Rural round-up

January 12, 2017

This farming mum’s in charge – Kate Taylor:

A Hawke’s Bay woman laughs when people ask to speak to her husband about every-day decisions on the farm. Kate Taylor interrupted her at work in the sheep yards to find out why.

One of the first things Hawke’s Bay farmer Caroline Smith does when she stops for a cup of tea after drafting cull ewes is to breastfeed baby Clara.

She juggles looking after a young family and farming 240 hectares and loves it, although one of her pet hates is having people phoning on farm business asking to speak to her husband.

“They assume it’s not me running the farm. I say they can speak to my husband if they like but he’s an electrician so might not be too helpful for the information they’re after.”

‘Ripper’ season for southern contractors – Rob Tipa:

Many South Island rural contractors have had what they are describing as “a season out of the box” with outstanding silage, hay and balage crops made so far this summer.

It is a different story in the North Island where generally harvests have been later and patchier.

New Zealand president Steve Levet, of Wellsford, told the NZ Farmer weather conditions during spring and early summer in the north had generally been colder, wetter and windier than usual. . . 

Meat co-op offers new app to farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Meat co-op Alliance Group has launched a new app to support its 5,000 farmer shareholders.

The Farm Alliance app, developed as part of the cooperative’s business strategy, provides a range of resources for farmers to help them manage the processing of their stock. Farmers can now see their own livestock processing results in real time, access their latest kill sheets, make booking requests, check statistics and schedule and receive industry updates.

Mark Blandford, chief information officer at Alliance Group says it is constantly looking for new ways to help farmer shareholders with their businesses. “Farmers can get their kill sheets delivered straight to their mobile phones as soon as their stock is processed and they will be automatically notified when new information is available. “The menu also includes all of a farmer’s kills for the previous six months and annual kill statistics.  . . 

China’s giant cow farms leave neighbours up milk creek – Tom Hancock:

Giant piles of black manure towering over cornfields, while rancid-smelling effluent from thousands of cows spills onto the land—this is the price of a glass of milk in China today.

Large-scale dairy farms have boomed in the Asian giant, as its near 1.4 billion consumers overcame centuries of cultural reluctance to embrace the white fluid.
An economic boom and government backing transformed dairy into a $40-billion-a-year industry, shifting production away from small-scale producers towards massive megafarms with up to 10,000 cattle—and a lot more waste. . .

One of Europe’s largest supermarkets will sell burgers and meatballs made from meal worms – Leanna Garfield:

Beef might taste delicious, but producing it exhausts our planet’s land and water. As a result, more chefs and retailers are searching for alternatives that taste like beef — including insects.

Starting May 2017, Coop, one of Switzerland’s largest wholesale retailers, will start selling “burgers” and “meatballs” — both primarily made from mealworm larvae — at select grocery locations. It will partner with Essento, a Swiss startup that makes food from insects, Switzerland’s the Local reports. . . 

New Zealand Chinese Jockey Club to Launch at Karaka Million:

In exciting news announced today, a group of private investors have established the New Zealand Chinese Jockey Club to cater for the high level of interest in racehorse ownership by the Chinese community, both here in New Zealand and internationally.

Headed by Mr Joshua Zong, a prominent Chinese business owner and property developer based in Auckland, the New Zealand Chinese Jockey Club will be officially launched on the eve of New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sales Series at a function to be held at the Karaka Million Twilight Meeting on Sunday 29 January at Ellerslie. . . 

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Happiness does have a smell.1


Rural round-up

May 3, 2016

Rattling Fonterra’s governance is not enough – Keith Woodford:

Late last year, Fonterra’s farmers rattled the cage by voting for a change in governance rules. However, the voting majority was insufficient to change the rules. Fonterra’s Board has now responded with its own proposals for new governance structures.

To me, the new proposals look like a continuing meander towards corporatisation, without recognition of the special features of a huge co-operative conglomerate like Fonterra.

The proposal last year, led by former Fonterra directors Greg Gent and Colin Armer, was to reduce the number of directors. But would a smaller number of directors really make a difference? And what would it do in terms of further disconnecting the Board from the grassroots? . . 

Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly (NZ) – April 2016:

The Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments.

Key Highlights:

• Dairy – Global commodity prices continue to stumble along a market floor largely determined by the level of EU intervention support—and the ceiling for this support has just been approved higher. . . 

Time to plan ahead for droughts – Dan Satherley:

Improving water storage will be key to getting farmers through future droughts, according to one agribusiness expert.

Failing that, it might be time for beef, sheep and dairy to rethink their business model.

North Canterbury is into its second year of drought, with rainfall over the past few months only a third what it normally is. . . 

Kiwi-Owned Organic Rice Company Number One in South America:

Organic Latin America, an organic rice processing and distribution company in South America owned by kiwi company Ceres Organics and international partners, has risen to be the largest organic rice exporter out of South America in just five years.

Organic Latin America was founded five years ago by Ceres Organics and Thai, Danish, and Argentinian companies in order to provide South American organic rice growers with access to international markets.

Organic Latin America worked with growers in the Northern parts of Argentina and in Southern Brazil to help them improve processing systems and supply markets all over the world. . .

Fonterra says season-to-date milk collection down 3% in NZ, down 1% in Australia – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in both New Zealand and Australia in the first 10 months of the season, reflecting destocking in its home market in the face of low milk prices and unfavourable weather across the Tasman.

Milk collection across New Zealand fell 3 percent to 1.39 billion kilograms of milk solids in the 10 months ended March 31, with all of the decline coming in the North Island and no change in the south. . . 

New PGP Investment Advisory Panel Chair announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed John Parker as the new Chair of the Primary Growth Partnership’s independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

Mr Parker is a primary industry and governance specialist, and assumes his role as IAP Chair from 1 May 2016.  He replaces Joanna Perry whose tenure as Chair finishes on 30 April after nearly seven years on the IAP, including almost three as its Chair.

“IAP members use their expertise and judgement to advise on decisions about the investment of PGP funds, and to help ensure these investments achieve the aims of economic growth and sustainability,” says Mr Guy.

“Mr Parker has extensive experience in both governance and in the primary industries and he understands what is required to grow value in the sector. . . 

Northland Farmer gets top foodies on side:

A local specialist pork and beef producer has won a nationwide competition to have some of the country’s top experts help promote the business.

Amanda Hellier and her husband Wayne farm in Motutangi under the name Farm Gate Produce. They have been named as one of four winners of the Sustainable Business Network’s Good Food Boost competition. The family business produces Free Range pork cuts, sausages, salami and Chorizo and supplies it ‘from gate to plate’. . . 

Considering more days in milk?:

After a tough season many dairy farmers may be considering extending the milking period of their cows to create more cashflow.

For farmers in a position to do so, keeping cows in milk for an extended period can make strong commercial sense. A dry cow by contrast still incurs feed and grazing costs but without a corresponding milk income.

SealesWinslow Consultant Animal Nutrition Specialist, Paul Sharp, says that farmers weighing the costs and benefits of extending the milking period have several things to consider.  . . .

Waikato forum to unlock secrets to $3/kg MS farm systems:

Dairy farmer Gary Rowlands says running his farm at a cost of under $3/kg milksolids (MS) is thanks to a simple system.

Gary and wife Debra’s farm is among the 10-15 percent of New Zealand farmers who operate below $3/kg MS FWE (farm working expenses).

The Rowlands put their $2.21/kg MS FWE system down to simple farming – including an all-grass focus, basic machinery, doing their fertiliser application/silage/topping themselves and looking after their cows well.

“It’s a simple system. We just do the basics well and don’t spend if we don’t have to,” says Gary. “Every aspect comes into it.” . . 

Federated Farmers welcomes New Zealand Fire Services merger:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s announcement today that funding of $303 million will be used over four years to combine rural and urban fire services.

Federated Farmers rural fire spokesperson Anders Crofoot says the creation of the new organisation – Fire and Emergency New Zealand – will mean a more efficient delivery and a better service provided by one organisation. It also recognises the services other than fire which rural fire has often provided for many years, even though it was unfunded and outside their mandate.

“The government is showing a strong commitment to transition and we welcome the additional money to build capabilities in rural fire and supporting our rural volunteers,” he said. . . 

Westpac NZ seeks more agriculture market share despite dairy downturn – By Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Westpac New Zealand says it wants to lift its market share of agricultural lending over time to 20 percent from the current 12.6 percent.

The Australian-owned bank today reported a steady performance in its New Zealand unit with cash earnings of $445 million for the six months ending Mar. 31, up 2 percent on a year ago.

Overall lending rose 8 percent with a 9 percent lift in business lending to $26.6 billion. Its agricultural portfolio totals $8.1 billion, up from $7.3 billion a year ago with dairy accounting for more than two-thirds of that. Its market share in agricultural lending rose from 12.3 percent in the previous half to 12.6 percent, which chief financial officer Jason Clifton said went mainly to existing rather than new dairy operations. . . 

Water Accord demonstrates the importance of using qualified advisers:

The release of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord this week highlights the important role of talented people in delivering improvements in the environmental performance of dairy farming.

The report notes that the training and certification of nutrient management advisers hit a major milestone in the 2014/15 year with a total of 100 rural professionals completing the requirements for and achieving certification in the Nutrient Management Adviser Certification Programme (NMACP). This was accomplished with the ongoing support and commitment of the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand and its member companies, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd and Ravensdown Ltd. One of the Accord targets was that 50% of Fertiliser Association member company advisers would be certified by 31 May 2014, which was comfortably achieved. . . 

Contractors must do their bit:

Agricultural contractors around the country must play their part in helping to prevent the spread of the invasive weed velvetleaf, says Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet.

Mr Levet is reminding contractors about the importance of biosecurity and machinery hygiene practices on, and between farms, in controlling the spread velvetleaf and says rural contractors have an important role to play in this.

“Contractors need to be conscious of the potential of spreading velvetleaf when moving between properties, or between areas of the same property, and to take responsibility in managing these risks,” he says. . . 

Wool Industry Reacts to New Health and Safety Regulations:

The National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests Inc comprises associations and organisations involved in the domestic and international trading of greasy and scoured wool. The Council acts as the New Zealand member of the International Wool Textile Organisation, which represents the interests of the wool textile trade at the global level.

The National Council and its members are committed to providing a safe working environment throughout the wool industry. Increasing concerns relating to bales weighing over 200kg (which are estimated to cover approximately 6% of the national clip) have prompted the Council to address the issue. Bales weighing in excess of 200kg can contribute to workplace accidents and throughout the industry provide a significant problem during dumping and shipping. These bales have been assessed as hazards during transport and handling, with changes deemed necessary to comply with tougher Occupational Health and Safety laws being introduced in New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

April 18, 2016

Peninsula Farmers Win Supreme Title In 2016 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Portobello sheep and beef farmers Brendon and Paula Cross have been named Supreme winners of the 2016 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 15 (2016), the couple also collected the Otago Regional Council Quality Water Management Award, the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. . . 

Dairy Woman of the Year Finalists:

Three finalists for the prestigious Dairy Woman of the Year have been announced by the Dairy Women’s Network.

They are Westport based Landcorp business manager Rebecca Keoghan, Central West Coast dairy farmer Renee Rooney and Waihi based LIC farm solution manager Michelle Wilson.

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers said judges had a hard time selecting the finalists for the fifth annual awards.

“Our nominees personify all that is good about the many and varied roles women play in the dairy sector up and down the country,” de Villiers said. . . .

A good yarn – Peter McDonald:

I had the opportunity to attend “A Good Yarn” – a workshop run by the Southland Rural Support Trust.

We delved into the topic of farmer’s mental health.

Financial pressures and on farm conditions both have been converging to ramp up the stress in our southern farming communities of late.

As I sat and listened, I started to realise that I ticked a few of these boxes.

For example stress can manifest itself in losing one’s temper at the most minor on farm “hiccups” .

I just thought that was normal. . . 

My genetically modified crops are everything an environmentalist should want – Bob Bartley:

I have been a farmer for more than 40 years and I have grown genetically enhanced (GE) crops since 1996. We grow corn, soybeans and canola, all of which are GE, as well as other crops that are not GE. I have seen many benefits to this technology through the years, but what is in it for the consumer? Safe, affordable food that’s better for the environment.

I really don’t consider the crops I grow to be ready-to-eat food, like apples, carrots or potatoes, but more like ingredients to make food products such as margarine, flour and feed for livestock. Government regulators and scientists wanted to be sure of the safety of GE crops right from the beginning. As a result, these crops have undergone testing far beyond that required for other new crop varieties. There have been about 2,000 published studies on GE crop safety. The results say that the GE crops grown today are as safe as any others. Some reports say they’re even safer. There have also been several studies that show how they reduce food prices, too — a direct result of higher farm yields. GE crops are one reason why North American consumers have the safest, highest quality and most affordable food in the world. . . 

English on the money – Rural Contractors:

Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English in relation to the suitability and work ethic of some young New Zealanders is, unfortunately, correct.

Mr Levet was commenting on Mr English’s recent remarks to a Federated Farmers meeting, saying there’s a proportion of the work force that won’t work and are “pretty damn hopeless”.

“Bill English is right when he says that some younger New Zealanders, when offered the chance for work, won’t take it, can’t pass drug tests, or don’t have an appropriate drivers licence. . .

Otago’s merino wool could head to Norway – Brook Hobson:

Two companies with histories dating back more than 120 years could soon be partnering in an international merino wool deal.

Armidale Merino Stud, based in Otago, has been in the Paterson family since 1880 and Simon Paterson is the fifth generation to run the farm.

Devold of Norway, a company founded in 1853, is looking to partner with the stud to use its merino wool. . . 

Young farmer in to win national competition:

When Logan Wallace first joined Young Farmers, one of his goals was to reach the grand final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest.

Eight years later, his dream has been realised following his recent victory in the Otago-Southland regional final in Wyndham.

A member of Clinton-South Otago Young Farmers Club, Mr Wallace (26) will now line up against the six other regional final winners in the grand final in Timaru in July. . . 

Awards night soon:

It’s nearly time for the New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards.

The function for the latest awards will be held in Lawrence next month, with 34 families being formally recognised for farming on their land for 100 or more years.

Chairman Symon Howard was delighted with this year’s result, saying it was great to see that, after 11 years, high numbers of new applications were still consistently being received. . . 

New forestry leader:

Peter Clark, the chief executive officer of PF Olsen Ltd, has been elected president of the Forest Owners Association (FOA).

He replaces retiring president Paul Nicholls. George Asher, chief executive officer of the Lake Taupo Forest Trust, has been elected vice-president.

The association’s members own the majority of New Zealand’s plantation forests. It works closely with the Farm Forestry Association and is administrator for the Forest Levy Trust Board, which represents the interests of all forest owners. . . 

Bennett supported by forest owners at New York signing:

Forest owners say the formal adoption of the Paris climate change agreement in New York Friday [22 April] will potentially have great benefits for both plantation and natural forests world-wide.

Climate change minister Paula Bennett will be in New York to sign the agreement along with representatives from 130 other countries.

Forest Owners Association president Peter Clark says getting signatures on the agreement is yet another step in a long journey. The agreement will come into force once it has been ratified by 55 countries – representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions. . . 

Ngāi Tahu Seafood opens new processing plant:

Ngāi Tahu Seafood officially opened a new purpose-built facility in Bluff today – 15 April.

This new facility represents a significant investment in the local community and wider Southland district and it is expected to provide new employment opportunities.

Ngai Tahu Seafood Ltd has operated in Bluff since 1992 in a number of used facilities (three in total). In 2013 the decision was made to build a new purpose-built facility which would be future proofed to enable for expansion for all species and formats such as live fish, crustaceans and shellfish and / or fresh chilled and frozen products. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 28, 2015

Trade agreement opens door for agricultural exporters:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has dominated media recently, but a Lincoln University expert says an equally significant trade-related development has gone largely unnoticed.

Agribusiness and Commerce lecturer Eldrede Kahiya said the Global Procurement Agreement (GPA) – which New Zealand became part of in August – opened up a $2.65 trillion-dollar market for New Zealand exporters.

Dr Kahiya said the GPA came within the framework of the World Trade Organization, and was designed to make it easier to compete for foreign government contracts. . . 

Livestock antibiotics to be replaced with vaccines by 2030:

Antibiotics for livestock are likely to be replaced with various vaccines by about 2030, and the value of New Zealand meat exports will grow because of the switch.

That growth was among the findings in a new report by the Veterinary Association, which shows the antibiotic era was coming to an end because of a growing resistance to them.

A consultant for the Association, Eric Hillerton, said antibiotics would still exist but they would not be a first choice in animal health. . . 

Slight drop in production keeps focus on high value products:

Westland Milk Products says its 2.5 percent drop in peak milk processing has meant more capacity available for the co-operative and its shareholders, enabling more focus on added-value product.

Chief Executive Rod Quin today confirmed that Westland hit peak mid November. In total, Westland processed 3,843,250 litres of milk by peak flow, compared with 3,931,022 the season prior.

“This slight drop, combined with our new dryer seven coming into commercial production meant we had greater capacity to put more of the peak milk flow into higher value products,” Quin said. “In previous years peak milk has all been channelled into bulk milk powders to maintain throughput, which give a lower return compared to products such as infant formula. . . 

Peter Tate makes the case for the broker and auction based system to sell New Zealand’s wool – Peter Tate:

New Zealand agriculture efficiently produces large volumes of commodities and while it would be great to have a stake in all the added value from the front end of the commodity chain, the large amounts of capital both intellectual and financial required, makes it difficult to achieve.

There are some companies that seek publicity about sales contracts they have made. That’s fine but often the fanfare is over a very small volume of product. This distorts the view growers have of marketing to the point that they think these companies are the only ones doing anything to market the NZ wool clip.

The real exporters, those with the long track records, continue to stay out of the limelight. This is due to what is called commercial sensitivity, it is an extremely competitive business. More cut throat than meat marketing, hence the old Yorkshire phrase “meaner than a mill boss”. So the firms who are selling and shipping  90% of the NZ clip remain tight lipped about their daily deals. . . 

RSE employers praise seasonal worker scheme:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says two recent reports show the huge benefits of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to employers, workers and the Pacific region.

A report into a pilot project involving 640 Tongan and Samoan RSE workers has found that they sent home more than 40 per cent of their take-home income between November 2014 and June 2015 –an average of between $4,600 and $5,500.

“Remittances have been playing an increasingly important role in reducing the scale and severity of poverty in the developing world,” says Mr Woodhouse. . . 

Praise for seasonal employment scheme:

Experience confirms two recent reports showing huge benefits from the scheme to employers and workers, the Rural Contractors Association says.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse released the reports in which employers continued to praise the scheme, with an annual survey showing 95 percent believed the benefits of participating in the scheme outweighed the costs.

Rural Contractors President Steve Levet said it had made great inroads into being able to bring in seasonal machine operators to alleviate a shortage of labour in that area. . . 

Sound science point of difference for Waipara winemakers:

More than two decades of soil science work in the Waipara area has been brought together in a document launched at a Vineyard Soils Day at Black Estate Vineyard this week.

The document was received with enthusiasm as an invaluable resource by local wine growers, who acknowledged the potential for far greater collaboration in research initiatives between wine growers and Lincoln University.  

Former Lincoln University soil scientist Dr Philip Tonkin, Associate Professor Peter Almond, current Head of the Soil and Physical Sciences Department, Trevor Webb from Landcare Research, and other scientists, have spent the best part of the last two years drawing together available information on the geology and soils of the region gathered in the last 20 years, along with the records of former Soil Bureau surveys. . . 


Rural round-up

October 6, 2015

Farm skills for youth _ Sally Rae:

The prospect of getting out of bed at 5am to gain work experience on a dairy farm does not bother Caleb Unahi.

The 19-year-old is enjoying keeping busy as part of the Farmhand training programme, which aims to expose Dunedin’s disengaged youth to rural opportunities.

Before starting the 13-week course, Caleb was doing ”nothing much really”, he said.

A family friend encouraged him to apply for the course, which was first held last year.

”I enjoy it. It’s a good opportunity for me to get up off my …”

he said, while learning about fencing at Invermay recently. . . 

Merino industry stalwarts honoured –  Lynda van Kempen:

A couple described as vital cogs in the fine wool industry had their efforts recognised at the weekend.

Peter and Elsie Lyon, of Alexandra, received life membership to the New Zealand Merino Shearing Society. The award – a surprise to the couple – was made during the national merino shearing championships in Alexandra on Saturday night.

The couple run Peter Lyon Shearing, which had a turnover of more than $10 million last year. . . 

The story behind merino wool – Camilla Rutherford:

I am very lucky to live on a high country Merino sheep station here in Tarras, New Zealand. This farm belongs to my husbands family and they have farmed here for over 100 years, which is a long time in NZ! Every year in the first week of September a big muster happens and the sheep are brought down off the hill and into the woolshed to get their yearly hair cut in time for the hot Central Otago summer. This wool is very carefully removed by highly skilled shearers, who have the very tricky task of removing the precious fibres without harming the wrinkly sheep.

Walking into the woolshed can be a little intimidating, with drum and bass blasting over the sound of the clippers, and a multitude of men and women working tirelessly, each with their own roll making the operation of shearing a sheep like a well oiled machine. This precious wool is sent to Merino New Zealand which is spun and made into Icebreaker clothing, which we all know and love. Merino wool is an incredible fibre; sustainable, warm when wet, cooling when you are too hot and keeps the stink off you. What better fibre to wear against your skin? My wardrobe is nearly 100% merino, from underwear, thermals, summer singlets, technical ski wear and awesome hoodies! . .  [whether or not you want to read more, it’s worth clicking the link for the photos]

Ballance Farm Environment Awards application period extended for Canterbury farmers:

Canterbury farmers have been given another three weeks to enter this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The entry deadline has been extended to Friday October 30 to allow farmers more time to get their entries in before judging commences in November.

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards Judging Coordinator Sandra Taylor acknowledged that drought and a low dairy pay-out have made for a tough start to spring and for many farmers entering the Awards has been low on the priority list.

“Recent rain and warmer temperatures will hopefully take the pressure off and give farmers a chance to think about getting their entries in.”

She points out the judging process gives farmers the opportunity to benchmark their businesses and get feedback from a team of experienced and knowledgeable judges. . . 

Life-changing win for Young Auctioneer:

With entries now open for the 2015 Heartland Bank Young Auctioneer of the Year Competition, the 2014 winner is urging other young auctioneers to enter the “life-changing competition.”

Cam Bray of PGG Wrightson won the 2014 Competition after entering all three years of the competition. The win enabled him to travel to the 2015 Sydney Royal Show to attend the Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association (ALPA) Young Auctioneers National Final.

Mr Bray said that the trip to Australia resulted in some life-changing experiences.

“The trip to Australia was great – not only for the fact that I was representing New Zealand but to be able to rub shoulders with Australia’s best was an invaluable experience.” . . .

A big win for Rural Contractors NZ:

Agricultural contractors around New Zealand will soon be able to bring in overseas workers much easier than in the past – following a deal struck between its national body and Immigration NZ.

Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says his organisation has been working with Immigration New Zealand for a long time in an effort to resolve the problems around contractors bringing in overseas workers for the harvest season.

“After many meetings and a lot of hard work by RCNZ – together with Immigration NZ – we believe have come up with a solution that will solve many of the problems that rural contractors currently experience every year and make it much easier to bring in overseas workers,” Mr Levet says. . .

Forest grower poll open:

Voting is now open for the person who will represent owners of smaller forests on the Forest Growers Levy Trust board.

The two candidates are Guy Farman, managing director of Farman Turkington Forestry and Steve Wilton, managing director of Forest Enterprises. Both have strong forestry credentials and are based in the Wairarapa.

Anyone who owns a ‘qualifying forest’ of between 4 and 1000 hectares, planted before 1 October 2003, may vote in the election that opened on Monday 5 October and closes on Friday 16 October. . . .

DataCol Group extends their reach into the rural market with acquisition of pioneering water measurement company Watermetrics:

Data collection and data integrator specialist business DataCol Group, today announced it had fully acquired Canterbury-based Watermetrics, a provider of integrated water flow monitoring, recording and analysis services.

“Watermetrics were pioneers in providing water measurement technology and services to the rural sector, have built a strong brand and significant customer base predominantly in the Canterbury region off the back of that,” says DataCol CEO Bruce Franks.

“Using data collection and measurement technology has become a critical tool for farmers in terms of enhancing productivity, reducing cost and complying with national regulations like water consents. . . 

Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours wins environmental tourism award:

A successful business driven by the ethos of ‘inspiration through adventure’ is how judges described Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours in announcing it as the winner of the Environmental Tourism Award at this year’s Tourism Industry Awards.

After almost six years in business – and a consistent winner of many sustainable practice awards over the years – Ziptrek received the award on Friday night, helping set a benchmark of excellence within the New Zealand tourism industry.

Judges were hugely impressed with the business, describing it as a “wonderful example” of a highly successful tourism business embracing and promoting sustainability in everything it does. . . 

Coronet Peak caps off ‘stellar’ season with visitor experience award:

Capping off a stellar season, Queenstown’s Coronet Peak fought off stiff competition to win the Visitor Experience Award at the New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards this weekend.

The ski area celebrated its final ‘hurrah’ on the snow this weekend with a Rugby World Cup-themed day in support of the AB’s on Saturday. On Sunday, all best efforts to host a Beach Party were somewhat thwarted by wet and wild weather, but a few brave souls managed the Pond Skim to cap off an amazing season.

The final weekend of 2015 winter started well, with Coronet Peak ski area manager Ross Copland accepting the honour in Auckland on Friday night. . . 


Rural round-up

January 20, 2015

Review of cost of food safety and biosecurity services:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is looking for feedback on proposed updates to fee rates needed to maintain the safety of New Zealand’s food and protect New Zealand from biosecurity risks.

The proposals update the amount the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) charges industry to provide food safety and biosecurity services.

“Biosecurity and food safety are critical to the operation and viability of New Zealand’s primary industries. Without these systems, New Zealand’s $38.3 billion primary sector exports would never get past importing countries’ borders and New Zealand’s primary industries would be exposed to a much greater risk of potentially devastating pests and diseases,” says Dan Bolger, MPI’s Deputy Director-General, Office of the Director-General. . .

Wine industry strongly opposes MPI cost recovery proposal:

New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) is strongly opposing a proposal from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to recover $2.9 million per year from the wine industry to meet the costs of its wine regulatory programme.

“Wineries currently pay just over $200 million each year in excise to the government” said Steve Green, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Payments have increased by $70 million, or more than 60%, in the past decade. From our perspective requiring the industry to pay an additional $2.9 million to MPI every year is manifestly unjustifiable”.

The MPI proposal for wine is part of a wider review of the fees MPI charges to primary industries for the services and activities it undertakes as part of New Zealand’s biosecurity and food safety systems. “Other major primary industries are subject to the MPI user-pays regime. However unlike the wine industry, none of those sectors also pay a product specific tax”, said Mr Green. . .

 Best dairy pastures picked

Winners of a competition to identify the Waikato and Bay of Plenty’s best new and renewed dairy pastures will host field days at their properties in late January.

Morrinsville farmer James Booker, and Robert Garshaw from Waiuku, are winners of the Pasture Renewal Persistence Competition run by the DairyNZ-led Pasture Renewal Leadership Group.

Robert Garshaw won best first year pasture, while James Booker won the best pasture of more than three years old. . . .

Full benefits only realised with farmer use:

Product innovation and technology breakthroughs coming out of the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Clearview Innovations Primary Growth Partnership programme are going to deliver some real results for farming, and for New Zealand. However, the full benefits will only be realised when farmers start using them.

Ballance Science Extension Manager Ian Tarbotton says a key part of the co-operative’s $19.5 million programme, co-funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth Partnership, is on-farm support to help farmers understand what these innovations can do for them, and how to use them.

“With the first of our products, such as N-Guru, now becoming available for use on-farm, there’s a significant piece of work going on to make it easy for farmers to do just that. . .

Contractors available to help out:

Farmers facing financial stress and mounting pressure on-farm and exacerbated by the increasingly dry weather, should reach out for help as should agricultural contractors, advises Rural Contractors New Zealand.

RCNZ President, Steve Levet says with the on-going dry in many areas around the country – on top of the lower forecast milk price –could see some farmers feeling overwhelmed and under huge pressure.

“However, there are things on farm that have to be done – no matter what – such as supplementary feed and crop harvesting,” Mr Levet explains. “Contractors are professionals and are especially set up to help out when these jobs need to be done on-farm.” . . .

 

Inaugural Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration is set to shine:

The inaugural Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration is set to shine, this exciting event Wine Hawke’s Bay are planning to capitalise on the influx of trade and media coming through to attend the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration 2015. The Hawke’s Bay Wine Celebration is being held on Monday, 26th January 2015 to capture the international and national wine trade and media’s attention prior to the Central Otago event on 29th January. . .

 

 

 


Rural contractors need migrant workers

September 25, 2014

Rural contractors want changes in immigration rules to allow them to employ migrants:

Rural Contractors New Zealand has congratulated Prime Minister John Key and the National Party for its success in this year’s general election.

RCNZ President Steve Levet says a clear-cut result is good for both the country and our economy, but the rural contracting sector would now like to see some action from the new government in a couple of key areas .

“There is no doubt the agriculture sector is an important and valuable part of New Zealand’s economy – and rural contracting is a vital and important component of that,” he explains.

“However, as RCNZ has been saying for some time, we really need some changes in the rules around migrant workers in the rural contracting sector – as there is a huge gap between rural contractors’ needs for trained, agricultural machinery operators and unemployed New Zealanders who can do this work.”

The imperative to employ local people before migrants is sensible but only if the locals have the skills and attitude required.

Mr Levet says the rules around employing temporary, skilled people from overseas prepared to work for 6-8 months each year must be simplified – as do the regulations restricting people who have previously worked here in past seasons coming back to New Zealand to work.

“Contracting is a seasonal business and one that uses sophisticated machinery that requires technical skill to operate productively,” he explains. “Part of this shortfall is met by bringing in skilled operators from overseas.”

Mr Levet is urging the new Government to seriously look at these regulations and how the process can be streamlined and simplified.

He adds that RCNZ is also keen to work with opposition political parties to help them better understand the needs and issues of the rural contracting sector.

“It is clear from some of the debate we heard during the election campaign that many parties are not aware of the dire shortage of suitable agricultural machinery operators,” Mr Levet explains. “It is apparent many politicians are completely ignorant about this problem and how rural contractors actually rely on employing skilled people from overseas on a temporary basis each season and have done so for many years.”

Mr Levet also points out that many of the applicants Work and Income NZ (WINZ) tries to fill these vacancies with; either do not have the right skill-set and/or attitude to be successful.

“We are talking about operating highly technical and very expensive pieces machinery. It is unrealistic, unsafe and impractical to expect unemployed people to walk off the street and successfully take up these positions.”

Mr Levet says his organisation will continue to work closely with the new Government, opposition political parties and officials too both ensure that locals have the best opportunity for employment in the sector – as well as continuing to lobby for changes to the rules around engaging overseas seasonal workers for the benefit of the rural contracting sector. . .

Rural contracting is largely seasonal with a high demand for staff when work needs to be done and periods where there is little to do.

This makes contracting unattractive to people who need full time permanent jobs and more suitable for people on working holidays or other migrants who are happy to work when and where there’s work available and then go somewhere else.


Rural round-up

September 15, 2014

Forestry workers dodge poachers’ bullets – Sonita Chandar:

Forestry workers are dodging bullets from poachers, says a forest manager.

They are being fired at by people hunting wild pigs illegally released in the private forests.

”Our staff shouldn’t have to worry about going to work and being shot, but this is the reality,” said Phil De La Mare, Otago regional manager for forestry plantation company, Ernslaw One.

”These unpermitted hunters forget it is a workplace and go shooting any time, even when there are people out working.

”Their actions are putting our staff and contractors in a risky situation and for us.

”Providing a safe workplace environment has become a challenge.” . .

 Putting Rustling back into the history books – Rick Powdrell:

Contrary to talk, the meat and fibre industries are not broken as the fundamentals to take both sectors forward to much greater heights remain. Still, it requires an entire industry shared vision going forward and that’s of course easier said than done.

 This undoubtedly involves strong leadership accompanied by a strong grassroots involvement.  It hardly entails re-inventing the wheel, but rather more awareness of the areas we need to improve and a path developed to redeem theses issues.

 The red meat sector strategy has already identified significant issues, with the Beef + Lamb: Red Meat Profit Partnership focusing on topics behind the farm gate with the aim of lifting on farm performance.

 This collaboration of Beef + Lamb NZ, meat companies, banks and government foreshadows a united industry approach. . .

NZ exports to EU may face stricter pesticide standards – Yvonne O’Hara:

New Zealand’s fruit and vegetable export trade to Europe could be affected by as much as $600 million if a proposed European Union (EU) reduction of some pesticide residue levels on imported food goes ahead, Agcarm chief executive Graeme Peters says.

The European Commission (EC) had been looking at regulating common crop protection products that had endocrine-disrupting properties. The EC believed reducing endocrine-disrupting pesticides would benefit the environment; be good for the health of growers, workers, rural communities and consumers; and boost the economy.

It will release criteria to identify those properties in the next few weeks. . .

Commission releases final report on 2013/14 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2013/14 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year as part of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act’s milk price monitoring regime. The review assesses whether Fonterra’s calculation approach provides incentives for it to operate efficiently and provides for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk.

The most significant issue in this year’s review has been Fonterra’s decision to pay farmers an adjusted price for the 2013/14 season that is less than the milk price calculated under the company’s Milk Price Manual.

The Commission’s overall findings are that the way Fonterra is calculating and applying its proposed adjustment to the base milk price is not consistent with incentives for it to operate efficiently; however, the approach is consistent with contestability in the market under the Act. . .

Field day to give insight into rural work  – Yvonne O’Hara:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is to hold its second field day on September 17 at Brian Hughes’ yard at Waimatua, near Invercargill, from 10am to 3pm.

RCNZ vice-president and contractor David Kean, of Centre Bush, said the field day, held in association with Work and Income, encouraged people to find out what it was like working in the agricultural contracting sector.

”People can drift in and drift out again throughout the day,” Mr Kean said.

Those attending the field day would have the opportunity to drive large tractors and operate an assortment of machinery under supervision. . .

Farmers’ need for speed – Chris Lewis:

We are ready when you are, and we have been ready for some time. The key investors and the next government need to know farmers and rural households are sick of the inferior connectivity they are receiving. We are in the need for speed and reliable connectivity; it is not only imperative for rural productivity, but for empowering rural households.

The agricultural industry generates 73 percent of New Zealand’s merchandise exports, so you would think that the powers and investors that be, would recognise a gaping hole when they see it. What is not ok is that whilst rural businesses and households are paying for the same services as our urban counterparts, we are not getting the same results.

Market research proves rural New Zealand is being neglected. We are armed with the latest devices, on average 9 connectable devices per business and 5 to 6 of those connected at one time, but have limited infrastructure to use them. Chorus recently went to the rural market through Colmar Brunton to find out exactly what we have been dealing with, and it should come as no surprise that they found we have the same level of needs as urban businesses and households. . .

In Burundi, Viola Nsengiyumva turns two acres into a profitable business – Food Tank:

Viola looks out over the two acres of land she and her husband, Deo, inherited from her father. The fields are thick with bushy, yellow-green vines. The beans are ready to be harvested.

Two and a half years ago, Viola’s fields were nearly bare. Even though she and Deo had land, they could not afford the seed and fertilizer needed to plant on all of it. Harvests were low, with just enough to feed the family. There was no surplus to sell for income.

“Before One Acre Fund, we would just manage to have enough to eat. We couldn’t sell anything we grew,” Viola says. “I would go to purchase fertilizer, but I would not be able to buy enough.” . . .

Do You Have the Correct Licence for the Coming Season?:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is urging its members to ensure they have all the correct transport licences for the coming season.

RCNZ president Steve Levet says with the new season fast approaching it is timely for rural contractors and their staff to check to see they have the correct licence AND a ‘Wheels Endorsements’ if required.

“It is incumbent on rural contractors to ensure both they and their staff have all the correct licences when moving their tractors and machinery around the country,” he adds.

“There are no excuses for not having the correct licenses and/or wheels endorsement. If contractors are not sure they should find out – all the necessary information is under the members section of our website: www.ruralcontractors.org.nz .”

Mr Levet says the different types of licences rural contractors may require include: . . .


Rural round-up

June 30, 2014

Rustling needs to be a specific offence:

Federated Farmers is asking political parties to develop policies to tackle the scourge of stock theft better known as rustling.

“We know stock theft or rustling has been estimated to cost the farming community some $120 million each year,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson.

“In recent weeks we’ve seen a lifestyler raided for breeding ewes in Waikato and over 200 sheep despicably shot in Otago.

“We’ve got to ask if the penalties imposed are serious enough to be a deterrent for either rustling or poaching. Based on our experience to date they are not. . .

Behaviour is the root cause of meat industry’s problems – Allan Barber:

I am not completely sure why we spend so much time and effort complaining about the meat industry or which problems we are trying to solve. However in the interests of encouraging progress and stimulating debate, I will try to define the problem: this appears to be that the meat processing and export sector is not profitable enough, whether in absolute terms or in comparison to dairy. Both may be true.

It is worth stating the unique challenges of the red meat sector up front. First, there is a market at both ends of the chain, procurement and sale of the products; second, New Zealand exports a higher percentage of its production than any other country which must travel further to reach its markets, not all of them equally buoyant; third, sheep and beef must be disassembled into multiple cuts of meat as well as many co-products, all of which are sold into a wide range of markets for variable returns; fourth the climate dictates when the grass will grow and livestock will be ready for slaughter; and last, but not least, the producer can choose when and where to send the livestock for slaughter except in a drought. . .

The recipe for future success:

Blue Sky Meats and its suppliers will be relieved the company is back in black after two challenging years.

The return to profitability – a $1.946 million after-tax profit for the year to March – came on the back of the only two losses in the Southland-based company’s 28-year history.

It has been a much better year for meat companies. Along with Blue Sky – and Lean Meats – the two big co-operatives, Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms, who both report late in the year, have signalled profitable years. . .

Dairy recovery anticipated – by Christmas – Sally Rae:

Dairy commodity prices are predicted to stay in a trough period for another three to six months.

Speaking at the recent South Island Dairy Event in Invercargill, Rabobank’s director of dairy research for New Zealand and Asia, Hayley Moynihan, said it could be Christmas before there was a more sustained recovery in commodity prices.

It would be a ”reasonably prolonged” trough, as inventories were worked through and an additional seven billion litres of milk available on the world market in the first half of 2014 took time to ”find a home”. . .

Focus on consumers behind Pasture to Plate success – Sally Rae:

King Country farmer William Oliver’s belief in the consumer stemmed from his time studying at the University of Otago.

Mr Oliver and his wife Karen were the overall winners of the Silver Fern Farms’ Pasture to Plate Award.

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett said the couple impressed the judges with their focus on the consumer. . . .

Simpler pesticide rules on the way:

The Environmental Protection Authority is aiming to simplify the rules covering pesticides and other hazardous substances.

The authority is marking its third anniversary as the country’s environmental regulator after being created from three agencies – the Environmental Risk Management Authority, the Ministry for the Environment and the Economic Development Ministry.

EPA chief executive Rob Forlong said one of its big achievements has been a wide ranging review of organophosphate chemicals, which resulted in controls on some pesticides being tightened and others phased out. . .

Final countdown for Ultimate Rural Challenge:

The showcase event of the rural calendar is only three days away!

The 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final begins this Thursday 3 July, 4.30pm with the Official Opening at Lincoln University Library. Here, the top seven contestants will be introduced to the public and compete in their first head-to-head challenge.

The competition over the following two days is a testament to the sophistication of modern farming and level of skill and knowledge required to be successful in the field. The top seven young farmers have made it through to the Grand Final by competing in their local district competition and taking first place in their Regional Finals.  . .

Successful annual conference for Rural Contractors NZ:

More than 100 agricultural contractors from all over the country met in New Plymouth, last week, for Rural Contractors New Zealand’s (RCNZ) annual conference.

Rural Contractors New Zealand is the only national association for rural contractors in New Zealand.

Last week’s conference saw Wellsford-based Steve Levet re-elected as president of RCNZ, with Southland’s David Kean re-elected vice-president. . .

 


Foreign workers vital for rural contractors

December 11, 2013

Why are we letting immigrants work when there are so many unemployed New Zealanders?

It’s a simple question with a  several answers:

There isn’t always a match between the skills and attitude of the unemployed and the available jobs.

People looking for full time, permanent work aren’t always willing to accept part time or temporary positions.

The people without work don’t necessarily live where the work is and are unable or unwilling to move.

That’s why the Rural Contractors NZ says foreign workers are vital for the industry.

RCNZ president Steve Levet was commenting on recent claims made by Labour leader David Cunliffe about foreign labour being used in the horticulture sector at the expense of local workers.

“Any similar claim made about rural contracting is neither accurate nor fair,” he explains. “Nobody I know turns away a Kiwi who is willing to work.”

But Mr Levet admits there is a gap between rural contractors’ needs for trained agricultural machinery operators and unemployed New Zealanders who could do that work. Part of this shortfall is met by bringing in skilled operators from overseas.

“Contracting is a seasonal business and one that uses sophisticated machinery that requires technical skill to operate productively. Many contractors would like to employ New Zealanders but by the time they have trained them, the season is over.

“In many cases, the operator does not return the next year so the contractor has lost the investment they have made in training.”

Mr Levet says political parties of all persuasions need to understand that a dire shortage of suitable agricultural machinery operators means rural contractors rely on employing skilled people from overseas on a temporary basis each season and have done so for many years.

He adds that many of the applicants Work and Income NZ (WINZ) tries to fill these vacancies with; either do not have the right skill-set and/or attitude to be successful.

“We are talking about operating highly technical and very expensive pieces machinery. It is unrealistic, unsafe and impractical to expect unemployed people to walk off the street and successfully take up these positions.”

However, contractors are looking at better ways to work with WINZ to better source and train operators here. He adds that a recent open day held by Rural Contractors NZ members in Southland offers a good model on how this could be done.

Mr Levet says the seasonal nature of rural contracting means workers with the right skills are needed for only 3-4 months each year and, understandably, this kind of short-term employment does not often suit locals who are looking for fulltime work.

“The rules around employing temporary, skilled people from overseas prepared to work for 3-4 months each year need to be simplified as do the regulations restricting people who have previously worked here in past seasons coming back to New Zealand to work,” Mr Levet adds. “This is vital to ensure that the primary sector continues to be the economic driver for New Zealand”

Lots of young New Zealanders head overseas for work in other countries and usually find it easy to get work for the same reason contractors and farmers welcome foreign workers here – they’re usually keen, skilled and reliable.

Even jobs which take little or no skill require the right attitude and ability to turn up on time and do what’s required to the standard required.

But many rural contracting job require experienced staff and would be dangerous for the unskilled.

The time and effort it takes to employ foreign staff is a hand brake on productivity.

It can also be costly in industries like horticulture when fruit and vegetables have to be harvested when they’re ready.

Simplifying the rules and processes and accepting that sometimes overseas workers are often more suited to seasonal work than locals would help.

 


Rural round-up

October 14, 2013

Low wool supply puzzles exporters:

Wool industry representatives are trying to unravel the mystery of an unexpected drop in the amount of wool coming forward for auction.

Thursday’s South Island sale had fewer than 8000 bales on offer, which was about 40% below the amount which had been anticipated, while the amount of wool for next week’s North Island sale is 25% lower than what had been rostered.

That’s even more of a surprise, as recent North Island sales have been offering more than the amount forecast. . .

Garden stepping down at SFF – Alan Williams:

Silver Fern Farms will be looking for a new chairman, after Eoin Garden retires from the board at the annual meeting in December.

Garden, a Central Otago farmer, has been chairman of New Zealand’s biggest meat processor and exporter since early 2008.

He was elected to the board in 1998 and is the longest-serving of the current directors. . .

Cricketers to front Indian venutre – Annette Scott:

An exclusive supply contract with meat processor and exporter Alliance Group has set the wheels in motion for fledgling company QualityNZ to build a meat trade with India.

QualityNZ has spent the past three years “under the radar” devising strategy to set up a market for New Zealand sheep meat in India.

Building around NZ and India’s sporting relationships, cricketing stars Brendon McCullum, Stephen Fleming, and Daniel Vettori will play a big part in the marketing and profile of the new meat trade.

All three cricketers have a shareholding in QualityNZ alongside the two major shareholders, former NZ fast bowler Geoff Allott and NZ Cricket Board member and Geoff Thin. . .

Keep it clean:

RURAL CONTRACTORS are being reminded to make sure their machinery is cleaned between jobs to ensure that plant pests and weeds are not spread around on dirty gear.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says dirty machines carry soil, seeds, and organic matter, which could dislodge when it’s next used and spread contamination to new sites.

“Soil-borne pests and diseases can be transferred in wet soil attached to wheels, tracks or parts of the machine that work in the ground. While some pests and disease can also be transferred in dust that can accumulate on many parts of the machine – engine bay, cabins and air intakes,” Levet explains. . .

NZ merino a winner during America’s Cup – Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand may have lost the America’s Cup, but some consolation can be taken from 5500 meals of merino-branded lamb being served up at a pop-up restaurant on the San Francisco waterfront to diners including film actor Tom Cruise.

The branded lamb meat, Silere alpine origin merino, was a winner among supporters of the race won last month by the United States Oracle team led by Kiwi Sir Russell Coutts and bankrolled by billionaire Larry Ellison.

More than 1.4 tonnes of merino lamb was dished up during the 12 weeks of the America’s Cup at the Waiheke Island Yacht Club pop-up restaurant at the Embarcadero in San Francisco which will remain open until the end of the year. . .

Dairy man jumps on asparagus bandwagon:

THIRTY FIVE years ago Geoff Lewis left his parent’s small dairy farm to seek his fortune in the sheep and cattle industry.

Today Lewis has added a dairy farm to his business, but asparagus growing has propelled him to prominence as a highly regarded grower using technology for maximum profit.

“When Liz and I got married, I went and managed a coastal sheep and beef farm and forestry block north of Foxton. My employer there was keen to diversify. In the late 1970’s the catchcry was ‘diversify’ and there were goats, deer, kiwifruit – all embryonic. 

“MAF had an advisory office supporting diversification by farmers so we investigated and decided perhaps asparagus was a good option for the free-draining sands of the west coast.” . . .


Rural round-up

September 23, 2013

Rural contractors ready to help:

Farmers around the country hit by devastating storms last week are being reminded that rural contractors are available to help them with any clean-up work.

“Canterbury was hit by its worst wind storm in 40 years, which has caused major damage on farms throughout the province,” says Steve Levet, president of Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ). “There are also reports of a fair bit of destruction in the North Island as well.

“This has been a tough time for landowners with many needing to carry out big clean-up jobs on their properties. If the farmers don’t have the time or the resources to clear up storm damage; they should contact their local rural contractor and ask for help.” . . .

Northland farmer Parsons named B+LNZ chair-elect – Hugh Stringleman:

New Beef + Lamb New Zealand chair-elect James Parsons, of Northland, has left on his first market access and trade relations trip to Southeast Asia and Europe.

He has accompanied chairman Mike Petersen to Japan, South Korea, and Europe for a meeting of the sheep-meat forum.

Parsons has been appointed by fellow directors for six months as chair-elect before Petersen retires in March.

Rather than have deputy chairmen, in recent times primary sector organisations like Fonterra, Alliance, Ballance, and now B+LNZ, have used a nominated heir approach to transition. . .

New chair for Awards trust:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Trust has a new chair- Mid-Canterbury dairy farmer and DairyNZ director Alister Body.

Body says a key focus of the Trust under his leadership will be to ensure the awards and its three contests – the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year – retain relevancy and competitor interest.

“The competitions are improving and evolving and that’s really important. They also provide a great showcase of the dairy industry and give tremendous promotion of the value and benefits to be gained by participating in the dairy industry,” he says. . .

End of drought boosts prospects of NZ land prices – Agrimoney:

The ending of New Zealand’s drought has handed the country’s farmland market a “strong platform” for the important spring season, real estate professionals said, amid bright hopes for the important dairy sector too.

Economic data on Thursday highlighted the impact to New Zealand agriculture from one of the worst droughts on record, with the sector seen shrinking 4.8% in the April-to-June period from the previous quarter, thanks largely to the impact on dairy farms of poor pasture conditions.

“Dairy production was the biggest contributor to the fall, while sheep and cattle farming also fell,” the official statistics office in New Zealand, the top milk exporting country, said. . .

Golden harvest puts industry back on track:

THE WINE industry is seeing the first signs of renewed interest in new vineyard development, showing there is new optimism in the industry, says New Zealand Winegrowers chairman Steven Green.

Five years ago the New Zealand wine industry suffered a supply imbalance as producers made more wine than they could sell. Grape prices slumped and vines were ripped out.

But a record 345,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested this year producing 250 million litres of wine. The 2013 crop is up 28% on the small 2012 harvest but up only 5% on 2011. . .

My father’s succession strategy worked a treat – Stephen Carr:

My great farming hero, the late Hampshire farmer writer and broadcaster John Cherrington, used to maintain that if you wished your son or daughter to follow you into dairying you should “break them in” before they knew any better.

To delay an introduction to the mind-numbing routine of the milking parlour beyond the age of 12 was to run the risk that the adolescent will discover there are easier ways of earning a living than being tied to the tail of a dairy cow 365 days a year from 4am each morning.

My own father inducted me into farming with ruthless single-mindedness. We didn’t have dairy cows, but he introduced me to the delights of beef, sheep and arable farming without me realising that a subtle brainwashing was in progress. . .


Rural round-up

August 9, 2013

Fonterra welcomes New Zealand Government’s confirmation of safety of New Zealand dairy products

Fonterra today welcomed the New Zealand Government’s confirmation that the quality issue involving whey protein concentrate is confined to the products made from three batches of WPC80 and no other New Zealand dairy products are affected.

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said: “Public safety is Fonterra’s number one priority. When we informed our customers and the Ministry for Primary Industries of the quality issue, we advised them that it was limited to three batches of whey protein concentrate.

“We appreciate the New Zealand Government confirming this to be the case and reiterating the safety of all other New Zealand dairy products, including Whole Milk Powder (WMP) and Skim Milk Powder (SMP), butter and cheese. . .

Surprised by the biosecurity issue – Bill Kaye-Blake:

The issue with botulism bacteria in Fonterra’s whey powder has been in the news all week. There’s been lots of talk of milk prices, exchange rates, marketing images and damage to brands. Most of it is fairly simple. A lot of it, at least over the weekend, was speculation about what could or might happen — filler more than news.

I have one small note to add. I have been working in agricultural economics in New Zealand for the last ten years, all across the sector. Dairy, sheep/beef, apple, kiwifruit, potatoes, forestry, wine, lettuce — lots of different products. I’ve also worked on many different issues: trade, technology, consumer trends, productivity. One area in particular has been biosecurity, which in New Zealand refers to keeping bugs out (in other countries, it refers to biological terrorism, which led to some confusion once when I visited the OECD). . .

Fonterra says no sign yet of losss of business, too soon to count cost:

Fonterra Cooperative Group hasn’t seen any signs of customers reducing their business and says it is too soon to say whether the costs of dealing with the contamination will result in a charge against earnings.

Chief executive Theo Spierings told a conference call today that with listed units on the NZX, Fonterra has obligations to disclose any significant financial impact. Major customers hadn’t signalled as yet any change in demand, he said.

On the conference call chairman John Wilson fronted the media for the first time since the crisis emerged last weekend and defended why it took him this long to appear in public on the issue, saying “in reality this is an operational matter” and he had faith in Spierings’ management team to handle it. . .

North Canterbury will boom on back of water storage

IrrigationNZ says North Canterbury will be revitalised on the back of the Waitohi Irrigation and Hydro Scheme, which was granted resource consent this week.

“Hurunui District, like many other rural areas, has experienced gradual population decline and subsequent school and local service closures over the past 20 years. The announcement that Hurunui Water Project’s Waitohi Irrigation and Hydro Scheme can now proceed has the potential to completely reverse North Canterbury’s fortunes,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“The supply of reliable water will create certainty which will encourage greater investment in a range of land use options. With North Canterbury’s unique climate allowing a wide range of crops to be grown, the district is well placed to experience an economic boom,” says Mr Curtis.

Mr Curtis says environmental concerns around intensive farming and increased irrigation would be taken care of through audited farm plans. . . .

Rural Contractors welcome new workplace safety reforms:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) says it welcomes the government’s newly announced workplace health and safety reforms.

“Both employers and employees have an important part to play in improving safety in the workplace,” says RCNZ president Steve Levet.

“Unfortunately, the attitude towards ensuring workplace safety is not universal in the agricultural scene and it can be a battle to get safety seen as a priority by every individual.”

He says rural contractors and their staff need to be as vigilant with maintaining their own safety in the workplace, as they are with maintaining their machinery. . .

Local yarn’s luxury fibre reaches US Vogue Knitters:

With the resurgence in hand knitting and all things handcrafted, a local yarn company is spinning a name for itself with its luxury natural fibre yarn product especially for hand knitting.

Wellington company, Woolyarns New Zealand, produces an exclusive range of luxury yarn brands for both the textile manufacturing and hand knitting markets internationally.

It is Woolyarns Zealana hand knitting yarn, that has now attracted the attention of Vogue Knitting USA magazine’s Chief Editor. . .


Educate locals or allow more foreigners

July 23, 2013

Rural Contractors New Zealand president Steve Levet says schools are partly to blame for the shortage of skilled workers in agricultural contracting.

Mr Levet says the education system has always viewed agriculture as being a second rate option for the under-achievers at school.

He says the agricultural sector needs to target the brighter students and promote agriculture and agricultural contracting as a career opportunity.

Mr Levet says students can get qualifications in agricultural contracting which is not only a highly-specialised field requiring great expertise, but opens the door to international travel as well. . . .

Is it fair to blame schools?

It’s possible that they don’t know about the opportunities and if they don’t know then it’s up to the industry, and agriculture in general, to educate them.

A farm advisor who was concerned about the lack of knowledge of career opportunities in agriculture and associated industries provided a learning opportunity for several secondary school principals.

He flew them over the area, pointing out the many businesses below them then introduced them to some of the local agribusiness entrepreneurs.

The agenda included a session from an accountant who gave such good examples of the earning potential in agribusiness that one principal quipped he was in the wrong job.

The issue of the lack of skilled workers was discussed on The Nation. Federated farmers president Bruce Wills said if there’s not enough locals, immigration rules need to allow more foreign workers.

Mr Wills said only 86.5 per cent of the farming work force are New Zealand citizens so a 13.5 per cent gap is needed to be filled by migrants. He would like the Government to make it easier to attract more foreign labourers.

“We can’t run our industry now without significant numbers of immigrant workers so the industry is too important to be hijacked by lack of labour, if we cant get kiwis in these roles we got make it easy to attract and retain good quality immigrant labour,” said Mr Wills.

If kiwis don’t want the work there are plenty of foreigners who do – providing they can get visas.


Contractors want immigration rules eased

July 19, 2013

Rural contractors are calling on Immigration New Zealand to make it easier for skilled foreign workers to come back into the country each season to help with harvest.

Rural Contractors New Zealand president Steve Levet says about 3000 skilled drivers and machinery operators, who are typically from Ireland and England, come here to help with harvest each year.

Mr Levet says rural contractors struggle to find suitable staff in the domestic labour pool – partly due to the seasonal nature of the work which can last for just two months and also because of the highly specialised nature of the farm machinery being used.

But he says Immigration New Zealand is making contractors jump through too many hoops to bring back their skilled drivers from abroad. . .

Contractors don’t usually have problems getting someone the first time, but have difficulty if they want to employ the same people again.

. . . Mr Levet says rural contractors are finding it harder and harder to bring back contractors who have built up valuable local knowledge.

It’s not only contractors who want immigration rules eased.

Dairy farmers would also like it to be easier to employ staff from overseas and to rehire people who have worked for them before.

Just as young New Zealanders are valued for their attitude and skills when they work in other countries, foreign workers who come here are often better workers than some locals.


Rural round-up

July 1, 2013

All of market’s wants required – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s red meat industry needs to have the ”whole package” when it comes to market presence, robust systems, strong relationships and corporate respect.

That was one of the findings of Five Forks couple Blair and Jane Smith, the supreme winners of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, after a 16-day study tour of specific primary industry markets in Korea, Taiwan and China. . . .

Agriculture begging for graduates – Kashka Tunstall:

It ranks as New Zealand’s most productive, innovative sector.

Entry level positions get an annual pay packet of $55,000, roughly 40 per cent more than the average arts graduate entering the workforce will earn.

Progression is a given and, with shortages in the field internationally, graduates end up having a global career.

The problem is, no one wants to study it.

Agriculture, which John Key has called the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, is an industry with massive growth potential. . .

Couple top Kiwi green farmers – Gerald Piddock:

Craige and Roz Mackenzie have been recognised as the country’s top environmental farmers after being named national winners of the 2013 Farm Environment Awards.

They received the Gordon Stephenson Trophy in front of 400 guests at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton on Saturday night.

The winner is recognised as an ambassador for the promotion of sustainable and profitable farming in New Zealand.

The event celebrated the contribution agriculture made to the New Zealand economy and highlighted the efforts farmers had made to find better ways to manage their farming systems.

The trophy is presented annually and is named after the Waikato farmer who started the farm environment awards. . .

Family mill does more than lumber along – Sally Rae:

Sawmilling has always been a passion for Roger Stuart.

Unsurprisingly, it was all he wanted to do when he left school, given the family connection with the timber industry.

Stuart Timber, at Tapanui, which he now manages, was established in 1980 by the Stuart family and remains a real family business.

”Sawmilling is definitely in the veins of the Stuart crew, no doubt about that,” he mused recently. . .

New president for Rural Contractors NZ:

Wellsford-based agricultural contractor Steve Levet is the new head of the Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ).

Rural Contractors New Zealand is the only national association for rural contractors in New Zealand.

Mr Levet was elected president of the association at its annual conference, held in Cromwell in late June, taking over from John Hughes who stood down after four years in the role. Southland’s David Kean was elected vice-president. . .

 

UK’s top end supermarket keen on HB red wine:

Hawke’s Bay’s “exciting” wines and the “clean living” image of this region fits the “aspirational ideals” of the customers of Waitrose, UK’s leading top end supermarket, according to its New Zealand wine buyer Matt Smith, who was here on a scouting mission to find new wines to stock the shelves.

It was Mr Smith’s second visit to the region and he was excited by the opportunity he saw for Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet blends. He described the wines he tasted as being “impressive” food focused wines that had benefited from more sun and warmth than competing wines from around the world. . . .


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