Rural round-up

October 17, 2015

Progressive Meats founder Craig Hickson wins entrepreneur of the year – John Anthony:

A Hastings businessman who started a meat processing company more than three decades ago has taken out New Zealand’s top entrepreneur award.

Progressive Meats founder Craig Hickson was selected from a field of six New Zealand entrepreneurs to be named EY Entrepreneur of the Year for 2015 at a dinner in Auckland on Thursday.

Hickson and his wife Penny started Progressive Meats in Hastings in 1981 with six staff working in a lamb processing facility.

The company now employs more than 300 staff and has processing facilities for lamb, beef, venison and rams. . .

Share register challenge for SFF – Dene Mackenzie:

Silver Fern Farms faces a new problem of how to manage its share register after the Dunedin meat company yesterday received overwhelming support for its joint venture with China’s Shanghai Maling.

The co-operative received 82% votes in favour of the proposal. Shanghai Maling, a listed company in China, will vote on the deal on October 30.

But with the Chinese Government-controlled Bright Food Group owning 38% of Shanghai Maling, and supporting the deal, the vote is expected to easily pass. . . 

TPPA will advance globalisation of agriculture, trade minister says – Gerald Piddock:

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations will trigger more liberalisation of world wide agricultural trade, says Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Once started, the trade process would be difficult to stop, Groser told journalists at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress in Hamilton.

“We are in my opinion…in the early stage of the globalisation of world agriculture,” he said.

However, he acknowledged that removing agricultural subsidies would be a difficult task for developed  countries. . . 

NZ Merino, on quest to add value to commodities, increases annual profit 21% – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Merino Co, a wool marketer which aims to develop higher-value markets for sheep products, posted a 21 percent lift in full-year profit and said it’s on track to double the value of the business in the three years through 2016.

The Christchurch-based company said profit increased to $2.3 million in the year ended June 30, from $1.9 million in 2014, and $405,000 in 2013. Revenue fell 6.1 percent to $109.4 million from the year earlier, while cost of sales fell 7.7 percent to $98.4 million and expenses slid 4.2 percent to $12.8 million. It will pay shareholders, including 536 wool growers, a dividend of $1.2 million, up from $942,000 a year earlier. . . 

Americans are biggest investors in NZ dairy land:

United States investors were the largest investors in our dairy land during 2013-2014, analysis by KPMG has revealed.

In the report on Overseas Investment in New Zealand’s Dairy Land, KPMG has analysed Foreign Direct Investment (FID) decisions by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) for the 2013-2014 period.

It shows that the US was the largest investor in dairy land during that two-year period – accounting for 54.4% of the freehold hectares sold, and 26.5% of the consideration paid. . .

Manuka honey lobby devises test to prove authenticity – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The UMF Honey Association says it has found the solution to fake manuka honey products, developing a portable device which tests for the nectar of Leptospermum Scoparium, the native manuka bush.

The manuka honey industry group, working with Analytica Laboratories and Comvita, presented the primary production select committee with a portable fluorescent test which can easily indicate whether a product is genuine manuka honey, and research defining the premium honey. Analytica executive director Terry Braggins said the development of a chemical fingerprint, based on the presence of the native bush’s nectar, could distinguish monofloral honey made by bees foraging on manuka flowers from other blended or imitation honey. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 29, 2015

PM announces Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

Prime Minister John Key has announced the creation of a 620,000 km2 Ocean Sanctuary in the Kermadec region, one of the most pristine and unique environments on Earth.

“The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully-protected areas, preserving important habitats for seabirds, whales and dolphins, endangered marine turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life,” Mr Key says.

“It will cover 15 per cent of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, an area twice the size of our landmass, and 50 times the size of our largest national park in Fiordland. . . 

John Key's photo.

“Pretty damned exciting news” say Kermadec campaigners:

Champagne corks popped as the news was released that the Kermadec region has become an ocean sanctuary. Kermadec campaigners Forest & Bird, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF-New Zealand were together when they heard the news.

The Prime Minister John Key made the momentous announcement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The creation of the Sanctuary once again puts New Zealand at the forefront of marine protection on the international stage.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is located in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km northeast of the Bay of Plenty New Zealand. The area is one of the most geologically diverse in the world. It contains the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench with a depth of 10 kilometres. . . .

Proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

With no forewarning from Government the industry needs time to consider the full implications, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said.

“The seafood industry is committed to rational and effective marine conservation measures. These include a representative network of BPAs (Benthic Protected Areas) established at the industry’s behest and implemented throughout 30 per cent of the Exclusive Economic Zone, covering an area larger than the Kermadecs. . . 

Tatua Cooperative beats market with $7.10/kgMS payout for 2015 – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Tatua Cooperative Dairy Co, the Tatuanui-based dairy company founded 100 years ago, set the 2015 payout for its farmer suppliers at $7.10 per kilogram of milk solids, the highest of any New Zealand processor, while affirming a drop in payout for 2016.

Revenue rose to $286 million in the 12 months ended July 31, from $266 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Earnings before milk payout, retentions and tax fell to $121.2 million, from $136.4 million a year earlier.

Chairman Stephen Allen said the decline in pretax earnings reflected an increase in overall milk collection from farmers in the latest year and the “dramatic decline” in dairy prices. It equates to a payout $7.73/kgMS before retentions and tax. The company retained 63 cents/kgMS before tax. . . 

Migrant worker scam uncovered:

More than 30 Filipino workers reportedly paid $15,000 to obtain false documents clearing them to work on New Zealand dairy farms.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed multiple Filipino workers have provided false and misleading information when applying for visas here.

Immigration NZ assistant general manager Peter Elms said the department started scrutinising visas more closely after discovering multiple issues, relating to claimed work experience and qualifications.

The department has not confirmed the number of cases that it is aware of, nor whether it was investigating, but the Philippine government said it was investigating at least 30 cases. The Philippine government’s Overseas Employment Administration is also looking into the claims. . . 

Alliance says merger with Silver Fern would risk creating ‘beached whale’ as rival tackles over-capacity – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says any merger with Silver Fern Farms risks creating a “big beached whale” of the New Zealand meat industry because its rival needs the capital offered by China’s Bright Food just to rationalise plant capacity and reduce its debt burden.

Bright Foods’ Shanghai Maling Aquarius unit has offered to invest $261 million cash in Silver Fern Farms (SFF) to become a 50-50 partner with the Dunedin-based meat company in a deal that would leave the business debt free and with funds to upgrade plants, spend more marketing higher-value meat products and provide a new route into China.

The injection of funds has stoked speculation a stronger SFF could subsequently dictate terms for a tie-up with Alliance, something the two firms have failed to achieve in a decade of sporadic talks. Alliance says it made an offer to SFF prior to the rival embarking on its capital-raising process and had “worked hard to engage with SFF and discuss opportunities for industry consolidation” over the past 10 years. . . 

Partnering with China – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been in Beijing at the NZ –China Council Forum. Led by Minister Steven Joyce and co-chaired by Sir Don McKinnon, it has been all about building partnerships.

There were about fifty New Zealanders there, including industry folk and staff from the relevant Government ministries – Trade and Enterprise, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Primary Industries. And there was a similar number of Chinese people from industry and their government.

Now to some people, the idea of building partnerships with China is anathema. Ten days ago I was involved in a passionate debate in Wellington about just that topic. It is all right to trade with the Chinese, so the argument went, but we should not think of partnering. The Chinese are different, and we should not in any way imply support for their way of doing business. . . 

Surge in water data for World Rivers Day:

To mark World Rivers Day this Sunday, regional councils are releasing their latest water quality data on the Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa website, which this year includes lake quality monitoring.

Launched in March 2014, www.lawa.org.nz began reporting water quality results at 1100 river sites. Since then, it has expanded into coastal bathing beaches and water allocation, tripling the number of monitoring sites for which data is available.

From this weekend, users will also be able access water quality data for monitored lakes, providing a more complete picture of the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater.

Stephen Woodhead, chair of the regional sector group of Local Government New Zealand, said that public debate showed that rivers and lakes were  important to New Zealanders and regional councils took their role in water stewardship very seriously. . . 

Drought-hit farmers sow grass seed donations – Annabelle Tukia:

Ten north Canterbury farmers are about to get some relief from the drought that has plagued their region for the past year after a group of business owners got together to try to ease the financial burden of the dry spell.

It’s been a tough 12 months on Damian Harrison’s Cheviot farm.

“This drought has been like driving in a tunnel, and you drive and drive and drive and never see daylight at the end,” says Mr Harrison.

But today at last there was a little ray of hope, in the form of Murray Stackhouse and his tractor and drill. The local contractor, along with a machinery company, have got together and are re-sowing grass onto 10 drought-stricken north Canterbury farms for free. . . 

Indonesia reopens door to NZ beef imports:

Indonesian media are reporting that trade officials there have done a u-turn on efforts to cut down imports of beef from New Zealand.

The Indonesian Trade Ministry has issued permits for the State Logistics Agency to import as much as 10,000 tonnes of beef from New Zealand.

The ministry said it wanted to stabilise meat prices in the country, and New Zealand was chosen because the price of beef from here was lower than the cost of Australian meat. . . 

NZ Honey fights MPI over alleged health claims on Manuka Doctor, Manuka Pharm branding – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Honey International, the closely-held honey products maker, wants a judicial declaration on whether its trademarks Manuka Doctor and Manuka Pharm amount to health claims after the Ministry of Primary Industries withdrew export approvals, blocking the firm’s sales into certain markets.

MPI has been cracking down on the manuka honey industry amid international criticism there was more manuka honey coming out of the country than New Zealand actually produces. With no industry consensus on what constitutes manuka honey, MPI introduced an interim labelling guideline in July 2014 to give the industry clarity and protect consumers from false claims, as well as to try to improve credibility of the manuka products. . . 

Calf collection paves way for fertility project:

A huge logistical exercise that involved collecting hundreds of calves from farms all over the North Island has set the scene for a ground-breaking research programme aimed at lifting fertility rates in the dairy industry.

In recent weeks, heifer calves from 619 farms across Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay have been collected so that they can be reared and milked together as one herd. The “Animal Model” research herd will comprise equal numbers of Holstein Friesian calves with very high and very low fertility genetics, carefully selected from contract matings in spring last year and purchased from farmers by DairyNZ. . . 


Rural round-up

September 12, 2015

Meat returns to rise over next year – Alan Royal:

A lower New Zealand currency will do much of the running for sheep meat and beef returns to farmers over the next year.

Beef + Lamb NZ expected slight increases in product values but they were likely to be outweighed by lower volumes, especially for lamb.

B+LNZ forecast an average lamb price of $5.47/kg for the export year ending September 30, 2016, a 4% lift on the provisional figure for the year finishing in a couple of weeks. . .

Few animal welfare issues in dry North Canterbury:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has complimented farmers on how they have managed animal welfare through the prolonged North Canterbury drought.

Canterbury-based MPI Animal Welfare Manager Peter Hyde says there have had been very few animal welfare issues to deal with in North Canterbury.

“Sheep are a bit lighter than ideal but not to the extent where they are below the minimum standard that breaches of the Animal Welfare Act.”

Mr Hyde says farmers have adopted different management strategies to maintain the condition of their animals. . . 

Finalists in the NZ Innovators Awards:

Finalists in the New Zealand Innovators Awards 2015 demonstrate that Kiwi innovation is thriving, with a 24 per cent increase in entries that are of world class standard.

Announced today are the finalists who represent game changing innovation from every corner of the country, with new products and services from a broad range of industries and business disciplines. Included in the finalists are an exciting range of entries, from electric farm bikes, dairy free cheese, anti-cancer treatments and free school lunches. Spoilt for choice with this year’s entries – these are ordinary Kiwi’s doing extra-ordinary things.

New Zealand Innovation Council CEO Louise Webster says the 2015 entrants give a real sense that Kiwi innovation is moving into the main stream, demonstrating world leading approaches to innovation with many businesses going global from day one. . . 

Wool Jumps:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Malcolm Ching reports that a weakening New Zealand dollar and steady off-shore buying interest saw all wool types improve for the South Island offering of 9,300 bales with 87 percent selling.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currency came down 1.29 percent compared to the last sale on 3rd September.

Mr Ching advises that compared to the last time sold on 27th August, Merino Fleece 21.5 micron and finer were 5 to 10 percent dearer with 22 to 23.5 microns 1 to 2 percent firmer. . . 

Ballance Farm Environment Awards Showcase Sustainable Farming Success:

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards is a great way for farmers to show they care about the environment, say Waikato dairy farmers Susan O’Regan and John Hayward.

The couple entered the Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards for the first time last year and were thrilled to win two category awards, including the LIC Dairy Farm Award.

“Waikato Regional Council has been working with us on a planting programme on the farm for several years and they encouraged us to enter,” Susan says.

“We went in to the competition pretty cold and didn’t really know what to expect. We didn’t do any window dressing on the farm and we were fairly relaxed when the judges showed up and started asking us questions.” . . .

PGP delivering much needed support to rural communities:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says a further 400 rural professionals will be trained in 20 workshops delivered over the next month to support farming families and rural communities.

“These workshops are about creating a culture of mental health awareness and training within service organisations, a key outcome from ‘Transforming the Dairy Value Chain’, a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries, DairyNZ and Fonterra.

“This adds to the more than 400 rural professionals already trained in mental health awareness by the programme.

“While the economic benefits of PGP are well known as the Government’s flagship research and development programme for the primary sector, it’s great to see it is also supporting the wellbeing of dairy farmers in what is a difficult year for some. . . 

$345,000 for wilding conifers in War on Weeds:

Five groups tackling the major problem of wilding conifers have received $345,000 from the Community Conservation Partnerships Fund as part of the War on Weeds, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

“Wilding conifers cover more than 1.7 million hectares of land, and are advancing at an estimated rate of 5 per cent a year,” Ms Barry says.

“They alter entire landscapes and are notoriously difficult to clear once established, representing a major threat to our unique New Zealand ecosystems, land and farms.” . . .

Sharp Blacks ‘meat’ victory for third time:

New Zealand’s national butchery team the Pure South Sharp Blacks have carved their way to victory for the third time, during last night’s Tri-Nations Butchers’ Challenge.

The team of butchers have been reigning champions for three years now, and last night they once again showed their world-class form at Auckland’s Shed 10.

Going up against the best-of-the-best from Australia and England, the Sharp Blacks endured three hours of intense competition, turning a side of beef, pork and whole lamb into art based on a Kiwiana theme. . . 

PEP agrees to buy Manuka Honey for undisclosed sum – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Pacific Equity Partners, the biggest private equity firm in Australia and New Zealand, has agreed to buy Manuka Health, the functional food and dietary supplement company, for an undisclosed amount, subject to Overseas Investment Office approval.

The Te Awamutu-based honey firm currently has 37 shareholders, according to records on the Companies Office, with Watermann Capital a cornerstone owner. Founder Kerry Paul owns 7.3 percent, while Milford Asset Management owns 6.3 percent. The New Zealand Herald has reported the purchase price was $110 million.

Manuka Health was founded in 2006 and exports 90-plus products based on propolis, royal jelly, bee pollen, and manuka honey to 45 countries. It has annual turnover of more than $50 million. . . 

More biosecurity detector dog power for Christchurch:

Two new biosecurity detector dog teams have started at Christchurch airport to sniff out risk goods carried by international travellers, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Anna Howie and Alice McKay started work on Monday. They finished their detector dog handler training in Auckland last week, along with 9 other new MPI handlers who have since started at Auckland and Wellington.

Anna will work detector dog Frank (labrador), originally sourced from an Australian customs breeding programme. Alice will work with Pip, a brand new labrador detector dog purchased from a private home in Hastings. . . 

Dairy goat industry gets $3.6 million research boost:

A research grant of $3.63 million from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment is set to boost dairy goat productivity in the near future.

The three year study is led by Professor Russell Snell and Associate Professor Klaus Lehnert from the Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland.

The research is aimed at accelerating sustainable productivity gain within the Dairy Goat Co-Operative (NZ) Ltd (DGC) with the primary product target of high value infant formula. . . 

Cadrona Extend Opening Hours & On Track to Break Snowfall Record:

Cardrona is set to have the best season it’s had in 20 years – just 15cm off beating its own record of 333cm total snowfall in a season. The resort is experiencing one of the best seasons in regards to snowfall and snow conditions that it has seen in the past two decades, and with the longest season in the South Island, there are still 4 weeks to break the record.

Spring has officially kicked off with a few early September snowfalls gifting Cardrona guests ideal snow conditions to start the spring season. Currently even Cardrona’s lowest lift, the Valley View Quad, still boasts superb conditions both off and on-piste. . . 


Rural round-up

July 31, 2015

Westland Milk cuts payout further as dairy prices fall – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second-largest dairy cooperative, cut its forecast milk payout to farmers by 10 cents for the current season and for next season’s by $1, in the face of sustained weakness in global dairy prices.

The Hokitika-based company will pay $4.80 to $4.90 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2014/15 season, with the final payout to be determined at the September board meeting, it said in a statement. The forecast payout for the 2015/16 season was slashed to between $4.60 and $5/kgMS, from a previously band of $5.60 to $6/kgMS.

The advance rate for this season remains at $4.80/kgMS, although the 2015/16 season rate was revised to $3.80/kgMS from $4.40/kgMS. . .

 

Light at the end of the paddock for dairy farmers – Jason Walls:

The New Zealand dollar is poised to shed more value against the US by the start of next year and dairy prices may only be at the current level temporarily.

This is good news for farmers, says ASB Bank rural economist Nathan Penny, who forecasts the New Zealand dollar will be at 61c against the US by the beginning of 2016.

He says the one of the biggest factors to this will be the US interest rate hike later this year. . .

Speech to Horticulture New Zealand Conference Award Dinner:

Good evening. Thank you Julian Raine, Horticulture New Zealand President, for that introduction. It is a pleasure to join you this evening in recognising excellence and future leaders of the horticulture industry.

I would particularly like to acknowledge outgoing Chief Executive Peter Silcock for all his contribution to the industry over the past 30 years.

Tonight I want to talk to you briefly about the long-term value that can be created by recognising talent and growing leaders.

A growing industry

Horticulture is a top performing primary industry. In the year to June 2015, export revenue reached $3.897 billion. This is up $602 million from 2012, a total of over 18 percent growth over four years. . .

 

Dairy modules hitting the spot for DWN members:

Dairy Women’s Network has received feedback on how its latest professional development offering is being perceived by its members – with impressive results.

The network launched its new Dairy Modules programme for the first time in November 2014 and has since had the programme evaluated by the renowned Net Promoter Score system, confirming world class standard. . .

 

Bayer Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year 2015 announced:

A great win for Mark Langlands from Te Kairanga as he becomes the Bayer Wairarapa Young Viticulturist of the Year 2015. Contestants battled it out at Te Kairanga Vineyard with their final challenge being to deliver a speech to a key audience in the evening at the Martinborough Village Cafe.

Contestants completed a wide range of activities including questions on trellising, vine management, pests & diseases, budgeting, tractor maintenance and irrigation as well as having an interview and a quick fire buzzer round. . .

 

Wool Firms:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that despite a slightly stronger New Zealand dollar wool prices were firm to slightly dearer. With less wool available due to weather affecting shearing and vacation related shipping requirements this has helped underpin prices.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies increased 0.99 percent week on week.

Of the 7,905 bales on offer 96.2 percent sold. . .

 

PERRIAM on national stage at New Zealand Fashion Week 2015:

Luxury merino fashion brand PERRIAM has been selected for a special showcase on wool in fashion at the prestigious New Zealand Fashion Week (NZFW) in August.

PERRIAM is among some of the country’s iconic labels chosen for the Choose Wool show, taking to the runway with Sabatini, twenty-seven names, Tanya Carlson, Hailwood, Liz Mitchell and Wynn Hamlyn on Tuesday, August 25.

Curated by leading Kiwi stylist Anna Caselberg, who is known for her work with NZ wools, Choose Wool represents an important aspect of the NZ fashion industry. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 25, 2015

Govt: Lighter rules insulating dairy shock – Suze Metherell:

Light regulation in the New Zealand dairy industry has insulated the wider economy from the sharp decline in prices for the country’s largest export commodity, according to Finance Minister Bill English.

Prices for whole milk powder, the country’s key commodity export, have plunged this year and dropped an unexpectedly large 10.7 percent in in the GlobalDairyTrade auction last week, sending the kiwi dollar to six-year-lows.

Dairy prices are now expected to remain lower for longer than previously forecast, amid higher global supplies, weak demand in China and an import ban in Russia on European dairy products, which are being sold into other market. . .

Vets to cut down on antibiotics:

The Veterinary Association has set an ambitious target to reduce the use of antibiotics to control disease in animals.

Its goal is to have New Zealand no longer having to rely on using antibiotics for animals by 2030.

President Steve Merchant said the country was well suited to the challenge because of its size, and the fact that it was already the world’s third lowest user of antibiotics on animals. . .

Changes to Health and Safety Reform Bill are sensible:

Federated Farmers believe the two month delay in the Select Committee reporting back the Health and Safety Reform Bill to Parliament has led to improvements for the farming industry.

The Bill has been reported back today.

Federated Farmers health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne says the Bill overall will make farms safer places.

Specifically she says the Bill has gone some way to recognising that farms are different to urban industrial workplaces. . .

 

New Māori aquaculture agreements signed:

New regional agreements for Māori commercial aquaculture have been signed by Government Ministers today, including Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Three regional agreements have been signed with iwi from the Auckland, Tasman, and Marlborough regions following successful negotiations between the Crown and regional Iwi aquaculture organisations.

The agreements are the result of the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, which requires the Crown to provide Iwi aquaculture organisations with 20% of new commercial aquaculture space consented since October 2011, or anticipated to occur into the future. . .

Australian consortium said to be in no hurry to up their bid for A2 Milk – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Australian-based Freedom Foods and US-based Dean Foods are said to be in no hurry to up their bid for A2 Milk Co after the milk marketer this week told its suitors to try again after an initial offer wasn’t compelling and drew out as yet unnamed rival bidders.

A source close to the bidding consortium said they were underwhelmed by a trading update A2 Milk released at the same time as rejecting the offer and request for due diligence, saying it contained “nothing that would shift their view on valuation”.

Given Freedom Foods, the company’s previous joint venture partner in Australia, has a 19.1 percent blocking stake in A2 Milk, any rival bidders may struggle to get an offer across the line. . .

 

Wool market buoyant:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that today’s sale of 6,617 bales saw increases of 1 to 2 percent overall. A good result, considering offering of 52 percent Coarse Crossbred Early Shorn and Second Shear types.

There was good demand for shorter Second Shear types 2 to 3 inch 32 to 35 micron as buyers bid to cover Chinese orders.

The trade weighted indicator was little changed from the last wool sale on 16th July. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

July 10, 2015

Former Fonterra boss Craig Norgate dies:

The former Fonterra boss, Craig Norgate has died. He was 50.

Mr Norgate had a spectacular rise in business, becoming head of New Zealand’s biggest company, Fonterra, at the age of 36. . .

$158,000 to protect Taranaki biodiversity:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced a $158,000 Community Environment Fund grant for a project which aims to protect native birds and forest at Rotokare Scenic Reserve in South Taranaki.

“This funding will help support the work underway to ensure a ‘halo’ more than 2000 hectares in area surrounding the predator-proof fence of Rotokare Scenic Reserve. This funding will extend the successful work of the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust as well as neighbouring property owners and local councils to create a flourishing ecosystem in an area that was previously threatened by predators and land use change,” Dr Smith says. . .

ComCom to file court proceedings over price fixing – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission intends to file court proceedings against PGG Wrightson, Elders New Zealand and Rural Livestock by the end of the month, claiming the three fixed fees charged during the implementation of a national livestock tagging scheme.

The consumer protection authority is investigating fees charged during the adoption of the National Animal Identification and Trading Act 2012, commonly known as NAIT. A spokesman for the commission confirmed it intends to file proceedings against the three agricultural companies and five undisclosed individuals before the end of this month. . .

Improvements sought for forestry scheme:

A review to increase uptake for the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative is underway and the government is seeking feedback from industry on the proposed changes, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew.

Introduced in 2006, the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative was the first national scheme that allowed forest landowners to earn emissions units for the carbon stored within their forests. . .

More than one prize to aim for in South Island farming competition:

In addition to the top prize of a $20,000 travel fund, entrants in the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year Competition will also be able to pitch for one of four special category prizes, with a cash prize of $5000 each.

Lincoln University Foundation Chairman Ben Todhunter said generous support from sponsors meant that the four prizes could again be offered this year, after their debut in the 2014 season. . .

Two Brands, Three Blokes, One New Wine Company:

Two renowned Marlborough wine brands are joining forces, with the backing of former employees.

Highfield and TerraVin Wines will now be known as Highfield TerraVin Ltd.

Winemakers Alistair Soper and Gordon Ritchie have joined with General Manager Pete Coldwell to run the new company, with all three men having some strong goals in mind. . .

 

Technology takes vineyard to the world:

One of New Zealand’s fastest growing and most innovative wine companies, Yealands Family Wines is taking its sustainability story to global markets via a leading edge, digital platform.

YealandsLive.co.nz features dynamic content captured via a series of live feeds, directly from the Yealands Estate Seaview Vineyard and Winery in Marlborough, New Zealand. The website aims to give consumers and the wine trade a unique, and authentic behind the scenes look at one of the world’s premier sustainable wine producers. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

July 7, 2015

Is A2 milk about to leap forward? _ Keith Woodford:

Shares in The a2 Milk Company (coded as ATM on the NZX stock exchange) have increased from 48.5 cents on 29 May to 75 cents at 3 July. The market capitalisation has risen from $330 million to $495 million. Where the shares will go in the next few weeks is a journey into the unknown.

What is known is that some of the international big boys have been putting together a syndicate to purchase ATM (also listed jointly on the Australian exchange as A2M). The publicly announced parties are America’s Dean Foods and Australia’s Freedom Foods. But in the background are Australia’s Perich family, Australia’s Moxey family, and China’s New Hope agri-food conglomerate. And hovering nearby is Richard Liu from the rapidly growing Chinese online marketer JD.com. . .

Top Performing Sheep Farmers And Industry Leaders Celebrated:

Sheep farmers have celebrated the top performers in their industry at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in Invercargill tonight.

This is the fourth year the awards have been held and Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Dr Scott Champion said the awards night was a wonderful way to showcase the sheep industry – a major contributor to the New Zealand economy.

“The industry has and continues to make huge progress – for instance, while the number of sheep has halved in the last 25 years, lamb production has only fallen by seven per cent. Improved genetics is part of this fabulous productivity improvement story and tonight’s winners are leading the way in sheep genetics.” . .

 

Marlborough Lines takes 80% stake in Yealands Wine for $89M – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Marlborough Lines has bought an 80 percent stake in Yealands Wine Group, New Zealand’s sixth-largest wine exporter, for $89 million.

The South Island electricity lines company took control from founder Peter Yealands, who wanted to keep the winery fully New Zealand owned, the companies said in a joint statement. Marlborough Lines is debt free and had realised $100 million in cash from investments which it wanted to reinvest locally.

“Opportunities to invest in the electricity industry are limited and this led to us looking to other options,” said Marlborough Lines managing director Ken Forrest. “We are satisfied that this will be a successful investment which will broaden our asset base for the benefit of the people of Marlborough.” . .

 

New phase for NAIT programme

July is the start of the next phase for OSPRI’s NAIT programme with the three-year exemption period for pre-NAIT cattle now over. This means that all cattle must be tagged and registered in the NAIT system, even if they are not leaving your property or were born before the NAIT programme launched in July 2012 (the transition period for deer ends on 1 March 2016).

Dr. Stu Hutchings, OSPRI Group Manager, says, “Our goal is to get everybody on board with NAIT so we can all reap the benefits of tighter TB control and continued access to export markets. The only way to make this happen is if farmers play their part and fulfil their NAIT obligations.” . . .

 

Fonterra Updates Progress of Its Business Review:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today provided an update on the business review it announced in March this year.

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the purpose of the review is to ensure that Fonterra is best placed to respond to a rapidly changing global environment.

The initial phases had looked at the entire business in detail and had identified potential areas, including significant initiatives in procurement, business operations and working capital, where the Co-operative can unlock increased value for its owners. . .

 

Silver Fern Farms chief executive appointed to deer board:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Dean Hamilton has been appointed to the Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) board for a three year term.

Mr Hamilton joined the board as a venison processor-appointee on 1 July, replacing Dr Andrew West at the end of Dr West’s three-year term.

Deer Industry New Zealand chair Andy Macfarlane welcomed Mr Hamilton.

“Silver Fern Farms is our largest venison processor and marketer and we are very pleased to now have a close connection to that company through Dean’s appointment. To have a leader of his calibre on the board will be an asset for DINZ and is a good signal of Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to the deer industry.” . . .


Rural round-up

June 29, 2015

Snow does little to blunt Hurunui drought – Tim Cronshaw:

Melting snow has combined with the first decent rainfall in six months to provide some relief for dry Hurunui but it would be a stretch to call it a drought breaker.

Much of the snow over the last week has thawed and gone into soils to go some way to replenishing ground moisture that has taken a hammering in the district particularly extending from Hawarden to Cheviot.

The problem is that it’s arrived too late for farmers as winter pulls the plug on major grass or winter crop growth.

Snow, sleet and rain topped up gauges by 20mm to 50mm over Hurunui farmland in the first major rain of the year.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury Meat & Fibre chairman Dan Hodgen said the snow and rain event would be of little initial help for farmers. . .

US likely to force pace on TPP with fast track in place – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – The United States is likely to try and force the pace of negotiations to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the next few weeks, following a vote in the US Senate last night that all but ensures President Barack Obama will gain so-called ‘fast track’ authority to complete the controversial agreement.

One more Senate vote is expected overnight tonight, New Zealand time, to confirm Trade Promotion Authority – an essential component to resuming the 12 nation talks that have been stalled for months while Obama cobbled together a coalition of Democrats and Republicans large enough to support the measure. . .

TPP does not add up for NZ without good dairy outcomes:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is firm in its view that a good deal on dairy in TPP is necessary for any deal to stack up for New Zealand.

“The facts are that dairy accounts for 35% of NZ exports. You can’t even come close to achieving an acceptable deal for New Zealand without a good deal on dairy” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

DCANZ which represents the common policy interests of 11 New Zealand dairy companies, accounting for 98% of milk processed is following the negotiations carefully. . .

 

Landcorp sees NZ dairy conversion rate slowing – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, which has almost tripled its milk production over the past decade, expects the rate of dairy expansion will slow as environmental restrictions, and higher land and labour costs make it less viable.

Large tracts of flat land in New Zealand once used for sheep farming have been converted to dairy as farmers were lured by higher prices for dairy products while demand for sheepmeat and wool waned. The number of dairy cows has jumped to a record 6.7 million, while sheep numbers dropped below 30 million for the first time in more than 70 years, according to data published by Statistics New Zealand last month, covering the 2014 agricultural year. . .

2015 National Award Winners: Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy:

John and Catherine own 1240ha Highlands Station – a productive and well-maintained hill-country farm south of Rotorua. Sitting within the Lake Tarawera and Rotokakahi catchments, the farm’s distinctive contour was shaped by volcanic activity which flattened forests, carved out hill faces and left the area covered in Phosphate-rich mud.

John’s father Allen began developing Highlands Station in the early 1930s and award judges noted the Ford’s “strong family history of commitment to agriculture”.

Highlands Station has a “much loved feel” and its outstanding meat and wool production puts it among New Zealand’s leading sheep and beef farming operations. . .

 Appointments to Conservation Boards made:

Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner today announced 41 appointments to the 14 Conservation Boards across New Zealand.
“I want to congratulate each of the community representatives who are being appointed in 2015, particularly the 14 who will serve for the first time. I would also like to thank the outgoing representatives for their contribution to conservation in their region,” Ms Wagner says.

“A third of Conservation Board positions were open for renewal this year. The diverse range of appointees will bring a wide array of knowledge and skills to conservation management in the communities they represent. . .

Nobody’s happy with manuka honey definitions: MPI – Suze Metherell:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s lack of definition for what constitutes manuka honey has overseas regulators worried about forgeries, with China likely to introduce a certification scheme for the honey imports, the Ministry for Primary Industries is telling the country’s beekeepers.

There is no industry-wide consensus on exactly what constitutes manuka honey, with MPI working to come up with a formal definition and a method for identification. While it isn’t a food safety issue, MPI “takes concerns about the authenticity of New Zealand products very seriously and is acting to address these,” according to its website. . .


Rural round-up

June 26, 2015

Young Queensland beef leader Emma Hegarty wins inaugural Zanda McDonald award – Matt Brann:

A beef extension officer from western Queensland took out the inaugural Zanda McDonald Award at the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) conference in Darwin last night.

The award is in honour of grazier and young beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 following a tragic accident on his Queensland cattle property.

The award winner, Emma Hegarty, is from Colanya Station near Longreach and works as a beef extension officer for the Queensland Department of Agriculture. . .

Final Board of Inquiry decision:

The Chairman of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Investment Company, HBRIC Ltd says it is pleased to be at the end of the Board of Inquiry decision process on the Tukituki Plan Change and consent conditions for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

The Board today released its final decision, with submitters allowed 15 working days to appeal. HBRIC Ltd Chairman Andy Pearce says it is good to be getting some finality in what has been an extremely long and involved process. . .

Some Manawatu farms still under water:

 Farmers in Manawatu, like those in the Whanganui and Taranaki regions, are waiting for floodwaters to clear before they can begin to clean up and repair fences, and see what damage may have been caused to pasture.

 Farms in Rangiotu in southern Manawatu were left badly flooded after the weekend rain caused the Oroua River to breach its stopbanks.

The chief executive of Hopkins Farming Group, Richard Syme, said all six of the company’s dairy farms flooded and one of them was left almost entirely under water.

Mr Syme said that farm’s manager had to be plucked from his home by a helicopter after the flood cut off all road access. . .

Opening of the Oete Farms new goat milking facility – Jo Goodhew:

 . . . Apparently Captain James Cook had a taste for goat milk, and took a goat along with him on his maiden voyage to New Zealand. This was the beginning of a long established history of goat milk in this country.

In 1988, New Zealand was the first country to develop goat milk based nutritional products for infants (by Dairy Goat Cooperative). Since then it has been a long journey building the profile of goat milk, and addressing issues such as when the European Union didn’t recognise goats’ milk as an approved infant formula.

With the EU’s recent approval, and growing global demands in the Middle East, Latin America as well as Europe and Asia, goat milk infant formula already accounts for 7% of our infant formula exports, and future growth is predicted. . .

Apiculture industry unification to go ahead:

The apiculture industry has voted to progress plans to unify under one representative organisation.

National Beekeepers Association president, Ricki Leahy, said today’s AGM had voted overwhelmingly to progress unification.

“I am excited about what this offers the industry moving forward.” . .

 Fragmented honey industry votes to create single peak body – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Federated Farmers Bees, Honey Packers’ and Exporters’ Association, and National Beekeepers’ Association have all voted to proceed with plans to create a single national body for the apiculture industry.

The industry bodies voted with a substantial majority to unify the industry at their respective annual meetings held after a four-day conference in Taupo, Fed Farmers said in a statement. The Apiculture Industry Unification Project’s interim working group told the conference that to be profitable and sustainable the industry needed formalised administration and a single peak body funded by a possible reintroduction of commodity levies. . .

Innovative Fonterra return on investment project wins international award:

A return on Investment (ROI) project delivered by Fonterra’s Sales Excellence Team and guided by Bloom Training and Recruitment’s Director, Beryl Oldham, has won a prestigious international award from the ROI Institute.

The Fonterra project was recognised for its approach to ROI measurement and evaluation and earned Fonterra and Oldham this year’s award for the “Most Innovative Approach to ROI”.

“ROI is a performance measure used to evaluate the effectiveness of an investment,” says Ms Oldham. . .

 Fonterra’s June Guaranteed Milk Price Set at $5.25 Per kgMS:

Fonterra has set the June Guaranteed Milk Price (GMP) at $5.25 per kgMS, the same price as the opening 2015/16 forecast Farmgate Milk Price.

A total of 45.2 million kgMS was offered by 443 farms, more than double the number of farms that applied this time last year.

Fonterra’s Group Director Co-operative Affairs Miles Hurrell said: “More of our farmers are seeing GMP as a financial risk management tool and are choosing to lock in a price for a percentage of their milk production. . .

 Wool Generally Holds Its Ground

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island auction comprising 20,585 bales saw a 91 percent clearance and a generally firm market except for the previously over pressured Fine Crossbred types which eased slightly.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 1.47 percent compared to the last sale on 11th June helping underpin local values.

Mr Dawson advises that Finer Mid Micron Fleece were 3 to 6 percent easier with the coarser types firm to 2 percent dearer. . .


Rural round-up

June 25, 2015

Supplies helicoptered to rural people:

Emergency services in Taranaki have delivered essential supplies to 20 to 30 rural people who remain cut-off following the weekend floods.

Helicopters have been kept busy in Taranaki and the neighbouring Whanganui region ferrying supplies to isolated farms and rural communities and in some cases, evacuating people needing to get out.

Taranaki Rural Support Trust chair Graeme Hight said there were still two areas in the south of the region where road access was blocked. . .

Dean – Balance needed around Rural Health and Safety Reforms:

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says it is crucial to get the balance right with proposed health and safety reforms.

“The health and safety reform bill is currently before parliament and while I welcome any moves to improve safety for farmers and small business owners, I also don’t want it to prove too onerous. . .

Student out to make a difference – Sally Rae:

Shaun Snoxell loves the land and food production.

The Lincoln University student also has a passion for poverty alleviation, the result of time spent volunteering in Africa.

So when he found out about a global Youth Ag Summit in Australia this year, with a theme of Feeding a Hungry Planet, he was keen to apply. . .

NZ honey peak body could cost $2m, but who pays? – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – A proposal to create a single body representing New Zealand’s beekeepers and honey product sellers could cost $2 million a year, but doesn’t yet have agreement on how it would be funded.

The industry concluded its four-day conference in Taupo amid expectations China will impose standards on the lucrative manuka honey trade, which has drawn criticism in the UK after a number of false claims to manuka pedigree from what were just blends. Asian demand for manuka honey has seen the price across all New Zealand honey increase, stoked by a global shortage of honey. Bees produced $187 million of exported honey in the June 2014 year, up 8 percent by volume and almost 30 percent by value on the previous year. . .

A2 confirms Dean Foods is other party in possible bid -Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co has confirmed media speculation that Texas-based food and beverage company Dean Foods is the other party with Freedom Foods that is contemplating making a takeover offer for the milk marketing business.

Dual-listed A2 said it made the disclosure at the request of the ASX in response to media reports. The Australian Financial Review’s Street Talk column yesterday named Dean Foods as the second party in a consortium seeking to buy A2, providing an alternative route for the company, which markets milk with a variant protein, to expand in the US. The AFR speculated the bid could be as much as $2 a share, a massive premium to A2’s share price of 57 cents before potential takeover became public. . .

Solving the dairy payout – Chris Lewis:

After reading the article ‘The buck stops at Theo’, with Labour’s Primary Industry Spokesmen, Damien O’Connor, claiming he needs to take a voluntary pay cut, I wondered will this solve our problems.

A topical discussion at the moment is that do Fonterra directors need to go? Would such a move restore credibility with farmers and staff? While it might bring a bit of satisfaction to people to have someone fall on the sword for our low pay out, I personally doubt all these calls will solve our issues. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 24, 2015

Still more milk than market – Rabobank’s latest dairy outlook:

A recovery in global dairy prices is still on the horizon, however burgeoning stocks have pushed out any sustained upturn in the market until the first-half of 2016, according to Rabobank’s latest Dairy Quarterly report.

The global outlook, released exclusively to Rabobank’s agribusiness clients earlier this week, reaffirms the bank’s position that a recovery phase is imminent, however it has pushed out the timeframe by at least three months. . .

 The good and bad of farming with lifestyle neighbours – Kate Taylor:

The views from Philip and Robyn Holt’s farm, Maraetara, are spectacular – across the Ahuriri estuary to Hawke Bay and Napier Hill.

They’re not the only ones to appreciate it though. When Philip was growing up the only neighbours were other farmers. Now houses dot the hillsides and Maraetara has boundaries with about 70 neighbours.

This growth of lifestyle blocks has negatives and positives, says Philip. . .

NZ beekeeper plans bee sanctuary on Niue – Cheryl Norrie:

When beekeeper Andy Cory went to Niue in 1999 in search of a honey business, he had to hack his way through a jungle to find a collection of beehives which had been abandoned 30 years previously.

He remembers finding 240 hives.

“They were all rotten and had fallen on their sides. The bees were still in them and they were fine.” . . .

Too little data to pinpoint cause of NZ beehive deaths – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The sudden and devastating demise of honey bee hives, known overseas as colony collapse disorder, may threaten New Zealand’s $5.1 billion apiculture industry, after thousands of colonies were lost over last spring.

North Island beekeepers spanning the Coromandel, Great Barrier, Wairarapa and Taranaki suffered significant losses with some reporting up to 95 percent of adult bees disappearing from hives. However, a lack of reporting to the Ministry for Primary Industries or the Environmental Protection Agency meant there was no certainty about whether the sudden collapses were linked, the New Zealand Apiculture Conference in Taupo heard. . .

Farm debt pressures being surveyed:

Lincoln University researchers want to know how farmers and their families are dealing with being in debt and the stress it can bring.

Bruce Greig, Dr Kevin Old and Dr Peter Nuthall, from the University’s Faculty of Agribusiness and Commerce, are conducting a nationwide survey investigating farm debt and the level of anxiety experienced by farmers who incur it.

Mr Greig says they want to discover how they manage debt as it is one of the many skills farmers require. . .

NZ lambskin, sheepskin face ‘lose-lose’ with over-supply, weak demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand exports of sheepskin and lambskin, at their lowest level in more than four years, are unlikely to recover any time soon as a glut of excess stock and weak demand weigh on prices.

The value of raw sheepskin and lambskin exports fell to $128.6 million in the year through April, the 15th straight decline in annual exports and the lowest level since January 2011, according to Statistics New Zealand data. The latest figures, for May, will be published on Friday. . .

 

Settlement reached over ASB rural interest rate swaps:

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has reached a settlement with ASB regarding the sale, promotion and marketing of interest rate swaps to some rural customers.

The Commerce Commission (the Commission) investigated ASB for the sale of interest swaps and reached a separate settlement with ASB in December 2014.

The FMA settlement was reached based on the conclusions from the Commission’s investigation and the FMA’s engagement with ASB in relation to its processes for selling and marketing interest rate swaps to rural customers. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 13, 2015

 Farmer Wellness Big Breakfast – Nathan Guy

The title of my speech today is “Managing Through Tough Times”.

I came up with the idea of this function when I was out running about six weeks ago and felt the time was right for the Government to communicate two very important messages to our farming families and communities.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge that these are challenging times for many farmers and the wider rural community, particularly in the dairy sector, but that we expect much improved conditions in the longer term.

Secondly, I wanted to reinforce the message that if farmers are struggling, or have concerns about how things are going, you are not alone and help is out there.

We know there are plenty of challenges this year, as there always is with farming. . .

$500,000 boost to help rural mental health:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced a $500,000 funding boost to support mental health initiatives targeted at rural communities.

“Rural depression is a significant issue. The physical isolation as well as the uncertainties of being reliant on the land creates different pressures to those living in an urban setting,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries have each contributed $250,000 to the one off funding boost. . .

Federated Farmers Fielday Seminars: “The essence of farming: water, land, capability”:

Agribusiness expert, Jaqueline Rowarth, has told a Federated Farmers seminar at the Mystery Creek Fieldays this afternoon that investment is necessary for ensuring supplies of sufficient farm water, but meanwhile maintaining water quality.

She said this investment is only possible if primary produce meets the huge challenge of attracting good prices.

Professor Rowarth told the 50 odd people at the seminar New Zealand has both water quantity and quality, which farmers are capturing and using responsibly. . .

 

Greenhouse gas study tour winners announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced the two winners of the 2015 Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) – World Farmer Organisation Study Tour in Argentina later this year.

Doug Avery and Zach Mounsey have been selected as winners by a panel including Mr Guy and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew after giving presentations at Fieldays this year.

“The purpose of this study tour is to increase global understanding and engagement on agricultural greenhouse gas research. These two winners will have an important role as ambassadors for New Zealand in sharing environmental management practices that support sustainable productivity. . .

Breeder confident of sheep’s safety:

A Canterbury sheep breeder with stock on board a major shipment to Mexico says she has been in touch with the destination farm and has no concerns about the animals’ safety.

Penni Loffhagen, who is one of the biggest Suffolk stud breeders in the country, has sold 15 young pedigree sheep to a Mexican farm for breeding.

Her ewes and rams are among 50,000 sheep now at sea on the way to Mexico. . .

They’re not ‘our’ sheep – Kiwiblog:

Newstalk ZB reports:

Labour wants assurances that tens of thousands of sheep and cattle being shipped to Mexico won’t be killed when they get there.

The shipment leaves Timaru today.

Leader Andrew Little told Newstalk ZB’s Rachel Smalley the regulations are clear – you can export live sheep for breeding purposes, you can’t for slaughter. . .

PGG Wrightson lifts annual earnings outlook for a second time, warns of weak farmer confidence – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, the rural services firm controlled by China’s Agria Corp, lifted its annual earnings outlook as second-half trading comes in ahead of expectations, but warned weak farmer confidence may weigh on future sales.

The Christchurch-based company expects annual operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be between $66 million and $69 million in the year ending June 30, above the February forecast for earnings between $62 million and $68 million. That in itself was an upgrade from previous guidance to beat last year’s earnings of $58.7 million. . .

New Zealand Avocados Achieve Record Sales Volume:

New Zealand’s largest ever avocado crop has been successfully harvested, packed and marketed with a massive 7 million trays sold during the 2014-15 season.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, today announced the new record volume which was 43 per cent higher than last season, and up from a previous industry high of 6.1 million trays sold in 2011-12 and a great industry return.

“Growth in the consumption of avocados in our key markets continues to be very impressive. . .

Best Young Butchers in the Region:

Two of New Zealand’s top young butchers have been named following the Alto Young Butcher & Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year Lower North Island regional final yesterday.

Havelock North local, Justin Hinchco from New World Havelock North took out the Alto Young Butcher category and Vernon Atutahi from New World Marton finished first place in the Competenz Butcher Apprentice category. . .

 

Body condition score to become a breeding trait:

Body condition score (BCS) is to be included as a new trait in Breeding Worth (BW) from February 2016.

Breeding Worth provides farmers with an economic measure of genetic merit (profit per five tonne of dry matter) and is calculated for all dairy cattle. During a National Breeding Objective Review in 2012, BCS (particularly late lactation BCS) was identified as an important trait with economic value to farmers. . .

 

Wool values ease:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the North Island offering this week, made up predominantly of short coarse Second Shear wools compared to the more varied South Island longer selection last sale on 4th June, saw prices ease despite the weakening New Zealand dollar.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies came back by 1.95 percent with a 98 percent clearance of the 9,400 bales on offer. . .

NIWA’s Fieldays stand a winner:

NIWA’s Fieldays team is today basking in the glory of winning the Best Indoor Agribusiness Site awarded by the National Agricultural Fieldays organisation for the 2015 event.

Dr Mark Bojesen-Trepla, NIWA’s manager of marketing and industry engagement, said the win was a great endorsement for the team who had worked extremely hard to put together a space that would be eye-catching and relevant to farmers.

“We are delighted our efforts have been formally recognised but are also looking forward to meeting more farmers during the rest of Fieldays and showing them how we can help.” . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 5, 2015

Dairy price rise case of ‘when not if’ – Sally Rae:

DairyNZ research and the latest economic outlook for dairy farming was outlined at a Farmers Forum, organised by DairyNZ, in Balclutha last weekend. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae went along.

Medium-term prospects for dairy prices remain ”solid but not spectacular”, Rabobank’s director of dairy research New Zealand and Australia, Hayley Moynihan, says.

The 2014 15 season was further evidence of the market volatility expected to continue in global dairy markets, Ms Moynihan said.

A recovery in prices was all about ”when and not if” but the recovery was likely to be more prolonged than seen in 2009 10 and 2012 13. . .

 DairyNZ chief’s bloodline is farming – Sally Rae:

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle always wanted to be a farmer.

Brought up on a Kaikoura dairy farm which has been in his family for generations, farming is in his blood.

His intention was to go to Lincoln University, complete his tertiary studies and then return and farm alongside his brother.

But he got ”sidetracked” by the science and business aspect and was encouraged to follow that path. . .

Dairy to benefit from Chinese-NZ research:

A new research project between China and New Zealand is to focus on how to improve the efficiency of water use in the dairy sector.

The collaborative project involves AgResearch and the Chinese Academy of Sciences and is aimed at helping a range of factors from watering feed crops to washing out cow sheds.

Principal scientist at AgResearch’s Ruakura base Stewart Ledgard said both countries had a lot to learn from each other. . .

 Les Roughan still going strong in dog trialing at 91 – Diane Bishop:

Les Roughan’s ticker isn’t the best.

But, the 91-year-old, who lives at Mandeville, is determined to finish the dog trialing season before undergoing heart surgery.

Roughan is the oldest competitor at the Tux South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championships which are being held on Leithen Valley Farm at Greenvale this week. . .

New research into West Coast agricultural pest:

Fresh research by AgResearch scientists will help unlock mysteries of one of the West Coast’s worst agricultural pests and allow farmers to make better management decisions and potentially save money.

Porina caterpillars are grazers that have the potential to reduce the long term quality and production of pasture but AgResearch Senior Scientist Sarah Mansfield says very little is known about the pest’s specific impact on the West Coast.

However, research conducted during a three year $300,000 Sustainable Farming Fund project will allow farmers to better understand how to monitor for the pest and then utilise control methods more efficiently and cost effectively.

“One of the big problems is that farmers often use control methods too late and after the damage is already done,” Dr Mansfield says.

“Clearly this costs a great deal of time and money for very little return so we hope to be able to provide them with more effective tools to alleviate this.” . . .

NZX adds iFarm to its AgriHQ business –  Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – NZX has bought iFarm, the livestock market information business, for an undisclosed sum from owners Jon Sherlock and Peter Fraser and will add the firm to its AgriHQ data business.

The Napier-based agriculture service publishes reports covering export data and prices as well as a wrap up of stock sales across the country, the Wellington-based exchange operator said in a statement. The acquisition price was confidential and wasn’t material. . .


Rural round-up

April 22, 2015

The kumara’s transgenic origins revealed  – Dan Satherley:

Kumara, a South American native that became a Kiwi favourite, has been naturally genetically modified with bacterial DNA, researchers have found.

But the foreign genes are generally only found in kumara – also known as sweet potatoes – that have been cultivated by humans, suggesting they bring with them beneficial traits.

Researchers hope the finding, published in the latest issue of journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will help to break down negative perceptions of genetically engineered crops. . .

Boost for Maori leadership in agriculture:

A South Island iwi-led agricultural training programme is expanding and offering higher level qualifications as it seeks to boost Māori leadership.

Whenua Kura is a tribal-led training partnership between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngāi Tahu Farming and Lincoln University.

It started last year as a one-year certificate in agriculture providing both classroom learning and on-farm experience at the Ngāi Tahu farms. . .

No Supermarkets Or Major Butchery Chains Implicated in Preservative Prosecutions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand support the actions taken by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in the prosecution of 15 meat wholesalers/retailers and three company Directors for the non-compliant use of sulphites/sulphur dioxide in raw meat.

Charges were laid after an MPI operation in the greater Auckland area in 2013 after meat samples were tested and these cases were heard in the Manukau and Auckland District Courts in late 2014 and early 2015.

None of those prosecuted are part of any major supermarket or high profile butchery chains. . . .

Interesting Demographics in Farm Manager Contest:

The demographic make-up of the 11 finalists contesting the 2015 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition ensure an interesting mix of talent.

“There’s a real lolly scramble in that the finalists represent a bit of everything – we have young versus not so young, males up against females as well as couples and those that are relatively new to the industry up against some old hands,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. “It’s going to be really interesting to see who comes up trumps!”

National judging begins today , with the three judges – a farmer, banker and consulting officer – visiting the 11 finalists on their farms over a 10-day period. The judges spend two hours on each farm and score the finalists on aspects like their financial planning and management, HR practices, farm environment, future aims, and community and industry involvement. . .

 

Unique Farm-Scale Dairy Trial Confirms Live Yeast Benefits:

Improving rumen function in grazing cows through addition of the active live yeast Vistacell can improve dry matter digestibility by 30%, lift average daily milk yields by 2.1 litres/cow and increase cow liveweight (LW) by up to 20kg in just five weeks.

The results come from a unique farm-scale study using a herd of 300 robotically-milked cows in Waikato. The herd contained a mix of autumn and spring calvers, with all cows also having access to a mixed ration of grass silage, maize silage, straw and concentrates, plus an extra 3-6kg/day of concentrates fed during milking depending on yield. . . .

 

Bluelab to spend growth grant taking new product to market – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Bluelab Corp, which makes electronic metering and control devices to aid plant growth, will use a new research and development growth grant to speed up taking a new sensory product to market in the next year.

Tauranga-based Bluelab decided in 2004 to focus solely on manufacturing measuring equipment which is used in controlled growing spaces such as greenhouses, hydroponics and aquaponics by commercial growers and backyard hobbyists. It exports nearly all it produces to 15 countries, with the major markets being the US, Australia, and the UK. . .

LIC and Lely enter R&D partnership in farm sensor technology – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement Corp, a farmer cooperative that sells bull semen and manages a dairy genetics database, has entered a research and development partnership with Dutch agricultural company Lely Group.

As part of the deal the Hamilton-based company has acquired Lely Sensortec, the Dutch company’s Hamilton-based development division, whose five staff design farm sensor technology to monitor animal health and production, for an undisclosed amount, the companies said in a joint statement. The deal will accelerate development of sensor technology used on farms and support wider global distribution of its inline milk sensors. . .


Rural round-up

April 3, 2015

New Zealand Greenshell mussel breeding begins at brand new hatchery in Nelson

New Zealand aquaculture will be getting stronger mussels, thanks to some heavyweight Kiwi science underway in Nelson.

A new hatchery and lab facility is opening today (02/04) just north of the city at the Cawthron Aquaculture Park where Greenshell™ Mussels can be selectively bred like sheep or cattle to give our mussel farmers the very best that nature has to offer on their mussel farms.

The project leaders say it takes the element of chance out of mussel farming. . .

 

New hatchery to boost mussel industry:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed a major milestone for the aquaculture industry today with the opening of the country’s first ever hatchery specially designed for mussels.

The mussel hatchery and nursery facility in Nelson is part of the SPATnz Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, which was established to develop selectively bred, high-value Greenshell™ mussels.

“This hatchery is the culmination of years of research and development by a team of scientists from Shellfish Production and Technology New Zealand Ltd (SPATnz) and the Cawthron Institute,” says Mr Guy.  . .

“It has the potential to generate nearly 200 million dollars per year to New Zealand’s economy. . .

Wasps sting NZ economy:

Two species of introduced wasps are costing New Zealand’s economy more than $130 million a year.

A study by the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries showed German and common wasps, which belong to the genus Vespula, have had huge economic impacts on farming, beekeeping, horticulture and forestry.

Department of Conservation scientist Eric Edwards said the loss of honey production was one of the major costs. . .

NZ’s “basketcase” bee industry seeks levies, national body – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Representatives of New Zealand’s fragmented bee industry have called on government support to reintroduce commodity levies for honey and the creation of a single national body by April next year.

Appearing before the primary production select committee, John Hartnell, chair of the Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group, Ricki Leahy, president of the National Beekeepers Association and its chief executive Daniel Paul, said government support is needed to reimpose commodity levies to help fund a single, comprehensive national association to represent the industry worth an estimated $5.1 billion annually. . .

New beagle pups join biosecurity team:

Two wriggly beagle puppies will spend their first Easter as trainee biosecurity detector dogs.

Ten-week-old Charleston and Roxy (brother and sister) joined the Ministry for Primary Industries’ detector dog programme two week ago.

If all goes well, they will start sniffing out food and plant materials at New Zealand’s airports and ports after 12-14 months of training. . .

Low dairy prices may have silver lining:

While all dairy farmers will be feeling the financial crunch this year, some are still looking for a silver lining.

Federated Farmers’ sharemilking chair Neil Filer said it could provide an opening for young sharemilkers to get their foot in the door.

Prices fell by 10.8 percent in last night’s GlobalDairyTrade auction, with an average price of $US2746 a tonne. Whole milk powder fell 13.3 percent to $US2538.

Mr Filer said sharemilking was still seen as an attractive and viable industry and at times like this, there could be a positive side. . .

 

Infant formula marketing decision welcomed:

The Infant Nutrition Council (INC) welcomes the Commerce Commission confirmation of the authorisation of the INC’s Code of Practice for marketing infant formula.

The Code of Practice restricts the advertising and marketing of infant formula by members.

It has been in place since 2012 and is consistent with New Zealand’s commitment to the World Health Organisation’s International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (WHO Code). . .

 

Fonterra Notifies Affirmation of Credit Rating:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd is pleased to advise that it has been notified by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services that they have affirmed Fonterra’s credit rating. This affirmation follows the release of Standard & Poor’s rating criteria for agricultural co-operatives which applies to Fonterra. . .


Rural round-up

February 28, 2015

Dairy commits $5 million to ambitious zero pest plan – Suze Metherell:

New Zealand’s dairy industry has committed $5 million over two years to the fight against stoats, rats and possums, which destroy native flora and fauna, and can carry bovine tuberculosis.

The Zero Invasive Predators scheme, or ZIP, formed after a $10 million injection from philanthropic fund NEXT Foundation, and a further commitment of $5 million from the Department of Conservation. The funds will be used to develop the Wellington-based conservationist’s barrier system, which aims to prevent the reintroduction of pests in cleared zones, without using fences.

New Zealand’s major dairy companies, including Fonterra Cooperative, Westland Milk Products, Open Country, Synlait and Tatua, have contributed to the programme, which is trialing its system on the 400 hectare Bottle Rock peninsula in the Marlborough Sounds. The dairy industry wants to eradicate possums because of the TB threat to dairy herds. . .

 Dairy funding for predator control welcomed:

The announcement that the dairy industry will join an initiative to tackle the predators decimating New Zealand’s native wildlife is another positive step on the way to achieving the long term goal of a predator-free New Zealand, Forest & Bird said today.

Five major dairy companies, including Fonterra, have committed $5 million to the Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) programme, which was founded late last year by NEXT Foundation and the Department of Conservation. The partnership intends to find new ways to eradicate introduced predators such as rats, stoats and possums from large areas of land.

Forest & Bird Group Manager Campaigns and Advocacy Kevin Hackwell welcomed the dairy industry involvement in the campaign to stop the decline of our native wildlife due to invasive predators. . .

NZ business confidence gains in February as agri sector gets more upbeat – Paul McBeth:

  (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand business confidence improved in February as recent gains in dairy prices turned sentiment around in the agriculture sector, and as low interest rates stoke hiring and investment expectations.

A net 34.4 percent of firms are optimistic about the general economy, up from 30.4 in the previous survey, according to the ANZ Business Outlook. That was aided by a turnaround in agriculture to a net 15.2 percent becoming optimistic, having previously been dominated by pessimists. Firms’ own activity outlook showed a net 40.9 percent of respondents upbeat on their prospects, compared to 37.3 percent.

“General confidence, profit expectations and employment intentions in this sector (agriculture) have flipped from negative to positive,” ANZ Bank New Zealand chief economist Cameron Bagrie said in his report. “Higher dairy prices are no doubt working their magic. Such a bounce-back is particularly welcome considering challenges delivered by Mother Nature.” . .

 

Fonterra’s journey – Keith Woodford:

[This is the second of five articles on Fonterra that I have been writing for the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times. This one was published on 8 February 2015. The previous article was titled ‘The evolution of Fonterra’ ]

Last week I wrote about the battles that led to the formation of Fonterra in 2001. However, Fonterra’s structure and associated institutional culture have moved a long way since then.

Sufficient time has elapsed since Fonterra’s formation battles that they can now be seen in reasonable perspective. But subsequent events are still raw. In line with corporate policy, the participants have largely kept their opinions private, and the official line is a product of the public relations team. However, in a co-operative structure, it is inevitable that information does leak. One thing for sure, is that some of the internal debates have been vigorous. . .

Forest safety council underway:

The forest industry has established a safety council to make forests safer places to work. This was a key recommendation of the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel that reviewed forest workplace safety in 2014.

The Forest Industry Safety Council will formally get underway in early April. But in the meantime a working group representing forest owners, contractors, workers, unions and the government is putting the building blocks in place. An independent chair and national safety director are being recruited.

There were 10 workplace deaths and 169 serious harm injuries in forestry in 2013. This led to the industry establishing the review panel which reported in late October 2014. . .

Sailor convicted after biosecurity ramp-up in Northland:

A sailor who appeared in the Kaikohe District Court last week (17 February) has become the first person convicted for deliberately concealing biosecurity goods on a visiting yacht.

The conviction follows increased biosecurity scrutiny of arriving yachts by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) at Northland this yacht arrival season.

Sylvie Berthe Barre, 61, a retired French national, had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of knowingly possessing unauthorised goods, and misleading an official. She was fined $3000.

She is currently staying in New Zealand on a three-month visiting visa. . .

2015 Northland Field Days Could Be Biggest Ever:

The 2015 Northland Field Days is shaping up to be the biggest ever according to organisers with more exhibitors, more competitions and better facilities than ever before.

From February 26 to February 28 people from Northland and beyond will flood into Dargaville for the Northland Field Days with high expectations

With over 450 companies exhibiting at the event this year Northland Field Days president Lew Duggan says interest has never been higher with exhibitors taking the extra effort to make site displays more dynamic and exciting than ever.

Those interested in getting a glimpse into Northland’s history will be getting a special treat this year say organisers but not one but two heritage organisations having displays at the event. . .

 Mammoth donkey heads for record books – David Farrier:

Jenny Clausen is famous in Taupiri for a very specific love – donkeys.

The locals call her the “donkey lady” thanks to the 30 or so donkeys she keeps at her and her husband’s dairy farm.

But Ms Clausen may also soon be in The Guinness Book of World Records for one of her donkeys.

Nutmeg is a mammoth donkey born and bred in New Zealand, and she’s bigger than your normal mammoth. . .

New Zealand and Australia Tie in the Trans-Tasman Wine Challenge:

New Zealand Winegrowers injected some old fashioned rivalry in ‘The Great Trans-Tasman Wine Challenge’ on Thursday evening in Auckland ahead of the New Zealand and Australia Cricket World Cup game at the weekend. The two nations channelled their trans-Tasman rivalry as they met head-to-head in a blind wine tasting.

After some rigorous judging lead by Bob Campbell MW and Nick Stock, the ‘dream team’ of top 12 wines turned out to be a perfect split from Australia and New Zealand with each nation claiming six places each. Australian wine, Campbells Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat NV, was crowned “player of the match”. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 7, 2015

Dry spell affects North Otago most:

North Otago farmers are feeling the pinch from the driest period the region has had in seven years, Federated Farmers North Otago president Richard Strowger says.

Farmers spoken to in other parts of Otago were less concerned about the dry and hot weather, and some parts of the region have benefited from the warm spell.

Mr Strowger said, unlike other areas, North Otago was coming off a very dry spring, which meant farmers were really feeling the bite. . .

Canterbury farmers fear drought as region driest in a decade – Suze Metherell:

 (BusinessDesk) – Canterbury is on the verge of a 20th century-style drought with the southern region the driest it has been in a decade, forcing farmers to sell surplus stock and leading to restrictions on irrigation as the area waits for rain.

Soil moisture in eastern and southern Canterbury is between severely and extremely drier than normal, while the outlook for rain remains light, according to data from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa). The region, which suffered crippling droughts through the 1970s to 1990s, is the driest it has been in a decade, Ivon Hurst, Federated Farmers’ South Canterbury president, told BusinessDesk.

“We are in what you would call a drought – not an emergency, official drought where the government has to come in and give assistance, but there is no moisture in the ground, we have a consistently dry weather pattern,” Hurst said. “If we do get rain at this stage then we’re saved and we’ll have a good season, but I very much doubt that – the weather pattern is too stable. It’s got the same feel as the big droughts we had in the last century.” . . .

Thompson tops at FQC :

The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) has named Ann Thompson as its new executive director.

Thompson is currently a policy advisor for Federated Farmers in Wellington.

FQC chairman Anders Crofoot said the Council was extremely fortunate to be able to attract a person with the talent and track record of Thompson to the role. . .

New Zealand’s fish stocks in healthy state heading into 2015

Consumers can look forward to plenty of tasty and nutritious seafood this year with New Zealand fish stocks in good shape.

“The status of our stocks over the 2014 year showed some marked improvements according to the Ministry for Primary Industries figures and point to the conclusion that ‘by far the majority of New Zealand’s fisheries are performing well [1],” says Tim Pankhurst, Chief Executive of Seafood New Zealand.

This included an increase in the number of known fish stocks at or above the target for well-managed fisheries (increasing from 69.2% in 2013 to 72.5% in 2014) and a marked increase in the percentage of stocks where overfishing is not occurring (increasing from 82.1% to 86.8%). . .

Amazing Maze 2015 get lost this Summer:

The Amazing Maze ‘n Maize in Karaka, Auckland is a giant maze carved out of a 4 hectare field of maize (or animal corn) and has just opened for the summer season. Maze goers walk along several kilometers of paths and make decisions at over 100 intersections as to which way to go. Some intersections have “Kernels of Knowledge”, or trivia signs about the amazing pet theme. These not only help people find their way, but they also keep them entertained. Lifeguards are there to assist the truly lost, but taking the provided flag will give visitors peace of mind in the maze.

The Amazing Maze features a viewing bridge within the maize maze where visitors can see the huge expanse of corn that they are walking through. Parts of the design can be made out from the bridge but the real picture can only be seen from a plane or helicopter. This year the maze design includes a girl with a lamb, a boy with a dog, and a horse, all clearly visable from the air. . .

Food Matters Aotearoa conference shows the way forward:

The Food Matters Aotearoa conference will be promoting healthy sustainable food production showcasing speakers from 5 different continents. A range of expertise will also come from New Zealand.

One speaker Dr Vandana Shiva works with thousands of small Indian farmers and has set up over a hundred heritage seed banks. Growing organically now provides extra production of highly nutritious food from difficult growing environments.

“Heritage varieties that perform without chemical fertilisers and pesticides have improved the lives of thousands of subsistence farmers; heritage seeds and organic methods are now being used in community gardens around New Zealand” said Susie Lees from Food Matters Aotearoa team. “A resurgence of communities growing their own food is resulting in healthier lifestyles for New Zealanders.” . . .


Rural round-up

November 20, 2014

Further GDT drop leaves farmers uncertain:

Another drop in the GlobalDairyTrade of 3.1 percent will be a huge disappointment to New Zealand’s dairy farmers.

“It goes without saying that the lowest auction price in five years is going to be a blow to the industry,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair.

“Dairy farmers were hoping to see a lift or at least a plateau to realise Fonterra’s $5.30 forecast in December. So this further drop increases the uncertainty of how realistic that goal is. . .

 

New devices target specific pests:

New advanced pest control using devices to target specific species is being hailed as the latest tools in controlling them on farms and diseases such as tuberculosis.

Researchers are meeting at Massey University at the New Zealand Ecological Society Conference.

James Ross, a senior lecturer in wildlife management at Lincoln, said advanced multi-delivery traps called spitfire were capable of killing up to 100 animals before needing to be restocked with poison.

He said they were a major breakthrough in the control and eradication of pests including stoats and possums. . .

Federated Farmers and Forest & Bird welcome Predator Free NZ project:

Federated Farmers and the conservation organisation Forest & Bird are welcoming the Predator Free New Zealand initiative as an ambitious but achievable project that will have real benefits for conservation and the economy.

The Predator Free New Zealand Trust was launched today at the “A Place to Live,” conference in Whanganui.

Federated Farmers and Forest & Bird are actively supporting the Predator Free mission – of clearing New Zealand of all rats, stoats, ferrets, possums, and feral cats. Both organisations have many members who are already actively controlling introduced predators. . .

Sanford lifts profit despite ‘challenging year’ – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed fishing group, lifted annual profit 10 percent as gains in its deepwater fishing and aquaculture operations offset falling skipjack tuna prices.

Tax-paid profit before minority interests rose to $22.4 million in the year ended Sept. 30, from $20.4 million a year earlier, the Auckland-based fisher said in a statement. Sales fell 2.2 percent to $452.4 million, reflecting “highly variable operational performance across the business”, which saw the Australian arm continue to trade unprofitably.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell by 5 percent to $46.7 million in the first year under new leadership since the departure of veteran former chief executive Eric Barratt. . .

 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Director Elections:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd is calling for nominations to stand for two farmer-elected director positions on its board.

They are for the Northern North Island and Northern South Island electorates.

Nominations need to be made to the Beef + Lamb New Zealand returning officer, Warwick Lampp by 5pm on Friday 19 December. Farmers can call him on 0508 666 447 to get information on how to make a nomination. . .

 

Young Friesian follows in father’s fertile footsteps:

Herd improvement company CRV Ambreed has cause to celebrate this month as its top performing bull, Aljo TEF Maelstrom, continues to prove his strong genetic value.

Maelstrom has broken the 300 mark on both Breeding Worth (BW) and New Zealand Merit Index (NZMI) indexes; a first for any CRV Ambreed bull since the company was established 45 years ago.

CRV Ambreed’s managing director Angus Haslett explained the indexes. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 19, 2014

Peony growers’ business blooming – Sally Rae:

When Rodger and Cindy Whitson decided to get into the cut flower industry back in 2000, they started with a bare paddock and no horticultural knowledge.

They trialled gentians, viburnum and peonies before deciding peonies were best suited to their property, near Mosgiel.

Peony plant numbers have since swelled from 2000 to about 10,000, with plans for more plantings. . .

 Profitable harvest of Jersey Bennes – Sally Brooker:

North Otago’s most famous produce is being harvested for the new season.

Rows of Jersey Benne potatoes are coming out of paddocks in the Totara area just south of Oamaru, renowned for the tarry, fertile soils that produce exceptional early spuds.

A workforce boosted by tertiary and secondary students as they finish their exams is picking and packing the Jersey Bennes.

Organic horticulturist Marty Quennell said his harvest started early this year – the week before Labour Weekend. That meant he had the market to himself for the first three weeks, when a premium price was being paid. With others growers now getting going, the price would drop back, he said. . .

NZ tractor sales set to match records this year on buoyant farming – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand tractor sales are expected to match record highs for the modern farming era this year, as farming incomes are boosted by high milk prices and good growing conditions.

Sales of tractors of at least 40 horsepower, the most common measure for farm tractors, have reached 2,536 in the first nine months of this year and are expected to climb by year’s end to match the 3,515 total for 2005, the highest level since the Tractor and Machinery Association began gathering the data in 1990. Some 60 percent of the nation’s farm tractor sales are estimated to relate to the dairy industry.

Farmers had more cash this year to buy farm equipment such as tractors after Fonterra Cooperative Group paid out a record $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids and the agriculture sector generally benefited from good growing conditions which meant farmers could boost production without having to divert funds into areas such as extra stock feed. . . .

 Ambitious predator-free plan launched:

A group of prominent individuals and private businesses has joined forces with the Department of Conservation in a plan to eradicate all pests from mainland New Zealand.

The Predator Free New Zealand Trust unveiled its vision of an Aotearoa free of rats, stoats and possums at the Place To Live conference in Whanganui today.

Trust chairman Devon McLean said that the secret weapon in the battle against pests would be the thousands of New Zealanders already dedicated to controlling predators.

China-Australia FTA milks NZ’s – Nigel Stirling:

Australia’s new trade agreement with China could give it an edge in milk powder exports unless New Zealand can invoke a clause in its own agreement to get similar tariff concessions.

The two countries yesterday announced the end of ten years of talks for a free trade agreement which Australia says is superior to NZ’s 2008 deal which allowed for the full elimination of tariffs on dairy products by 2019.

Australia’s deal allows for the elimination of tariffs on dairy products within eleven years, but crucially does not include the use of special safeguards by China to protect its farmers from surges of imported skim milk powder from Australia. . .

A2 Milk to list on ASX in 1Q 2015 – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co, the milk marketing company, is planning to list on the Australian stock exchange next year, where it has 9 percent of the fresh milk market sold in grocery stores.

The Auckland-based company doesn’t plan to raise any new capital in a float on the ASX and will keep its New Zealand incorporation and NZX listing, it said in a statement. It has hired Goldman Sachs New Zealand and DLA Piper Australia to manage the listing, and hopes to join the Australian bourse in the first quarter of 2015.

In August, managing director Geoffrey Babidge called the Australian market A2’s “big cash generator”, and said it will bankroll its push into new markets. The company reported annual sales rose 17 percent to $111 million in the year ended June 30, of which 96 percent came from Australian sales. A2 reported a drop in annual profit to $10,000 from $4.1 million a year earlier, as the strength of the kiwi dollar against its Australian counterpart weighed on sales. . .

Ballance helps farmers better weather the weather:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has joined forces with NIWA to bring advanced hi-resolution weather, climate and environmental forecasts to farmers via the co-operative’s Ag Hub online farm management system.

Announcing the partnership, Ballance General Manager AgInformation Graeme Martin said farm profitability and sustainability are increasingly affected by variable weather patterns, growing conditions and the availability of water.

“Farmers are looking for the best possible support to make operational decisions. NIWA’s advanced forecasting systems and its national climate station network are at the leading edge of weather and environmental information. . .


Rural round-up

September 12, 2014

Coasters nervous about a dry start to spring:

Nervous West Coast farmers are hoping meteorologists are right that a rainmaker is close at hand, with no more than 1 millilitre (mls) falling at Westport over the past 23 days.

“This is the driest start to spring in some years,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers West Coast Provincial President.

“Apparently a dry spell is 15 consecutive days with less than one millilitre of rainfall and the South Island has been very dry. Heck, even Milford Sound has been dry for going on 22 days.

“Speaking to the guys at MetService, they say it is down to a persistent high, which has been sitting out to the west that’s meandering its way across the country. . .

 

Turners & Growers enters Chilean JV to grow grapes for first time – Suze Metherell:

 (BusinessDesk) – Turners & Growers, the fruit marketer majority owned by Germany’s BayWa, has entered a joint venture with Unifrutti Chile to grow and export Peruvian grapes.

The joint venture with Italian-owned, Chile-based Unifrutti builds on an existing export relationship with T&G, and is the Auckland-based company’s first foray into grape growing. T&G didn’t disclose any financial details surrounding the deal, saying it will begin planting in Peru later this year with first commercial volumes harvested in late 2015.

T&G’s Delica business already exports grapes and has existing operations in South America, though those haven’t extended to grape growing before. The company already had a commercial relationship with Unifrutti, which is ultimately owned by the Italy-based De Nada International Group, according to its website. . .

Waikato Sharemilkers Enjoy Benefits of Farm Environment Competition:

Entering the Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a great way for Matamata sharemilkers Phil and Kim Dykzeul to find out how their operation stacked up in terms of environmental sustainability.

The Dykzeuls, who 50:50 sharemilk 200 cows on 83ha owned by Richard and Pauline Kean, were thrilled to win three category awards in the 2014 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), including the LIC Dairy Farm Award.

“We were over the moon to win three awards in our first time in the competition,” says Phil. . .

 Important season for black-grass eradication:

With the second season of black-grass operations about to begin, continued vigilance this spring and summer will be crucial to stop the noxious weed from establishing in Mid-Canterbury, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

MPI, supported by industry partners, began a black-grass response following spillage of contaminated seed from a truck travelling between Ashburton and Methven in July last year.

“We didn’t find any black-grass last season and are confident that if it were there the operations team would have found it,” says MPI Response Manager Brad Chandler.

“However, we are also very conscious that if there is any chance of black-grass appearing, it is most likely to show its face this season. So everyone involved, including the public, needs to remain particularly vigilant and keep a lookout.” . . .

Live Lobsters Fly to Export Success:

An increasing volume of valuable export earnings are being generated by the Fiordland Lobster Company (FLC), following its successful pioneering of the live lobster export industry over the past 25 years.

Now exporting about over 800 tonnes of the Kiwi Lobster-branded product (officially known as Jasus edwardsii lobster) each year, the firm’s achievements have been founded on efficient air freight and a well-oiled logistics operation, says FLC group general manager sales and marketing David Prendergast.

“This lobster is considered the sweetest tasting and most succulent variety available and is highly sought after in Asia, where it is the lobster of choice,” he says. . . .

 

 Wool Market Makes Gains:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel reports that at today’s South Island sale there were market gains of up to 2 percent on the back of recent business concluded mainly with Chinese interests.

A limited Merino offering saw best top making types slightly in buyers favour and poorer styles mixed and irregular.

Mid Micron wools when compared to the last South Island sale on the 28th August generally made small gains. 24.5 and 25 micron were firm, 25.5 to 26.5 and 29 to 30.5 micron were 1 to 2 percent dearer while 27 to 28.5 micron were buyers favour. . . .


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