Rural round-up

November 1, 2019

Why low morale in a good season? – Peter Burke:

Low morale and uncertainty in the dairy industry appear to be overshadowing the positive outlook for the sector.

The latest ANZ Agri Focus reports a huge range of positives for the sector, yet the bank’s agricultural economist, Susan Kilsby, says dairy farmer confidence is the lowest they have seen in more than 20 years.

The biggest thing impacting farmer confidence is the uncertainty about Government regulations on environmental legislation, she says.  . .

Good farmers must change too -Annette Scott:

Freshwater and climate will be the big drivers of change in balancing competing interests and farmers are not the bad ones in the equation, Ecologic Foundation chief executive Guy Salmon says.

The problem is not that farmers are bad, Salmon told the Agricultural and Horticultural Science Institute forum at Lincoln University.

“It is the institutes and incentives they face that are not the right ones.

“Yes, we need to find new ways of using land, water and greenhouse gas.

“My core argument here is farmers are grounded in this type of thing, they have always had values and bottom lines. They could be a model in the new way of NZ we are trying to form.” . .

Rules to add costs to councils – Neal Wallace:

Regional councils face higher costs, increased staffing needs and delays in implementing water plans because of the Government’s Essential Freshwater policy proposals, they warn.

While there is uncertainty about the effects until the proposed national policy statement freshwater standards are finalised, some councils say the new standard should be incorporated as plans are reviewed but others face long and involved processes.

Six regional councils approached said they face significant costs to plans and need more staff. . .

Carbon absorption on your farm :

New Zealand farmers can now estimate how much carbon their tree blocks are sequestering.

This follows a new addition to OverseerFM. The carbon stock tool in OverseerFM uses data from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Carbon Look-up Tables to estimate the carbon sequestration potential for existing and future tree blocks on a farm.

The new tool adds to OverseerFM’s existing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions analysis tool, which models the farm’s biological emissions (methane, nitrous oxide) and carbon dioxide as well asproduct footprint. . .

Cubbie Station tours Murray-Darling councillors through its controversial cotton holding to show there’s no water – Lydia Burton and Nathan Morris :

A controversial Queensland cotton producer has opened its gates to Murray-Darling Basin councils in an attempt to turnaround its poor reputation among drought-ravaged communities.

Cubbie Station — Australia’s largest cotton farm based in south-west Queensland — has come under pressure in recent years over its water use and impacts downstream.

Cubbie CEO Paul Brimblecombe said the tour allowed local government representatives from all Basin states to see the station and the drought for themselves.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to get out on the ground and put the full story in front of them,” he said. . .

Only a small % of what cattle eat is grain, 86% comes from materials humans don’t eat – Lauren Stine:

The plant-based industry wants you to believe that crops, like soy, corn, and barley, are mostly being fed to livestock, but according to the United Nations FAO, grain makes up only 13% of global livestock feed.

Only 13% of global animal feed (all animals for food, including chickens, pigs and cattle) is comprised of grain crops, according to United Nations FAO research, and only 32% of overall global grain production in 2010 was used to feed livestock.

A staggering 86% of global livestock feed consists of materials that we cannot digest as humans, like crop residues including stover and sugarcane tops. Pigs and chickens are also monogastrics (like humans) and cannot digest these products either. However, ruminant animals like cattle, sheep, and goats can safely consume these materials and turn them into nutrient-dense protein for humans.  . .


Rural round-up

October 15, 2019

Liberated they sold the plough – Neal Wallace:

Mike Porter reckons he has re-educated himself how to farm in the last five years. Neal Wallace meets the South Canterbury arable farmer who is not afraid of change.

Mike Porter is a considered man.

His views and actions are more than opinions formed from spending too many hours behind the wheel of a tractor on his South Canterbury arable farm.

Porter has carefully considered and studied options to some of the big issues he faces on his 480ha arable and livestock farm at Lyalldale, which he runs with wife Lynne. . .

Stronger YFC, school links the goal – Yvonne O’Hara:

Otago-Southland territory manager Bridget (Biddy) Huddleston, of Alexandra, is keen to see closer ties between the New Zealand Young Farmers clubs, and schools.

”Nationally, we are going to increase our focus on Young Farmers clubs and the [school-based] TeenAg clubs,” she said.

”Moving forward, the challenge for us will be how we are going to structure that.”

She also wants to encourage a greater uptake of the organisation’s education ”Agrication” food production resources, which have been developed by NZYF and teachers, ticked off by NZQA and funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership for schools, which are designed to give pupils a greater awareness of food production. . .

Frost this spring has been ‘unrelenting’, say winegrowers – Maja Burry:

Winegrowers in some regions are reporting a turbulent start to the new grape growing season, with frost-fighting efforts already well up on last year.

ANZ rural economist Susan Kilsby said early varieties were budding which was causing some concern due to the recent cold snap.

“There certainly has been some concern around frost, certainly in the Wairarapa and Marlborough, so everyone’s been out fighting frost, [but] so far I’ve only heard of damage of small areas of some of the early season crops,” Ms Kilsby said. . . 

Held stock boost sheep numbers – Alan Williams:

South Island sheep numbers rose slightly in the latest June year but some of the gain was caused by higher numbers being carried over for processing between July and September.

In the North Island the sheep population was slightly lower on June 30 than a year earlier and also included plenty of carry-over trade lambs in the Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty due for processing, Beef + Lamb says its New Season Outlook.

Total sheep numbers were estimated at 27.4 million, with the North Island at 13.5m, down 92,000 or 0.7%. South Island numbers were 13.9m, up 1.4%. . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s milk price:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2018/19 dairy season.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s base milk price calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was calculated at $6.35 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2018/19 dairy season. The report does not cover the forecast 2019/20 price of $6.25-$7.25 that Fonterra announced in May.

Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said this year’s review of the 2018/19 base milk price revealed no new major areas of concern. . . 

Medicinal cannabis company Rua Bioscience seeks experienced grower – Esther Taunton:

A Kiwi company is on the hunt for a green-thumbed project manager, preferably with cannabis growing experience.

Gisborne-based Rua Bioscience was the first local company to secure a license to cultivate medicinal cannabis and is now looking for someone to help grow its budding operation.

Advertised online this week, the cultivation project manager would “play a key role in setting up stage two of our cultivation and growing activities”.  . . 

China is breeding massive pigs that weigh more than a grand piano -Kristin Houser:

Pork Problems

A devastating outbreak of African swine fever has destroyed an estimated half of China’s pig population over the past year or so.

That’s a huge deal given that China consumes more pork than any other nation, so China’s government responded by urging farmers to increase pig production — and some have taken that to mean they should breed the biggest pigs we’ve seen this side of “Okja,” according to a new Bloomberg story.

Making Weight

Bloomberg notes that some Chinese farmers have managed to increase the typical average weight of their pigs at slaughter from 110 kilograms (242 pounds) up to 140 kilograms (308 pounds).

In the province of Jilin, meanwhile, farmers are trying to raise the pigs “as big as possible,” farmer Zhao Hailin told Bloomberg, with the goal being an average weight of 175 to 200 kilograms (385 to 440 pounds) as opposed to the typical 125 kilograms (275 pounds). . .


Rural round-up

July 9, 2019

Uncertainty plus unique ownership structure drive Fonterra share volatility – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s shares have been on a steady downward slide for the last 18 months. In January 2018 they were selling at $6.60 dropping to $3.86 at closing on 30 June 2019.

Then this last week things suddenly turned volatile, dropping at one point on 4 July a further 10 percent to $3.45, before rising by six percent to $3.69 at close of trade on 5 July.

The causes of the long-term drop are well understood. Very simply, Fonterra made a loss of $196 million in financial year 2018 largely because of write-down on assets. Fonterra is also now in asset-selling mode to strengthen its balance sheet. Non-farmer investors are coming to understand that, with family silver having to be sold as well as some rubbish disposal, any turnaround is likely to be long-term rather than short-term. . .

One billion tree flawed says climate scientist :

The Forestry Minister Shane Jones’ one billion trees won’t reduce carbon emissions, as too few natives are being planted, climate scientist Jim Salinger says.

The government has allocated $120 million in grants to landowners to plant trees on their properties, and wants two-thirds of those planted to be natives.

Forestry New Zealand figures show in the first year, of the 91m trees planted, only 12 percent were native. . .

Falling log prices may make some woodlots unprofitable – ANZ -Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – In-market prices for logs in China – New Zealand’s largest export market – have fallen in recent weeks and ANZ Bank warns the drop will make the harvest of some woodlots unprofitable.

While some price softening is not unusual at this time of year as construction activity slows in the hot months, “the scale of the correction was unexpected,” said ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby.

The price of an A-grade log landed in China has fallen from US$130/JAS cubic-metre in early June to approximately US$105/JAS cubic-metre.. .

Vet behind Mycoplasma Bovis detection hopeful for eradication:

The Ōamaru vet, whose efforts led to the identification of cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis in New Zealand, says she is optimistic the disease can be eradicated.

Earlier this week, Dr Merlyn Hay was given the Outstanding Contribution to the Primary Industries Award, for her work to identify M Bovis in July 2017.

Dr Hay told Saturday Morning that the disease was very hard to diagnose, and in many other countries it was only detected after it had already been spreading for several decades . .

Group aims to help farmers improve M. Boris response – Daniel Birchfield:

Lines of communication between the Ministry for Primary Industries and farmers impacted by cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis have been muddied for too long, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

Alongside Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley, he chaired the first meeting of the recently formed Waimate/Waitaki Mycoplasma Bovis Advisory Group held at the Waimate District Council on Wednesday.

The group, modelled on a similar Ashburton arrangement, was formed to support the ministry’s M. bovis eradication programme and assist with regional decision-making to benefit farmers. . .

Lamb contract rewards loyalty – Colin Williscroft:

A $9/kg fixed-price lamb contract for August is a reward for customer loyalty, Affco national livestock manager Tom Young says.

So, farmers generally should not raise their hopes it signals prices higher that they might usually expect as the season unfolds.

The contract has been the subject of much discussion at sale yards but Young said it is not an offer being made to every farmer.

It is only available to loyal clients, farmers who have shown Affco consistent support. . .

Dismantling free markets won’t solve biodiversity threat – Matt Ridley:

Driven perhaps by envy at the attention that climate change is getting, and ambition to set up a great new intergovernmental body that can fly scientists to mega-conferences, biologists have gone into overdrive on the subject of biodiversity this week.

They are right that there is a lot wrong with the world’s wildlife, that we can do much more to conserve, enhance and recover it, but much of the coverage in the media, and many of the pronouncements of Sir Bob Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), are frankly weird.

The threat to biodiversity is not new, not necessarily accelerating, mostly not caused by economic growth or prosperity, nor by climate change, and won’t be reversed by retreating into organic self-sufficiency. Here’s a few gentle correctives.

Much of the human destruction of biodiversity happened a long time ago . . .


Rural round-up

August 18, 2016

Trade access landscape increasingly crowded – Allan Barber:

At the same time as the TPP is struggling to get across the finish line before the next American President takes over early next year, there are several signs of access to the USA freeing up for some of New Zealand’s competitors.

The announcement of greatest significance concerns access for Brazilian beef after 17 years of negotiations which will be permitted to begin in September. Admittedly Brazilian plants must still gain accreditation before they can export to the USA and, when they do, their entitlement will be included in the ‘other country’ quota of 64,800 tonnes at the same preferential tariff of 4.4 cents per kilo as New Zealand for its 213,402 tonne quota. However, there is a possibility Brazil’s eagerness to export, combined with its weak currency, will encourage it to sell at the 26.4% general tariff rate. . . 

The pros and cons of PKE – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks, PKE has been in the spotlight.  The key reason for this has been the decision by Landcorp to phase out its use on the Landcorp farms. This has brought back into focus Fonterra’s 2015 recommendation to farmers to only use 3kg per cow per day. It has also given a platform for various other groups to promote their own perspectives.

Amongst the environmental groups, there are two polar perspectives. Greenpeace says we should stop using all PKE. However, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that palm oil production is OK as long as it sustainable, and certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). . . 

A farming mum who loves helping others – Kate Taylor:

Regular visitors to the Facebook site, Farming Mums NZ, will be familiar with an online blogger whose zest for life seems never-ending. Kate Taylor reports.

There’s an element of irony about the name of Chanelle O’Sullivan’s daily blog, Just a Farmer’s Wife, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.

She is, actually, a farmer’s wife, but is also a mother of two, qualified vet nurse, blogger, project manager, 2016 scholar on the Kellogg Rural Leadership Course, guest speaker, online business woman, long-distance runner and admin for several flourishing Facebook pages.

Chanelle lives at Waitohi in South Canterbury with husband Dave, who is working on a farm on Rockwood Rd. He grew up near Timaru and has a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University. . . 

Silver Fern Farms shareholders vote conclusively in favour – Allan Barber:

The long awaited special meeting finally took place this afternoon with the company’s desired outcome. 80.4% of shareholders voting voted in favour of the Shanghai Maling deal, a small reduction from the 82% that voted in favour last October.

At today’s meeting in Dunedin, as soon as the result was announced, it appears John Shrimpton who led the requisition group shook SFF chairman Rob Hewitt’s hand and agreed that democracy had had its say and the campaign was over. . . 

Clear vision for red meat sector in sight at last – Allan Barber:

After many years of relatively low levels of expenditure on market development and promotion, the red meat industry faces a major challenge in deciding how best to create the desired image to appeal to the world’s affluent consumers. Currently expenditure is divided between generic promotion, funded by farmer levies, and brand advertising by the meat exporters, with a small amount of joint funding in some of the less mature markets.

Delegates at the recent Red Meat Sector Conference heard about the importance of telling a believable and emotionally compelling story built on the heritage and healthy attributes of New Zealand and its farming sector. But they were also challenged to make sure this story is constructed on credible building blocks of environmentally sustainable farm, animal welfare and processing practices. . . 

New primary sector groups to support climate change goals:

Two new reference groups will help support New Zealand’s climate change goals and reduce emissions from the livestock and forestry sectors, Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have announced today.

“As part of ratifying the Paris agreement on climate change, New Zealand has set a target of reducing our emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The primary sector will need to be an important part of that,” says Mr Guy.

“The Biological Emissions Reference Group will bring together a wide range of agricultural, horticultural and farming stakeholders to collaborate with Government and build a solid evidence base. This will ensure we have the best possible range of information on what can be done right now to reduce biological greenhouse emissions. . . 

Glass half-full for dairy after price lift – Alexa Cook:

Dairy farmers could finally have break-even milk prices this season, AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says.

This season’s forecast of $4.25kg/ms is the third season of prices below $5.

Most farmers need about $5kg/ms to cover their costs, which is about $US3000 a tonne for whole milk powder, the industry’s main export.

In the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction prices lifted by 12.7 percent and whole-milk powder surged 18.9 percent to $US2695 a tonne. . . 

Countdown Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn launches today – Supermarket assures farmers their investment in free range and barn eggs will pay off:

Countdown has today launched an Egg Producer Programme to support free range and barn egg farmers to increase the supply available for Countdown stores and our customers.

The Egg Producer Programme provides farmers an opportunity to increase investment in free range and barn egg capacity, as Countdown will make a commitment to take future supply through individual partnership agreements.

Currently, just 18 per cent of eggs produced in New Zealand are free range. Countdown wants to put in place plans with farmers, to increase the availability of the free range and barn eggs.  . . 

Bill to streamline Food Safety passes first reading:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew is welcoming the Food Safety Law Reform Bill having passed its first reading in Parliament last night, with unanimous support.

The Bill is the final step in implementing the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Inquiry recommendations, in particular those which require legislative change.

“This Bill is an important part of putting the false Botulism scare behind us. It illustrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and suitability of food, which is vitally important for the health of consumers – both in New Zealand and overseas – and our international trade reputation,” says Mrs Goodhew. . . 

Retirement of Fonterra Director:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced that Mr John Waller ONZM will be retiring as an Independent Director on the Fonterra Board with effect from 31 August 2016.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said that Mr Waller is retiring to reduce his workload after serving on the Fonterra Board since 2009. He chaired Fonterra’s Fair Value Share Review Committee, the Trading Among Farmers Due Diligence Committee and the Milk Price Panel, and was a member of the Audit and Finance Committee and the Risk Committee.

“John has been an outstanding director of our Co-operative and has made an invaluable contribution by combining his strong personal values, drive and leadership with commercial common-sense. I am pleased that after such a significant contribution John is finding the time to rebalance his commitments so that he can spend more time with his family and pursue his other interests. . . 


GDT price index down .4%

July 6, 2016

Dairy prices are still in the doldrums with a .4% drop in GlobalDairyTrade’s price index this morning.

GDT6.7.16

gdt6716

It doesn’t help that the EU’s skim milk powder intervention scheme has been officially raised to a record 350,000 tonnes.

AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby said the scheme takes the excess milk from the market and puts it into storage, which has a mixed effect on prices.

“In the short term it’s providing some stability in the market, and some support around skim milk powder levels.

“But what it does over the longer term is we’ve now got skim milk powder stocks built up in the EU to record levels so it’s going to take several years for those stocks to work through the market as it’s slowly released, and that will only happen once milk supply slows down and the markets rebalance.”

Ms Kilsby said this would prevent milk powder prices from rising quickly for quite some time.

“It certainly will keep prices for skim milk powder down while we sell more of our milk powder in the format of whole milk powder – there is a link between the two products because they can be substituted to a certain degree.

“It’s certainly going to hamper dairy commodity prices from lifting quickly even when the milk supply does slow down in Europe.” . . 

However, we were in Zambia with dairy farmers from Holland and Ireland lst month and they are no happier about milk prices than we are.


Rural round-up

August 24, 2014

Smart switch could save lives on farms – Lauren Hayes:

The scientific smarts of a young Southlander could save lives on farms.

James Hargest College pupil Maria Burnett took home the premier technology award from the NZAS Science and Technology Fair for her project, Smart Switch.

For the project, the 16-year-old invented a shield to cover the power take-off (PTO) shaft on tractors.

The PTO shaft carried electricity from the tractor to the implement attached to it and spun 16.6 times a second, so was very dangerous, Maria said. . .

White truffles could transform forestry industry – Annabelle Tukia:

At $3000 a kilogram, white truffles are a true gourmet delight.

Now a team from Plant and Food Research have come up with a way to cultivate the delicacy on pine tree roots, and they say forestry owners could do the same, adding another stream of income to their business.

Deep in a Canterbury pine plantation, scientist Alexis Guerin is hunting for white truffles, a fungus that could one day transform pine plantations all over the country.

Scientists at Plant and Food Research planted the white truffle-infused pine seedlings 10 years ago and, with the help of truffle-hunting dog Ace, they’re now finding the fruits of their labour cropping up all over this plantation. . .

China’s milk thirst will grow – Stephen Bell:

China’s thirst for imported dairy products will expand over the next five years to equate to New Zealand’s entire annual production, Agrifax senior dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says.

Though NZ had a foot in the door, being first with a free-trade agreement with China, there would be increased international competition, made tougher by Russia’s ban on Western imports, Kilsby, who spent three weeks in China in June, said.

She found China would need to import more dairy produce in coming years than it had so far. . .

Migrant workers need more help – Alan Williams:

Dairy farmers helping their migrant workers to have improved access to English language classes could be the best way to help them integrate more into their communities.

This is the view of people offering support services to the workers, though they say there is also no harm in the various nationalities choosing to stay mostly in their own groups.

Given the challenges involved in living in a foreign country it’s only natural for different groups to gravitate towards their own nationality for comfort, support and advice, Aoraki Multicultural Council executive member Kate Elsen said.

New Zealanders shouldn’t be put off by that, she says, but everyone agrees that the better their understanding of English, the better it is for everybody. . .

Swiss cattle breeder puts rare herd up for sale  – Tim Cronshaw:

Colin Lyon hopes someone with the same passion as him will take on his rare Swiss breed of beef cattle to bigger things.

His small herd of stud braunvieh beef breeding cows, which has twice reached the semifinals of the Steak of Origin contest, was begun by Lyon obtaining embryos from an Australian stud in 2005.

Lyon feels that, having reached 71, beef breeding is a “young man’s caper” and would like to pass on the genetic line to someone else and his herd is for sale.

The braunviehs at his farm near South Canterbury’s Pleasant Point are believed to be the only cattle of their kind in New Zealand. . .

Cows in class:

Nelson dairy farmer Julian Raine is bringing the country into the city, when he teams up next week with the Fonterra Milk for Schools Programme and Victory Primary School. A cow and a calf from Oakland’s, Mr Raine’s family farm, owned and worked by his ancestors since 1842, will visit the school on the morning of Monday 25th August.

The initiative is part of the Victory School’s Year 5 Integrated Study, “From Paddock to Puku”.

Victory School, Deputy Principal, Mr Sullivan, says “The idea for this terms integrated study came from our schools involvement in the Fonterra Milk for Schools Programme, it was important for the students to learn more about where milk comes from and it’s health benefits, together with the cultural and environmental effects of drinking milk.” . . .


Milk payout going higher?

December 7, 2013

Fonterra is already forecasting a record payout for milk this season, could it go higher?

Dairy farmers will get an early Christmas present this week, in the form of a substantial increase to their already-high milk payouts.

NZX Agrifax analyst Susan Kilsby said world prices for whole milk powder (WMP), relentless Chinese demand and New Zealand’s export volumes indicated a milk price of $8.70 a kilogram milksolids (MS).

Fonterra has said it would make milk price, advance rate and dividend announcements after next week’s board meeting.

It is required by the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act to make a re-calculation before December 15, for the purpose of setting the raw milk price to competitors.

Should it follow Kilsby’s prediction on milk price, as well as maintain the dividend guidance at 32c a share, a payout forecast for the season of more than $9/kg MS could result.

Kilsby has also predicted milk production growth of 8%, if good pastoral conditions persist during summer and autumn. . . .

A higher payout and higher production would be great for farmers and would provide a significant boost for the wider economy.

It would also add to the trend of more dairy conversions and operations changing from conventional sheep and beef farming to dairy support.


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