Rural round-up

September 25, 2018

Counting sheep a new challenge for Northland science students:

Counting sheep is often touted as a remedy to help troubled sleepers nod off.

But for Whangarei Boys’ High School students, counting sheep has become part of the curriculum.

Two classes of Year 11 science students are studying a learning module called ‘Keep calm and count sheep’.

The resource examines the nutritional requirements of ewes and the factors that influence sheep growth rates. . .

Strawberry crisis: How NZ growers can prevent ‘crisis contagion’ – Daniel Laufer:

The reputation of New Zealand’s strawberry industry could be contaminated by the needles found in Australian fruit, but our growers can still minimise the damage, writes Daniel Laufer.

New Zealand strawberry growers face a challenging situation with the tampering of Australian strawberries. How can they convince consumers to continue buying strawberries, despite the highly publicised incidents of needles in strawberries grown in Australia?

The issue has made the headlines here in New Zealand with the first reported case yesterday of tampered Australian imported strawberries in an Auckland supermarket. . .

Major fresh produce traceability project underway in New Zealand:

In light of the recent shocking Australian strawberry tampering event, the New Zealand produce industry is taking every action possible to reassure customers their safety systems are robust.

United Fresh is the New Zealand pan-produce organisation that is currently leading a major New Zealand-led project reviewing traceability systems in our produce sector. . .

Final candidates for Fonterra elections announced:

Following the completion of the Self Nomination Process for the 2018 Directors’ Election Process, there are five candidates standing for three places on the Fonterra Board in 2018.

Peter McBride, Jamie Tuuta and Ashley Waugh were announced two weeks ago as the Independent Nomination Process candidates. All three candidates were nominated by the Fonterra Board after being recommended by the Independent Selection Panel. The process for their nomination was supported by the Shareholders’ Council in accordance with the Independent Nomination Process . .

Outspoken Fonterra critic launches campaign for board seatB –Nikki Mandow

Sept. 24 (BusinessDesk) – Outspoken former Fonterra director Leonie Guiney, who was temporarily gagged by the cooperative after losing her seat on the board last year, is seeking re-election in November.

Guiney, who has strongly criticised the strategy that led to Fonterra investing approximately $1.5 billion in now-failing assets like Beingmate and China Farms, is one of two self-nominated candidates. There are three official board nominees, and three places available. . .

Dairy co-operatives struggle without retained earnings – Keith Woodford:

Currently there are three dairy co-operatives in New Zealand – Fonterra, Westland and Tatua.  The first two are struggling for capital, whereas the third, the tiny Tatua, has been an ongoing success story of prosperity.

The essence of the difference lies in retained earnings and their productive use.

Comparative statistics for the three co-operatives are available for the six years from 2010/11 through to 2016/17. In that time Fonterra retained a total of 70c of capital per kg milksolids, Westland retained 84c, and Tatua retained $4.85. Those numbers spell it out in spades. . .

FarmIQ powers Farmlands’ SafeFarm:

New Zealand’s most comprehensive farm management software provider has partnered with the country’s largest farmer retail co-operative, Farmlands, to launch SafeFarm, a complete Health and Safety software system designed with New Zealand farmers in mind.

SafeFarm is built on FarmIQ’s software platform, utilising much of the mapping, recording, reporting and analytical capabilities inherent in FarmIQ.

The SafeFarm software package is available free of charge to Farmlands’ shareholders. Users of the application can seamlessly upgrade and trial FarmIQ’s newly launched range of farm management subscriptions from within SafeFarm. . .

 

The original performance fibre merino wool proves its natural function for transseasonal delivery – Louisa Smith:

As the original performance fiber, wool, in particular merino wool, has reemerged as a key contender for the sports and outdoors market. Natural, recyclable and also biodegradable, it is fast becoming a key contender for its breathability, thermal regulation and anti-odor, all inherent functions that appeal to the consumer, combined with its natural DNA.

Sustainability is a key factor through recycling and biodegradable functionality

Natural fibers, including cotton and silk are entering the performance sector, but for merino wool, the anti-odor benefits give it a heads up as this becomes a major trend in the sports and outdoors sector. Not just for the elimination of nasty body odors after high impact activity, but also a reduction in home launderings that benefit and environmentally friendly approach. . .


Rural round-up

October 14, 2017

Don’t let the blowtorch burn you:

The recent political blowtorch on farming is affecting the morale of younger farmers, says Ngatea farmer Mark Townshend.

But dairy farmers should feel “very proud’ of their achievements, he says.

A notion is gaining ground that some younger dairy farmers do not now feel proud to be dairy farmers in mixed company, Townshend says.

“This is against the backdrop of an election process where political parties on the left used farmers, in particular dairy farmers, as political footballs. . . 

Laser throws light on emissions – Richard Rennie:

As farmers and researchers grapple with nitrate losses into waterways and nitrous oxide to the air, half the challenge has been how best to measure them to even begin to better understand their behaviour. Richard Rennie spoke to scientist Louis Schipper.

A quantum cascade laser sounds like something from Dr Who and like his police box popping up in odd places, one has appeared in a Waikato paddock.

It’s got Waikato University biogeochemistry Professor Louis Schipper excited.

He is co-lead in the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre’s research programme into nitrous oxide. . .

Tatua targets growth in value-added business:

Waikato milk processor Tatua will use retentions to grow its cream and protein based value-added products, says chief executive Brendhan Greaney.

He says Tatua will be making more specialty nutritional products for key markets China, Japan and the US.

The co-op has announced a final payout of $7.10/kgMS to farmer shareholders for the 2016-17 season; it has retained 50c/kgMS to help fund capital projects and maintain a strong balance sheet. . . 

Ballance Farm Environment Awards positive experience for Otago finalist:

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a positive experience from start to finish for Otago finalist Simon Paterson.

Simon, his wife Sarah and parents Allan and Eris from the Armidale Merino Stud in the Maniototo were finalists in this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards and won the WaterForce Integrated Management Award and the Massey University Innovation Award. . . 

Carrfields’ Just Shorn rugs reach artwork status in the US:

American interior designers have elevated humble New Zealand wool to artwork status in a recent rug design competition in San Francisco.

Carlisle, which distributes Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool)’s range of premium New Zealand wool carpets and rugs in North America under the Just Shorn® brand, invited designers from the California Bay Area to submit their designs for rugs that could be crafted from 100% Just Shorn® New Zealand wool.

Colin McKenzie, CP Wool Group CEO, said the results were “stunning”. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Jeremy Rookes – Claire Inkson:

Proud to Be A Farmer NZ Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Hawkes Bay Proud Farmer Jeremy Rookes. You can catch Jeremy on The Country talking Farming with Jamie Mackay between 12-1pm every second Friday on Radio Sport Newstalk ZB , also on I Heart Radio.

How long have you been Farming?

I am a City Boy originally, but I have been farming on my own account since 1992. I finished a B.Com at Lincoln in June 1992, but started leasing a block in Waikari earlier that year. In 1998 my wife Mary and I bought a small farm at Waipara and added to that before selling it in 2013, we then bought 467ha here in the Hawke’s Bay at Flemington which is 20km South East of Waipukurau. . .

 

French sheep farmers protest against protection of wolves:

LYON, France (Reuters) – Farmers trucked hundreds of sheep into a central square in the French city of Lyon on Monday in protest against the government’s protection of wolves, which they blame for livestock deaths and heavy financial losses.

European wolves were hunted to extinction in France in the 1930s but a pair crossed the Alps from Italy in the early 1990s and they now number about 360 in packs scattered across the country, according to wildlife groups.

As their population has rebounded, they have encroached increasingly on farmland.

“10,000 animals killed every year by the wolf,” read one banner. . .

Fonterra’s farmers to vote on four directors after process to address ‘skills matrix – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group shareholders will vote on four new directors – one-third of the board – after the dairy company’s exhaustive new selection process that rates candidates against a ‘skills matrix’.

Shareholders will be asked to ratify the appointment of Bruce Hassall as an independent director at the company’s annual meeting in Hawera on Nov. 2. He replaces David Jackson, one of the four independents on the 13-member board (one seat is vacant), who retires at the AGM. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 19, 2016

Alliance develops super lamb – Jamie Gray:

Invercargill-based meat company Alliance Group has developed what it says is a new, tastier, class of lamb.

Alliance is part of the Omega Lamb Primary Growth Partnership – a group of 50 high country farmers and the Ministry for Primary industries – which was formed to come up with an improved product aimed at the premium end of the market.

The partnership aims to increase the total value of lamb and the share of value captured in New Zealand by building high quality, branded products.

Initial feedback from chefs and high end restaurants for the new class has so far been favourable, Mike Tate, general manager of the project, said. . . .

Tinwald bows out – Annette Scott:

The hub of Mid Canterbury’s livestock trading sold stock for the final time last Tuesday marking the end of a once-thriving sheep industry in the district.

As he opened the last-ever weekly sale PGG Wrighston Mid Canterbury livestock manager Greg Cook welcomed a large gathering of farmers, transport operators and drivers, former yardmen and past and present livestock agents.

“This a big turnout to acknowledge the history that goes with the end of an era for Tinwald,” Cook said.

The big yarding of more than 1500 prime sheep was a fitting farewell for 138 years of memories for the local farming community, he said. . .

Greaney at home as Tatum leader – Hugh Strigleman:

Brendhan Greaney feels right at home as the new chief executive of Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company and not just because he has served six years as operations general manager before his promotion.

He was born and raised three kilometres down State Highway 26 from Tatuanui, at Waitoa, where his father Claude was a site manager for New Zealand Dairy Group. . . 

Grass proves most profitable at research farm :

A grass-system dairy farm returned the best profit in the 2015-16 season compared to a cropping farm and a PKE supplement system in an ongoing trial in Northland.

The trial, on the Northland Agricultural Research Farm (NARF) is run by the Northland Dairy Development Trust (with NARF) and is funded by DairyNZ, MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund and Hine Rangi Trust.

Farm working expenses per kg of milk solids were $3.59, $4.20 and $4.01, respectively, for the grass-only, cropping and PKE farms, says Chris Boom, AgFirst Northland, and Kate Reed, NARF farm manager, speaking at a field day this month. . . 

Last bid at world shearing record – Yvonne O’Hara:

Attempting a world shearing record over eight hours is similar to running two marathons, Roxburgh shearer Eru Weeds says.
However, regardless of whether he and his team-mates succeed or fail in the attempt, it will be the last time he attempts such a challenge.

Along with fellow shearers James Mack, of Dannevirke, and Luke Mullins, of Taihape, Mr Weeds, who is in Hawke’s Bay working, will attempt to set a world record for shearing ewes over eight hours on January 17 at Waitara Station near Napier.

He said the record was 1349. . . 

Theft of stock alleged  – Simon Hartley:

Allegations of widespread stock theft across the lower South Island have rocked Otago’s farming community, which collectively could be hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Whether the allegations could be defined as poaching, theft or fraud is as yet unclear.

While the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is potentially looking at a wider alleged-fraud operation, police are only dealing with reports of individual cases of theft.

However, shell companies may have been used and there are claims farmers across Otago, and further afield, could collectively be hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket, with hundreds of cattle stolen. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 2, 2015

Chinese deal vital, SFF says – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms could be facing insolvency if shareholders do not approve a 50:50 joint venture with Chinese company Shanghai Maling.

Voting has opened on the proposal before a meeting of shareholders at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on October 16.

Shanghai Maling, a subsidiary of state owned food giant Bright Food Group, is proposing to take a 50% stake in Silver Fern Farms, in return for an investment of $261million. . . 

Hold off on Silver Fern vote, farmers urged –  Sally Rae:

Farmers are being urged to hold off voting on the Silver Fern Farms joint venture deal with Shanghai Maling, with hints that ”concrete” alternatives will emerge.

Voting is under way and closes at 10.30am on October 14, before a special meeting in Dunedin on October 16, where two resolutions will be voted on.

As well as the Shanghai Maling proposal, the meeting will also consider the shareholder resolution, promoted by Heriot farmer Allan Richardson and John Cochrane, from Clinton, seeking full analysis of the benefits and risks of a merger with Alliance Group. That resolution was not supported by Silver Fern Farms’ board. . . 

Bright lets sparks fly – Alan Williams:

Bright Dairy group is an excellent strategic investor in Synlait Milk, the latter’s chairman Graeme Milne says.

“It’s more than just money they bring.

“They’ve got the knowledge and capability to help us make good decisions.”

Shanghai Maling, the proposed new investor for Silver Fern Farms, is part of the wider Bright Dairy-Bright Foods group. . . 

Super-drone sprayer comes with risks -Robin Martin:

The first unmanned helicopter certified to spray chemicals in New Zealand could ultimately save back-country farmers thousands of dollars but it comes with a hefty price tag – and a safety warning. 

The Yamaha RMAX is a beast by drone standards, powered by a 260cc engine and weighing in at close to 100 kilograms.

Yamaha business development manager Geoff Lamb and his team put the chopper through its paces for a gathering of curious farmers, spraying contractors and radio-controlled aircraft enthusiasts at a Lepperton farm in Taranaki this week. . . 

Fonterra boss offers $4m salary freeze:

The chief executive of Fonterra has asked for his multi-million dollar salary to be frozen this year as the co-operative goes through major cost cuts and slashes hundreds of jobs.

Theo Spierings requested the freeze on his base salary on the same day Fonterra announced it was slashing hundreds more jobs as part of a business shake-up, taking total layoffs to 750.

That came just days before the company released its annual result.

A spokesman said Mr Spierings went to a meeting of Fonterra’s people, culture and safety committee on 21 September and requested that his base salary of about $4 million for the 2015/16 year be frozen. . . 

Nutrient loss under the spotlight:

New Zealand’s shift from a pasture-based model to high feed-input dairy farms will come under the microscope in a joint research project involving Ballance Agri-Nutrients, AgResearch, DairyNZ and Tatua, in partnership with the Government’s Sustainable Farming Fund initiative.

The two year project, led by AgResearch’s Dr Stewart Ledgard, will use case study farms varying in intensity of feed use to examine effects of their system changes over the last decade on emissions, production and profit as well as testing options for improving their sustainability.

“Locally there is strong interest in understanding implications for water quality of dairy intensification through increased use of supplementary feeds and how effects can be minimised, while internationally there is a desire for food products to be produced with efficient use of resources and reduced wider environmental impacts”, says Dr Stewart Ledgard. . . 

Aussies nab heaviest fleece record:

Well it’s official New Zealand has been fleeced by the Australians ..who now hold the world record for the heaviest fleece shorn off a merino.

The Australians were quick to yell they had found a wild merino near Canberra in early September with a fleece which weighed in at 40 kilograms.

Otago’s ‘Shrek the sheep’ held the record up until last year when another wild merino – dubbed Big Ben – was found in the Mackenzie Country with a fleece weighing 28.9 kgs. . . 

Steady wool market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the more restricted wool type offering in the North Island sale of 6,165 bales saw a 97 percent clearance and a generally steady market.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies firmed 1.66 percent compared to the last sale on 24th September only impacting on the finer end of the offering.

Mr Dawson advises that the stronger New Zealand dollar and limited interest in the Fine Crossbred longer wools saw prices ease 2 to 4 percent with shorter types better supported with pries 1 to 3.5 percent softer in local terms. . . 


DIRA’s had its day

August 14, 2015

Some good news on dairying:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today certified that in the 2014/15 season independent dairy processors collected 22 percent of all milksolids in the South Island.

Under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), the Minister is required to certify when this threshold is reached. It triggers expiry of the pro-competition DIRA provisions in the South Island by no later than 31 May 2018, unless there is legislative change before then.

“While Fonterra continues to collect more milk every season, it is encouraging to see new processors enter the market and create competitive pressure,” says Mr Guy. 

“Independent processors also collected 9 percent of all milksolids in the North Island. This indicates there is increasing competition in the New Zealand dairy industry.”

Monitoring of the amount collected by independent processors is required under DIRA, which allowed for the merger of our largest dairy co-operatives to form Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited in 2001.

DIRA also contains provisions to promote the efficient operation of dairy markets in New Zealand through contestability in the farm gate and factory gate markets. These provisions are intended to expire when there is sufficient competition. 

“While the percentage of milksolids collected by independent processors is one indicator of competition, it is not definitive. For this reason the Commerce Commission has been tasked with providing a report on the state of competition in the New Zealand dairy industry.

“The Commerce Commission’s report, as well as policy advice from the Ministry for Primary Industries, will help to inform my decisions as Minister and will inform the Government as it considers the results of this review.

“The Government will need to consider next year whether to promote changes to legislation to extend the duration of the pro-competition provisions, or provide a transition pathway to deregulation, or a combination of both.” . .

Information about the process, including the terms of reference for the report, key dates, and how submissions can be made, are available on the Commerce Commission website: http://www.comcom.govt.nz/regulated-industries/dairy-industry/report-on-the-state-of-competition-in-the-new-zealand-dairy-industry/

The final report is due on 29 February 2016 to the Ministers of Primary Industries and Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The Government will respond shortly thereafter by giving public notice of the Government’s policy intent.

The sooner these provisions in the DIRA go the better for Fonterra and the industry.

Under the provisions farmers can sell their shares, supply another company then go back to Fonterra which has to take them back.

DIRA has also encouraged dairying in distant areas which might not have happened had Fonterra not had to take the milk produced.

It’s had its day and competition is alive and well in the industry, at least in part not in spite of Fonterra but because of it.

No matter what the hurdles someone will see an opportunity and seize it.

Bit isn’t always better as suppliers to Tatua which is forecasting a $6 payout this season know.

Those wanting the meat industry to follow the Fonterra model should take note that the market will find a way even with legislation.

They should also note that if legislation is the answer to a business’s formation or growth you’ve almost certainly asked the wrong question.


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 31, 2015

Rabobank Agribusiness Outlook 2015

The 2015 Agribusiness Outlook shares Rabobank’s view for New Zealand agriculture in 2015. It includes four key swing factors that will be critical in shaping the outlook for 2015, addresses the significant price drivers for agricultural commodities and outlines the sectoral trends and developments that will be important to watch in 2015.

Key highlights

Outlook 2015

• Dairy – Lower global milk supply and demand gradually improving should be enough underpin a modest price recovery in 2015

• Beef – Much tighter supply from Australia, combined with strong demand from the US, will support historically high farmgate and export prices in 2015 . . .

 Tri-Lamb Group working to put lamb on the menu in the US:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is working together with its sheep farming counterparts from the US and Australia to get Americans eating more lamb.

B+LNZ’s Central South Island Director Anne Munro has just been at the annual Tri-Lamb Group conference in Nevada with B+LNZ’s North America Manager Terry Meikle and Federated Farmers’Meat & Fibre Industry Group Chairperson Rick Powdrell. Representatives from the Sheepmeat Council of Australia (SCA) and the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) also took part.

The Tri-Lamb Group was established in 2004 to grow demand for sheepmeat in the US, mainly by increasing consumers’ awareness of lamb’s nutritional value. . .  

 Planting a winner – how to protect farm waterways:

How to get the best results from planting waterways and avoid the common pitfalls will be the focus of a DairyNZ and Tatua field day on February 13 at the Tatua farm in Tatuanui.

Representatives from DairyNZ, Tatua and Waikato Regional Council will be answering farmers’ questions and providing advice on how to successfully plant farm waterways.

As part of the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord, all dairy farms must have stock excluded from waterways by 31 May 2017, and a planting plan for stream banks by 2020. The accord covers all dairy farms and is supported by all dairy companies across the country.

DairyNZ water quality scientist, Tom Stephens, who will be talking at the field day, says the focus will be on helping to ensure farmers get value for money from their planting while making the most of the environmental benefits. . .

 

Farming clean streams:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has launched a specialist team to help farmers navigate increasingly complex environmental regulations and consent requirements to promote clean green land, rivers and streams.

Alastair Taylor, the new Business Extension Services Manager at Ballance Agri-Nutrients said national programmes such as the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord are putting increased pressure on farmers to manage the nutrients within the farmgate.

“Farmers need to navigate through regulations around effluent management, nutrient use and environmental performance. Our new team will provide a direct link between farmers and regional councils to take the hassle out of environmental compliance. . .

 

Right diet helps cows keep their cool:

Choosing the right supplementary feed can help farmers turn down the heat in their cows’ digestive systems as hot, humid summer conditions increase the risk of heat stress in herds.

Science Extension Officer for animal nutrition company SealesWinslow, Sarah Morgan, says all cows generate heat when they digest feed, but feeds requiring less energy to digest will also result in less heat generated and more comfortable cows as the average daytime temperatures stay high.

“Fibre produces more heat in the rumen than other carbohydrate feed sources. Feeds that have high oil content also require more energy to digest and reduce the efficiency of nutrient metabolism. Low fibre feed sources usually result in less heat from digestion than feeds that are higher in fibre.” . .

 

Strong Interest in New Zealand Bloodstock at Karaka Sales:

This week’s Karaka bloodstock sales can expect to see a nice swing to top-end colts that will eventually make their mark in the stud market, says Geoff Roan, Bloodstock Client Manager for Crowe Horwath.

“In part this reflects the influences of the changes six years ago to the Income Tax Act, which accelerated write-downs on colts,” he said.

The market was also feeling the impact of the recent amendment to the Goods and Services Tax Act, allowing overseas entities to register for GST if they are registered in their own foreign territory and don’t have a taxable activity in New Zealand. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 17, 2015

Fire risk in mowing roadside vegetation:

Federated Farmers is warning farmers and the rural community of the risk in mowing roadside vegetation in the extreme dry conditions.

“The fire environment has reached the point where it has become extremely dangerous and high risk to use a mechanical mower to top paddocks and mow road sides,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Rural Fire Spokesperson.

“In the past 14 days Wairarapa Rural Fire District has attended 6 vegetation fires caused by the mowing of the road side or the topping of paddocks. Consequently Wairarapa Rural Fire and the Federation strongly recommend any mowing activity is postponed until weather conditions allow and the fire risk is lower.” . . .

Kiwifruit bonanza with soaring volumes – Carmen Hall:

Gold kiwifruit volumes are expected to increase by 70 per cent this year – sparking an employment drive across the industry.

The increase in volumes is also expected to pump millions of dollars into the local economy.

Zespri chief operating officer Simon Limmer said in 2013/14, 18 million trays were produced and that was predicted to rise “to upward of 30 million trays” and could reach 60 million trays by 2017.

“We have got three years of very steep volume growth, potentially up to 50 to 60 million trays. We were at 30 million trays in 2011 which was the pre-Psa impact and dropped back to 11 million trays in 2012/13 so we are now on the recovery.” . . .

NZ tractor sales rise to four decade high in 2014 on buoyant rural economy – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand tractor sales rose to their highest in almost four decades last year, reflecting a buoyant rural economy as farmers benefited from strong prices and good growing conditions.

New tractor registrations surged to 3,038 in calendar 2014, up 4.7 percent on 2013 and at the highest level since 3,129 in 1976, according to New Zealand Transport Agency data. Spending on farm buildings also rose, with the value of consents up 24 percent in the year though November to a six-year high of $322 million, according to Statistics New Zealand data.

Farmers stepped up their spending on big-ticket items like tractors and buildings last year, reflecting low interest rates, record prices and good growing conditions in the 2013/14 farming season. Spending is likely to fall this year as farmers face higher interest rates, lower prices and with drought conditions spreading through the East Coast. . .

 $5.75m debt; orchard sold – Lynda van Kempen:

One of the largest stonefruit operations in the country, Summerfruit Orchards Ltd, which owes $5.75 million, has been sold to a New Zealand buyer.

The company went into receivership in September, owing among its debts just over $4 million to SBS Bank.

The first report by receivers Colin Gower, of Christchurch, and Tim Ward, of Invercargill, has revealed the main creditors after the collapse of the company. . .

 

Workshops turn nitrogen reports into practical actions:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has joined forces with the Dairy Women’s Network, DairyNZ, Fonterra, Miraka, Synlait and Tatua to help farmers come to grips with their farm nitrogen reports and how to use them to support N-loss improvements.

Ian Tarbotton, of Ballance’s Science Extension Team, says a roadshow in both the North and South Islands through February and March will help farmers turn reports into action.

“We want to take the mystery out of farm nitrogen reports, show what factors influence the numbers in reports, and leave farmers with some really practical ways to change their numbers for the better.” . . .

Awards Continues to Attract New Entrants

The 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards has continued to attract large numbers of first time entrants to the awards programme, which aims to help people progress their career in the dairy industry.

National Convenor Chris Keeping says an analysis of the 532 entries received in the awards competitions – including the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year – shows 338 are entering one of the contests for the first time. . . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

December 2, 2014

Transforming the family farm – Sonita Chandar:

A dairy farm owned by the Treder family in Pahiatua for 100 years is a work in progress and has potential to become a top-performing property.

Michael and Jason Treder own a 50 per cent share in the family farm, with their mother Margaret owning the other half-share.

The farm has never been properly developed as subsequent generations have farmed in the same way. But, the Treders can see the potential to increase production and profitability by investing in infrastructure. . .

Tatua dairy company punches above weight– Andrea Fox:

Tatua is unashamedly big for its boots.

With 100 years under its belt and more often than not the country’s payout leader, the little Waikato company with the outsized reputation isn’t about to pull its head in now.

Chief executive of six years Paul McGilvary states confidently that in the next 10 years Tatua’s revenue can be expected to grow by 50 per cent to $400 million, and its staff by 60 per cent to 500.

And when it fills to capacity its new drier, due to start operating in June next year, Tatua will be on the way to being the world’s biggest producer of dairy hydrolysates. . .

New grass mix at cutting edge:

A new mix of grasses developed at Massey University will cope better in droughts and provide more food.

Agronomist Dr Lydia Cranston says New Zealand farmers have traditionally used ryegrass and clover as a pasture mix, or pure chicory, but as climate changes and droughts become more common and severe, alternative grass varieties need to be considered.

‘Thinking into the future, we’ve got to have alternative options and definitely the results of my study show that both chicory and plantain are good at displaying drought tolerance and continuing to grow under those dry conditions.’

Cranston, who graduated this week with a PhD in plant science, investigated a new herb and legume mix containing chicory, plantain, red clover, and white clover. She found in a glasshouse environment chicory and plantain withstood dry conditions better than ryegrass and clover.

Institute fighting for regional voices – Colin Bettles:

THE Regional Australia Institute (RAI) is “kicking goals” but concerns remain about the medium to long-term future of the independent policy think tank, says chair Mal Peters.

The RAI was launched in March 2012 after being initiated by regional independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, part of the $10 billion deal for regional Australia under the previous hung parliament.

According to Mr Peters, the Institute was designed to conduct research into regional issues like agriculture and infrastructure as an “an authoritative and trusted source of information and policy advice”. . .

Aussie fabas risk becoming ‘has bean’  – Gregor Heard:

AUSTRALIAN faba bean growers risk losingN premium markets as a result of segregations that do not meet prescribed industry standards, according to  chairman Peter Wilson.

Mr Wilson is primarily referring to Viterra, one of the major receivers of faba beans in South Australia, which also has a presence in Victoria’s bean producing districts.

Viterra is not storing beans this year, according to Pulse Australia standards, but rather as one segregation for beans of No. 2 standard and above, and one for feed-quality beans. . .

Rosters on farms –  Andrew  Hoggard:

There are benefits to be gained from a ‘five-on, two-off’ roster but you must have a plan in place to maintain productivity I ‘ve had questions put to me like, “Why don’t dairy farm workers work five days just like everyone else?” It is true dairy farms operate seven days a week and some farms, my own included, are starting to run “five on, two off” rosters. Previously, we’d run the common “11 on, three off” roster.

Though that may seem Victorian, it was only the essentials like milking and feeding that were done on weekends. You may be interested in my experiences in the first season I’ve run them.

To do my role as Federated Farmers’ Dairy chair justice, I need a good team to take care of the farm. This means better-than-average staff so “five on, two off” rosters seemed to be a way to make our farm attractive to the staff I both want and need. . .


Farming business not bet

November 13, 2014

Dairy farming is ‘no bet’:

Federated Farmers says it’s not the government betting on the farm, but instead farmers making sound market decisions. This comes after Green Party co-leader, Dr Russel Norman, said the government has ‘bet on the farm’ with dairying being a ‘one trick pony,’ which is producing a lower tax take and jeopardising a budget surplus.

“Dr Norman is ill-advisedly attacking New Zealand’s most successful export industry,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Primary exports are an increasingly large share of our merchandise export returns and dairy an increasingly large share of farm production.

“The signals from the market are that growing middle classes, especially in South Asia, are developing a sustained taste for dairy products, and New Zealand is a respected source of those dairy products.

“Our dairy farmers are rationally taking these market signals on board and not being diverted by the inevitable short term fluctuations, or in Dr Norman’s terms, ‘a bet’

“The reasons for the present market slippage are clear.

“We didn’t cause Ebola in West Africa and our dairy farmers didn’t invade Eastern Ukraine either, but these two disparate events have cost us hundreds of millions of dollars. That same risk would exist if we exported mobile phones or software.

“Yes, the world produced seven billion litres more milk last season in an exceptional run the world-over. While that put a lid on dairy price growth, sanctions following events in the Eastern Ukraine released some three billion more litres and now you’ve got Ebola too.

“No question this season is a poor one. It ranks down there with 2005/6 but that also means the many seasons around them weren’t too shabby. Seasons that have helped to make this country the third most prosperous on earth according to Legatum.

“Unlike the past, our guys have been saving the gains while investing into productivity and environmental improvements. The ASB reckons, according to NZ Farmer, that agricultural bank deposits over the year to the end of September totalled $7.2 billion.

“Within the past few weeks RadioLive’s Duncan Garner has been on-farm and said this after visiting one; “So a bit of a message to the Greens, this guy wanted to pass on a message to the Green Party that they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on what they do with their waste, and I thought it was quite brilliant, actually”.

Andrew Hoggard however doesn’t take too much issue with Russel Norman that the dairy industry might to likened to a pony.

“If he insists that it is a pony he should acknowledge that it is a very strong pony, it’s a stayer and it can perform economic miracles for our nation that Dr Norman would do well to get acquainted with,” Mr Hoggard concluded.

Season Average Dairy Company total payout ($/kg milksolids) Dairy Company payout (inflation adjusted)a
2003/04 $ 4.25 $ 5.34
2004/05 $ 4.58 $ 5.60
2005/06 $ 4.10 $ 4.83
2006/07 $ 4.46 $ 5.14
2007/08 $ 7.67 $ 8.51
2008/09 $ 5.14 $ 5.59
2009/10b $ 6.37 $ 6.82
2010/11b $ 7.89 $ 8.02
2011/12b $ 6.40 $ 6.44
2012/13b $ 6.18 $ 6.18

Fonterra’s milk price payout for the immediate past (2013/14) season is $8.40 kg/MS.
Source: DairyNZ Dairy Statistics for 2012/13
a Weighted to give real dollar values using the Consumers Price Index for the end of the June quarter. Sourced from Statistics New Zealand; Excludes dairy company retentions and deduction for DairyNZ Levy.
b Average dairy co-operative payout (Fonterra, Tatua, Westland)

 The Green Party doesn’t like dairying and it doesn’t like the government.

But neither farmers nor the government are betting on the industry.

Since National came to power in 2008 it’s introduced several measures to help business, foster trade and lower the burden of government.

Meanwhile farmers have got on with farming, accepting the reality that markets, the weather and various other factors beyond their control will affect the payout.

Last season we got a record high payout, this season will be much more modest but the medium to longer term outlook is still bright for dairying and the export income it earns for New Zealand.

 


Rural round-up

November 6, 2013

Fonterra 2.0 – Willy Leferink:

There has been more than a little soul searching by Fonterra’s Board. For all the bad press it gets slammed with locally, I can say from the World Dairy Summit in Japan that Fonterra is not just respected; it is admired by many and even feared by some across the world.

With its independent report on the non-botulism scare, Fonterra’s Board dropped a very big hint that things are going to be different going forward in deeds more than words. Given former act leader Rodney Hide admitted in print this year that “politicians leak all the time,” it must have come as a shock to the media that such a critical and sensitive report was kept tight right up until 2pm last Wednesday.

I didn’t have an advance copy just a general heads up so I raced to the internet at the same time as everybody else. There was no leak and nor was it timed to clash with some other event; Honesty 1 v. Spin Doctors 0. Even the media conference was webcast live for anyone to watch anywhere on earth. I don’t want to sound like a commercial here, but wait, there’s more. Critical parts of the report were translated into key languages so I guess Fonterra’s Board did not want there to be any ambiguity.

Yet the words of Jack Hodder, who chaired Fonterra’s independent board inquiry, sticks in my mind – the biggest thing that needs to change within Fonterra is cultural. . .

 Farmers urged to vote in historic meat co-op elections:

Given strong moves to restructure New Zealand’s red meat sector, Federated Farmers is describing the director elections for Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group as historic.

“If you want empowerment in your farming business then as shareholders you need to vote,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson, newly returned from a World Farmers’ Organisation event in Zambia.

“Set against a backdrop of what could be up to three million fewer lambs and declining stock numbers, future generations of farmers will ask current shareholders how they voted. . . .

New sentencing options for polluters not needed, says minister:

The Government has rejected a suggestion that more flexible sentencing options for judges are needed to help the fight against agricultural polluters

In a speech to the Environmental Compliance Conference this week, Environment Court judge Craig Thompson says more imaginative sentencing options could lead to better outcomes for both the environment and farmers.

Judge Thompson suggests that judges should have the power to shut down the worst offenders altogether.

He says those farmers or farm companies place a huge burden on the enforcement and prosecution resources of councils that are unfortunate enough to have them as ratepayers. . .

Fonterra and Tatua paths might cross in Australian tangle:

Cross-ownership and joint ventures could see two New Zealand rivals working together depending on the outcome of wrangling for ownership of an Australian dairy company.

Dairy companies throughout the world often own a stake in competitors or operate joint ventures, an Australian analyst Jon Hauser of XCheque says.

“There’s a whole range of commercial joint ventures and ownership structures between private companies and private companies, and private companies and co-operatives,” Hauser said. . .

Fleeced: 160 sheep stolen from field near village of Wool – Adam Withnall:

Dorset police are appealing for witnesses after 160 sheep were stolen from a field near the village of Wool.

The rustlers are thought to have had to use a large lorry to move the animals, which were all marked and electronically tagged.

Police said the incident took place between 8am on Saturday 2 November and 2.30pm on Monday, at the field which lies next to the A352 between Wool and the nearby village of East Stoke. . .

 

Gigatown competiton could benefit a rural town:

Farmers see the benefits for their rural town if it were to win Chorus’s year-long competition to bring the fastest broadband speed to one New Zealand town

FWPlus followers tweeted that it could have both indirect and direct benefits for farmers.

“Fantastic urban internet will help rural communities indirectly by helping their towns thrive,” @AaronJMeikle tweeted

The one-gigabit per second broadband speeds – up to 100 times faster than most cities around the globe – would act as a magnet and attract businesses to relocate to that town, he tweeted.

Another direct benefit, he tweeted, was that it would provide services that fitted farmers’ time constraints.

This is why I’m supporting #gigatownoamaru


Rural round-up

October 1, 2013

Dairy farm effluent to electricity plan – Tim Cronshaw:

A new effluent processing system could be working on a Canterbury farm as early as next year as a result of a Nuffield scholarship tour to 21 countries by Meridian Energy agribusiness manager Natasha King.

King is the first person from the energy sector to win a Nuffield scholarship and used the five-month trip she returned from five weeks ago to research whether farmers should use effluent to generate electricity.

She said a possible solution had been found, but this was being kept under wraps until a cow shed trial was operating.

The effluent processing trial would be carried out on a 1000-cow dairy farm to see if dairy effluent could be turned into a fuel source, she said. . .

Ministers welcome new MPI Director General:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye are welcoming Martyn Dunne CNZM as the new Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“Mr Dunne has an outstanding record of service in the military, the public service and as a diplomat,” says Mr Guy.

“His appointment signals a fresh start for MPI. I look forward to working with him on important issues like biosecurity and doubling our exports by 2025.”

Mr Dunne is currently New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Australia, and is a previous Chief Executive of the New Zealand Customs Service. He also has a distinguished record of 27 years’ service in the military, where he attained the rank of Major General and was the commander of New Zealand forces in East Timor. . .

Candidates For Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election Confirmed:

Candidates for the Fonterra Directors’ Election were announced by the Returning Officer today, following the completion of the Candidate Assessment Panel (CAP) process.

This year there are five candidates standing for the Board of Directors.  They are Eric Ray, Donna Smit, Michael Spaans, Malcolm Bailey and Ian Farrelly.

As in previous years, the CAP process was available to assess the capabilities, experience and qualifications of Director candidates and provide Fonterra shareholders with more information to help in making an informed vote.  While the CAP process is open to all Director candidates, it is not compulsory.  This year four of the five candidates went through CAP. . .

14 October closing date for Whey Inquiry submissions:

People who want to make submissions to stage one of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident have until 14 October to do so.

Stage one of the Inquiry will review the regulatory framework governing food safety in the dairy industry, and the recognised practices that apply in New Zealand, including a comparison with other comparable jurisdictions.

Stage two will investigate the incident that originated at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in 2012 and developed in 2013. This part of the Inquiry is suspended until after completion of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ compliance investigation.

Chair of the Inquiry, Miriam Dean, says the Inquiry is largely inquisitorial in nature. . .

Sir Maarten Wevers joins PGP panel:

Primary Industries Nathan Guy has announced Sir Maarten Wevers as the sixth and newest member of the Primary Growth Partnership’s Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

“This appointment reflects the growing profile and importance of the Primary Growth Partnership,” Mr Guy says.

Members of the IAP are responsible for providing advice on the investment decisions of PGP funds, and to help ensure that PGP investments achieve the aims of economic growth.

“Sir Maarten brings a wealth of experience to this role, having held a number of senior public sector and commercial roles spanning 35 years. . .

Tatua delivers a stunner:

Despite the high kiwi dollar, the Waikato based dairy cooperative, Tatua, has delivered an excellent result for its shareholding farmers with a cash payout after retentions of $7.40 per kilogram of milk solids (kg/MS).

“Tatua has always been a high performer and this is more than impressive. It is stunning,” says David Fish, a Federated Farmers member and Tatua shareholder.

“An after retention payout of $7.40 kg/MS leaves every other dairy processor trailing in our wake.  Fonterra, after all, announced last week a combined milk and dividend payout of $6.16 kg/MS. . .

Stubble fires seen as part of crop rotation:

A review of stubble burning on Canterbury grain farms has defended the practice as an essential part of crop rotation:

But it has also reminded farmers of the need to operate within the rules when they burn the residue after harvesting.

Canterbury Regional Council commissioned the Foundation for Arable Research to do a report on stubble burning as part of a council review of its air plan.

FAR research director, Nick Poole says Canterbury, as the main grain growing region, produces about 700,000 tonnes of crop residue per year, . . .

No.1 Family Estate’s Cuvee Adele 2009 takes Trophy for Champion New Zealand Sparkling Wine:

The New Zealand International Wine Show, New Zealand’s largest wine competition, has awarded Cuvee Adele 2009 the trophy for Champion New Zealand Sparkling Wine.

Made by winemaker Daniel Le Brun at his company No.1 Family Estate in Marlborough, the Cuvee Adele 2009 was launched in late 2012 as a proud tribute to his wife, Adele on her 60th birthday.

Daniel comments, “I can think of nothing better than an endorsement of this nature regarding this unique wine. It’s very special and I am truly delighted.” . . .


MPI revokes export certificates for 4 Westland dairy consignments

August 19, 2013

The Ministry of Primary Industries has revoked export certificates for four consignments of lactoferrin manufactured by Westland Milk Products following the detection of levels of nitrate that exceed the New Zealand standard.

 Lactoferrin is a naturally occurring protein found in milk. The consignments were derived from two affected batches of lactoferrin manufactured by Westland at its Hokitika factory. One batch was exported directly to China as an ingredient for other dairy products by Westland, and the second batch was supplied to Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company, and also exported to China.

MPI has been advised by Westland, Tatua and their customers, that a small proportion of the lactoferrin was used in consumer products. Almost all of these products are now confirmed as detained in the supply chain. There was no affected lactoferrin used in products in New Zealand.

“MPI’s technical experts have looked closely at this issue and believe any food safety risk to Chinese consumers is negligible because the quantities of lactoferrin used in consumer products was very small, meaning the nitrate levels in those products would easily be within acceptable levels”, MPI acting director-general Scott Gallacher said.

“MPI, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the companies concerned are working closely with the Chinese authorities on this issue,” MPI acting director-general Scott Gallacher said.

“MPI has sent a team to the Hokitika factory to confirm how this problem arose, and verify the problem is limited to just the two batches identified. It appears to be so, at this time.”

“The consignments exported to China were accompanied by official export certificates stating that the product complies with New Zealand and China’s regulatory requirements.  This was based on testing of composited batches undertaken at the time of manufacturing, which showed no issue. We now know that is not the case and certification has been withdrawn,” Mr Gallacher said.

This isn’t good timing, coming so soon after the precautionary recall of some products which used Fonterra’s  whey protein concentrate.

But it’s important to keep it in perspective.

The affected product has been identified, almost all of it has been contained and there is no food safety issue.

But it will add to perceptions that our quality standards aren’t as high as we boast and put another dent in our reputation for food safety.


Rural round-up

October 3, 2012

Foreign investment in the spotlight – Kai Tanter:

The biggest headline in Australian dairy news this week has been the possibility of China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp, investing in the Van Diemen’s Land Company. The Van Diemen’s Land Company, which operates in the Australian state of Tasmania, is looking for AU$180 million in order to expand its operations. The Tasmanian government and dairy industry have both been courting Chinese investors and seem to have met with some success.

This news follows hot on the heels of recent Chinese investment in Australia’s largest cotton farm, the Queensland Cubbie Station. Meanwhile in New Zealand, the dust has only just settled after the Crafar Farms were finally sold to China’s Shanghai Pengxin. . .

Bruce Wills slams environmental activists who use the law to shut down critics while objecting to Fed Farmers’ appeal of decisions with legal errors and scientific fallacies – Bruce Wills:

According to one of our less sympathetic critics, Federated Farmers is a dinosaur.

It seems we are a legal version of Jurassic Park for having the temerity to question the Environment Court’s reversal of independent hearing’s commissioners on the Horizons One Plan.

That of course is the right of that critic because we thankfully live in a democracy. . .

Tatau tops milk payout stakes again:

The country’s smallest dairy co-operative, Tatua, has topped the milk payout stakes again.

The Waikato-based co-op has confirmed its 109 farmer suppliers will be getting a total payout for the past season of $7.50 cents a kilo of milk solids.

That’s 60 cents below the previous season’s record of $8.10 a kilo, but well above Fonterra’s $6.40 total payout for the past season. .

Farm Shop slams supermarkets for ‘overpriced and poorly sourced’ produce – Gemma Mackenzie:

Supermarkets have come under fire for being “too expensive and not providing consumers with enough good quality produce from their region” by the boss of the UK’s oldest farm shop.

Simon Hirst, partner in the family-run Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop in Netherton, West Yorkshire (established in 1974), said consumers were “missing out” by being forced to buy from supermarkets.

“The supermarkets have had a stranglehold on our food chain for so long we’ve been given little choice but to trawl the multiples’ aisles for food that is poor quality, poorly sourced and, particularly in the case of the meat products, over-priced,” said Mr Hirst, the fourth generation manager of the Yorkshire farm, which is famed for its top-quality beef, chicken and on-site butchers shop.

“The supermarkets would have us believe they are cheaper than the farm shops and farmers’ markets but, in many cases, this simply isn’t true.” . . .

How meat farmers can lift returns – Jon Morgan:

Craig Hickson tells a story to illustrate how meat processors can short-change farmers more than $20 on each lamb they send to the works. 

“I woke up the other morning with three women in my bed with an average age of 22.” 

He has the measured, deadpan delivery of a veteran comedian. 

“You’ll be thinking, ‘That’s unlikely, he’s lying – or skiting’.” 

He pauses to let the laughter die down. “One of them was my wife and the others were my granddaughters aged 2 and 4. 

“Your first thought was that they were all aged 22.” 

He pauses again. “And that’s the dangers of averaging.” 

The industry in which he has a strategic stake, with four meat plants in the North Island and now another in Wales, is guilty of this, he says. 

    He is talking to a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farming For Profit field day. The 30 farmers have just watched one of his butchers cut up a lamb carcass, been shown each cut and told its destination.

Lucerne Based Dairy Farm – More Feed, Less Irrigation, Less Nitrate Leaching – Milking on the Moove:

Richard Campion is a lecturer at Lincoln University; he presented a paper to the 18th International Farm Management Congress held in Methven last year. His paper was titled Utilising Lucerne Potential For Dairy Farming”.
 
In his paper he modelled the Lincoln University Dairy Farm using 90% lucerne and 10% winter crop. His report states that the ryegrass and white clover pastures at the Lincoln University dairy farm produce on average 17,000kg DM/ha/yr. Irrigated lucerne stands have been shown to produce 24,000kg DM/ha/yr. But the interesting point is that Lucerne has far greater water efficiency than ryegrass. For this reason irrigated lucerne can grow 25% more dry matter than pasture and it can do it with only 1/3 of the water that ryegrass needs. So if a dairy farmer changed their irrigated pasture system to a lucerne based system, they would reduce the water required for irrigation by approximately 65%. This is a massive potential saving . . .

New Zealand’s ATV Safety Programme Working

Just one recorded on-farm work related fatality to date this year clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the Government’s approach to the safe use of ATVs (quad bikes).

The Motor Industry Association whose membership includes the major importers and distributors of off road farm bikes, including ATVs, refute the  statement by Dr Lower that the industry was adopting tobacco type tactics to block mandating of the fitment of rollover protection (ROPS) for ATVs.

“ATVs are the modern day horse and we estimate there are between 70,000 and 80,000 in use on farms here in New Zealand,” said Perry Kerr, Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Industry Association. “Naturally we are concerned by any accident and especially a fatality involving these vehicles.” . . .

New Zealand Dairy Farms Have So Few Trees. Why? – Pasure to Profit:

I want to encourage more trees on dairy farms, including perhaps Cider Apple trees.

Mixed Tree Species on farms can add to the environmental biodiversity. Imaginative shelter belts create a better work place. Trees add to the aesthetics of the farm. Effective tree shelter belts are good for animal welfare and may increase pasture growth. Could Cider Apple Trees also create another income for dairy farmers?    . . .

New Tool for Farmers to Manage Effluent Application:

Farmhelp is a recently developed mobile farming app with powerful calculators to assist farmers in determining the effluent loading they apply to the land.

There is mounting pressure internationally for farmers to effectively manage the application of farm effluent. . .

Brassica crops benefit from early planning:

Brassica crops provide high-quality forage for stock, but balancing production goals with input costs is vital to ensure planting a paddock of kale or turnip is a cost effective alternative to pasture.

New Zealand farmers grow about 300,000 hectares of brassicas a year, often as a break crop when pasture quality or performance starts to decline.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Lower North Island Technical Extension Officer Jeff Morton says that to achieve the best result with a brassica crop, nutrient deficiencies need to be resolved well ahead of sowing. . .

 Free workshops to help landowners better manage forests

Northland plantation forestry owners and contractors keen to better manage their earthworks and harvesting are being urged to attend one of five free local authority workshops being offered around the region next week.

The workshops in Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Whangarei, Dargaville and Maungaturoto are being run by the Northland Regional Council and are based on the recently released ‘Forestry Earthworks & Harvesting Guidelines for Northland’. . .


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