Rural round-up

20/08/2013

Important not to let China dominate red meat sector – Allan Barber:

It’s a scary thought how quickly things have changed, but China has become one of New Zealand’s biggest markets for red meat, almost without any warning.

After years of thinking of UK/Europe as our biggest market for sheepmeat and the USA for beef with all other countries way down the chart, China has surged to reach the status of our biggest destination by volume for sheepmeat with 60,000 tonnes in the last 12 months compared with 55,000 to the UK.

The rise in beef is less dramatic, although year on year volume increased by more than 600% to 27,500 tonnes. However this volume is larger than exports to any single market other than the USA. The increases are less pronounced if measured in dollars, but the message is the same. . . .

Innovation from grassroots:

Retaining primary sector research and development to maintain competitiveness while at the same time diversifying into other key areas is important, says industry body DairyNZ.

Commenting on the launch of a new book, Get Off the Grass: Kickstarting New Zealand’s Innovation Economy, by Shaun Hendy and Paul Callaghan, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says dairying in New Zealand has not been ‘backed’ at the expense of other sectors.

“Its export value has grown by 83% in the last 10 years because our industry is innovative, resilient and highly competitive,” he says. “And I agree that diversifying our economic base is important,” says Mackle.

“Some of the research I’ve seen points to the importance of cities and regions being powerful drivers of knowledge economies. They are associated with significant productivity gains and innovation and high densities of businesses in related industries. The new Lincoln Agri Hub that DairyNZ is a part of is an agricultural response to that for Christchurch and Canterbury. There is a food one in Palmerston North and we are looking to develop a hub in the Waikato too,” he says. . .

Primary industry mobile tech forum draws the digerati – sticK:

Numbers tell a story on their own.

And the fact that over 220 attendees ponyed up at the Mobile Tech Summit 2013 in Wellington on August 7 & 8 underscores the message that our natural resources aren’t as old-hat as some would like to believe.

This new event is designed to showcase current and upcoming mobile innovations in New Zealand’s principle food and fibre sections.

In other words; the application of smartphones and mobile devices across our biological industries – which for all the movies made in New Zealand and talk of standalone digital businesses, still underpin our economy. . .

Farm compliance and water breakthroughs:

Figures obtained by the Dominion Post show a significant fall in the number of dairy farmers receiving infringement and abatement notices.  This follows hard on the heels of the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) reporting in 90 percent of monitored sites, water quality over 2000-2010, was either stable or showed improvement

“The numbers from the Dominion Post tell the full story and that is one of marked improvement,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“While the Dominion Post has singled out dairy farming over the past five seasons, we are buoyed to see the number of abatement notices almost halve while infringement notices have more than halved.  . .

Changes to farming regulations on the horizon:

Federated Farmers supports Government proposals to change the Resource Management Act (RMA) but there are some changes still to be made.

“The principles behind the changes are to give certainty to the planning process and to consenting,” said Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers’ Environment spokesperson.

“I’m sure everyone will welcome greater consistency and faster decision making. The changes should make local authorities better to deal with and more accountable.

“We are disappointed that the Government is still not addressing inconsistencies with the framework of the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water; devised to protect indigenous aquatic flora, fauna and habitat. The proposed RMA changes continue to protect introduced predator species, such as trout. You cannot have it both ways. . .

Best plants for bees – Raymond Huber:

Honey bees are the glue that holds our agricultural system together…Hannah Nordhaus

It’s Bee Week and Time magazine features The Plight of the Honeybee (hey Mr. Time Editor, it’s ‘honey bee’, two words, not one). One cause of bee decline is monocultural farming: bees are starving because of a lack of flower diversity. You can help by planting bee-friendly fruit trees, bushes, herbs and wild flowers:
  • Plant nectar-rich flowers: clovers and mimosa; rosemary, thyme and sage; koromiko and veronicas; brassicas; dandelion, sunflower, dahlias, cosmos, and zinnia
  • Bees like bluish-purple flowers such as Californian lilac, erica, and lavender . . .

Rural round-up

17/07/2013

Australian farmers facing tough times:

Australian farmers are doing it tough with food imports becoming cheaper because of the Australian dollar’s plunge against the greenback three years ago, just as the worst drought in living memory finally broke.

Although there’s a general election in September, Australian farmers say their plight continues to be ignored by both Government and opposition.

Hundreds of jobs have gone from the regions as food processing factories close – or they’ve slashed production, leaving growers with tonnes of rotting fruit. . .

How a 750 cow dairy farm could make $125,000 more by employing 2 extra staff – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve been using a 750 cow farm (Canterbury average) as an example. I have been saying that this farm should have 5 employees + the boss, instead of the usual 3 employees + the boss.

 2 extra staff @ $35,000 each = $70,000/year extra wages
But if this farmer could:

 
  • Increase fertility by 7% = extra $32,000
  • Decrease SCC in just 5% of cows = $30,000
  • Increase pasture quality by 10% for just 31 days = $63,000
Thats adds up to an extra $125,000
 
Subtract the $70,000 in additional wages = $55,000 better off. . .

Ponding effluent proves costly for Hinds company:

A farm company has been fined $25,000 after pleading guilty to breaching the Resource Management Act following problems with a travelling irrigator which resulted in severe effluent ponding on its Hinds dairy farm.

In convicting and fining Drumblade Farm Ltd and awarding costs of $2990.80, Judge PR Kellar described the offence as “comparatively serious offending.”

He noted that when an Environment Canterbury Compliance Officer made a routine monitoring visit to the property on April 17, 2012 he was informed that there had been an issue that morning with the travelling irrigator where a nozzle had come off. Inspection revealed severe liquid and solid effluent ponding on the land surface. . .

Greenlea turns 20 – Allan Barber:

Waikato based Greenlea Premier Meats turns twenty this month and considering that they have just spent twenty years in the meat industry they seem to be in remarkably good shape.

They are currently the Westpac Waikato business of the Year taking out both the large business and supreme winner categories and their two plants are basically full on both shifts all year round. This year they will process more than 200,000 cattle and in the past five years they have invested more than $45 million in their plants.

Owned by the Egan family, Greenlea is not one of the big four meat companies, but belongs instead to a group of smaller players who do not seem to share the view that the meat industry is ‘broken and dysfunctional’. Neither do they regard collaboration with farmers as an issue; in fact they get plenty of support and Greenlea’s Managing Director Tony Egan reckons this is due to mutual respect. “They see us doing our job well and give us their support. It’s as simple as that”. . .

Japanese ad gives boysenberry growers a boost:

There’s good news at last for Nelson’s boysenberry growers, with a Japanese health supplements company filming an ad campaign championing the fruit’s health properties.

John Gibb, head of Nelson-based processor and exporter Sujon, says researchers in Japan have identified boysenberries as being beneficial for eye-sight, as they contain good levels of a powerful antioxidant.

However, Mr Gibb says researchers aren’t divulging the exact science behind their health claims. . .

Free range farms – herding start-ups for collective growth – Peter Kett at sticK:

Scale, as anyone starting a business realises, is a key, if not the key to growth and success.

Even in IT-related commerce, achieving scale from a New Zealand base is pretty darn difficult.

Enter, drum-roll please, Free Range Farma startup helping startups start up and stay up.

It’s the brainchild of Linc Gasking and Josh Feast, and its goal is to help entrepreneurs grow 1,000 Kiwi startups. . .


Rural round-up

03/07/2013

Bacteria detector set to scale up for food industry – Peter Kerr at sticK:

I’m always a bit of a sucker for innovations and improvements that add value to our biological industries.

After all, as a country we’d be fools not to play to our major strength in producing food and fibre.

An innovation’s appeal is also greatly increased when it solves a problem – and in this particular case it is instantly identifying the presence of bacteria in food products.

It’s one reason I’m keen on seeing Veritide’s real-time, non-contact bacterial scanner gain more traction. (Note: Veritide’s in the process of updating its website following its pivot to concentrate on the food industry). . .

Synlait well structured for a successful future – Allan Barber:

Synlait Milk’s $120 million capital raising will enable the company to restructure debt and invest in several new initiatives, including a lactoferrin plant, a third dryer, a butter plant, testing laboratory and dry store. The share offer is made up of $75 million of new capital and $45 million sell down by some of the exiting shareholders.

All the signs point to this capital raising being a success, unlike the attempt to raise $150 million in 2009 which was shunned by New Zealand investors. . .

Fonterra to Invest $27 Million in New Dry Store at Te Rapa:

Fonterra has announced a $27 million investment in a dry store distribution centre at its Te Rapa site that will strengthen its Waikato operations and allow the Co-operative to deliver product more efficiently to its customers.

Fonterra’s Director Logistics Network, Mark Leslie, says the dry store will provide the Co-operative annual benefits of nearly $5m through reduced operating costs.

“Our seasonal production means that we store product until we receive orders. The new dry store will enable us to store product at the site of manufacture right through the peak of the season and to more efficiently manage the flow of goods through to our customers by better utilising the rail infrastructure out of our Crawford St distribution centre,” says Mr Leslie. . .

Reassessment of organophosphates and carbamates:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is being congratulated by Federated Farmers for the difficult decisions it has made around the use of organophosphates and carbamates (OPC’s).

 “Extending the use of Diazinon through to 2028 was the right thing to do because farmers have little or no alternatives at this time,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

 “Home gardeners and farmers both know that diazinon is the most effective agrichemical we currently have to treat grass grub and porina. An issue may arise if by the end of the next 15-years we fail to have approved replacements in the toolbox. . .

New Crown Irrigation Chair welcomes opportunity:

The chair of the newly appointed Crown Irrigation Investments board, Alison Paterson, is welcoming the opportunity to help develop large-scale irrigation infrastructure.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has this morning announced the establishment of the new company and the appointment of all members of the Establishment Board to the board of the new company. . . .

Crown irrigation investment company needs to act:

IrrigationNZ has congratulated the Government on the establishment of the new Crown company ‘Irrigation Investments Ltd’ – but signals action is needed quickly before opportunities are lost.

The $80million investment company was announced this week as a “bridging investor” to help irrigation projects that may not otherwise get off the ground. . .

OSPRI New Zealand looking to add value to the primary sector:

This week sees a new arrival in the primary sector with the launch of OSPRI New Zealand.

Formed on 1 July, following the merger of the Animal Health Board and NAIT, the national animal identification and tracing scheme, OSPRI has been set up to bring together existing expertise and, as its name implies, to provide creative operational solutions.

“We are excited by the prospect of developing some creative operational solutions for the sector,” said OSPRI Chief Executive William McCook. . .

New President for Veterinary Association:

 Dr Steve Merchant is the new President of the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA). His first official public engagement is welcoming delegates at the opening plenary of the NZVA’s annual conference in Palmerston North this week (3 and 4 July).

He is a founding director of the Pet Doctors Group. Established in 2005, this is an expanding network of clinics made up of like-minded veterinarians who share resources and take a team-based approach to animal care. . .

New Avocado Exporter Lifts Earnings Forecast

Newly formed avocado exporter AVOCO has raised its forecast for this season’s earnings in Australia and now expects to hit the $50 million mark by the end of the harvest, which starts in late August.

Alistair Young, a director of AVOCO, says latest analysis of the potential harvest suggests there will be a better yield than usual, without it being a brilliant harvest. Formed recently by the two largest avocado exporters, AVOCO represents about 75% of all the growers in New Zealand and holds a similar-sized chunk of sales into the Australian market. . .

Praise Bee – industrious insects get the stamp of approval:

They’ve been celebrated in verse (by the likes of Emily Dickinson[1], William Blake[2] and Kahlil Gibran[3]) – in song (by the likes of Gloria Gaynor[4], Blake Shelton[5] and Owl City[6]) – and in popular culture (with spelling bees, ‘Buzzy Bees’ and Wellington’s own ‘Beehive’). But the humble bee stands poised to get a new tribute this week, with the release of a special set of postage stamps.

The Honey Bees stamp issue celebrates the industrious insects on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand.

Honey bees, which are of European origin, have played a key role in New Zealand horticulture for over 150 years – pollinating essential crops and producing up to 12,000 tonnes of honey per annum, with as much as half of that being exported. . .


Rural round-up

19/12/2012

We are the picture that a child draws of a farm – SticK:

A child draws a picture of a farm.

The sun is shining, the water is clean, the animals are happy.

A question could be, ‘What is the name of that picture?’

Our farms, done correctly, are that picture. There’s a heck of a lot of science to validate it as well.

But, like the picture, we’ve never given a name to what and how we do things.

Without a name, we’re undifferentiated from factory farming. . .

Chatham rock phosphate use would drastically reduce farm run-off, says CRP

The solution to run-off of phosphate into waterways lies in more use of direct application rock phosphate fertiliser, according to Chatham Rock Phosphate chief executive Chris Castle.

Mr Castle said a range of scientific studies over many years has shown direct application rock phosphate offers strong environmental benefits.

CRP has evaluated some of the studies undertaken which compare the use of rock phosphate and super phosphate on New Zealand and international farmland. . .

Harvard sells down Kaingaroa stake to Canadian Pension fund, NZ Super fund:

Harvard Management Company, which manages Harvard University’s US$30.7 billion endowment fund, has sold down its stake in the central North Island Kaingaroa forest.

Canada’s public sector pension fund picking up the bulk and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund taking a small bite.

Canada’s C$64.5 billion Public Sector Pension Investment Board will take a 30 percent stake in the 178,000 hectare forest, while the NZ Super Fund lifted its share 1.25 percentage points to 41.25 percent. Harvard Management will keep a 28.75 percent stake in the forestry company. . .

Rabobank’s latest Agribusiness Review for Australia and New Zealand.

Prepared by the bank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory division, the report provides monthly commentary on Australian and New Zealand agricultural conditions.

Key highlights:
• In New Zealand, a tornado triggered by a series of intense thunderstorms caused extensive damage to parts of Auckland on December 6. In Australia, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, the first ‘normal’ summer since 2005/06 is expected. Meanwhile, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan passed through parliament in November and is scheduled to begin transitional implementation in 2013.

• Much of the attention in global markets is focussed on the US fiscal cliff. Despite some positive employment data in the US, consumer and business confidence has been dragged lower by uncertainty surrounding the impact of the fiscal cliff. . .

Dairy herd up – an extra 370 bottles of milk each :

The number of dairy cattle in New Zealand continues to surge, and is up by more than a million since 2007, Statistics New Zealand said today. At 6.5 million, there are 1.2 million more dairy cattle in 2012 than in 2007.

“Dairy numbers have been booming in the last five years. The extra production equates to about 370 2-litre bottles of milk a year for everyone in the country,” agriculture statistics manager Hamish Hill said.

These provisional numbers are from the latest five-yearly agricultural production census. . .

Background for newly elected Fonterra Board member Blue Read:

The newly elected Fonterra board member, North Taranaki dairy farmer Blue Read, is a passionate champion for the cooperative business model.

As chairperson of the Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ), Mr Read led New Zealand’s celebration of the UN International Year of Cooperatives. This included a Parliamentary launch, and crowning Ashburton the Cooperative Capital of New Zealand, along with national and international speaking engagements.

CBNZ executive director Ramsey Margolis said there had been a noticeable surge of interest from start-up businesses opting for the cooperative model over the last year. A number of existing businesses were also looking at converting to a cooperative. . .

Shareholders Vote In Favour Of Board Resolutions At Fonterra Annual Meeting

Fonterra shareholders have voted overwhelming in favour of a resolution to lock in protections around the size of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund and the integrity of the Farmgate Milk Price. . .

Fonterra Protection Voted In

Federated Farmers has welcomed the 89.51 percent vote in favour of constitutional safeguards around Trading Among Farmers (TAF).

“We can finally put the ghost of June’s TAF vote to bed where the concept was backed but not the constitutional safeguards,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“A 89.51 percent vote is nearly as comprehensive as you can possibly get and Fonterra shareholders have shown good judgement. . .

Wools of New Zealand Extends Offer Deadline:

Wools of New Zealand has extended the deadline for its share offer to wool growers to 5:00 pm, 25 February 2013 to ensure growers have been given as much time as possible to consider and connect to the offer. The directors are committed and determined to start.

Mark Shadbolt, chairman of Wools of New Zealand, said the extension had been made to provide every opportunity for growers to take advantage of the offer, which to date had attracted positive support though remained short of the minimum level required of $5 million. The offer aims to raise $10 million from growers to pursue the Wools of New Zealand international marketing and sales strategies. . .


Rural round-up

14/12/2012

Food and beverage stars for NZ to hitch its wagon to – report – sticK:

There’s not that many reports you can sit down and study and go – uumm, interesting.

But Auckland-based Coriolis has done it (again), and their ‘Investors guide to emerging growth opportunities in NZ food and beverage exports’ is, and I don’t say this lightly, quite fascinating.

The company has deliberately taken its methodology and report-back from a (potential) investor’s point of view.

The simple objective was to find the next ‘wine’ – such as that fledgling industry existed 25 years ago.
Over 500 food & beverage items, based on export trade codes, were screened down to 25 candidates for stage II in-depth investigation. . . .

Strong Finish To Spring Selling Season:

Summary

Farm sales increase 9.8 per cent compared to October
Median $/ha price rose 11.9 percent compared to November 2011
After noticeable period of absence first farm buyers active in Waikato and Taranaki
Lifestyle property sales lift 24% compared to November 2011

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 25 more farm sales (+9.8%) for the three months ended November 2012 than for the three months ended October 2012. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months to end of November 2012, compared with 315 farm sales in the three months to November 2011, a decrease of 34 sales (-10.8%). 1,417 farms were sold in the year to November 2012, 23.4% more than were sold in the year to November 2011. . .

Cheese first made at least 7,500 years ago – Maria Cheng:

Little Miss Muffet could have been separating her curds and whey 7,500 years ago, according to a new study that finds the earliest solid evidence of cheese-making.

Scientists performed a chemical analysis on fragments from 34 pottery sieves discovered in Poland to determine their purpose. Until now, experts weren’t sure whether such sieves were used to make cheese, beer or honey.

Though there is no definitive test for cheese, Richard Evershed at the University of Bristol and colleagues found large amounts of fatty milk residue on the pottery shards compared to cooking or storage pots from the same sites. That suggests the sieves were specifically used to separate fat-rich curds from liquid whey in soured milk in a crude cheese-making process. . .

Debt is good under some circumstances – Allan Barber:

After my column last week about meat industry debt levels, Keith Cooper, CEO of Silver Fern Farms, took me to task for incorrectly reporting the situation with Silver Fern Farms’ debt facility.

I stated that these expired in September 2012 and therefore the company was operating on a temporary extension. The correct position was that the debt facility was originally negotiated for two years from September 2010 and consequently due to expire in September 2012. This remained the position at balance date in September 2011. However in the 2012 annual report, the facility was stated as expiring on 31 December 2012. . . .

Farmgate raw milk sales to continue:

Farm gate sales of raw milk will continue and the amount that can be purchased is likely to increase, Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson said today.

Farmers will also be exempt from the current requirement to have a costly Risk Management Programme for farm gate sales of raw milk and will instead need to adhere to certain animal health and hygiene requirements.

“The current Food Act allows people to buy only up to five litres of raw milk at the farm gate to drink themselves or give to their family,” Ms Wilkinson says.

Consultation carried out by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on possible changes to rules for raw drinking milk sales attracted nearly 1700 submissions. . .

ANZCO embarks on group-wide energy management programme:

One of New Zealand’s largest exporters is set to save more than $2 million a year and enhance its global reputation as a sustainable producer through a company-wide energy management programme.

EECA Business today announced it would support the initiative over two years to help ANZCO generate long-term energy savings in its New Zealand plants.

With annual sales of NZ $1.25 billion, ANZCO Foods Ltd processes and markets New Zealand beef and lamb products around the world. The firm employs over 3,000 staff world-wide and has 11 meat processing plants in New Zealand. . .

Feedback sought about regulation of dairy herd improvement

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is looking for feedback on the rules surrounding the New Zealand dairy herd improvement industry.

The New Zealand dairy industry has been a world leader in herd improvement, and its ability to trace the performance of the national herd – through the dairy core database – has been central to that success.

Studies have shown that genetic gains through dairy herd improvement have accounted for about two thirds of the sector’s productivity over the last decade. . . .


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