Rural round-up

May 21, 2015

Extra support for drought affected North Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has met with drought-affected farmers in Cheviot, North Canterbury today and says they’re still feeling the impacts of drought.

“North Canterbury – and the Cheviot area in particular – has missed most of the recent rainfall, and continues to face severe drought conditions,” says Mr Guy.

“Because of this, an additional $20,000 is being allocated to the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust. This will help them with more intensive activities, including individual visits and community events. . .

Livestock moved out of Canterbury drought – Hamish Clark:

Farmers have shipped tens of thousands of sheep and cattle out of north Canterbury and hundreds of tonnes of feed in as the drought there deepens.

The worst-hit area is around Cheviot, which is north of Christchurch, and the locals are desperate for rain.

The ewes are sniffing and searching the parched earth for a single blade of green grass, but there is none.

Cheviot farmer and local Chris Jefferies says farmers in the area are really struggling. . .

Supreme winners open their gates:

Environmental farm award winners for the Horizons Region opened their gates and shared their secrets with other farmers last week.

William Akers, Laura Oughton, Hugh and Judy Akers from Broadlands Station in Ashhurst were announced as the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards supreme winners in March. As part of winning the award, recipients are asked to host other farmers on farm in order to share ideas and inspire others.

Horizons Regional Council environmental manager for land Grant Cooper was on the judging panel for the final round and says Broadlands is a straightforward, efficiently run station. . .

Ministers request report on dairy competition:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today they will request a report on the state of competition in New Zealand’s dairy industry from the Commerce Commission.

The report is required under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, which allowed for the merger of our largest dairy co-operatives to form Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited.

The DIRA contains provisions to ensure contestability in New Zealand’s farm gate and factory gate markets. These provisions are intended to expire when there is workable competition in the domestic dairy market. . .

$5m new funding for forestry research partnership:

The Government will invest $5 million over seven years in a research partnership to increase the competitiveness of the forestry sector, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

“Forestry is New Zealand’s third largest export earner – behind dairy and meat, contributing around $5 billion to our exports. This investment aims to strengthen the ties between research organisations and the industry to produce excellent research driven by industry needs,” says Mr Joyce.

The new partnership is led by Future Forests Research, an industry-operated entity, in collaboration with Scion, the University of Canterbury, and the NZ Dryland Forests Initiative. . .

NZ export log prices hit 3-year low; may start picking up as demand improves – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export log prices, which fell to a three-year low this month, may start to pick up as demand improves in China, the country’s largest market.

The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs fell to $83 a tonne in May, from $94 a tonne in April, marking the lowest price since May 2012, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and sawmillers. The AgriHQ Log Price Indicator, which measures average log prices weighted by grade, dropped to 88.40 from 93.29 in April.

The price for New Zealand A-grade logs delivered to China fell to US$99/JAS from US$111/JAS last month, the lowest level since AgriHQ started collecting the data in 2012. . .

Southern Dairy Hub Case to Be Presented:

Trustees of the Southern Dairy Development Trust are very pleased with the support received for the Southern Dairy Hub, with 516 farmers and businesses pledging $1.306 million in support.

“It’s an absolutely fantastic result and a huge endorsement for the Hub project,” Chair Matthew Richards says. “We are grateful and thankful for the support from our community and are confident we will get a good hearing in front of our industry partners, DairyNZ and AgResearch.”

Mr Richards says the official numbers includes postal pledges that arrived following the April 30 pledge deadline and takes the result to 55% of farmers between Dunedin and Bluff as having pledged their financial support. . .

Rural Business Network Launches Free Mentoring Initiative:

Rural Business Network (RBN) in partnership with Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) has launched a new initiative offering mentoring support to rural businesses throughout New Zealand. The project is called ‘Rural Mentor’ and will provide a tool to enhance on-farm profitability and enable access to skills and knowledge that isn’t commonly known to be available.

The new Rural Mentor initiative sees the BMNZ registration fee waived for a limited number of NZYF and Rural Business Network members

Daile Jones, National Rural Business Network Coordinator says `Farmers in the sheep, beef or dairy sector operating their own business or farm managers that want a fresh perspective, will be matched with a business professional who can offer confidential advice, assistance and support that will help overcome business challenges, set new goals and achieve success. There’s no lack of knowledge out there, just a shortage of knowing what information is available.” . . .

Call OSPRI if you’re moving this Gypsy Day:

Don’t put your livelihood at risk when moving or selling stock over the Gypsy Day period; make sure you call OSPRI to update your NAIT and TBfree details and record all animal movements.

“This will help protect New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of high quality, safe food and maintain access to valuable international markets,” said Dr Stu Hutchings, OSPRI Group Manager.

Up to date NAIT data allows farmers to get back to business sooner in the event of a biosecurity incursion or food safety concern and is already being used to contain existing animal diseases like bovine tuberculosis (TB). . .


Rural round-up

May 14, 2015

Drought conditions remain in South Island:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says farmers throughout the eastern South Island are still feeling the effects of drought, particularly in North Canterbury.

“It’s likely the medium-scale adverse event classification will remain in place until August or September this year, depending on conditions over autumn,” says Mr Guy.

“Despite recent rainfall, farmers and growers are still feeling the impacts of these prolonged dry conditions.

“In particular, the driest area is around Cheviot in North Canterbury which has been largely missed by most of the recent rainfall. . .

 

Drought takes its toll – feed an issue:

Federated Farmers North Canterbury say farmers affected by the drought are facing a tough year ahead and will be struggling with some tough decisions.

“It is not a great time for farmers in North Canterbury, most of us are facing a year of little to no feed, low stocking rates and substantial financial losses,” says Dan Hodgen, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair. 

“With the drought leaving us with a significant lack of grass and crop growth, we are either having to sell capital stock at a much lower rate than we usually would or having to buy in supplementary feed. Some farmers are doing both.” . . .

El Niño pattern blow to Canterbury farmers – Susie Nordqvist:

North Canterbury farmers already in the grip of their worst drought in 60 years have been dealt another blow today.

NIWA says we are on the cusp of an El Niño weather pattern, meaning things are about to get even drier in the east and wetter in the west.

Canterbury’s trademark Nor’west winds are exactly what drought-stricken farmers don’t need.

“When you just get the wind likes this it’s stripping out the moisture in it,” says Federated Farmers north Canterbury president Lynda Murchison. . .

Relentless drought and El Nino means more water storage needed:

Today it was confirmed that drought conditions in the South Island will likely drag on until September this year, emphasising the risk of dry weather patterns to New Zealand and highlighting the need for regional water storage and irrigation infrastructure,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. “These conditions are only likely to worsen in the long term and spread to other parts of the country as a predicted El Nino weather pattern sets in.”

Concerns about how these warm weather patterns will impact our economy were set out in a recent International Monetary Fund report

(http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2015/wp1589.pdf). As part of its findings, the report recommended further investment in irrigation. . .

Bay of Plenty set for good growth:

The Bay of Plenty region and its industries could grow substantially thanks to its resource, population, location and climate advantages, a newly published report reveals.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today released the Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study, which shows that the region has a number of natural advantages and is well placed to attract further investment, raise incomes and increase employment.

“This study provides a detailed summary of the opportunities for the Bay of Plenty’s future,” Mr Joyce says. “It outlines the potential of the primary sector, manufacturing and tourism industries in particular to grow the region. . . .

Kiwifruit industry set for strong growth, thanks Prime Minister for support:

The kiwifruit industry came together to thank the Government for its support with efforts to manage the bacterial disease Psa, when the Prime Minister John Key visited Zespri’s Mt Maunganui office this afternoon.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride says senior representatives of postharvest, growers and industry organisations took the opportunity to show the Prime Minister how far the industry has come since Psa was first discovered in New Zealand in 2010.

“It’s hard to recall now just how uncertain and dark those days were, when we simply did not know how the industry could continue with Psa. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

April 9, 2015

Fagan’s last championships:

New Zealand’s most enduringly successful shearer, David Fagan, begins his final competition today before retirement.

The New Zealand shearing and wool handling championships at Te Kuiti in the King Country will be the last for the 53-year old veteran before he retires from the circuit.

He has had a busy final season, racking up 12 open wins from 25 finals.

Doug Laing from Shearing Sports New Zealand said Fagan had the chance of several more titles before the week’s end. . .

Thriving in the best of both worlds:

Taking the good with the bad, being a sounding board for farmers is what Fonterra Shareholders’ Councillor Sandra Cordell thrives on.

Although there are often gripes and grumbles, there are plenty of positives to the job and Cordell says talking to farmers is invigorating.

“I respect and admire farmers’ passion and enthusiasm for their industry,” she says.

“Farming is about making the best of opportunities on the farm and how a farmer makes use of these.  Since being in this role, I have been blown away by farmers’ awareness of sustainability.” . .

Dog trails light up Taranaki – Sue O’Dowd:

Taranaki farming personality Bryan Hocken is claiming a world first when the Tarata community stages sheep dog trials under lights on Saturday evening.

The Tarata Sheep Dog Trial Club  is hosting a straight hunt under lights after its annual sheep dog trials on Friday and Saturday. About 30 huntaways are expected to compete in the trial, with the winner set to take home $1000.

“We’re just testing the interest,” said Hocken, who’s president of the Tarata club, established more than 100 years ago in 1908. “We don’t know if it’s going to take off. You can enter on the day.” . . .

Tussock Creek sharemilkers win Southland Otago award:

Tussock Creek couple Jono and Kelly Bavin have won the 2015 Southland Otago Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year title.

The other major winners at the Southland Otago Dairy Industry Awards, held recently in Gore, were farm managers of the year Nick Templer and Anieka Venekamp, and dairy trainee of the year Jeremy Anderson. . .

Trooper seeded Gallipoli memorial – Sally Rae:

High on a hill overlooking North Otago farmland is a very special pine tree. Reporter Sally Rae explains why.

Greg and Julie McEwan always knew their beacon-like landmark was special but didn’t know exactly what made it so precious.

That was until a chance meeting in Oamaru, between Mrs McEwan, from Corriedale, and Ikawai farmer Ron Mansfield, who recounted the remarkable story of his Uncle Joe.

For the tree is much more than a landmark; it serves as a monument to World War 1 and to a soldier who safely returned home. . .

Minister opens NZ primary sector Shanghai office:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has officially opened the Shanghai office of Primary Collaboration New Zealand (PCNZ) – a coalition of New Zealand food and beverage companies pooling their expertise in China.

Mr Joyce, who is currently visiting Shanghai to foster business ties between New Zealand and China, says the new premises will provide a boost to the export ambitions of a number of New Zealand’s major primary sector brands.

“PCNZ is a trailblazing collaboration between New Zealand companies who are showing how innovative models can overcome size and scale challenges in large markets such as a China. . . .

Macraes mine may receive reprieve:

The Waitaki mayor is welcoming news OceanaGold may keep its Macraes mine in north Otago open for another ten years, and start mining tungsten deposits.

The company was planning to shut the mine down in 2017 because of the slump in international gold prices.

The company has declined to be interviewed but a spokesperson says low oil prices and the falling New Zealand dollar against the US currency, now makes the mine more viable, along with its recent exploration success both at surface and underground. . .

Otago bunnies breeding like rabbits:

The Otago Regional Council says the number of rabbits in the region is increasing.

8400 rabbits were killed during the annual Easter bunny hunt at the weekend, 500 more than the year before.

The council’s director of environmental monitoring, Jeff Donaldson, said the summer produced a bumper crop of bunnies.

“With the recent drought we’ve had in Otago there has certainly been an increase in numbers over most properties. Rabbits prefer the drier conditions. . .


Quote of the day

March 16, 2015

“The nature of by-elections is it’s a very short period of time. We devoted a couple or three weeks, as the party does, to select the candidate Bit simpler for Winston; he just looks in the nearest mirror and selects himself.” Steven Joyce.

 


More than little late to pay

February 18, 2015

NBR columnist David Cohen wrote in the print edition of the paper last Friday that Labour leader Andrew Little hadn’t paid a bill he’d sent him.

Cohen had been asked to analyse Little’s communication, did so, sent the bill and followed up with phone calls and emails.

It was only yesterday, four months late and after Steven Joyce raised the matter in parliament, that Little paid up:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce attacked Little over his stance on employment law changes after revealing Little had not settled his bill with National Business Review columnist David Cohen.

Writing in the NBR last week Cohen confirmed he did paid work for Little to help him secure the Labour leadership but four months later was still waiting for the cheque.

Joyce said he raised the overdue bill because it was important for Parliamentarians to “pay people promptly”.

Little insisted afterward that the bill had been paid – but would not confirm or deny that the payment had only been put through after Joyce raised the matter in Parliament.

“It’s been paid today.”

Little insisted afterward that the bill had been paid – but would not confirm or deny that the payment had only been put through after Joyce raised the matter in Parliament.

“It’s been paid today.”

He said the bill had been sent in good faith but went to his campaign team rather than himself.

“It was on that person’s desk and flitted around some others,” Little said.

“Had it come to me at the time he remitted it, it would have been paid at that time.”

Little would not say what time he paid the bill and whether it was after Joyce raised the issue.

“It hasn’t been paid as a result of what Steven Joyce said in the House but it’s been paid.” . . .

Can Little be blamed for the tardiness of a member of his campaign team and the others whose desks the invoice flitted around?

At least as much as it shows a problem with processes and not just in a huge hole in the way bills are dealt with but also in media monitoring.

The leader of the Labour Party won’t’ have time to read every column inch that’s written but someone in his office ought to be monitoring the media for every mention of him.

I read Cohen’s column last week and it’s difficult to believe that either no-one in Little’s office, caucus and the wider party did.

It is easier to wonder if they did and didn’t alert him.

If no-one monitors the media, or isn’t doing it properly, Little has a problem. If people who are supposed to support him read the story and didn’t tell him, he’s got an even bigger problem.

Four months is more than a little late to pay a bill, especially when you’re leading a party that purports to stand up for workers and wants to court small business people.

There’s no smaller business than a one-man one.

Update: Cohen makes this point on Radio NZ:

. . . He sent in his report and invoice four months ago.

“During that time I followed up the invoice, I called his office, I spoke with Matt McCarten, his Chief of Staff, many emails were exchanged and it became abundantly clear that the waiter had been stiffed, as it were.”

Mr Cohen said he found this ironic given Mr Little’s recent attempts to connect with small business and the self-employed.

“Andew Little has been crafting excellent speeches on the pressures felt by small business, by freelancers, by sole operators and he’s been committing himself to lessening the stress and strain that one in five New Zealanders, like me, experience.

“Now, you can’t really hold forth on these subjects and not look after your own creditors.”

Mr Joyce was being questioned by one of Mr Little’s Labour MPs about whether the government intended to take a tougher line on zero hour contracts.

Mr Joyce used that as an opportunity to take a potshot at Mr Little.

“This is obviously not a zero-hour contract.

“It could perhaps be better described as a zero-payment contract – the employer in this case being then-leadership aspirant for the Labour Party, one Andrew Little, the current Labour leader.” . .

A Chief of Staff and unionist who doesn’t understand the importance of paying bills properly?

Where’s his concern for the worker and where are his political antennae?

 

 

 


SkyCity doesn’t need taxpayer

February 16, 2015

Sky City is reviewing the design of the International Convention Centre in Auckland and won’t be asking taxpayers to contribute to it.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today announced that the Government and SkyCity have reached agreement on the next stages of the International Convention Centre (NZICC) project.

SkyCity has agreed not to pursue a financial contribution from the Government and instead will amend its design to ensure the facility can be completed without financial input from the Crown.

“I welcome SkyCity’s agreement with the Government’s approach,” Mr Joyce says. “This clears the path for the project to continue.

“I have repeatedly stated since December that our least preferred option is for the Government to contribute funding for the project. I am pleased to confirm that will be the case.”

SkyCity submitted a Preliminary Design for the NZICC in October 2014 for approval by the Crown.  However the total construction cost exceeded those costs as set out in the NZICC Agreement. 

“The Crown has also indicated today that it may be prepared to accept a slightly smaller NZICC, if that is required to meet the agreed total construction cost,” Mr Joyce says.

“SkyCity will now work on a revised Preliminary Design in the coming weeks and will submit it on a date that will be agreed by both parties.

“The Government is pleased to be moving forward with this project which will create 800 permanent new jobs, an increase in GDP of $49 million, and an important public facility for Auckland.”

Public reaction to the suggestion that taxpayers contribute to the centre was almost unanimously negative.

Most people accept the need for continuing fiscal restraint. Most accept that health, education and supporting earthquake recovery in Canterbury are priorities. Few, if any would accept any contribution to the convention centre as either necessary or desirable.

The 800 permanent new jobs and an increase in GDP of $49 million are significant but those benefits would count for little or nothing in the eyes of taxpayers if they were expected to contribute to the building.

The original deal was sold as not requiring contributions from either taxpayers or ratepayers and, thankfully, yesterday’s announcement means that is still the case.

 


Rural round-up

January 30, 2015

Fonterra Milk Volume Forecast Reduced:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has reduced its milk volume forecast for the 2014-15 season to 1,532 million kgMS, reflecting the impact of dry weather on production in recent weeks.

The new forecast is 3.3 per cent lower than the 1,584 million kgMS collected last season. The previous milk volume forecast, made in December last year, was 1,584 million kgMS.

Group Director Co-operative Affairs Miles Hurrell said daily milk production was now 6.1 per cent lower than at the same time last season, as farmers appear to be using more traditional practices to manage their farm businesses with the low payout forecast. . .

 

Dollar Drop Helps Push up Wool:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel reports that the rapidly weakening New Zealand dollar against the US and GBP aided by recent active customer buying activity saw the local prices lift in all areas.

Of the 21,600 bales on offer, 93.7 percent sold with mainly some Merino’s being held back.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 2.28 percent accounting for most of the price gain in the carpet wool sector with sales/supply pressure pushing Lambs wool and Fine Crossbred’s higher. . .

 

Americans the biggest buyers of New Zealand land since 2010, Linz data shows – :

(BusinessDesk) – Americans have been the biggest buyers of New Zealand land in the past five years although the Chinese topped the list in 2014 alone.

Figures released by Land Information New Zealand of approved investments since 2010 shows a breakdown of buyers by country and by industry. The figures come amid renewed concern over foreign buyers contributing to rising house prices, particularly in Auckland, and of increasing amounts of farmland heading into offshore hands.

Of the 646,190 hectares sold during the five years, Americans bought the most at 168,154 hectares. UK residents, who headed the list in 2010, came in second over the five-year period buying a total 66,932 hectares, followed by Israel on 52,325 hectares and Switzerland on 36,965.Chinese buyers came in fifth at 34,908 hectares, although they headed the list with 10,989 hectares bought in 2014, a big jump from just 53 hectares in 2010, and attracted the most criticism. . .

$5m to expand Food Innovation Network:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced that Callaghan Innovation will invest almost $5 million over five years in a project that will expand New Zealand’s Food Innovation Network.

FoodSouth, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC), will use the funding to build a food innovation centre and pilot production plant at Lincoln University to support South Island food and beverages businesses.

“The FoodSouth facility will provide South Island-based food and beverage companies with a one-stop-shop range of product development services, expertise, and equipment to help accelerate the development of innovative high-value products,” says Mr Joyce. . .

Two new PGPs approved:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed approval for two exciting new programmes to join the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth Partnership (PGP).

The first, ‘Passion2Profit’, aims to develop new markets for chilled venison and to help deer farmers to become more productive and profitable.

A total investment of $16 million has been secured for this project, with MPI contributing almost $7.4 million and the balance coming from Deer Industry New Zealand and its partners.

The other, ‘Targeting New Wealth with High Health’ looks to reach existing and emerging markets with a new class of premium lamb products with improved health qualities – including lower levels of saturated fat and higher levels of polyunsaturated fat and healthy omega-3 oils.

This is a seven year $25 million programme, with half the funding contributed by MPI. . .

New PGP programme to turn passion into profit:

Deer Industry New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have today announced they will partner in a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme called Passion2Profit.

The $16 million, seven-year programme is intended to be a game-changer in the production and marketing of venison. It’s expected to deliver $56 million in extra revenues a year from the end of the programme, and reverse the ongoing decline in the size of the national deer herd.

A total investment of $16 million has been committed to Passion2Profit, with a $7.4 million contribution from the PGP over the life of the programme, and the balance coming from Deer Industry New Zealand and its commercial partners. . .

 

MBIE takes enforcement action against Opotiki kiwifruit industry employers:

Enforcement action has been taken against eight employers in the Kiwifruit sector in the Opotiki area of the Bay of Plenty following an operation carried out last year by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The Ministry’s Labour Inspectorate and Immigration New Zealand, together with Inland Revenue visited 29 businesses including orchards, pack houses and administrative offices to check their compliance with employment, immigration and tax laws. . .

 

Dairy conversions – getting it right from the start:

Farmers contemplating a land use conversion to dairying can get a new online environmental ‘how to’ planning guide to help ensure any new farm meets the industry’s standards.

Responsible dairy conversions outlines farmer environmental responsibilities during the conversion process. It has been produced by industry body DairyNZ to help farmers understand what the requirements are for new dairy farms and what is expected under the industry’s commitments in the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.

“It is important to get the conversion process right from the start. Detailed planning will pay off,” says Dairy NZ’s environment manager Dr Mike Scarsbrook. “I recommend a three-step planning process for farmers. Take advice, talk to your regional council and talk to your prospective dairy company. These actions will stand you in good stead for the future,” he says. . . .

 Longer skiing season at Cardrona:

With winter approaching, Cardrona Alpine Resort have decided to lengthen their winter season and have invested heavily into improving the quality and number of groomed trails for all types of skiers and snowboarders.

Cardrona have extended their season by two weeks which gives the ski area the longest scheduled winter season in the South Island. Cardrona’s 2015 Opening Day will now be on June 13 and the final day of the season is scheduled for October 11. Dates are weather dependent and the first week of the season will see limited beginner’s terrain on offer with additional terrain opening as snowfall allows. . .

 

 

 


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