Rural round-up

03/06/2021

The climate-change dilemma facing dairy farmers – milk more cows or cull the herd – is politically challenging, too – Point of Order:

From one Wellington  platform  Reserve  Bank governor Adrian  Orr is  telling  the  country   strong global demand for NZ primary products is ensuring the economy remains resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic and is helping offset tourism losses. He  says  Fonterra’s  forecast  of a  record opening milk price is “very good news” and is included in the bank’s projections.

From another platform, Climate Change Commissioner Rod Carr told hundreds of people – including farmers – at an agricultural climate change conference that for the agricultural sector there would be no way to wriggle out of slashing emissions.

Carr said agriculture made up about half of NZ’s emissions, and this needed to be reduced to meet climate obligations.International customers would go elsewhere, costing the economy billions of dollars in the coming years.

So  here’s  the  problem: . . 

Time for industry to be heard, leader says – Sally Rae:

“Maybe enough is enough.”

Otago Merino Association chairwoman Jayne Reed, from Cloudy Peak Station, near Tarras, was referring to the never-before-seen pressures the agricultural sector was facing, in her address to the annual merino awards.

“Not the usual seasonal weather worries, commodity price fluctuations and the odd flustering visit from the bank manager, which our fathers dealt with, but an increasingly scary onslaught of bureaucratic intervention … written in some cases by young idealistic policy makers who have never stepped on a farm.

“Our urban neighbours are telling us how to manage our outcomes without any real understanding of what 99% of us are working towards and this is the really disappointing part. . . 

Rural leaders plead to NZTA for second Ashburton bridge plans – Adam Burns:

Damaging floods in Ashburton have sparked calls for urgency around a second bridge by the district’s rural leaders, with the town’s sole overpass at risk.

The Ashburton River Bridge had to be closed for most of yesterday after reports of slumping. It has reopened to light vehicles only, but further testing for heavy vehicles is expected later.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not be drawn on questions around the second bridge issue when she fronted media in Ashburton yesterday.

“The priority right now is connecting people with Ashburton,” Ardern said. . . 

Perriam’s vision for breed recognised with family award – Sally Rae:

John Perriam is a man of vision, risk and “you can do it” approach.

Through his love for merino sheep and his home, Bendigo Station, he had “given it his all” and made a significant difference to the New Zealand merino industry.

That was his daughter Christina Grant reflecting on the pivotal role her father has played in the industry, during the Otago Merino Association’s awards evening.

She was presenting him with the Heather Perriam Memorial Trophy, named in memory of his late wife and her mother, and presented for outstanding service to the merino industry. . . 

Synlait braces for heavy loss – Sudesh Kissun:

Listed Canterbury milk processor Synlait is heading towards its first financial loss ever, but is telling its farmer suppliers not to worry.

The company revealed last week that it now expects to make a net loss of between $20 million and $30 million for the financial year ending this July. Last year, Synlait recorded a net profit of $75 million.

The milk processor has had a challenging 18 months. Key stakeholder, and one of its major customers, the a2 Milk company downgraded its forecasts because of disrupted markets and problems with its key Chinese market – leaving Synlait with large inventories of base powder and infant formula.

Synlait co-founder John Penno has returned to his former role of chief executive and is leading a reset of the business. . .

Are we running out of New Zealand wine? :

New Zealand winegrowers are becoming increasingly concerned about running out of wine after a smaller harvest than usual this year. The famous wine-growing region of Marlborough was especially hard hit by this issue. As an area famous for its excellent quality wine – particularly sauvignon blanc – that gets supplied across the country as well as internationally, this lack of grapes could potentially be disastrous for the wine industry as a whole.

Last year, spring was cooler than usual, with frosts occurring until unusually late in the season. This, combined with increasing costs of production, has made wine harvesting more difficult and expensive than usual.

Additionally, the New Zealand wine industry usually relies on the influx of seasonal workers on working holidays who are ready and willing to help with the harvest. With Covid closing the borders, these people have not been able to enter the country in the past year. Attracting New Zealanders into these roles has proved far trickier for many growers, especially those in more rural areas. . . 

 


Rural round-up

05/04/2021

CCC submissions flood in – Neal Wallace:

Methane reduction targets remain a contentious issue for the livestock sector, which is critical of Climate Change Commission recommendations for an even steeper reduction pathway than proposed in the Zero Carbon Act.

Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are labelling the proposed new targets as unrealistic and not backed by robust science, economic or farm system analysis.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the revised target is a 13.2% reduction in biogenic methane emissions below 2017 levels by 2030.

“This represents a 32% increase in the level of ambition compared to the 2030 biogenic methane target contained in the Zero Carbon Act, which is to reduce methane emissions to 10% below 2017 levels by 2030,” McIvor said. . . 

Smith to push for more automation in the hort sector – Peter Burke:

More automation in orchards – that’s what Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director general Ray Smith says he’s going to push hard for in the coming 12 months.

He told Rural News that there is real growth in horticulture and the opportunity for more, but New Zealand as not solved the labour supply problem.

“Too much of the horticultural industry has been built off the back of immigrant labour and the risk of that is what we see now,” Smith says.

“If anything goes wrong with that supply chain of workers then you have massive problems. That is why there is a need for the investment in automation and we want to see this directed to what can be done in orchards.”

Milking shed ravaged by fire, community spirit gets farmers back up and running – Joanne Holden:

A South Canterbury farmer whose milking shed, built by his father, was ravaged by fire has got his dairy operation back on track, with a little help from his friends.

The 30-year-old Waitohi milking shed was “fully ablaze” when Hamish Pearse, and five of his staff, grabbed a fire hose each and attacked the flames, keeping them at bay until the fire brigade arrived with five appliances about 20 minutes later.

“The staff were pretty shaken up by the whole thing,” Pearse, of Waitohi, said.

“My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself . . . He came back to see his pride and joy burnt down.” . . 

Synlait ponders lack of profit – Hugh Stringleman:

Synlait may not make a profit this financial year because of sharply reduced orders from a2 Milk Company for packaged infant formula, rising dairy commodity prices and global shipping delays.

At the start of the season Synlait directors expected net profit in FY21 to be similar to last year’s $75 million, then in December they said net profit would be approximately half that of FY20.

They have now said the anticipated result for FY21 will be “broadly breakeven”, which includes the possibility of no profit overall and a small loss in the second half, which is already two months old.

When releasing its first-half results, Synlait said the December downgrade from major customer and minority shareholder a2MC was significant and sudden. . . 

Wyeth’s move west welcomed – Peter Burke:

A few weeks ago, Richard Wyeth took over as chief executive of Yili-owned Westland Milk Products and says his first impressions of the company and its people are positive.

It was only a few months ago he was head of the highly successful Maori-owned dairy company Miraka – a company he helped set up from scratch.

However, Wyeth says he’s really enjoying the new job at Westland and what’s really impressed him is the people in the business.

“There is a really strong desire to see the business do well and people are working really hard to do this,” he told Rural News. . . 

Scientists are testing vaccines for flystrike – Chris McLennan:

Scientists believe they are closing in on a commercial vaccine for flystrike.

Prototype vaccines have already been developed half way through a four-year $2.5 million research project between the wool industry and CSIRO.

A potential vaccine against flystrike has been the subject of decades of research work.

Blowfly infestation of sheep wool, skin and tissue results in an estimated $280 million losses to the wool industry. . . 


Rural round-up

01/04/2021

Dairy farmers warn of hidden costs of reducing climate gas emissions – Jonathan Milne:

The dairy industry says its already a world leader on the farm and is improving its factory processing, but worries about the impact of further emissions cut on its communities

Fonterra and Synlait are attempting to shift energy-intensive boilers and other industrial processes to renewables, but farmers are worried that one-in-three will go backwards financially.

Fonterra will publish its submission to the Climate Change Commission this morning. The cooperative, owned by 10,000 farming families, produces 20 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions – the vast majority of those from farming.

New Zealand’s dairy farmers have already reduced their carbon footprints well beyond global benchmarks, and have been consistent in saying they need more R&D investment from Government and industry to make further emissions cuts. . . 

Driven by passion for all things rural – Toni Williams:

Mt Somers farmer and businesswoman Kate Acland is passionate about the rural sector.

She knows it is facing enormous change with environmental reforms set to affect farm businesses, but wants to be at the table as the sector works to address the challenges.

She is on the board of Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand,has past involvement with the Strong Wool Action Group and has just taken a place on the board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand as the northern South Island farmer-director.

“I’m hugely passionate about the sector and future of our family farming businesses.

“Beef and Lamb is a fantastic organisation and I feel very strongly that it has a key role to play in the successful future of those businesses.’’ . . 

Quarter of farmers to measure emissions by end of year – Marc Daalder:

The He Waka Eke Noa primary sector partnership with central government says it is on track for 25 percent of farmers to be measuring their emissions by the end of the year, Marc Daalder reports

As submissions closed on the Climate Change Commission’s historic draft advice on decarbonising New Zealand, the primary sector is hailing the accomplishment of a crucial milestone: Some 11,000 farmers are now measuring their greenhouse gas emissions.

He Waka Eke Noa: The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership was set up in 2019 as an agreement between the primary sector and central government to move towards all farmers measuring their emissions by the end of 2022 and a price on agricultural emissions by 2025.

In order for farmers to pay for the emissions from their livestock and produce, they have to know how much they emit in the first place. Already, 11,000 farmers are able to measure their emissions, He Waka Eke Noa programme director Kelly Forster said, and a quarter of the country’s farmers will be doing so by the end of the year. . . 

Shearing stalwarts lauded – Simon Henderson:

Family tradition and fine wool came together at a meeting of the New Zealand Merino Shearing Society as four stalwarts were awarded life memberships during a ceremony at the Lodge Manuherikia Kilwinning in Alexandra on Sunday.

Life member and past-president Graeme Bell, of Alexandra, presented the awards alongside senior vice-president Lane McSkimming and junior vice-president Janet Smith to Greg Stuart, Don Moffat, Allan Paterson, and John Nelson.

Mr Nelson first came as a helper to shearing shows in the late 1960s.

He started competing in shows before becoming a committee member in 1983, a role he had continued to the present day, Mr Bell said. . . 

Leaft Foods announces $20m programme to tackle global plant protein market and signals potential to lower farm emissions:

The programme will develop technology that extracts edible protein from New Zealand grown green leafy crops. Leaft Foods seeks to produce high-quality protein ingredients for use in a range of food products across the rapidly growing global market for plant-based foods.

Leaft Foods’ innovation is the co-production of a low-emission animal feed, optimised for ruminant nutrition that could significantly reduce farm nitrogen losses. On-farm trials will demonstrate a viable pathway to adoption and commercial uptake for New Zealand farmers and credentialing the system’s economic and environmental benefits.

“We are building on New Zealand’s reputation as a trusted producer of high-quality protein. Our vision is to reduce the environmental impact of agricultural systems and to meet the increase in demand for plant proteins that align with consumer values,” says Maury Leyland Penno, Founder of Leaft Foods. . . 

Bill Gates’ farmland buying spree highlights investment appeal – Judith Evans:

With productivity expected to increase, arable land is attractive — and can help meet carbon-neutral targets.

The Horse Heaven Hills in Washington State are known for wines, wind farms and potatoes. And, recently, swaths of the area have been bought up by Bill Gates.

The Microsoft co-founder acquired 14,500 acres of the fertile land in 2018, helping to make him the largest private farmland owner in the US, with total holdings of almost 250,000 acres, according to disclosures in the US publication The Land Report this year.

Gates may operate at a vast scale, but he is not alone. Although the global farmland market is still highly fragmented — in the US, institutional ownership is estimated to account for just 2.2 per cent by the US Department of Agriculture — investment by financial institutions and wealthy individuals has surged since the financial crisis, in relative terms. . .

 


Rural round-up

15/03/2021

Office staff asked to help out in apple packhouses due to labour shortages  –

The corporate fruit and vegetable firm T&G Global is asking its office based staff to help out in apple packhouses.

This year all apple growing regions are facing severe labour shortages for both picking and packing the crop.

As a result T&G Global, originally known as Turners and Growers, is asking Hawke’s Bay staff to swap computer terminals for apple trays.

Its operations director Craig Betty said the firm was under real pressure to meet export schedules and needs 70 more people right now, so salaried staff and family members were being asked to help out. . . 

Covid-19 exposes global biosecurity systems as ‘fractured’ – expert – Riley Kennedy:

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a fractured global biosecurity system and a new approach is needed, a biosecurity expert says.

The paper by distinguished professor Philip Hulme from the government funded Bio-Protection Research Centre has been published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal BioScience.

Hulme said Covid-19 had shown there needed to be an approach to biosecurity that integrated threats to human, animal, plant and environmental health, recognising that disease or invasions in one sector often spilled over into the others.

He said the Covid Tracer app and the National Animal Indenification and Tracing (NAIT) system, were two examples of where lessons can be learnt and shared among different industries. . . 

Duck shooting season in doubt for many this year:

Many hunters and farmers will miss out on this year’s duck shooting season because the Police are failing to address a backlog of firearms licence applications, National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“There are 10,000 applications waiting to be processed with 3000 of those just licence renewals.

“With opening weekend for duck shooting season fast approaching the Police should be adding more resources to help clear the backlog.

“Hunters missed out last year due to the Covid-19 restrictions. They’re understandably itching to get back out on the pond, but they may miss out again this year because of an administrative backlog. . . 

FarmIQ links to Lead with Pride :

For Darfield dairy farmer Dan Schat, the decision to supply Synlait and participate in the company’s Lead with Pride initiative has proven to be a good one three years into farm ownership.

The Schats enjoy the double premium of supplying A2 milk and being on the Lead with Pride initiative, both making the company payments worth the extra effort the initiative involves.

Lead with Pride encompasses the four pillars of supply to Synlait, recognising and rewarding best practice in environment, animal health-welfare, social responsibility and milk quality. . . 

Produce industry launches UN initiative in New Zealand to address hunger and increase wellbeing:

Aotearoa’s $6 billion fresh produce industry today rolls out a localised UN initiative, as it celebrates the launch of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV).

The 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables to highlight the nutritional benefits of fresh produce.

The official launch this evening at Parliament will be hosted by the Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, in partnership with United Fresh, New Zealand’s pan produce industry organisation, Horticulture New Zealand and Plant & Food Research.

The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables will showcase the government-funded Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative which addresses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an exemplary programme with a case study presented by the international group AIAM5 in August last year. . . 

This California start up has a meat test it says can help prevent the next pandemic – Chloe Sorvino:

Food ID, a San Mateo, California-based startup, has raised $12 million in a Series B round that it says will help improve the safety and transparency of the U.S. meat supply.

The funding comes from S2G Ventures and will be used to commercialize the company’s rapid-result tests that can detect antibiotics in animals and a range of other adulterants, like heavy metals in seafood. Food ID says it has been working inside some industrial slaughterhouses for more than a year and that its tests are finding many of the meats being sold as “antibiotic-free” are not.

“There’s a feeling that consumers understand what they are buying and there’s authenticity,” says Food ID cofounder Bill Niman, the legendary grass-fed beef rancher in Northern California. “We know that’s not totally true, and when that becomes clear to the suppliers and to the brands that depend on antibiotics costing a premium to consumers, we’re gonna be very busy.”

Niman says he is offering the meat industry its first comprehensive testing platform and can provide more accuracy and transparency for consumers, who are increasingly looking for antibiotic-free meat, and paying on average $1 more per pound for it. . . 


Rural round-up

31/05/2020

Town-country split needs fixing –  Rob Hewett:

March 2020 in New Zealand saw a seismic change in the economic landscape.

Covid 19 here, there and everywhere. For some, the change is likely permanent. Who’d want to have shares in an airline?

Meanwhile in agriculture, the issues of environment, sustainability, emissions, to name a few, have not evaporated. Instead, they are likely to be more important than ever.

Covid-19-disrupted food supply chains made people think carefully about where their food was coming from, probably for the first time in their lives. . . 

Poll finds a growing public appreciation of NZ’s primary exports – and new trade stats underscore their importance – Point of Order:

NZ’s  primary  exports  held  up  well  in   April, again proving  the  country’s  farming  industries are  sustaining  the  economy   despite many  sectors being stricken by the  Covid-19  pandemic.

Almost   coincidentally,  a  UMR  probe  of    public  opinion about farming revealed a sharp swing  in  perception.

Instead  of  the  negativity   that had been  undermining  morale – particularly in  the  dairy industry,  triggered  by  anti-farming  lobby groups which conjured  up the slogan “dirty dairying”  to turn urban opinion against the  industry – the  UMR polling  showed  attitudes have tilted deeper into positive  territory. . . 

Synlait drops forecast milk pirce to farmers as dairy prices fall :

Synlait has dropped its forecast milk price for the season about to end and is predicting of a lower opening price for next season.

The dairy company is forecasting $7.05 per kilo of milk solids, down from $7.25.

This is slightly below Fonterra’s recent forecast of $7.10 to $7.30.

Synlait’s opening forecast for the 2020/21 season has been set at $6.00, which is in the middle-range of Fonterra’s forecast of $5.40 to $6.90.

In the 2018/19 season the company paid $6.40 kgMS to its 280 farmer suppliers. . .

 

Sanford interim results – diversity providing resilience for New Zealand’s largest seafood company:

Sanford Limited (NZX: SAN) has reported statutory net profit after tax (NPAT) for the first half of its 2020 financial year of $19.0 million, 17% behind last year’s result of $22.9 million for the same period. Adjusted (underlying) Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) of $23.2 million for the six months to 31 March, 2020. This represents a 29% decrease on adjusted EBIT from the same period last year ($32.6 million) or a 16% decrease on a comparable basis, when excluding the pelagic business which Sanford sold in March 2019. Total revenue was $245.5 million, a 7% decrease on the same period in 2019 ($265.0 million).

Sanford is New Zealand’s largest and oldest seafood company and has a diverse range of interests across fishing and aquaculture. In recent years, it has made a strategic shift into higher value products such as Greenshell mussel powders and high end branded salmon. . . 

The meat industry is trying to get back to normal. But workers are still getting sick — and shortages may get worse – Taylor Telford:

Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the United States, has transformed its facilities across the country since legions of its workers started getting sick from the novel coronavirus. It has set up on-site medical clinics, screened employees for fevers at the beginning of their shifts, required the use of face coverings, installed plastic dividers between stations and taken a host of other steps to slow the spread.

Despite those efforts, the number of Tyson employees with the coronavirus has exploded from less than 1,600 a month ago to more than 7,000 today, according to a Washington Post analysis of news reports and public records.

What has happened at Tyson — and in the meat industry overall — shows how difficult it is to get the nation back to normal, even in essential fields such as food processing. .

.

Buy local buy NZ wood:

With the current post-lockdown focus to ‘buy local’, the NZ Forest Sector Forum is posing the question – why isn’t New Zealand consuming more New Zealand wood and wood products?

According to MPI, approximately two-thirds of New Zealand wood is exported. Almost $6.93 billion was exported from NZ in 2018-19. On the flipside, New Zealand imported over $1.5 billion worth of wood products in 2019. So why are we importing a huge amount of wood products when we grow so much ourselves?

Wood products cover products that come from the woody part of the tree, and can be anything from logs to wood chips, sawn timber and railway sleepers to wood pulp. Uses for wood and wood products are constantly being reinvented, from multi-story construction to soft and absorbent toilet paper. . . 


Rural round-up

25/09/2019

Bill will impact sector significantly – David Surveyor:

Government legislation must not result in a reduction in farming production and cause damage to local communities, writes David Surveyor.

As a farmer-owned red meat co-operative, we are fielding many questions from concerned farmers about the impact of the Zero Carbon Bill.

Our shareholders from the North Island to the deep south include sheep, beef, venison and dairy farmers.

Alliance supports the ambition of the Bill to establish a framework to reduce emissions so New Zealand is contributing to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.58degC above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement also specifically speaks to protecting food production – the world needs protein to feed its people.

The $700m bombshell that could explain Fonterra’s results postponement – Peter Fraser:

Fonterra has delayed its walk up the annual results aisle by two weeks, after earlier warning it will make a multi-million dollar loss. Peter Fraser traces the events leading up to the surprise decision and considers whether there is more to it than meets the eye.

For Fonterra, September 12 2019 mattered. It was the day its much-anticipated and well signposted end-of-year financial results were scheduled to be released.

The issue was simple. In recent times nothing has gone Fonterra’s way, and as a result the organisation has found itself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And here and here. And here too. And don’t forget here and here.) . .

An inside look at Southland dairy:

A big crowd at a recent open day at a Winton herdhome shelter proves there’s an appetite for change as Southland’s farmers look to ‘gain ground’ with a more efficient use of land and labour.

After converting to dairy over 23 years ago Shane and Vicky Murphy have steadily increased their herd while pragmatically investing in the infrastructure of their Winton farm. . .

ANZ ties $50m loan for Synlait to environment, social and governance measures:

Synlait Milk will reap cheaper interest costs if it hits various environmental, social and governance in a $50 million, four-year loan with ANZ Bank. However, if it falls short, that bill will be higher.

“This is the first time any New Zealand company has agreed with its bankers to link its sustainability agenda to its cost of funds. This is exciting and innovative,” Katharine Tapley, head of sustainable finance solutions for ANZ, told BusinessDesk.

The loan will effectively transfer ANZ’s existing $50m committed four-year revolver loan with Synlait into an ESG linked loan and a discount or premium to the base lending margin will be applied, based on its performance around a score of measures. Synlait and ANZ declined to specify details around the discount or premium, citing commercial sensitivity. . .

Warnings raised that legalising cannabis could contaminate food supply – Zac Fleming:

Experts are warning that the legalisation of cannabis could increase the levels of contamination in other crops and impact our trade relationships, writes Zac Fleming. 

Warnings have been raised with the government that New Zealand’s trade relationships could be compromised by food contaminated with cannabis if the plant is legalised.

On at least four occasions between December last year and April this year, Ministry for Primary Industries staff warned ministers and high-ranking trade officials of a potential “significant trade risk” arising from the legalisation of cannabis. . .

Protecting the environment:

British farmers work hard to enhance the British countryside, maintain habitats for native plants and animals, maintain footpaths, protect watercourses and support wildlife species.

Just as we depend on the UK’s farmland for the food we eat every day, so does the country’s wildlife. And with 71% of land in the UK managed by farmers, it’s easy to see what an important role they play in helping to protect and encourage wildlife and habitats. . .


Rural round-up

17/09/2019

Government freshwater proposals a blunt instrument:

The Government’s freshwater proposals represent a blunt instrument for complex water problems, according to the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

“We know that freshwater is at the centre of many New Zealanders’ way of life and that collectively we need to continue to improve,” says MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie.

“MIA generally welcomes the proposal for processing plants to have a Risk Management Plan for wastewater discharges into waterways. Under resource consent requirements, processing sites already have similar plans in place.

“The meat processing sector has  also invested significantly in wastewater treatment upgrades and made considerable improvements.

“However, the critical part to get right is to ensure there is enough flexibility in the legislation so that each local situation can still be considered on its merits and that we focus on the outcomes that communities want for their freshwater. . .

Canterbury farmers unhappy with freshwater plan -Eleisha Foon:

Some Canterbury farmers are dismissing the government’s plan to clean up the country’s waterways as a pipe-dream.

Regional councils across the country have been organising meetings to debate the best ways to reduce nitrates from dairy farming.

According to the Institute of Economic Research, Canterbury is the second highest dairy-producing region, behind Waikato, but many farmers there feel unfairly targeted by what the government has proposed.

“Farming is the art of losing money, while trying to feed and clothe the world while the world thinks you’re trying to poison them, the atmosphere and the environment,” Canterbury farmer Jeremy Talbot said. . . 

Fewer sheep and more trees outcome of freshwater proposals:

Research published by Local Government New Zealand shows the enormous impact on land use the Government’s freshwater proposals will really have, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“If implemented, these proposals are going to see farmers in the Waikato go out of business and their land be converted into a sea of trees.

“According to the modelling, sheep and beef farming is expected to fall by 68 per cent, while dairy would be reduced by 13 per cent. Meanwhile plantation forestry would boom by an astonishing 160 per cent.

“Plantation forestry would then account for over 50 per cent of farmland in Waikato, as these onerous regulations make sheep and beef farming completely untenable. . . 

Water reform challenges a key focus of this week’s Water NEw Zealand conference:

Water reforms and the long term sustainability of water will be a key focus at the Water New Zealand conference and expo this week (18-20 September) in Hamilton.

The conference is being opened by the Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker and Local Government and Maori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta is speaking later in the day.

“We’re very pleased to be able to welcome key government Ministers to this year’s conference, especially given the ground-breaking reforms that the government is embarking on and the impact they will have across the entire country,” says Water New Zealand CEO John Pfahlert.

“This year one of two pre conference workshops will help update those working in the sector with the likely impact of the new regulatory process, while another will look at issues around wastewater – a key aspect of the Government’s recently announced Freshwater Programme.” . . .

A2 Milk and Synlait Milk shares jumped in early trading as a A$1.5 billion takeover bid for Bellamy’s Australia revived optimism that Chinese demand for dairy products remains strong. 

ASX-listed Bellamy’s today said it’s received a A$13.25 per share offer from China Mengniu Dairy Co and that its board will support the bid. That’s a premium to the A$8.32 price the shares closed at on Friday. China Mengniu is familiar with the Australasian market through Yashili New Zealand and Burra Foods Australia. It was also one of the unsuccessful suitors of Murray Goulburn. Bellamy’s soared 51 percent to A$12.55, less than the A$12.65 cash component of the offer which also allows for a 60 cent special dividend. . .

How to make more dirt down on the farm and make money from it – Pip Courtney and Anna Levy:

There’s an old saying about soil: they’re not making any more of it.

But some farmers are.

In just five years, Niels Olsen used his own invention to build more soil on his property in Gippsland, Victoria.

It delivered him the title of 2019 Carbon Farmer of the Year and it’s vastly improved the health of his land — but it requires an unconventional approach.   .


Rural round-up

12/05/2019

Changing GM policy will be good for the environment and Carbon Zero – Dr William Rolleston:

The Opportunities Party’s new policy on genetic modification(GM), which lines up with Australian law, has given New Zealand farmers hope that they too may be able to use genetic modification in their battle to improve water quality and mitigate climate change towards Carbon Zero.

During my time as Federated Farmers president, farmers, in response to scientific evidence, shifted their focus from increasing production to reducing our environmental footprint.  

We can continue to produce food and fibre while putting the least demand on our resources by improving productivity, benefiting both environment and farmer.  Local councils recognise this by regulating for environmental outcomes rather than blindly restricting inputs – for example, low water nitrogen targets rather than limiting fertiliser or cow numbers. . .

NZ embracing gene-editing is a ‘no-brainer’ – Geoff Simmons – Finn Hogan:

Successive New Zealand governments have been “deaf to developing science” says The Opportunities Party (TOP) leader Geoff Simmons.

TOP is calling for deregulation of a form of gene editing called CRISPR, a technique that can be used to remove undesirable traits from an organism or add desirable ones.

Gene editing (GE) could be used for things like removing the genetic trigger for cystic fibrosis in a person, making manuka more resilient to myrtle rust or helping kauri trees fight dieback. . .

African swine fever in China will affect NZ dairy sector: report – Sally Rae:

China’s devastating outbreak of African swine fever will have a spillover effect on the dairy sector, a new report by Rabobank says.

China is the world’s largest pork producer and accounts for about 50% of pork production globally.

The African swine fever epidemic was expected to reduce the country’s pork production by 25%-35%, resulting in increased demand for other animal proteins but lower demand for feedstuffs, the report said.

Rising demand for beef could constrain China’s milk production if dairy cow culling accelerated to fill some of the gap in animal protein demand. . .

From gate to plate’ farming on Country Calendar – Melenie Parkes:

When Ali and Dion Kilmister were looking to save on transport costs they bought their own stock truck, which Dion now drives. And when they wanted to sell their beef and lamb direct to customers, they set up their own online meat delivery business. 

With seven farms to run, the husband-and-wife team has had to rely on creativity and self-sufficiency. If there’s something they need, they make it a reality. 

Their farms are spread out across 200km from Dannevirke to Wellington. While operating over such a wide area has its problems, it also has distinct benefits.  . .

Bring on the tough challenges – Andrew Stewart:

Being the boss isn’t easy and it’s even harder going solo on tough hill country prone to long, cold winters and dry summers. But for Taihape farmer Mairi Whittle it’s her dream come true. Andrew Stewart called in to see how she’s getting on.

The Taihape to Napier highway is a sometimes snaky road surrounded by vast landscapes and prominent landmarks. 

Clean, green hills stretch as far as the eye can see and this strong farming country produces sought-after stock. 

But it can be a brutally challenging environment to farm in too. Winters at this altitude are long, cold and punctuated by snowfalls. Summers are becoming increasingly dry with rain far less dependable after the holiday period.  . .

Court rules dairy factory illegal:

SYNLAIT remains committed to its $250  million Pokeno factory despite a court decision that means the plant was built in breach of covenants restricting use of the land.

The milk powder maker says it is confident it can find a solution to the ownership problem now afflicting most of the land on which the factory stands because of the Court of Appeal decision.

That ruling effectively means the factory was built in breach of covenants on the land.
When Synlait bought the 28 hectares of land in February 2018 it was conditional on the seller, Stonehill Trustee, obtaining removal of that restricted its use to grazing, lifestyle farming or forestry
. . .

 


Rural round-up

01/03/2019

Govt warned over loaning WMP $10m :

The Government was warned that loaning Westland Milk Products $10 million may set a precedent to other companies that they could turn to the Government when they could not get a loan from the bank.

In a briefing to Finance Minister Grant Robertson in September last year, released on the Treasury’s website this afternoon, Treasury officials said the decision to loan Westland the money should be deferred.

Despite this, two months later Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced that $9.9 million would be allocated to the South Island dairy co-op. . .

Fund farmers for the public benefits that come from their land – Mike Foley:

 Imagine if Australia’s private landholders, who manage half the country’s landmass, were investing significant funds into climate change reduction and environmental improvements.

That’s the scenario a cross-industry coalition of agricultural, forestry and environment groups are working towards, using the lead-up to the federal election to argue for policy change which could reimburse farmers for the public benefits delivered by their land management outcomes. . .

Fonterra’s milk-price news is soured by chairman’s critique of the company’s earning performance  – Point of Order:

At last a ray of sunlight into the country’s cowsheds: giant dairy co-op Fonterra has lifted its forecast farmgate milk price to $6.30-$6.60kg/MS, up from $6-$6.30, on the back of strong global demand.

The good news extends to next season, with ANZ economists predicting – because dairy commodity prices are improving more quickly than expected – the forecast for 2019-20 could go as high as $7.30kg/MS.

And there is something else Fonterra suppliers might get a bit of a glow from: the recognition by Fonterra’s top brass that the co-op has not been performing anywhere near where it should be. They’ll be looking for a sharp improvement, even if the co-op has a long way to go to match the achievements of smaller outfits like A2 Milk and Synlait. . . 

Fonterra Fund units hit record low – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Units in the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund hit a record low after the dairy cooperative cut its forecast earnings and said it won’t pay an interim dividend.

Fonterra downgraded its earnings forecast to 15-25 cents per share from a previous forecast of 25-35 cents per share, blaming the increased milk price which saw it hike the farmgate price to its supplier-shareholders.

The downgrade implies annual earnings of between $242-403 million in the year ending July, compared to the earlier projection of $403-564 million. . .

Fonterra to explore opportunities in complementary nutrition:

Fonterra has taken a stake in Motif Ingredients, a US-based food ingredients company that develops and commercialises bio-engineered animal and food ingredients. 

Fonterra joins Ginkgo Bioworks, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Louis Dreyfus Companies and Viking Global Investors.

Judith Swales, head of Fonterra’s Global Consumer and Foodservice business, says the move is part of the Co-operative’s commitment to its farmer-owners to stay at the forefront of innovation to understand and meet the changing preferences of consumers. While the terms will not be disclosed, Fonterra’s investment represents a minority stake in the business. . . 

Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust Launches “Ngā Māhuri o Ngāti Hine”:

Twenty young men from Kaikohe and Moerewa are set to start their journey in the Forestry Industry as trainees on the new Ngā Māhuri o Ngāti Hine Mānuka Plantation Training Program.

This is the first part of a 2yr program funded by the Billion Tree fund through Te Uru Rākau and supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries Economic Development Unit. Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust is partnering with Johnson Contractors LTD to deliver a “learn while you earn” approach to L2 Forestry Training.

Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust Chair, Pita Tipene says “Ngā Māhuri o Ngāti Hine means the saplings of Ngāti Hine; this is an industry training program which embodies the kaupapa of Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust Mission – He Ringa Ahuwhenua, He Hanga Mahi, to actively grow our assets. These akonga (learners) are our hapū and community assets”. . . 


Rural round-up

21/09/2018

2019 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced: 

Six young agriculture professionals from both sides of the Tasman have been announced for the prestigious badge of honour for the primary industry, the Zanda McDonald Award.

Now in its fifth year, the award recognises innovative young professionals in agriculture from across Australasia. Five Australians and one New Zealander have been selected as finalists for the 2019 award based on their passion for agriculture, strong leadership skills, and their vision for the primary industry.

The shortlist is made up by Australians Alice Mabin 32, owner of Alice Mabin Pty Ltd in Linthorpe Queensland, Harry Kelly, 26, Manager of Mooramook Pastoral Co. in Caramut Victoria, Luke Evans, 28, Station Manager of Cleveland Agriculture in Tennant Creek Northern Territory, Nick Boshammer, 30, Director of NBG Holdings Pty Ltd in Chinchilla Queensland, and Shannon Landmark, 27, Co-ordinator of the Northern Genomics Project of the University of Queensland. Kiwi Grant McNaughton, 34, Managing Director of McNaughton Farms in Oamaru, North Otago rounds off the six. . . 

Kiwi farmers take on growing South American super food – Catherine Groenestein:

Growing Taranaki’s first commercial crop of quinoa was challenge enough, but finding a combine harvester in a district devoted to dairying proved tougher.

Luckily for Hamish and Kate Dunlop of Hāwera, they found someone who owns the only suitable machine in the region living just down the road.

The couple’s journey into growing a crop native to South America on their sheep and beef farm began with a discussion about whether quinoa, a food the health-conscious family was already familiar with, would grow in South Taranaki, Kate said. . .

 The grass on the far side of the fence will look much greener for Fonterra farmers – Point of Order:

It  must have felt  like  salt being rubbed into  their  financial wounds   for Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders, when Synlait  Milk this week  reported  its  net profit  soared  89%  to  $74.6m.   Fonterra’s  mob   saw  their  co-op  notch  up  a  loss of  $196m, and  with prices  at GDT auctions trending down,  they may also have to accept a trim  to the forecast milk price.

Where  Fonterra  talks of   slimming its  portfolio,  Synlait  is still investing  in expansion.

In the latest year Synlait has been working on new and expanded plants in Dunsandel, Auckland and Pokeno as well as a research and development centre in Palmerston North. . .

Much more mozzarella – Chris Tobin:

Cutting-edge technology used in Fonterra’s new mozzarella line at its Clandeboye plant is the first of its kind in the world, and being kept under wraps.

”It’s the result of years of investment into R&D and hard work at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre,” Clandeboye cheese plant manager Chris Turner said.

”The work has been supported in part by the Primary Growth Partnership between the Government, Fonterra and Dairy NZ.

”Other than that we can’t tell you too much more. . .

Fonterra steers clear of consultants after paying millions to McKinseys – Nikki Mandow:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group will not use external consultants for its newly-announced everything-on-the-table asset review, the dairy processor says. This follows allegations it paid up to $100 million a year between 2015 and 2017 to global consultancy giant McKinsey as part of its “Velocity” cost-cutting and restructuring programme.

It also forked out millions of dollars in CEO and other staff bonuses as part of its Velocity Leadership Incentive scheme. . .

Balle and Coull to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients Board

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ shareholders have chosen Dacey Balle and Duncan Coull from an unprecedented field of 19 candidates to join the Co-operative’s Board, representing the North Island.

Murray Taggart, who retired by rotation this year, was unopposed in the South Island Ward and re-elected to the Board – while the decisions of Gray Baldwin to not seek re-election and Donna Smit to step down in the North Island Ward, opened a rare opportunity to secure a governance role with a leading rural business. . .


Rural round-up

20/09/2018

Scratching beneath the surface of Fonterra’s accounts – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s loss of $196 million for the year ended 31 July 2018 has left nowhere for the Fonterra Board to hide. Wisely, it has chosen to take the loss on the chin. In line with this, it has completed the jettisoning of CEO Theo Spierings. Two of its most experienced directors (Wilson and Shadbolt) are also departing.

Fonterra plans to now take stock of the situation before charting a path to the future. However, the latest Fonterra communications at farmer meetings are emphasising debt reduction.

A black and white sort of a guy
New Chairman John Monaghan has been described to me as a black and white sort of a guy. That might be exactly what Fonterra needs; someone who calls a spade a spade and cuts through the public relations massaging that bedevils Fonterra
. . .

Synlait nearly doubles profit in tenth year of operation:

Synlait has reported a net after tax profit (NPAT) of $74.6 million, almost double the NPAT of $39.5 million announced for the same period last year.

The results for the financial year ending 31 July 2018 (FY18) were achieved in a period of large investment, and a renewed focus on the future.

An increase in finished infant formula sales helped to drive this profit, which was enabled by a number of investments in the blending and consumer packaging space. . .

Comedy night to highlight rural wellness:

A group of Kiwi comedians are set to hit the road for a series of shows designed to get farmers off the farm and laughing.

Farmstrong, a group which promotes rural wellness, has helped organise five further comedy nights after a successful sold-out first show in Waikato.

The initiative is also supported by NZ Young Farmers and the Rural Support Trust. They say it aims to help highlight the issue of mental health and wellbeing, and are a way for farmers to take a break. . .

Apropos of this, Farmstrong has a wellbeing check list.

New boss aiming for more talent – Pam Tipa:

To hit targets and ensure a flow of young talented people coming into agriculture requires connecting with everybody.

This is the view of Lynda Coppersmith (48), who takes over as Young Farmers chief executive on October 1.

”If that means we need to do more to connect with women and show young women there is a career path, then let’s do it,” says Coppersmith. . .

Waimea Dam Bill widely supported at first reading:

Support has been welcomed from National, Labour, NZ First and Act parties for the introduction of the Tasman District Council (Waimea Water Augmentation Scheme) Bill that saw 112 votes in support to eight opposed and its referral to the Governance and Administration Select Committee, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.

“This Bill is the last critical piece of work required to enable the construction of this dam in the Lee Valley and resolve the long term problems of water security and river health on the Waimea Plains. The project has full resource consents and the $100 million in funding required from horticulturalists, Government and Council. This Bill is about resolving the issue of access to the land for the reservoir in the Mount Richmond Forest Park. . .

Urgent cull of South Island’s Himalayan tahr population ordered by Conservation Minister – Holly Carran:

The Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has ordered an urgent cull of the Himalayan tahr population across the central South Island, claiming the numbers have reached destructive levels.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) wants to remove 10,000 tahr on public conservation land, including the Westland/Tai Poutini and Aoraki Mt Cook National Parks, over the next ten months. 

The Tahr Liaison Group – made up of organisations with hunting interests and Ngāi Tahu, will help reduce the numbers by hunting an extra 7500 – overall halving the population if successful.  . .

Walking Access Commission appoints new Chief Executive:

The Walking Access Commission, the Government’s expert agency on public access to the outdoors, is pleased to announce the appointment of Ric Cullinane as its new Chief Executive.

Mr Cullinane has been the Commission’s Operations Manager since 2010, and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new role. . . 


Rural round-up

16/07/2018

Farm ownership: many routes available, work key – Nicole Sharp:

Farm ownership is never easy, but with hard work, sacrifice and determination, it is possible.

Talking to aspiring farm owners at Country & Co’s Journey to Land Seminar in Invercargill last Wednesday, this was the message five lots of farm owners gave attendees.

All had different stories, from progressing through the dairy industry to immigrating to New Zealand and working to farm ownership and even shearing to farm ownership, with a whole lot of steps in between. . .

Second round of M bovis tests to begin – Sally Rae:

A second round of nationwide milk testing is due to begin later this month, checking dairy herds for Mycoplasma bovis.

Samples would be taken shortly after the start of calving, when cows were most likely to be shedding the bacterium, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said in a statement.

Samples would be collected about four weeks following the start of supply and the first samples were to be collected in the North Island in late July. . .

Synlait Takes up climate change challenge alongside New Zealand’s leading  businesses:

Synlait has signed the CEO Climate Change statement released today by the Climate Leaders Coalition.

Synlait’s signature reiterates their bold sustainability commitments announced on 28 June 2018 to reduce their emissions footprint significantly over the next decade. . .

 

Ngāi Tahu farm manager one of three women to join NZ Young Farmers Board:

A technical farm manager with Ngāi Tahu in Canterbury is one of three women who have joined the NZ Young Farmers Board.

Ash-Leigh Campbell helps oversee the management of the iwi corporation’s eight dairy farms which milk about 8,000 cows.

The 27-year-old was one of two NZ Young Farmers members elected to the board at its annual general meeting in Invercargill. . .

NZ Institute of Forestry recognises outstanding contributions of individuals to New Zealand forestry

The NZ Institute of Forestry recognised the contribution of two of its outstanding leaders at its Annual Awards Dinner in Nelson last night. Peter Clark of Rotorua received the NZIF Forester of the Year award. The award recognises an Institute member who has made an outstanding contribution to either the forestry profession, or the forestry sector over the last 12 months.

The award recognises leadership, excellence and personal integrity, particularly where this demonstrates the character and strength of the forestry profession, and it is one of the highest accolades the Institute can bestow. “The Forester of the Year award is a fitting recognition of the contribution that Peter Clark has made to the sector over a large number of years”, said the President, David Evison. . .

Claims against meat fail to consider bigger picture – Richard Young:

Media attention has again highlighted the carbon footprint of eating meat, especially beef, with some journalists concluding that extensive grass-based beef has the highest carbon footprint of all. Sustainable Food Trust policy director, Richard Young has been investigating.
Year of Publication:2018

A recent, very comprehensive, research paper by Poore and Nemecek from Oxford University and Agroscope, a large research company in Switzerland, has again drawn attention to the rising demand for meat, resulting from population growth and increasing affluence in some developing countries. Looked at from a global perspective the figures appear stark. The study claims that livestock production accounts for 83% of global farmland and produces 56-58% of the greenhouse gas emissions from food, but only contributes 37% of our protein intake and 18% of calories. As such, it’s perhaps not so surprising that concerned journalists come up with coverage like the Guardian’s, Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth. This is part of a series of articles, some of which have been balanced, but most of which have largely promoted vegan and vegetarian agendas with little broader consideration of the issues.

The question of what we should eat to reduce our devastating impact on the environment, while also reducing the incidence of the diet-related diseases which threaten to overwhelm the NHS and other healthcare systems, is one of the most important we face. Yet, the debate so far has been extremely limited and largely dominated by those with little if any practical experience of food production or what actually constitutes food system sustainability. . . 


Rural round-up

23/06/2018

NZ sheep farmers enjoying stellar lamb season with prices reaching lofty heights, AgriHQ says – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand sheep farmers, whose fortunes in recent years have been overshadowed by their dairy farmer colleagues, are having a strong season with lamb prices approaching record levels, according to AgriHQ’s Monthly Sheep & Beef report for June.

“This season continues to move from strength-to-strength for sheep farmers, mainly due to the incredible heights slaughter prices are reaching,” AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said in his report. “Winter contracts within the North Island and lower supplies in the South Island have pulled lamb slaughter prices up by 30 cents/kg in both regions.” . . 

 The key to successful farm environment plans – Jamie McFadden:

Before the Government decides whether Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) should be voluntary or compulsory we in the Rural Advocacy Network suggest a look at recent experience around New Zealand and overseas.

The voluntary farm plan approach is focused on actions to achieve outcomes. It has been very successful in regions like Taranaki where over two-thirds of hill country now has farm plans.

The key to the success of the voluntary model is trusted advisers working in partnership with landowners. Farm plans are tailor-made recognising that every farm is different and that people learn in different ways. The advisers have a wide range of practical knowledge covering all aspects of environmental management – biodiversity, wetlands, water quality, pests, erosion and sediment loss. It is a whole-farm approach. . .

Arable farmers welcome lift in wheat prices after two poor years – Heather Chalmers:

Central Canterbury arable farmers Syd and Chris Worsfold and their son Earl grow cereals in half their farm and are welcoming a $100 a tonne lift in wheat prices this season.

Syd Worsfold, named Federated Farmers’ arable farmer of the year after 30 years of industry involvement, said the increase was a return to more competitive pricing, after two years of poor returns.

Milling wheat contracts for the 2019 harvest were $420 to $450 a tonne, depending on the grade and variety sown, while feed grains were $380 to $400 a tonne. . .

Pig farmers question future – Annette Scott:

Market demand is slow and pig meat prices have taken a dive in recent weeks as pork producers seriously question their future.

Pig meat prices dropped 10 cents a kilogram in June with cost pressure really coming on from imported pig products, New Zealand Pork farmer spokesman Ian Carter said.

“Imports are coming in really cheap and compromising domestic prices.

“This is where Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) is very important to us,” Carter said.

Misleading domestic food industry advertising is also a concern. . . 

Half a million litres of Pahiatua groundwater to be saved every day:

Half a million litres of Pahiatua groundwater (about the same as 18 milk tanker loads) will be saved every day thanks to the development and installation of a ground-breaking reclaimed water system at the local Fonterra site.

The site team came up with an innovative way to reuse water from condensation that’s produced during the milk powder manufacturing process. 

Robert Spurway, Fonterra’s COO Global Operations, says the water-saving initiative is a testament to the Pahiatua team’s innovative and can-do approach to sustainability. . .

Synlait confirms commissioning date of new Pokeno site:

Synlait has confirmed its new nutritional manufacturing site in Pokeno, Waikato, will be commissioned for the 2019 / 2020 season.

The functionality of Synlait’s first nutritional spray dryer at Pokeno has also been expanded as a result of forecast customer demand.

The nutritional spray dryer will be capable of producing a full suite of nutritional, formulated powders (including infant-grade skim milk, whole milk and infant formula base powders) and the capacity has increased to 45,000 metric tonnes (MT) from an initial 40,000 MT. . .

She Shears – directed by Jack Nicol:

Presented by Miss Conception films, who focus on female-led stories, this fresh dispatch from the heartland introduces two legendary shearers – and three in the making – as they head for black-shirt glory at the Golden Shears.

When a Kiwi girl sets her heart on becoming a shearer there’s not a lot that’s going to stop her, as the five women profiled in this lively doco happily testify. Central Otago’s Pagan Karauria admits it was tough getting a gig at the start, but with her champion dad staunchly behind her, she’s made the shearing shed the focus of her career, not just as a competitive shearer, but as an ace wool sorter and mentor to other young women. Catherine Mullooly, from the King Country, packs her skills for some enterprising OE. With whānau solidly backing them, each of these women strive, more than anything, to better themselves. . .

 


Rural round-up

20/06/2018

Farmers taking massive blow from disease cull to protect others – Andrew Morrison:

This time last year few of us had even heard of Mycoplasma bovis and now this disease is proving devastating to a group of cattle farmers.

We have seen the heart-wrenching scenes of farmers loading otherwise healthy cows onto trucks headed for slaughter and have listened to the descriptions from farmers who have to wake up every morning to the silence of farms devoid of livestock.

Last month, the Government with industry support made the decision to pursue a phased eradication of this production-limiting disease.

Knowing the pain it was going to cause some farmers meant that it was not a decision made lightly.  These farmers are taking a massive blow to protect the 99 per cent of farmers who don’t have Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) on their properties. We, as an industry, need to do everything we can to support these people both financially and emotionally. . . 

North Otago calves confirmed to have had M bovis -Conan Young:

A North Otago farmer who lost her farm after having to deal with a mystery illness has had it confirmed her calves that year had Mycoplasma bovis.

Susan McEwan’s story featured on RNZ’s Checkpoint and Insight programmes.

At that stage she suspected the reason she lost 600 of the 3000 animals she was raising to arthritis and pneumonia, was due to Mycoplasma bovis, but had no way to prove it. . . 

Farm exports growing – Sally Rae:

A strong export performance and farm profitability results, despite a  variety of challenges, is testament to the resilience of farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report says.

That resilience provided confidence  farmers would be able to adapt to future disruptions such as climate change, adverse events or potential trade issues.

It was also reflected in MPI’s medium-term outlook for annual export growth to range between 1.2% to 2.6% between 2019 and 2022.

Primary sector exports are forecast to exceed $46 billion by the end of the outlook period.

Production and export volumes were forecast to be relatively stable, particularly in dairy and meat and wool.  . . 

Keeping tradition alive after 50 years of Feildays – Horiana Henderson:

Kerepehi stalwart, Alex Quinn is committed to Fieldays and has the golden “50 years commemorating support” award, and a cap, to prove it.

In typical fashion, he was to be found amongst the agricultural equipment ready with a big smile and friendly conversation. He is the owner of Quinn Engineering and attended the first Fieldays with his father Eddie Quinn.

In the 1960s, Eddie created a tractor attachment for handling hay called the Baleboy and brought it to market at Fieldays in 1970. .  .

NZ missing a trick when it comes to selling our food overseas – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to invest in a national food brand in the same way it spends $100 million each year to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination, says an agrifood marketing expert.

Synlait’s infant formula sold in the United States was “unashamedly branded” as coming from New Zealand grass-fed dairy cows, but most New Zealand products were unbranded, said Lincoln University agribusiness management senior lecturer Nic Lees.

This was despite research that showed most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their own products.

“This research was done by the University of Florida. This is an example of how little market research we do as a country into understanding perceptions of our food in different countries.” . . 

Stay ahead of the game deer farmers urged – Alexia Johnston:

Deer farmers are being urged to ”stay ahead of the game”.

Those words of advice were the key theme at this year’s Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) annual conference, recently hosted in Timaru.

Dinz CEO Dan Coup said the three-day event, which included a field trip to Mesopotamia Station, was a success, helped by the positive attitude by those in attendance. . .

Getting calves off to a great start – Peter Burke:

Dairy farmers and calf rearers will in a few months be flat-out dealing with new life on farms. AgResearch scientist Dr Sue McCoard and colleagues are working on adding valuable science and data to this important task.

Sue McCoard says she and her fellow researchers, in partnership with the industry, are researching different feeds and feeding management options and their impact on whole-of-life performance. .  .

 


Rural round-up

16/04/2018

Farmers have lost faith in MPI – Annette Scott:

Farmers must not let dairy cattle be taken for slaughter till they are sure they will get compensation, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says.

He wants the Mycoplasma bovis decision-makers to front up as the second round of culling infected herds gets going.

All confidence in compensation promises had been lost, he said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries late last month said a further 22,300 cattle from all infected properties will be killed by the end of May. . . 

Science and technology at every farmers’ fingers tips – Pat Deavoll:

In the three and a half years I have spent as a farming reporter, nothing has struck me more than how hi-tech the industry has become.

Gone are the days when a farmer could step into his father’s shoes and expect to follow the same time-tested methods and be successful.

In this age of uber-production, every sector is based on an application of science, research and technology that is changing at a mind-boggling rate. And farmers are required to change with it. In fact, I read somewhere that by 2025 farmers will need a tertiary qualification to keep up. . .

Lactoferrin – a magic ingredient – Hugh Stringleman:

Lactoferrin became the flavour of the month when Fonterra’s giant New Zealand Milk Products division held an exhibition of its advanced ingredients on the day rival processor Synlait said it will double its production of the pricy protein.

Lactoferrin is an iron-binding milk protein distinguished by its pink crystalline form, produced in small quantities and sold for high prices – perhaps $500/kg or more.

NZMP’s display said it takes 10,000 litres of milk and smart freeze-dry technology to make one kilogram of lactoferrin, which has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancement qualities. . .

Kiwi farmers’ validity at stake – Deborah Rhodes:

As we stare down the barrel of a global consumer revolution we need to be brave to tell them what they want: not what they demand, but what we are going to supply them.

The concept of appealing to every whim of the consumer has driven our farming mentality to that of the oil business: reap now and pay later. Now we are starting to pay as we scramble towards trying to prove in our dairy business that we are different from the rest, and we are — but for how long? . . .

Good – could have done better at Owl Farm – Mark Daniel:

It’s been a challenging season down on the banks of the Waikato River for St Peters School’s Owl Farm.
Tracking behind the previous season, the farm is hoping an extended lactation will help pull things back into line.

Visitors at a farm focus day in late March were told that overall production is down by about 5000kgMS (-3%) and still trending downward.

The farm has more cows (412) than last season (378) but performance per cow has been lower, as has the average yield of 363kgMS versus last year’s 370kgMS in the same period. . . .

As dairy crisis crushes farmers, Wisconsin’s rural identity in jeopardy – Rick Barrett:

Kyle Kurt fought to keep his emotions just below the surface as he talked about selling off his herd of Holstein dairy cows, which he’s milked twice a day, 365 days a year, through good times and bad.

Dairy farming has been Kurt’s livelihood, and his passion, since he graduated from Lodi High School 18 years ago. But come Monday, he’s having an auction to sell his cows, his milking equipment, his tractors and other farm machinery that he’s spent years acquiring.

It’s probably the toughest decision I have ever had to make,” Kurt said, “but I have been told it’s going to be a big weight lifted off my back.”

Scores of Wisconsin farmers are in a similar predicament. And with them, a way of life that has defined much of the state for more than a century and a half is disintegrating. . .


Dairy following failed example of meat industry

14/03/2018

Have we reached peak dairy factory?

The number of dairy factories sprouting in Waikato has got to the stage that farmers are concerned the industry has reached a tipping point.

They fear further growth could lead to overcapacity – too many milk processing sites – and dairying will follow the path of the meat industry, which over the past decade has been plagued by plant closures and job losses. . .

Fonterra Shareholder’s Council chairman and Waikato farmer Duncan Coull​ says it is becoming a national issue for the industry. It is bigger than Fonterra and an industry-wide discussion is needed to find a way to save it from itself.

“Do farmers really want to reach that tipping point because once that tipping point is reached, there is no turning back. We need to start asking ourselves the question as farmers what we want the industry to look like going forward.

“If farmers continue to allow capacity to be built and continued to supply that capacity, be very careful what we wish for, we are another red meat sector waiting to happen and we are another Australian dairy industry waiting to happen.” . . 

Farmers like some competition but it the meat industry found out at great cost – in money and human terms – that it is possible to have too much competition.

Synlait chief executive John Penno​ says the dairy industry is already at overcapacity and the vast bulk of the processing technology built in recent years has been large-scale milk powder plants producing dairy commodities.

“There’s no question in my mind that overcapacity across the industry exists. But the real question is, is it the right capacity? What is the total capacity is the wrong question.”

Synlait does not operate in that market and builds plants focusing on high-end, value-added products. . ..

Farmers are free to choose which company they supply.

A new one might look attractive, especially if it doesn’t require suppliers to buy shares.

But the lesson from the meat industry is that more competition isn’t always better for farmers or the industry.


Rural round-up

03/03/2018

Hauraki Plains dairy farmer elected to oversee the creation of Auckland educational farm:

A respected Hauraki Plains dairy farmer will lead the board overseeing the development of a new educational farm in Auckland.

Julie Pirie has been elected to chair the five-member Donald Pearson Farm Board.

The 74-hectare dairy farm in South Auckland was gifted to NZ Young Farmers by the late Donald Pearson last year. . . 

Slim pickings: Worker shortage leaves apple farms frantic – Anusha Bradley:

Apple growers in Hawke’s Bay are preparing to work around the clock to cope with what’s being described as an extreme shortage of seasonal workers.

Orchardists said they have less have than half the workers they need, and despite a recruitment campaign, are failing to attract the usual hordes of backpackers they rely on.

Hastings-based Bostock is the largest producer of organic apples in the country.

Bostock human resources manager Vikki Garrett said usually they’d hire about a 100 or so backpackers, but had only managed to recruit 10. . . 

Bug’s impact on horticulture devastating, report says:

An economic report, released today, says if the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) establishes in New Zealand it would dramatically impact New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP) as well as export revenues from horticulture.

Prepared by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), Quantifying the economic impacts of a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug incursion in New Zealand, shows GDP falling between $1.8 billion and $3.6 billion by 2038, and horticulture export value falling between $2 billion and $4.2 billion by 2038. . . 

Agriculture exporters meet to discuss issues:

Key stakeholders in the agro-export market today gathered to discuss possible solutions to address pertinent issues faced by exporters in the export pathways.

While officially opening the Agriculture Exporters Symposium at the Tanoa Plaza Hotel this morning, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr. David Kolitagane said the objective of the workshop was to address constraints in the agro-export pathway as the impact of the contribution of agricultural exporters was integral to economic development.

“The rationale for organizing today’s symposium is to address constraints in the export pathway, collate information and make appropriate and . . .

Farmers left in limbo as Mycoplasma Bovis takes hold:

With just one month to go until a decision will be made, farmers will understandably be left confused and anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate the crippling cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials appeared before the Primary Productions Select Committee at Parliament this morning to answer questions about how the Government plans to contain the spread, compensate farmers for their losses and ultimately to eradicate it. . . 

Tractors lead agricultural imports:

Tractor imports have remained at high levels in January 2018, continuing the trend for the last year, Stats NZ said today.

The value of imported tractors rose $27 million (191 percent) in January 2018 from January 2017. For the year ended January 2018, values were up 51 percent compared with the January 2017 year.

“Imports of tractors can be an indicator of confidence in the agriculture industry,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The last time we imported this many tractors was in 2014 when dairy prices were at their peak.” . . 

Deborah Marris joins Synlait leadership team:

Synlait will welcome Deborah Marris to the Executive Leadership Team in the role of General Counsel and Head of Commercial on Monday 5 March.

“Deborah’s outstanding legal and commercial background makes her the perfect person to join our team. Our rapid growth requires strong leadership in this area and Deborah has the skills, foresight and international experience to support us well,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO.

Ms Marris’ role will encompass legal affairs, risk, corporate governance, insurance and commercial matters, including customer and supplier contractual relationships. . . 

NZ King Salmon sees weaker second half on hot summer; 1st-half profit soars 81% – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand King Salmon says the “extraordinarily hot summer” has cut survival rates at its fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds and it expects weaker second-half earnings after profit in the first half soared 81 percent.

Profit rose to $15.7 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $8.7 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales climbed to $87.7 million from $63.6 million. . . 

Seeka annual profit falls 44% on lower kiwifruit volumes, impaired banana business – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka posted a 44 percent decline in annual profit as Australasia’s biggest kiwifruit grower booked a $2 million charge on its banana sourcing unit while managing a decline in kiwifruit volumes.

Net profit fell to $5.8 million, or 34 cents per share in calendar 2017, from $10.4 million, or 62 cents a year earlier, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. The year-earlier figure was bolstered by a $3.1 million gain on an insurance payment. Revenue fell 2 percent to $186.8 million. . .

Comvita swings to first-half profit, reiterates full-year guidance – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the mānuka honey company, swung to a first-half profit on strong sales growth and a recovery in the “grey” or informal sales channel into China and reiterated its full-year earnings guidance despite bad weather hitting the 2018 honey season.

The Te Puke-based company reported a net profit of $3.7 million, or 8.31 cents per share, in the six months to Dec. 31 versus a loss of $7.1 million, or 17.18 cents, in the prior period. In January the company said net profit would be more than $3 million. Sales reached $83.6 million versus $57.7 million in the prior year. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were $9.9 million versus an ebitda loss of $2.8 million in the same period a year earlier. . . 


Rural round-up

08/12/2017

Dairy not all about milking it:

A Lincoln University pilot study is backing the importance of environmental and social responsibility, as well as the bottom line, to dairy farmers.

Seeing themselves as “guardians of their land” and adopting environmentally friendly ways of farming is a key component of the farmers’ personal convictions.

The study, What really drives dairy production systems: economic rationale or social and environmental responsibility? surveyed owners, share milkers and managers, to format a questionnaire for much larger sample of interviews with farmers, due to take place in January. . .

Day a chance to experience life on a farm – Sally Rae:

When Duncan Wells left secondary school, he was encouraged not to go farming.

It was during the farming downturn in the 1980s and his farming father suggested he get some other skills.

So he became an electrician and worked for a few years before giving in to his passion for the dairy sector.

Now Mr Wells and his wife Anne-Marie are sharing that passion with others – opening the gates of their Outram dairy business, Huntly Road Dairies, to allow the public to experience a taste of farm life.

On Sunday, Fonterra has organised an ”open gates” initiative, with 40 selected farms around the country opening for the day. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand supporting sustainable hill country scientific programme:

A scientific programme aimed at improving the sustainability of hill country for sheep and beef farming is to be launched with the support of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The project, which is backed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Partnership Scheme, will look at ways to invigorate hill country by developing sustainable production systems.

A strategy and action plan to increase the sustainability of hill country farming (economic, environmental, social and cultural) will be one of the key pr iorities for the initiative.  . . 

NZ Beef prices expected to hold firm in the face of expanding global production:

New Zealand beef prices moved marginally higher in quarter three and are expected to hold relatively firm in the coming months despite expanding global beef production generating intense competition in global markets, according to Rabobank’s latest Beef Quarterly report.

Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate said stronger-than-anticipated demand for New Zealand beef in key export markets, combined with restricted domestic supplies and a weakening New Zealand dollar, resulted in a marginal increase in New Zealand slaughter prices in quarter three. . . 

Focus on New Zealand brands needed in face of trade uncertainty:

Uncertainty over Brexit means New Zealand needs to urgently focus on developing brands and differentiating our agricultural exports.

Senior lecturer in Agribusiness Management Dr Nic Lees, said New Zealand produces some of the best fruit, wine, meat, seafood and dairy products in the world but around 70 per cent reaches the consumer with no identification that is sourced from here.

“Sudden changes such as Brexit remind us that relying on undifferentiated commodity exports leaves us vulnerable to sudden changes in government policies,” Dr Lees said.

“When consumers demand a branded product, it is difficult for governments to shut it out of the market.” . .

Fonterra imposes grading system on milk fat with ‘excessive’ PKE, Fed Farmers confirms – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group has followed through on its work into the impact of palm kernel expeller on the composition of fat in the milk it collects with a grading system that will start in September 2018.

The new system follows consultation with farmers and is the latest step in Fonterra’s efforts to reinforce its Trusted Goodness logo, which is designed to appeal to consumers who want sustainable and ethical practices in food production and is underpinned by New Zealand’s “natural, grass-fed advantage”. But Fonterra’s research has shown that PKE also has implications for dairy product manufacturing and sales in global markets of products such as butter. . . 

New PKE grading system warrants contractual clause change for farmers:

Federated Farmers is reminding dairy farmers and sharemilkers to update existing business agreements as they face joint liability to meet upcoming changes for using palm kernel (PKE) as feed.

Dairy co-operative Fonterra is introducing a grading system next September to measure milk fat composition, which changes with excessive use of PKE impacting on manufacturing capability and seasonal customer preferences.

Fonterra farmers who don’t comply with new recommended levels for cows’ PKE intake will be penalised. . . 

Synlait opens new Wetmix kitchen:

Synlait Milk  has today officially opened its new Wetmix kitchen, which will enable it to simultaneously run both large-scale infant formula spray dryers.

This will double the amount of infant formula powder which can be produced at the Dunsandel site, from 40,000 metric tonnes (MT) to 80,000 MT per year.

“We were at the point where our current Wetmix facility was at capacity, and our consumer demand was continuing to grow. Building this new Wetmix kitchen will relieve that pressure,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO. . . 

New arrangement simplifies meat exports to Egypt:

A new arrangement signed recently will simplify New Zealand’s meat product exports to Egypt, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said today.

Under the new arrangement, Egyptian authorities will no longer have to visit each individual meat premises that wishes to export to Egypt.

The arrangement was signed by MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne and Egyptian Deputy Minister for Agriculture Dr Mona Mehrez in Wellington. . . 


Rural round-up

29/09/2017

NZ beef prices drop marginally lower with further downward pressure expected – industry report:

A strong New Zealand dollar and declining US imported beef prices have seen New Zealand beef prices drop marginally lower over the past quarter. And further downward pressure on beef prices is expected as the year progresses, with increased Japanese tariffs on frozen beef imports creating additional headwinds for Kiwi exporters, according to Rabobank’s latest Beef Quarterly report. . .

Synlait Receives CFDA Registration of the A2 Milk Company’s Infant Formula:

Synlait has received registration which will allow exports of The a2 Milk Company Limited’s China label infant formula to China to continue.

All manufacturers of infant formula are required to register brands and recipes with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) in order to import products into China, through traditional import channels, from 1 January 2018. . .

GlobalDairyTrade beefs up offering with multi-seller pools of US lactose products – Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group’s GlobalDairyTrade platform, which has moved more than US$20 billion in dairy products since it launched in 2008, is looking to broaden its offering to meet customer needs.

“We are continually innovating and always looking for these expansion ideas,” Eric Hansen, director of GlobalDairyTrade, told BusinessDesk. . .

Science And Innovation Key to Farming’s Future, Says Dairynz Candidate:

Sustainability and scientific innovation is high on the agenda of Waikato dairy farmer Grant Coombes.

As a candidate for the DairyNZ Board of Directors, Coombes says it’s time for farmers to embrace new technology and innovation as a way forward, to tackle issues such as environmental sustainability. . .

App to Combat Kauri Dieback Disease – an Environmental Game-changer:

There is a game-changing tool on the way in the war against kauri dieback disease which is having a devastating effect on New Zealand’s native forests.

Thanks to the 2016 WWF-New Zealand Conservation Innovation Awards, sustainable land management group Groundtruth is developing a Stop Kauri Dieback app that will support community engagement and management of kauri dieback. The fungus-like disease with no known cure is killing kauri forests in Northland, and kauri could become extinct in some locations without urgent action. . .

Growers of NZ goes live on Instagram:

Global interest in the story behind healthy, fresh food has inspired Horticulture New Zealand to start an Instagram page where people can better get to know the fruit and vegetable growers of New Zealand, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

Growers of New Zealand (@growersofnz) went live yesterday and already has sparked interest from New Zealand and around the world. Each week a grower will be profiled at work, and the seasonal crop they have been working with will be highlighted in a recipe. . .

Hangawera Station Hereford bull sale ready for auction:

Tainui Group Holding’s annual Hangawera Station Hereford sale is set to go with over 180 pure-bred, vaccinated and tested bulls being auctioned on Monday 2nd October.

TGH’s Primary Industries Manager Mark Jackways says they expect a solid auction turnout, much like previous years, given strong market demand for quality bulls, as dairy herds re-stock after a tight couple of years. . .


Rural round-up

05/01/2017

From backwater to water ‘battleground’ – Sally Rae:

Farming in the Omarama area these days is very much like farming in the proverbial fish-bowl.

The spotlight is on both the Upper Waitaki and neighbouring Mackenzie district with changing land-use, water quality and environmental issues to the fore.

Twenty years ago, Omarama barely registered on the map; rather it was ”somewhere to drive through at high speed” to get to Wanaka or Queenstown, sheep and beef farmer Richard Subtil, from Omarama Station, said.

Bellamy’s organic infant formula derails in China – Keith Woodford:

For the last two years, Bellamy’s organic infant formula out of Australia has been one of the two rising stars of the Chinese infant formula market. The other has been ‘a2 Platinum’ produced here in New Zealand by Synlait for The a2 Milk Company (ATM).

In recent weeks, the Bellamy’s business has run badly off the tracks. This has sent jitters more widely through the infant formula industry.

First, there was a cautious market guidance release by Bellamy’s on 2 December, and the Bellamy’s share price immediately crashed 40%. Then on 12 December, Bellamy’s asked that its shares be suspended from trade for 48 hours while they assessed their position. This suspension has subsequently been renewed twice and currently runs through to 13 January 2017 while further assessment occurs. . .

Dairy turmoil shows folly of narrow focus;

Farming does not get the public attention is deserves these days, until this time of year when any road journey out of the cities reveals what a wealth of beauty and prosperity the countryside contains. Many farms somehow managed to look prosperous to the urban eye even when the main industry of most – dairying – was in the doldrums. But at least this summer, city holidaymakers on the roads can look at those verdant pastures and know that this, at last, is a happy new year for rural New Zealand too.

After two years of depressed dairy prices, the market began to turn in the middle of last year and for the past few months the price of milk powder has been back above break-even levels for most producers. Furthermore, there is every reason to believe the slump is over. The over-supply that caused it, largely from Europe, has been reduced or consumed and this season’s supply better matches demand.

The end of the world as we know it: What a vegan New Zealand would look like. – Jon Morgan:

Over Christmas lunch an earnest young niece asked, what did I have against vegans. I replied, nothing.

A couple of people I know profess to be vegans, migrating there from simple vegetarianism. They have to go to great lengths to ensure they have a balanced diet and I worry for their children, but otherwise they’re perfectly likable.

It’s the militant vegans I can’t stand, I told her. They’re the ones who have made veganism into a nefarious political movement, with the closure of all animal farms as their primary goal. . .

Rustlers take 1400 lambs in massive stock heist:

A Whanganui farmer has lost 1400 lambs to rustlers in what might be the largest stock heist in the country.

Police say they received a complaint about the theft from an owner of a property near Fordell.

More than 1400 lambs, worth about $120,000, reportedly went missing between October 25 and November 7, this year.

“That could be one of the biggest thefts involving sheep in the country,” Harry Matthews, president of Whanganui Federated Farmers, said. . . 

Texus Fibre eyes $2.9b face mask market in Asia :

A Kiwi company has secured a deal it hopes will unlock a lucrative $2.9 billion Asian healthcare market.

Texus Fibre uses natural wool to develop ‘functional materials’ – meaning they do something clever scientifically.

On Thursday it announced an investment and distribution deal with Auckland firm Healthy Breath Limited (HBL) for Texus’ wool-based air filter to be used in face masks marketed to city-dwellers in Asia. . .

 


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