Rural round-up

September 15, 2018

No I in Murphy – Robin gives back – Tim Fulton:

A career in dairying and the irrigation sector is only a start for Robin Murphy. The South Canterbury farmer gives heart and soul to his community. Tim Fulton reports.

On Sundays Robin and May Murphy used to travel the back tracks of Waimate District looking for seal and shingle in need of repair. 

Murphy was a local councillor so they figured they had to do their bit.

He reckons he got to know 95% of the roads. . .

Research will be first of its kind for NZ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Now results from the first cohort of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics Beef Progeny Test have been released, researchers will begin collecting data for the next stages of the project, including data from cows and heifers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics national beef genetics manager Max Tweedie said some of those studies would be ‘‘a first for New Zealand’’.

‘‘Now we are looking for on-going information about cows: their maternal performance; constitution; fertility and stayability [in the herd],’’ Mr Tweedie said.

‘‘That is the long game.’’ . .

What is dairy cow breeding worth and why does it matter? – Esther Taunton:

It’s a hard road finding the perfect cow, especially when changing consumer demand redefines what “perfect” even is.

Increasing demand for high-fat dairy products means Kiwi farmers will earn more from milkfat than protein in the 2018/19 season.

With the upward trend expected to continue, high-fat breeds and animals will become more valuable as farmers aim to get as much fat in the vat as possible. 

But how does a farmer, let alone a townie, pick an animal likely to produce high-fat milk from a paddock full of swinging tails and stomping hooves? . .

Pie in the sky – Mel Poulton:

Farmers such as Mel Poulton struggle day in day out with poor digital connectivity and want service providers to up their game.

New technology, providing innovative solutions to the challenges and demands we all face today, is exciting.

We want to embrace it, adopt and adapt this technology to our needs. . .

Shot sheep mum too committed to die – George Block:

A sheep shot through the head near Dunedin has made a stunning recovery and continues to raise her three lambs.

Roy Nimmo awoke last week to find three of his lambs had been shot dead in a paddock near his home in Cemetery Rd, beside the East Taieri Church.

They were only 1 or 2 weeks old.

A ewe had also been shot, through the head just below its droopy ears, but had somehow survived, he said. . .

Final report on review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission has released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2017/18 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was set at $6.69 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2017/18 dairy season. The report does not cover Fonterra’s forecast price of $6.75 for the 2018/19 dairy season.

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said no issues had been raised in submissions to the Commission’s draft reportthat warranted a change in the conclusions.  . .

Winning with help from a mentor – Brenda Schoepp:

The editor at Country Guide asked, “After meeting someone who could be a potential mentor, what makes a farmer pursue a full mentorship? When do they make the decision, and why? What is the impact of the relationship for themselves and their business? How do we relate this to leadership?”

I didn’t have the answers so I went to 25 individuals who have experienced mentorship through their industry, business or education.

The questions I asked were:

  • How and why did you choose to contact a mentor? . .

Rural round-up

October 20, 2016

43 jobs axed at Mossburn works – Simon Hartley:

Silver Fern Farms has axed more 43 Mossburn meatworkers’ jobs as it rationalises killing shed numbers across the country.

While the closure is vaunted as an ”opportunity” for Silver Fern Farms, the Northern Southland job losses will gut the micro-economy of Mossburn, with its population of barely 200.

The new killing season at Mossburn was just about to start; now, plant decommissioning will start next month. . .

Devastating news for small town – Tracey Roxburgh:

The Deer Capital of New Zealand received a body blow yesterday when news broke of Silver Fern Farms’ plans to close its venison plant.

The mood in Mossburn yesterday afternoon was sombre and while no-one spoken to by the Otago Daily Times seemed surprised by the proposed closure of the plant, which employs 43 staff, all agreed it was devastating for the small town.

Silver Fern Farms announced in a statement it was consulting staff at its South Island Mossburn venison plant and at its North Island Wairoa mutton processing plant, on ”options for closing the two small sites”. . .

Silver lining in overseas efforts to ditch meat diet:

Meat exporters are unfazed by a campaign to shift the world away from meat to plant protein.

A group of 40 investment companies, managing about $1.8 trillion in assets, have launched a campaign to encourage 16 major companies including WalMart, Unilever, Nestle, Kraft Heinz, and Tesco, to change the way they source protein for their products, in an effort to reduce environmental and health risks.

The investment companies, brought together by the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) Initiative, have warned about the impact of meat production on the planet.

“The world’s over reliance on factory farmed livestock to feed the growing global demand for protein is a recipe for a financial, social and environmental crisis,” said Jeremy Coller, founder of the FAIRR Initiative and chief information officer of Coller Capital, one of the investment firms involved in the campaign. . . 

New Zealand King Salmon Lists on NZX & ASX

Aquaculture – a “healthy” portfolio ingredient

Salmon is on the menu at both the NZX Main Board (NZX) and the ASX with the listing today (19 October) of the world’s largest aquaculture producer of King salmon.

The initial public offer (“IPO”) for Nelson / Marlborough-based New Zealand King Salmon was for 69.2 million ordinary shares, quoted under the ticker NZK.

With the government supporting well-planned and sustainable aquaculture growth, New Zealand King Salmon sought $30.0 million in new capital to repay debt, and to fund future investment and working capital.

As a result of the fully subscribed IPO, and based on the $1.12 price per share, the company’s market capitalisation is $154.5 million, excluding certain shares offered under an employee share ownership plan. . . 

The reds have it in South Island Farmer of the Year finals

Three red meat producers and a Central Otago wine business will be up against each other for the finals of the Lincoln University Foundation 2016 South Island Farmer of the Year at Lincoln University on November 16.

The four finalists are:

James Dicey, a viticulturist and owner of Grape Vision Limited based in Bannockburn, Central Otago.

Lauren and Geoff Shaw, sheep and beef farmers in Central Otago, near Ranfurly.

Lyn and Neil Campbell, Campbell Farms, Middle Valley, near Fairlie in South Canterbury farming sheep, beef, bulls and deer, and arable crops.

Simon Lee, Manager Mendip Hills Station, Parnassus, North Canterbury, farming sheep, beef and deer.

Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter says he’s looking forward to a great finals night on November 16. . . 

When it comes time to hang up the gumboots:

With the average age of New Zealand farmers pushing 60, and land values on a steady increase, it’s no surprise succession planning is currently top-of-mind for the agricultural industry.

In fact, leading commentators see private farm succession as the single biggest challenge for the industry to overcome during the next decade.

Dairy Women’s Network and its partners ASB and Crowe Horwath are coming together to offer support to farmers around this daunting and extremely personal, but important issue, over the next few months.

The partners will be delivering free succession planning workshops across the country, over the next six months. . . 

Timber industry upbeat despite challenges:

“Challenges facing the NZ timber industry are real and significant but the industry is generally in a good demand cycle and sentiment is positive” says New Zealand Timber Industry Federation (NZTIF) president, John McVicar.

“Domestic demand for timber is very strong at the moment” he said.

“However the upside was tempered with a number of very real challenges facing the industry.” . . 

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2016/17 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on its annual statutory review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual for the 2016/17 dairy season. The Commission’s draft finding is that the 2016/17 Manual is largely consistent with the purpose of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (the Act).

Deputy Chair Sue Begg noted that most of the Manual remains unchanged.

“The most significant amendment introduced this year is the inclusion of Fonterra’s sales outside the GlobalDairyTrade auction platform for whole milk powder, skim milk powder and butter milk powder. This shift could result in an increase in the milk price for the 2016/17 season of five cents per kilogram of milk solids,” Ms Begg said. . . 

Fonterra Receives Awards for Tanker Safety:

Fonterra’s GM Transport and Logistics Barry McColl has been named Road Risk Manager of the Year at the Australasian Fleet Safety Awards.

The award recognises his role in maintaining the safety of more than 1,600 drivers in 500 tankers travelling more than 90 million kilometres a year.

Fonterra Director New Zealand Manufacturing Mark Leslie said the award is a great tribute to the outstanding work of Mr McColl and his team. . . 

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Competition not sufficient to warrant deregulation

November 6, 2015

The Commerce Commission has found there’s not yet enough competition to deregulate the dairy processing industry.

The Commission began its review in June this year at the request of the Minister for Primary Industries as required under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA).

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said the Commission’s draft finding is that, on balance, there is not sufficient competition at the farm gate and factory gate to consider full deregulation at this time.

“Our primary concern is that competition in the factory gate is very limited. Without the existing regulations, Fonterra would be able to increase the price of raw milk it sells to other domestic processors. This could in turn result in higher retail prices for dairy products in New Zealand,” Ms Begg said.

“While there are signs of competition and growth in the farm gate market, particularly in Canterbury, Southland and Waikato, Fonterra faces little competition as the dominant buyer of raw milk in most regional markets. However, it does not have the ability or incentive to reduce prices to farmers in this market due its co-operative nature and constraints from competitors.”

The Commission also concluded that Fonterra has limited ability and incentive overall to shut competitors out of dairy markets if the regulations were removed.

The Commission’s draft report has outlined options for transitioning to deregulation in the future and resetting the current market share thresholds that prompt a competition review. The recommendations include:
Taking a staged approach to amending the DIRA regulatory regime, beginning with a review of the Raw Milk Regulations with an eye to allowing a factory gate market to develop
Resetting the market share thresholds in both the North and South islands to 30 percent (up from the current 20 percent) as the trigger for a competition review of the dairy industry.
“Our analysis suggests that gradual relaxation of the Raw Milk Regulations may encourage the factory gate market to develop. Full deregulation currently poses a potential risk to domestic competition in goods such as fresh milk and cheese, where independent processors are dependent on regulated access to raw milk from Fonterra. Taking a staged approach to deregulation would mitigate this risk,” Ms Begg said.

“We recognise that any changes to the regime would need to be carefully managed and welcome submissions from interested parties. In particular we want to test the evidence on the likely costs and benefits of deregulation and whether our recommended approach of developing a more competitive factory gate market is appropriate at this time.”

Submissions on it are open until December 4th.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith have welcomed the Commerce Commission’s release of a draft report on the state of competition in New Zealand’s dairy industry today.

The report was commissioned by the two Ministers on 2 June 2015 as required under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001. That Act allowed the formation of Fonterra, and includes provisions to promote contestability in New Zealand’s farm gate and factory gate dairy markets to ensure their efficient operation.

“The Commerce Commission has formed an independent view based on its expertise as New Zealand’s primary competition regulatory agency. On balance, the draft report has found that competition is not sufficient to warrant deregulation at this point,” says Mr Guy.

Submissions on this draft report are open until 4 December 2015. Following a period for cross-submissions, the final report will be released by 1 March 2016.

“I intend to consult on a package of policy proposals in mid-2016, following receipt of the Commerce Commission’s final report.

“The dairy industry is a major part of our economy and this process will be helpful in assessing whether the Act is effectively promoting contestability, and in turn, the efficient operation of our domestic raw milk markets.”

“I would like to thank the Commerce Commission for their work to date, and I encourage all those with an interest in this area to consider the Commissions draft report carefully, and to make a submission if necessary,” Mr Goldsmith says.

The final report will help inform the Government’s policy decisions, in particular, whether or not to allow the default expiry of the pro-competition provisions of the Act in the South Island (the current expiry threshold was met in the South Island in the 2014/15 season).

The draft report is here.

Now that the expiry threshold has been met in the South island I hope that the Minister will allow the default expiry of the pro-competition provisions.


Rural round-up

September 15, 2015

Silver Fern Farms Board Unanimously Recommends Partnership with Shanghai Maling:

Board gives unanimous recommendation to accept Shanghai Maling Aquarius Group (Shanghai Maling) as new partner to secure an improved and sustainable future

• A 50:50 partnership with total commitment to our global plate to pasture strategy

• Transaction values Silver Fern Farms’ equity at $311m. This equates to $2.84 per ordinary share, which compares to the $0.35 share price prior to their suspension in July

• Shanghai Maling to invest $261m in cash to own 50% of Silver Fern Farms’ business, in partnership with the existing Silver Fern Farms Co-operative

• A special dividend of $0.30 per share to Co-operative ordinary and rebate shareholders . . .

Cooperatives and private companies work best in agriculture – Allan Barber:

Good company performance demands clarity of purpose which is defined and monitored by a board of directors elected or appointed by the shareholders. There are five main types of company ownership structure that are or have been represented in New Zealand’s agricultural sector and each has advantages and disadvantages.

The five are private and public companies, cooperatives, subsidiaries of an overseas company and State Owned Enterprises. Whatever the structure, good governance and direction are pre-requisites of success.

A privately owned company normally has the greatest clarity of purpose because of the simplicity of the ownership structure, although there is plenty of scope for disputes between individual shareholders, particularly family members. Private company structures range from very simple to more complicated, depending on relative size of shareholdings and the number and origin of the shareholders. . . 

Rural productivity is improving in some sectors, falling in others. Influenced by soil, technology, size and governance according to Motu research:

The agricultural sector produces 40% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports. Not only is agriculture the primary source of employment in many rural areas, its performance influences the success of urban regions and many secondary industries are dependent upon it.

In this study, we estimate the drivers of revenue and productivity in two key agricultural industries – dairy and sheep/ beef. Together these account for about two-thirds of New Zealand’s agricultural exports.

Productivity is an economic term that, in this case, explains changes or differences in output not explained by use of labour, capital, other expenditures or land. Output is measured as revenue excluding income from interest and dividends. Labour is employees and working proprietors. Capital includes stock, depreciation and rent on tractors, irrigation systems and fencing. Other expenditure includes use of fertiliser, diesel, electricity, wormicide and grass seeds; and land is all the land used for production. Productivity encompasses everything else, including management and worker skills and knowledge, technological improvements, unexpected economic shocks (such as the global financial crisis), changing weather conditions (e.g. droughts), and the inherent quality of each farm. . . 

Strong farmer support for sheepmeat and beef levies to continue:

Farmers have given their organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand a strong mandate to work on their behalf for the next six year sheepmeat and beef levy cycle with over 84% support.

The Declaration of Result provided by the independent Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp, of Electionz.com said 84.56 per cent of farmers on a one farmer, one vote basis had voted in favour of the sheepmeat levy with support of 86.04 per cent on a weighted stock unit basis. There was over 84.66 percent support for the beef levy on a one farmer, one vote and 84.60 per cent on a weighted stock unit basis. . . 

Roles review part of a bigger cost savings project Westland says:

Westland Milk Products confirmed today that it is conducting a review of staff roles throughout the company. The review is part of an overall programme to gain efficiencies and reduce costs to help preserve the best possible return to shareholders during the current global dairy price downturn.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says the review is likely to result in some redundancies. However, he was not going to speculate on how many, or what positions might be affected, until the review is complete, affected staff are consulted, and given an opportunity to provide feedback on any proposed roles under review. The review is scheduled to occur over two rounds, with the first round this month (September 2015) and the second in February 2016. . . 

UN issues stark warning on Pacific drought threat:

The UN’s Resident Coordinator, Osnat Lubrani, says communities and governments need to prepare now for the extreme weather changes El Niño usually triggers.

He says some countries are already implementing or drafting drought plans and the UN is ready to help co-ordinate this and to provide technical advice.

Over the coming months, countries on the equator can expect more rain, flooding and higher sea levels, presenting challenges for low-lying atolls already feeling the impacts of climate change. . . 

Getting the better of El Nino before it gets dry:

Tap rooted, reliable and highly productive, one forage herb species could make all the difference to farmers’ summer feed supply as El Nino looms large this season.

Summer crops are being sown early before soils dry out and chicory is already proving to be a popular drought-proofing choice, according to local pasture specialist Paul Sharp.

“With the long range forecast the way it is, 501 Chicory makes a lot of sense. In a dry year, it’s more reliable than leafy turnips and it also has several other advantages.”

Current soil moisture levels are significantly below average in Hawke’s Bay and Sharp, who works for Agriseeds, says many farmers are being very proactive about setting their feed supply up for the months ahead. . . 

Commission releases final report on 2014/15 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 2014/15 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and is currently set by Fonterra at $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2014/15 season.

Having considered public submissions on the draft decision released last month, the Commission’s overall view that Fonterra’s calculation of the 2014/15 base milk price is largely consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 remains unchanged.

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said the Commission appreciated the engagement and effort from Fonterra and the parties they met with during this year’s review. . . 

Funding round starts for new forest planting:

The first funding round of the Afforestation Grant Scheme will see 5819 hectares planted throughout New Zealand, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew.

The Afforestation Grant Scheme is a $22.5m programme to help establish about 15,000 hectares of new forest plantations over the next six years.

“Under the first round of funding the total area applied for covered 9044 hectares, far exceeding our expectations,” says Mrs Goodhew. . . 

Farm skills day proves popular – James Kinsman:

On Sunday, August 23, the Waitaki Boys’ Fraser Farm hosted Opihi College, Waitaki Girls’, St. Kevin’s and Geraldine High to our first farm skills day.

School pupils did a lot of prior planning to make the day a success. It was a big learning curve for us and the school. The day started with a dog trialling demonstration by Barry Hobbs, assisted by Allan Thompson.

The visitors watched with interest as his well trained dogs got the sheep into the pen. Next it was off to be put into random groups for modules. Barrie Rae, an enthusiastic Poll Dorset breeder taught them stock judging, helped by Jack Price. . . 


Com Com gives Fonterra tick

August 16, 2013

The Commerce Commission has given Fonterra  a tick for its raw milk price.

This is the second of two annual reviews the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA) requires the Commission to undertake. The Commission completed the first review in December 2012 on Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual.

The base milk price review focusses on the Commission’s assessment of the extent to which Fonterra’s 2012/13 base milk price calculation is consistent with the purpose of the milk price monitoring regime set out in DIRA.

“The Commission specifically considered the extent to which the assumptions adopted, inputs and process used to calculate the base price provide an incentive to Fonterra to operate efficiently while providing for contestability in the market for the purchase of milk from farmers, “ said Sue Begg, Commerce Commission Deputy Chair.

“The Commission’s view is that these statutory tests are largely met,” said Ms Begg.

The Commission has identified one assumption that does not appear to be practically feasible.  This relates to the assumed energy usage rates, which rely on data generated during peak capacity utilisation and therefore do not take account of variable plant utilisation across the season.

There are also assumptions that the Commission is unable to come to a conclusion on, given the information available to it at this stage. However, having regard to the direction and potential size of the impact these assumptions might have on the base milk price calculation, the Commission does not consider them to have a significant impact on the overall conclusion.
This draft report is being provided to Fonterra for comment. In addition, the Commission welcomes feedback from other interested parties on the draft conclusions and supporting analysis in this draft report. Any comments must be provided by 5:00pm on Thursday 29 August 2013. . .

In plain English this means the Commission has found the milk price to be fair which is what Fonterra has always said.


Fonterra milk price manual okay – Com Com

December 16, 2012

The Commerce Commission’s first statutory review of Fonterra’s milk price manual has given it qualified approval:

Our conclusion is that, to the extent we are able to assess it, Fonterra’s manual is not inconsistent with the purpose of the DIRA milk monitoring regime. There are a couple of elements that we consider are not fully consistent with the efficiency aspect of the purpose, but they only have a minor impact,” said Sue Begg, Commerce Commission Deputy Chair.

Ms Begg said there were a number of caveats to the Commission’s conclusion.

“In particular there are three matters about which we are unable to form a view in our report, and which we consider to be potentially material,” she said. “We will examine these matters again in our second, separate but related, review in September 2013. In that review we will look at how Fonterra has applied the milk price manual to calculate the milk price.”

The three matters of potential concern are the regions where plants are assumed to be added, the calculation of milk collection costs, and the treatment of assets that are no longer required.”

“There are also other matters about which the manual is not specific. We will not be able to form a view on these until the September review.”

“Parts of Fonterra’s milk price manual states general principles or high level rules. While these are not in themselves inconsistent with the purpose, they could be implemented in a manner that is,” said Ms Begg.”

The full report is here.


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