Rural round-up

June 7, 2019

New tech boosts packhouse output – Richard Rennie:

While much has been made of the prospects for robots harvesting kiwifruit and other orchards, one packing company has invested heavily this season in robotic technology in the pack house. Apata Group chief executive Stuart Weston outlined to Richard Rennie some of the smarts behind the country’s most robotised pack house, and what it heralds for the industry.

This year’s kiwifruit harvest is enduring another season with dire predictions of labour shortages coming at least partly true. 

Most processing companies report an ongoing need for more staff, both pickers and in pack houses.  . . 

NZ Producers cheesed off with EU – Pam Tipa:

Trade expert Stephen Jacobi says he thinks New Zealand cheesemakers are rightly concerned about a European Union plan to protect the names of common cheeses.

It is a concern in the context of the EU-NZ free trade agreement negotiations, he says.

“The Europeans say they are not looking to penalise in any way the generic names,” Jacobi told Rural News. “They are saying they are only interested in the ones that have geographical connections.” . . 

Southland maternity like ‘Russian roulette’, midwife says – Tess Brunton:

Supplies mishaps are plaguing the Lumsden and Te Anau maternity hubs that were meant to be up and running seven weeks ago, adding to concerns over giving birth in the region.

RNZ has been told pure oxygen – which poses a danger to babies when administered over long periods – was delivered to the Lumsden Maternal and Child Hub, while the Te Anau hub is still waiting for more equipment.

The news is adding to continued concerns over the emergency hubs, which are only meant to be used when expecting mothers are unable to reach a primary birthing centre in time. . .

Rural mums need urgent action:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has again written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after she promised to ‘take another look’ into the Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade.

“I have written to the Prime Minister and asked for her findings as well as informing her of the second birth in the Lumsden area in just 11 days,” Mr Walker says.

“This could be a matter of life or death. All we have to do is look across the ditch to rural Queensland where since the downgrading of maternity services the death of babies in every 1000 is now at 23.3, compared with 6.1 in rural areas with obstetrics. . .

Farmers ticked off over NAIT ‘fluster cuck’ – Nigel Malthus:

Farmers are bristling over any suggestion they had been slack about re-registering their farm locations in National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) in time for moving day on June 1.

Every person in charge of animals must re-register their NAIT location following a recent upgrade to the system.

Yet only one week out from moving day, the Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor released figures showing that about half of all dairy farms – 8000 out of 15,000 – had yet to re-register. . . 

It’s the little things – Penny Clark-Hall:

What is it that we can do to earn and improve our Social Licence? So many people in the primary sector have asked me this lately and this was precisely what I was wanting to be able to give them from my Kellogg research.

The answer, while no one quick fix, isn’t big either. It’s lots of little things. They require bravery, honesty and accountability, but it’s not going to cost you the world, just time. A resource that I know is probably just as precious, if not more, to farmers than money.

So here is what my key recommendations are. . . 

Dairy a pig of a job – Stephen Bell:

Hold onto your hats folks it could be a wild ride in the dairy industry but without all the fun of the fair.

There are so many things going on here and abroad that will influence not just farmgate milk prices but also input and compliance costs and thus, most importantly profits.

On the face of it things are looking up for the new season with rural economists predicting a starting price somewhere north of $7/kg MS.

But Fonterra, on the back of narrowing its 2018-19 forecast to the bottom end of its range at $6.30 to $6.40/kg MS has given a wide range for this season of $6.25-$7.25. Though the economists are optimistic Fonterra has set the advance rate at only $3.80/kg MS.

And we still don’t know any detail for Fonterra’s new strategy but we can take it from chief executive Miles Hurrell’s comments accompanying the third quarter results that it won’t be plain sailing for a couple of years yet. . . 

Pigeon Valley fire aftermath: ‘Biggest recovery effort ever made‘- Katie Todd:

One of New Zealand’s largest recorded ‘tree salvages’ has been hailed a success in the aftermath of the Pigeon Valley fire.

About 10,000 tonnes of burnt pine trees are being plucked from the ground for use in Canterbury construction projects, Nelson housing developments and to prevent future fires in Tasman.

It comes despite an initial race against time for Tasman Pine Forests, that own about 60 percent or or 14 sqkm of the fire-affected land.

After the fire was out, crews were faced with the task of extracting trees of varying ages and heights, some slightly charred at the base and others scorched to the tips, before beetles and bugs could begin to break them down. . . 

National Lamb Day held where it all began – Sally Brooker:

National Lamb Day was celebrated on May 24 at the place where New Zealand’s frozen meat industry began 137 years ago – Totara Estate.

The historic farm just south of Oamaru prepared a shipment of lamb that arrived in Britain in pristine condition on May 24, 1882.

As Britain looked to its colonies to provide food for its surging population, wool prices here had collapsed by the end of the 1870s.

New Zealand’s huge sheep flocks were increasingly worthless, and the mutton was in such oversupply that it, too, was not valued. Britain represented a massive potential market, but getting the meat there before it went off was no small problem. . . 


Rural round-up

November 18, 2018

Farming by consent – Neal Wallace:

The long-held notion of a right to farm is under threat as the list of farming activities requiring resource consent grows amid warnings it will expand further once the Government releases a new National Policy Statement for Fresh Water.

Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers president Michael Salvesen says while regulation will differ to reflect regional environments, the list of activities requiring consent will only grow.

“I think it’s pretty inevitable.” . . 

How much land can your cows buy? – Hugh Stringleman:

The affordability of farm ownership for sharemilkers has taken a turn for the better and there might be elements of a buyers’ market, Federated Farmers sharemilkers chairman Richard McIntyre says.

Figures from DairyNZ on the 2017-18 season, as graphed by James Allen of AgFirst Waikato, show the number of cows needed to buy a hectare of dairy land is just over 20.

That has improved from 23 cows the previous season.

For the Fonterra share requirement an intending farm buyer has to add the value of three more cows at the market price of $1600/cow. . . 

Six commitments to improve waterway continue to drive action:

One year on from the launch of an ambitious plan to help rebuild the health of New Zealand’s waterways, Fonterra is showing progress with more Sustainable Dairy Advisors on the ground and actions taking place across the country.

In November 2017, Fonterra announced six commitments to help protect and restore water quality in New Zealand.

“Fresh water is such an important topic for New Zealanders so we want to keep people regularly updated on our commitments and be open about our progress,” says Carolyn Mortland, Fonterra’s Director of Sustainability. . . 

Year round promotions entrench NZ venison in Europe:

The northern European autumn and winter ‘game season’ remains a key market for NZ venison, even with the industry’s success in building year-round venison demand in other markets. The region is also breaking with tradition and slowly developing a taste for venison as a summer grilling item.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) venison marketing manager Nick Taylor says exports of NZ venison to northern Europe for the 2018 game season are expected to be worth about $70 million, about 35 per cent of total venison exports.

“Because of successful market diversification, the percentage is well down on what we were seeing 10 years ago, but the northern European game season remains and is likely to remain one of our most important markets,” he says. . . 

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q4: Building deeper consumer relationships priority in increasingly crowded market:

Building deeper relationships with consumers is becoming a priority for the wine industry in an increasingly crowded market, according to insights from a recent US industry symposium in California.

Rabobank’s latest Global Wine Quarterly says the Wine Industry Financial Symposium, in Napa, heard rising competition at retail level and declining traffic at tasting rooms was seeing US wineries focus on developing deeper, stickier relationships with consumers. The report says a growing number of software packages and services were becoming available to help wineries identify and target their ideal consumers, with a strong future seen for these. . . 

Decline in wine consumption impacting NZ industry :

While five million glasses of New Zealand wine are consumed around the world every day, consumption in some key markets is actually declining and the industry is starting to see the impact, says wine writer Michael Cooper.

Michael, who launches his 27th annual wine guide today (New Zealand Wines 2019: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide, published by Upstart Press), has noticed how trends in alcohol consumption are having a flow-on effect for Kiwi vineyards and wine exports.

“In the UK, a key export market for NZ wine, nearly 30 per cent of people aged 16 to 25 now avoid all alcoholic beverages, including wine,” says Michael. “The only age group which is drinking more wine is the oldest – those in the 65-plus category. There are clear signs of a similar pattern in New Zealand. I see many people in their 20s who either don’t drink at all or only very occasionally.” . . 

Productive avocado orchard in sought-after Northland location placed on the market for sale:

A medium sized and well-established avocado orchard in the heart of Whangarei’s foremost avocado growing district has been placed on the market for sale.

The 6.5-hectare property at Maungatapere on the western outskirts of Whangarei sits in a valley which was once a dairy and beef farming strong-hold, but is now Northland’s most concentrated conglomeration of avocado and kiwifruit orchards due to the location’s deep fertile volcanic soil base. . . 


Rural round-up

June 2, 2018

The farm action group that ‘crunches into life’ – Tony Benny:

A group of North Otago farmers are working together to find ways to increase profitability, taking advantage of the support offered by the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s Action Network initiative. Tony Benny reports. 

Ross and Jo Hay and their friends Gareth and Sarah Isbister got a taste for working with experts and getting access to the latest research and information when they joined  the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s pilot farm programme. They were part of RMPP partner Silver Fern Farms’ red meat eating quality project, looking for ways to consistently produce the most succulent, best tasting, and most valuable lamb.

For about a year they talked about how valuable it would be to form a farmers’ group that “really crunched into life”, that drilled down into financials and objectively analysed their respective businesses. When they went to an RMPP workshop in Christchurch, they found what they were looking for.

“We heard Richmond Beetham from Baker Ag talking about the business groups they have running in the Wairarapa and we were like, ‘That’s what we want to do’,” recalls Jo Hay. . . 

Winners inspired by industry solidarity – Pam Tipa:

The winners of the 2018 NZ Dairy Industry Awards, Dan and Gina Duncan, are overwhelmingly positive about the industry.

The former registered valuers won the ultimate award – 2018 NZ Share Farmers of the Year.

They say the way dairy farmers interact with each other is fantastic. 

“Look at the discussion groups and how willing people are to share what they are doing,” Dan told Dairy News. . . 

Synlait, Westland spruik higher milk payments for farmers in upcoming season – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – South Island dairy processors Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products have raised their forecast milk payment levels to their farmer suppliers for the upcoming season, following a similar move last month by larger rival Fonterra Cooperative Group.

Rakaia-based Synlait raised its forecast milk price for the 2017/18 season which officially ended yesterday to $6.65 per kilogram of milk solids, and said the average premium payment of 13 cents would lift the total payout to $6.78/kgMS. It announced an opening price forecast for 2018/19 of $7/kgMS, based on milk fat prices remaining firm throughout the season.

Dairy Manager of the Year great with people :

The 2018 Dairy Manager of the Year winner Gerard Boerjan aims for excellence in everything he does.

“He has great experience as a manger of people and a great passion for working with people in a large team environment,” dairy manager head judge Mary Craw says.

“He takes a systems approach to the way he manages the farm and has good systems in place to ensure nothing gets through the gaps. . .

Food technology and money speeding up change: Protein Conference

An upcoming conference in Auckland on alternative proteins offering consumers new food choices will include a debate on whether new plant-based proteins will disrupt traditional meat producers’ markets or simply bring more cheaper food choices to the masses.

Last week in Britain, ahead of expectations, Tesco and Dutch-based plant food company Vivera jointly announced the immediate stocking of 100% plant-based steaks on supermarket shelves there. . .

Agriculture opens doors for youth :

Kalu, in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, is home to 28-year-old Yimam Ali.

However, many young people from this region of Ethiopia move to the Middle East looking for work and a better life. The amount of job opportunities in the country has not matched its growth. 71 percent of Ethiopia’s population is under the age of 30 and many of them lack opportunities to make a decent living.

Yimam decided to go to Saudi Arabia where his sister was living.

His journey, to what was meant to be a better life, was not an easy one: . .

Pioneering New Zealand avocado orchard placed up for sale by its international owner:

One of the first large-scale commercial avocado orchards to be planted in New Zealand – as part of a multi-national growing consortium – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 29 hectare property at Awanui just north of Kaitaia was originally established by Californian-based owners in 1990. It was planted with Hass on Zutano and Duke 7 avocado varieties grown on some 20 hectares of plantation land. . .

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