by the best science and technology. . . 


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