Rural round-up

December 1, 2016

Government farmer Landcorp puts 11,650 hectares of NZ land on the market  – Tim Cronshaw:

Government farmer Landcorp is offloading 10 farms totalling about 11,650 hectares.

Two of the properties are being offered for sale this month with another eight farms from across the country to go before iwi for the first right of refusal.

The farms were mainly sheep and beef units and should attract an enthusiastic response, said PGG Wrightson Real Estate general manager, Peter Newbold. . . 

Applications now open for Primary Industries Earthquake Relief Fund:

Applications for funding from the Primary Industries Earthquake Relief Fund are now open, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Recently we announced a $4 million fund for uninsurable on-farm infrastructure repairs in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough districts. Applications are now open and will close at the end of February, and I’m hopeful the panel will make an initial assessment of some applications before Christmas,” says Mr Guy.

“Criteria for applications has been released which includes re-establishment of uninsurable assets like water infrastructure and opening up tracks, culverts and farm bridges. . . 

MPI intercepts on-farm black market butchery operation:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has intercepted another illegal black market meat operation.

MPI District Compliance Manager Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Brendon Mikkelsen, says compliance officers recently executed a search warrant following an inspection at an Atiamuri Farm.

“Officers seized 22 freshly processed sheep that were destined for sale and several thousand dollars associated with the alleged offending.

“This operation involved the processing and sale of sheep, cattle and goats over a number of years. The operator is likely to face prosecution. MPI has a low tolerance for any black-market butchery operations.” . . 

Westland shareholders elect two new directors:

Well known West Coast dairy advocate Katie Milne and Canterbury Dairy Farmer Sven Koops have been elected to Westland Milk Products’ Board of Directors by shareholders, it was announced at the co-operative’s annual general meeting today (Wednesday 30 November).

Milne is a fourth generation West Coaster and farms at Rotomanu with her partner Ian Whitmore. In 2015 she won both the Dairy Woman of the Year title and Westpac’s Woman of Influence Rural award. She is a member of the national board of Federated Farmers and is currently the West Coast President. . . .

Strategy correct, mistakes in the delivery Westland Shareholders told:

Westland Milk Products’ shareholders turned out in force at their annual general meeting today to hear retiring chairman Matt O’Regan tell them that while the company’s business strategy was sound, it’s delivery had been poor.

In a frank address to an audience of some 150 shareholders demanding answers, O’Regan acknowledged that Westland’s low payout of $3.62 per kilo of milk solids, topped up from equity to a final payout of $3.88 was “beyond disappointing”, below break-even point for farmers and represented a failure of Westland’s goal to be industry competitive.

“However,” O’Regan said, “our strategy for growing Westland’s capacity to produce value-added products was, and remains, a sound one. Indeed, the survival of this company will depend upon its success. . . 

Horticulture shows ‘spectacular’ growth:

Horticulture has experienced a spectacular 40 percent growth in export earnings since 2014, according to a new report, with tariffs on exported produce down by 22 percent since 2012.

The New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) and Horticulture New Zealand commission the report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade every two years, with funding support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust.

The report, launched at an event in Wellington today, says horticultural produce exporters paid an estimated $190 million in tariffs, a reduction of 22 percent on 2012’s figure of $241 million. . . 

Horticulture celebrates major successes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming a new report showing a 40 per cent growth in horticulture export earnings since 2014.

The strong results are highlighted in Horticulture New Zealand and the New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA)’s report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade which is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust.

“Horticulture is a star performer of the New Zealand economy with export revenue just under $5 billion, making it one of our most important industries,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Oligopoly strangling fresh food supply chain – Alistair Lamond:

Last week the Horticultural Code was put under the spotlight.

Large wholesalers were mistreating growers with fear mongering tactics and long payment terms. It’s an all too familiar case for the hundreds of thousands of Australian small and medium sized businesses who are subjected to the corporate bullying culture that arises from one systemic problem – market power imbalance.  

In Australia, most industries are dominated by oligopolies – a state of limited competition, in which a market is controlled by small number of companies. . . 

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Rural round-up

November 17, 2016

Quake carnage raises 10m new hill at Clarence River – Tim Cronshaw:

A 10 metre high hill pushed up by the 7.5 earthquake on a previously flat river paddock has left valley farmers along the Clarence River completely flabbergasted.

The hill has appeared from nowhere on farmland along river flats about eight kilometres up the valley.

“It was completely flat and now there is a 30 foot hill in the middle of Priam’s Flat and the whole river has come up,” said Matariki farmer James Murray. “it’s unbelievable and if you hadn’t know what it looked like before you would never notice it.” . . .

Fairlie couple 2016 South Island Farmer of the Year:

A husband-and-wife “super team” has secured the title of the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year at the 2016 finals held tonight (Wednesday 16 November).

Chief Judge Nicky Hyslop says that Neil and Lyn Campbell won the judges’ praise with the “efficient, incredibly flexible and adaptive” approach to the way they have developed their dryland property. Their focus has been on systems that allow them to pursue activities that generate the most profit at the most effective point of time, with land stewardship always the foundation of their decisions.

The Campbells’ farm consists of 769ha of rolling hills and flats in Middle Valley near Fairlie in South Canterbury, producing sheep, deer breeding and finishing, and a variety of crops. . . 

Nattrass eyes another stint on Fonterra board:

Former Fonterra director Stuart Nattrass is making a bid to rejoin the co-op’s board. The South Canterbury farmer has been confirmed as a self-nominated director candidate.

He will face off with the two board-nominated directors Michael Spaans and Donna Smit.  

The self nomination process allowed any Fonterra shareholder (with the support of 35 different shareholders) to put themselves forward as a director candidate and be considered for election by their fellow shareholders alongside the previously announced Independent nomination process candidates. . . 

Fonterra running normally, helping quake-hit farmers – Mark Daniel:

With the South Island earthquake dominating our screens, Rural News Group had the opportunity to catch up with Fonterra’s Director of Farmer services, Matt Bolger at Wednesday’s Farm Focus Day at Owl Farm, Cambridge.

Bolger confirmed that since the seismic event they had been in close contact with their teams on the ground in the area, and could confirm that there were no injuries to Fonterra staff or suppliers.

He also told the largely farmer based audience that all factories in the organisation were running normally, although some had shut down automatically due to aftershocks, but were now all back on line. . . 

Crayfish confused by quake ushered back into the water – Kate Newton:

Disorientated crayfish, thrust out of the ocean onto the Kaikoura coastline, have been slowly ushered back into the water by locals.

Along the Kaikoura coastline, earthquake conversation keeps turning to the native crayfish for which the coast is named.

A horde of escaped crayfish (koura) was a side effect of Monday’s massive 7.8 magnitude shake, according to Ward resident Kerry Snell.

“When we got to the [Burkhart Fish] factory, the crayfish that were ready for the load-out, all the bins had tipped over and there were crayfish crawling everywhere. A couple of hundred. I think it was two tonnes of crayfish, just all crawling around. Disoriented too, as we all were.” . . .

Appeal Court turns down Fonterra’s bid to keep inferior terms for ex-NZDL suppliers – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group has lost its bid to overturn a High Court ruling against inferior terms offered to the suppliers of the failed New Zealand Dairies Ltd business in South Canterbury. 

The Court of Appeal bench, comprising Justices Tony Randerson, Helen Winkelmann and Brendan Brown, today rejected Fonterra’s application to throw out a ruling that it breached the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act by imposing less favourable terms on farmers who had previously supplied NZDL.  . . .

Sanford’s Move From Volume to Value Helps Boost Profit 152%:

Sanford Limited (NZX:SAN) has today posted a 152% increase in net profit after tax to $34.7m for the year ended 30 September.

The Group posted an 85.5% increase in reported EBIT to $57.7m, with revenue up $13.2m to $463.5m.

Sanford CEO, Volker Kuntzsch said it’s a pleasing result after a year of focus across the business on executing the company’s volume to value strategy. . . 

Sanford annual profit more than doubles on weaker kiwi, cheaper fuel – Paul McBeth:

BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed fishing group, more than doubled annual profit as a weaker kiwi dollar and cheaper fuel bolstered earnings in the face of a smaller catch, and as year-earlier impairment charges weren’t repeated.

Net profit rose to $34.7 million, or 37.1 cents per share, in the 12 months ended Sept. 30 from $13.8 million, or 14.8 cents, a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue rose 2.9 percent to $463.5 million, even as the volume of its catch shrank 11 percent as the company extracted more from a higher-value catch and a weaker kiwi generated bigger export receipts. . . 

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd v McIntyre and Williamson:

PARTNERSHIP AND ORS (CA736/2015)
[2016] NZCA 538
PRESS SUMMARY

This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It does not comprise part of the reasons for that judgment. The full judgment with reasons is the only authoritative document. The full text of the judgment and reasons can be found at http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz.

1. The Court of Appeal has today dismissed an appeal brought by Fonterra against a High Court ruling that Fonterra had discriminated against a group of dairy farmers by offering them less favourable terms on which it would purchase their milk.

2. The respondents are South Island dairy farmers who were contracted to supply milk to New Zealand Dairies Ltd (NZDL) when it went into receivership in May 2012.

Fonterra successfully tendered to purchase NZDL’s plant in Studholme. As part of the deal, NZDL’s suppliers agreed to switch to selling their milk to Fonterra. . . 

Good news for wine and spirit industries:

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith has welcomed the passing of a bill which will enable New Zealand wine and spirit makers to register the geographical origins of their products.

“The value of our wine exports has now reached $1.6 billion. We must jealously guard the reputation of New Zealand wines if we are to continue growing our wine exports,” says Mr Goldsmith.

The Bill amends the Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Registration Act (the Act) to ensure the process for registering geographical indicators runs smoothly. . . 

Largest robotic farm taking shape:

A 6500-head dairy farm in Chile will become the world’s largest robotic dairy after signing an agreement to install 64 DeLaval VMS milking robots.

The farm, owned by AgrÌcola Ancali and part of the Bethia Group, already has 16 DeLaval VMS installed and averages 45.2 litres for the 920 cows going through the robotic milking system.  

Ancali AgrÌcola chief executive, Pedro Heller, says the expansion follows good results from first stage of the robotic dairy. . . 


Rural round-up

November 15, 2016

North Canterbury farmers confronted by milk crisis – Tim Cronshaw, Gerald Piddock, Gerard Hutching:

Dairy farmers across the Kaikoura and North Canterbury region will have to dump their milk into effluent systems or find other ways to deal with it because it cannot be picked up.

Fonterra said road conditions in Kaikoura meant there were about 30 farms that might not have their milk collected, while others around the country might have late collections as tankers were rerouted.

A Federated Farmers spokeswoman said local councils had given the go-ahead for milk to be dumped into paddocks, following the midnight quake. . . 

Farmers pool resources to keep milking:

North Canterbury farmers are rallying together by sharing cow sheds and lending generators as they try to carry out the daily business of running their farms despite some suffering extensive damage from Monday morning’s quake.

Culverden dairy farmer Justin Slattery said about half of Culverden, in north Canterbury, had lost power and he was still waiting for it to come back on at his farm.

Slattery had been using his neighbour’s milking shed and was working around him, meaning his 520 cows got milked almost five hours late on Monday morning. He planned to return at 6pm if power had not returned to his property. . . 

 

Low price impact on milk production slight – Sally Rae:

Milk production eased only slightly in 2015-16, despite the lowest milk prices in at least 20 seasons, figures released by DairyNZ and LIC show.

Production was down 1.5% nationally, despite 52 fewer herds and 20,522 fewer cows than in 2014-15.

South Island production increased 2%, with rises in both Marlborough-Canterbury (2%) and Otago-Southland (2%). . . 

Alexandra space research centre taking off :

A Central Otago space research centre has been tipped as a game changer for Alexandra after it was announced this morning it is to be funded as a regional research institute.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce made the announcement at a breakfast meeting in Alexandra.

Mr Joyce said the New Zealand Research Institute of Viticulture and Oenology in Marlborough had been chosen as the first new regional research institute. 

The Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST), led by Alexandra-based research company Bodeker Scientific requested $15million in funding. . .

Constable Rhys Connell says police want to work in partnership with rural communities – Sue O’Dowd:

Police are committed to working in partnership with rural communities, says Taranaki rural police officer Rhys Connell. 

 “Ninety per cent of rural crime is solved by people in the community who see and hear things and let us know about them,” he told about 50 people at a rural crime prevention national roadshow in Stratford.

The roadshow also visited Tikorangi. Eight roadshows have already been in other areas of the country as part of a joint police, FMG and Federated Farmers initiative to promote rural crime prevention measures. 

“You are our eyes and ears,” Connell said. “It’s us together, not you and us.” . . 

Native mussels thrive in Canterbury stream:

Last year, we heard the story of Nigel Gardiner who found some Endangered native mussels as a result of riparian planting and continued work around the stream to improve its health. Here’s the latest update, a year on since the first discovery.

Endangered native mussels, or Kākahi, are continuing to thrive in the creek on FLO – Triangle farm in Canterbury one year after they were discovered by sharemilker Nigel Gardiner.

Kākahi are one of only three species of the endangered fresh water mussels to exist in New Zealand and can live for between 30 and 50 years. . . 

Far from ‘uneducated’ – Life on this Side of the Fence:

If you watched any of the recent presidential election results, you may have noticed a recurring theme.  As traditionally blue states turned red, a common phrase heard among reporters was that the “uneducated rural community” had made a larger turnout than what was expected.  As a member of the rural community, which is quite educated might I add, I saw a few things wrong with this statement.

First, the political affiliations of a certain group of people should in no way merit the assumption of education, or lack thereof.  In a society that claims to be open to all walks of life and discourages the labeling of cultural groups, I felt that the way rural voters were viewed was quite misguided. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 2, 2016

Asian milk demand continues, but with little fat for exporters:

While demand from China and ASEAN countries for New Zealand milk continues to grow, export margins have been squeezed and could potentially tighten further, according to a recently-released industry report.

The report, Liquid milk exports to Asia – avoiding the crush, by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says competition in Asian markets will remain fiercely competitive as both international and local brands fight for market share and consumer spend.

Report author, Rabobank senior dairy analyst Michael Harvey, says the automatic premium that international brands had historically received was unlikely to be repeated. . . 

Children need to know about agriculture – Ann Thompson:

Getting children interested in agriculture is important if we want our future agriculture workforce to come from within New Zealand.

It’s also important if we want people to understand where their food comes from and why the country is so good at producing it.

A new online learning resource has been developed, tailored to suit the curriculum for Years 5-8. The Soil, Food and Society web-based resource covers how food is grown and takes the student from the nutrients in the soil to what appears in the lunch box, with experiments to back it all up. . . 

Work continuation of lifelong passion for beef – Sally Rae:

Beef cattle have long been a passion for Natalie Howes.

Mrs Howes (29), nee Marshall, grew up on a farm at Taramoa in Southland where her family have the Benatrade Angus stud.

It was a natural progression for her to become involved in both showing and judging cattle.

She travelled to Australia several times, including as the recipient of the New Zealand Angus transtasman scholarship.

After completing her secondary schooling, Mrs Howes was intent on studying veterinary science but she wanted to add to her farming skills. . . 

Merino farmers make the most of a lull in the Aussie market – Tim Cronshaw:

A shortfall of Aussie merino fleece gave Kiwi farmers something to smile about at a Melbourne sale.

The large offering of 2800 bales landed on an Australian market short on merino wool because of wet conditions.

The New Zealand offering sold for an average greasy price of $12.40 a kilogram, about 40c/kg up on the last sale two weeks ago of 2500 bales which also met a rising market. The average price included part tender wool, hogget wool and oddments. . . 

Adventure eco-tour company grows with forest – Kate Guthrie:

From the ziplines and swing bridges built high in the canopy of Rotorua’s Mamaku Forest there’s a phenomenal view of what a New Zealand forest looks like when it’s not full of possums and rats. There’s an abundance of green palatable species now that the hordes of grazers are gone. Gary Coker, conservation manager for Canopy Tours and a qualified arborist, has been amazed at the speed of recovery since the eco-tour company began trapping in 2013. He reckons few New Zealanders realise what a healthy native forest actually looks – and sounds – like.

Mamaku Forest is noticeably louder now and last fruiting season the tawa seed was thick on the ground. It means there’s more food around for native birds and Gary says that wood pigeon numbers in the forest are incredible. There are tomtits, tui, bellbirds, whiteheads, fantails and kaka too and rare North Island robins will sometimes eat from your hand. . . 

Navigating the highway during peak milk – Gerald Piddock:

Every day is a new journey for Rick Sanford.

While travelling to farms and collecting milk remains a constant for the Fonterra tanker driver, the unknown journey is the part of the job he enjoys the most.

“You do the same job every day, but there is a variation in where you go.” . . 

Image may contain: sky and text

Behind every successful woman is herself – Pink Tractor.com


Rural round-up

November 13, 2015

Alliance profit takes $4.28m hit – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group’s profit has taken a dive and operating profit was down $4.28million in the year ended September.

The company released its key financial results yesterday, which showed operating profit of $9.19million, down from $13.47million last year.

Turnover lifted slightly, from $1.45billion to $1.49billion, while reported profit was down from $6.21million to $4.62million. . . .

Alliance taps in to online traffic through Chinese partner – Tim Cronshaw:

The Alliance Group’s closer partnership with a big red meat player in China will position it better to take advantage of the quick uptake by Chinese internet users to online buying.

Online sales are huge in China with US$9.3 billion of transactions going through Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba.com on November 11 (11/11) last year . This is known as  Singles’ Day when students graduate and has been popularised in the internet era. Much of the online retail went through Tmall.com, a platform for Chinese and international businesses to sell brand name goods to consumers in mainland China and owned by China’s richest man, business magnate Jack Ma.

Meat processor Alliance’s main sheepmeat buyer into China, Grand Farm, plans to step up online sales which will tie in with the companies’ joint strategy to increase their co-branding in the Chinese marketplace. . . 

Farming in the land of the hobbit – Gerald Piddock:

The Alexander family had never heard of Peter Jackson when in 1998 he first knocked on the front door of their Matamata farm.

The movie maker had spotted their 560ha sheep and beef farm from the air and thought the site could make an ideal set for what was to be The Lord of the Rings movies.

Unfortunately, Jackson chose the wrong time to call in on Ian Alexander, his son Craig told a large crowd of international farming journalists in Waikato for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress in Hamilton. . . 

Broadband rollout to rural hospitals complete:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Communications Minister Amy Adams have announced that all rural public hospitals and integrated family health centres now have access to high speed broadband.

The 39 hospitals and integrated family health centres identified by DHBs as candidates for the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative are now all able to connect to fibre capable of peak speeds of at least 100 Mbps.

“Faster broadband enables healthcare to be delivered in new and innovative ways. These e-Health solutions offer better, safer, more efficient healthcare closer to home,” says Dr Coleman. . .

Transtasman Company Named NZ’s Fastest Growing Agribusiness:

Agricultural consultancy and rural investment management company Compass Agribusiness, has secured the title of New Zealand’s fastest growing agribusiness in the latest Deloitte Fast 50 Index.

The company, which has offices in both Arrowtown (New Zealand) and Melbourne (Australia), also placed 18th on the overall index ranking the 50 fastest growing businesses in New Zealand.

New Zealand based company director Guy Blundell says the ranking caps off a big year for the business. . . 

Non seasonal dairy – Keith Woodford:

Recently, I have been writing about what we need to do in New Zealand to climb the agri-food value chain. I have been emphasising the importance of China – there really is no alternative – and the associated need for an integrated ‘NZ Inc’ approach to online selling direct to consumers.

The products we need to be selling through this dedicated and integrated ‘NZ Inc‘ portal (but also linked into the major Chinese online portals) include dairy, meat, wine, fruit, jams, biscuits, chocolate, and bottled water. Indeed almost anything else we manufacture for ourselves that has a shelf life of more than a few days, we can also manufacture for China. . . 

Commission approves Cavalier’s application to acquire NZ Wool Services:

The Commerce Commission has issued its final determination approving Cavalier Wool Holdings’ (Cavalier) application to acquire New Zealand Wool Services International’s (NZWSI) wool scouring business and assets.

Today’s decision follows on from the Commission’s draft determinations, released in March and October, which indicated it was likely to approve the application because of the public benefits of the acquisition.

Chair Dr Mark Berry said the Commission had considered and tested all the submissions and evidence presented to it since the application was lodged in October 2014 and was satisfied the acquisition should be permitted. . . 

James Wong's photo.

Despite all our accomplishments, we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact it rains.


Rural round-up

August 9, 2015

Merino deal lines up with Swanndri – Tim Cronshaw:

A new deal has been inked by the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) to supply fine and strong wool to Swanndri for its outdoor clothing and new urban range.

An initial 30 tonnes of wool will be supplied by NZM’s supplier network of merino, mid-micron and strong wool farmers with most of the strong wool to come from its business partner Landcorp, the government-owned farming company.

NZM expects the tonnage to grow quickly because of its ability to supply wide ranging wool types for Swanndri’s clothing and accessories, from jackets and vests to baby blankets and luggage. . .

Whitestone Cheese takes on trail guardian role – Rebecca Ryan:

Whitestone Cheese has signed on as the first ”section guardian” of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail and will contribute to maintenance and upkeep of the Duntroon to Oamaru section until at least 2018.

Tourism Waitaki marketing manager Ian Elliott said the new initiative was launched as an opportunity for businesses and individuals to make a more ”significant and ongoing contribution” to the cycle trail in its development period.

Simon and Annabel Berry, of Whitestone Cheese, announced their signing as guardians of Section 8: Duntroon to Oamaru yesterday. . ..

Happy to host hunter in Hawea:

The owner of a Lake Hawea trophy-hunting business says he is ”more than comfortable” about hosting a US hunter who is being slammed for showcasing photos of herself posing with a giraffe, wildebeest and other animals she has shot.

Glen Dene Hunting and Fishing owner Richard Burdon said he expected to host Idaho accountant Sabrina Corgatelli at his station in April next year.

She would hunt red stags during the roar using a bow.

Ms Corgatelli is another trophy hunter being condemned on social media after the allegedly illegal shooting of a lion known as Cecil in Zimbabwe by American dentist Walter Palmer. . .

G.M.O. Dilemma: Swaying a Wary Public – Conrad De Aenlle:

Genetic food modification worked out well the first time it was tried.

By planting seeds from the best grain season after season or breeding the best animals to one another, our ancestors changed gene pools and gave civilization its start.

The earliest known practitioners of biotechnology — Babylonians who added a variety of yeast fungus to grain about 5,000 years ago — produced beer and helped make civilization fun.

Proponents of modern genetic food modification through biotechnology expect it to help keep civilization going by feeding people who otherwise might starve, but the public is wary at best. . .

UniBio plots annimal feed revolution – Big Picture (Hat tip Kiwiblog)

Get set for a revolution in animal feed.

If UniBio’s plans come to fruition it won’t be too long before the company orchestrates a major adjustment to the food-chain, and with very positive implications for the environment.

The company already has letters of intent for 110,000 tonnes of its key product, a biologically engineered animal feed manufactured out of methane called UniProtein.

The UniProtein price will be benchmarked against Peruvian fishmeal, as it has the potential to substitute fishmeal in a feed mix for, for example piglets. . .

And from Peterson Farm Bros:
Peterson Farm Bros's photo.


Rural round-up

June 29, 2015

Snow does little to blunt Hurunui drought – Tim Cronshaw:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Landcorp sees NZ dairy conversion rate slowing – Tina Morrison:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Appointments to Conservation Boards made:

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

June 27, 2015

Lincoln University’s VIce-Chancellor Resigns:

Dr Andrew West today resigned as Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University.

“I am proud of what the University has achieved under my leadership. It has been a fabulous three years and Lincoln is on track to become one of the world’s truly great land-based universities”, said Dr West.

 “However my commitment of time, energy and focus has been so great that it is now appropriate that I refocus on my family that live in the Waikato and on my very elderly parents that live in England”, Dr West added.

Farm Environment Award goes to Rotorua couple – Gerard Hutching:

ROTORUA couple John and Catherine Ford have won New Zealand’s pre-eminent farming prize, the Ballance Farm Environment Award for 2015.

It is the first time in the five years since the award was established that a North Island farming business has won.

The Fords were presented with the Gordon Stephenson trophy by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy at a Parliamentary function.

The judges said the sheep and beef property had the “wow” factor and had been chosen from out of 10 regional supreme winners. It stood out in terms of environmental sustainability and impressive production and performance figures, they said. . .

Taupō farmer warned over nitrogen cap breaches:

A sheep & beef farmer has been formally warned for breaching the Resource Management Act by exceeding a nitrogen discharge cap on properties in the Lake Taupō catchment over a two year period.

It is the first warning issued by Waikato Regional Council under the new Variation 5 consenting regime designed to protect the lake’s health from nitrogen, which can leach into waterways and cause nuisance algae.

The warning came after it was discovered more than a tonne of excess nitrogen could eventually leach into the lake as a result of the farmer’s operations over the two years. By themselves the breaches are not expected to have a major detrimental effect on the lake’s future health. . .

Look at it as a challenge – Bryan Gibson:

The line painted on Rob Craig’s haybarn, marked 2004, is a reminder of the devastating floods of a decade ago. 

But heavy rain is often enough to jog Craig’s memory, as it did last weekend.

“I didn’t sleep well on Friday night, to be honest. It was bucketing down with rain. Ever since ’04 it’s always in the back of your mind when it’s raining heavily. It just kept raining and raining and I got a pretty bad feeling then that it was going to be bad.” . . .

Lake Opuha reaps the winter harvest – Tim Cronshaw:

A rich snow harvest in the Fairlie basin is providing an unexpected windfall for lowland farmers needing Lake Opuha to fully recharge for the next irrigation season.

After being closed to irrigating in February the lake reached “zero storage” for the first time in 17 years and had been slow to return to its normal levels over autumn.

The lake will be boosted by the initial snow melt in the lower basin with lake levels expected to continue rising as deeper snow in the Two Thumb Range thaws in spring, but more water is needed for it to totally refill. . .

 NZ finishes 2014/15 wool season with smallest volume sold at auction in at least 7 years: – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s 2014/15 wool season ended this week with what is expected to be the smallest percentage of the clip sold through auctions in at least seven years, as more farmers were attracted to the premium prices and protection from commodity price volatility offered in private sales.

The auction system’s share of wool is expected to continue to shrink. An estimated 464,000 bales are expected to come up for auction in the 2015/16 year, down from 480,000 bales in 2014/15 and 493,000 bales in 2013/14, according to Wool Services International executive Malcolm Ching, who is on the roster committee which estimates wool bale supply for the auctions. Ching said the committee has been forced to revise down its estimates in recent years to reflect declining sheep numbers and an increased amount of wool circumventing the auction system. . .


Rural round-up

June 22, 2015

Fonterra – who loves ya baby? – Tim Hunter:

It’s so ironic. Fonterra [NZX: FCG], whose sole reason for being is to benefit its co-operative members, is so distrusted by them that it must have a Shareholders Council to oversee its board, even though the board is already completely controlled by shareholders.

The co-op is so successful it is the world’s largest processor of milk and the world’s biggest dairy exporter, yet its shareholders complain that its head office is not in a provincial town, even though there are barely any international flights from provincial airports.

Meanwhile, the business has become so economically important to New Zealand that non-shareholders argue Fonterra is too focused on processing milk and should be more like Nestle, which sells a lot of coffee, chocolate and instant noodles (although it probably doesn’t want to talk about noodles right now). . . 

 

Tight times for sharemilkers – Hugh Stringleman:

Most sharemilkers will be unable to write a break-even budget for the new dairy season and face several months of negative cash flows before dairy prices are expected to recover.

That is the market reality facing all dairy farmers, but especially taxing for sharemilkers of all descriptions given the low milk prices, incomes in the $1 to $2/kg range, and the lack of discretionary or deferrable spending.

Industry-wide, considerably more seasonal finance will be necessary because herd-owning sharemilkers (40-50% contracts) face losses between 30c and 50c/kg on all milk produced for the remainder of 2015. . .

 Survey captures cost of compliance – Richard Rennie:

Waikato dairy farmers have invested about $400 million in environmental compliance in recent years, but are uncertain about how long that investment will remain compliant.

New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays scholar Thomas Macdonald has just issued findings from a survey he conducted on Waikato dairy farmers, determining how much they have invested in effluent management and compliant farm systems. . .

 AgResearch hub remodelled for Lincoln – Tim Cronshaw:

AgResearch’s soon to be built science hub programme will look much different from the operation first envisaged, writes Tim Cronshaw.

AgResearch is about to put out new master plans as more science and agriculture partners join its vision for innovation clusters at its main Lincoln and Palmerston North hubs in a nationwide $100 million restructuring programme.

Originally the research organisation was going to build its science centre for its Future Footprint programme on new ground connecting to the Lincoln University campus with the wider Crown Research Institute precinct.

Townie helps out – Annette Scott:

Christchurch businessman Grant Silvester launched a campaign earlier this month to help get feed to North Canterbury farms.

He has been thrilled at the amazing support the campaign has attracted and is more than confident of trucking in his goal of 500 bales of feed to the region.

Silvester, a self-described townie who sells cars and racing car parts from his Christchurch-based business, had seen how dry farms were while travelling through the area. . .

 Firm friendship: The sports star and the girl inventor – Narelle Henson:

It’s easy to see young inventer Ayla Hutchinson and her mentor, Bernice Mene are mates – even though they clearly have pretty different backgrounds.

Mene is a national figure, accomplished in the world of sport, Ayla is a teen inventor from the fields of Taranaki; introverted, inexperienced and – by her own admission – a little anxious.

Fifteen-year-old Ayla is the inventor of the Kindling Cracker, a wood-splitting device taking New Zealand by storm. She’s just signed “a massive” supply deal with major American corporate, Northern Tools + Equipment. The second 12-metre container of orders needs to be sent soon, but New Zealand demand keeps emptying it. She’s constantly being badgered with interview requests, and everywhere she goes people just keep asking how she came up with that invention. . .


Rural round-up

June 21, 2015

World’s largest robotic dairy barn leads technology – Pat Deavoll:

 Fitting 1500 cows under one roof seems impossible, but that’s just what Wilma and Aad van Leeuwen of the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group did, by building the world’s largest robotic dairy barn at Makikihi in South Canterbury. 

The 23,000 square metre barn, completed last September at a cost of $22 million, was the third of its kind built by the van Leeuwens, but the first of its scale.

Behind the drive to install the barn was the premium price paid for winter milking, which a robotic system enabled, and a shortage of skilled staff. . .

 Hayley’s star rises at Rabobank:

The market downturn in dairy is among foremost concerns for Rabobank dairy research director Hayley Moynihan as she steps into the newly created role of the bank’s general manager Country Banking.

She is sure the bank has the right support systems in place for dairy farmers in its 33 branches, but a first priority will be to ensure the bank stay aligned to farmers needs in all sectors.

Moynihan told Rural News the new role of general manager Country Banking had been created in recognition of the size of the New Zealand business now. . .

Are the Mexico-bound sheep for breeding or barbeque? – Keith Woodford:

Prior to this week, I had no particular knowledge about the current shipment of 50,000 ewe lambs that are heading to Mexico. So when I was approached by Jamie Ball from the NBR for comment, my immediate thought was to say nothing. I simply assumed that this was indeed a very large shipment of future breeding stock.

However, once my attention was focused, and I started scratching around, all sorts of warning bells started to ring. It seemed a very large number of breeding animals to be sending there. And surely, if this was a genuine shipment, then at the other end there had to be either a huge rural development project, or alternatively a very large agribusiness.

So I started to dig a little deeper. As I dug through the layers, a fascinating story began to emerge. I am sure there is still more to uncover. . .

Mexico-bound livestock get cared for in shipment – Tim Cronshaw:

Until now exporters of a massive shipment of young stock going to Mexico have kept out of the limelight. They tell their side of the story to Tim Cronshaw.

Exporters sending 45,000 ewe hoggets and 3200 beef heifers to Mexico say they will continue to receive top care after their two-week voyage to their new home ends on June 26.

Contrary to concerns by animal right groups the group has confirmed livestock will not go to Mexican regions with temperatures of 40 degrees celsius, have not breached minimum age requirements, will be used only for breeding and the farms have been ratified by state governments who have bought most of the animals. . .

Prestigious, International Agri Conference grows from NZ BBQ:

PPP celebrates 10 years with announcement of inaugural agri award winner

This week, agricultural networking fraternity, the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group, will head to Darwin, Northern Australia, to celebrate its 10th anniversary conference – and announce the winner of a new agri award.

Founded in New Zealand by head of Allflex Australasia and Wairarapa farmer, Shane McManaway, the Group started with a handful of producers at an informal BBQ in 2005. It now comprises over 130 of Australasia’s most influential agri-businessmen and women. . .

 

Hawkes Bay horticulture contractors fined:

The Employment Relations Authority has fined three Hawke’s Bay horticulture contracting companies a total of $22,500 for failing to provide employment records.

The Labour Inspectorate launched an investigation into Kiwi Labour Solution, OOMDA New Zealand and Positive Force after an audit last year to check for compliance with employment, immigration and tax laws. . .

 US going nuts about milk prices:

From Kentucky family farms to Californian ‘mega dairies’, there is one thing on the mind of US dairy farmers – milk price. In California this is driving many to nuts.

The dairy farmers are not making money right now. The Californian price is $13-$16/cwt (cwt = 0.045 tonne), about $2/cwt below cost – and well below the $20/cwt they were getting last year. Kentucky is on a similar price: one farmer told Rural News they were getting $27/cwt last year. . .


Rural round-up

June 2, 2015

Experimentation pays dividends – Sally Rae:

Ask Graham Hunter how many trees he has planted through the years and there is a pause.

Because, with about 40ha in forestry on the property he farms with wife Pam, 20km from Lawrence, along with 5km of shelterbelts, not to mention all the trees planted on their previous farm, the answer is literally ”thousands and thousands”.

Mr and Mrs Hunter were named the South Island Husqvarna farm forester of the year at the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association’s conference in Whangarei. . . .

Effluent pond test tool a first: designer – Allison Beckham:

The designer and developer of a new, high resolution device to test whether effluent ponds are leaking says it is the first test in New Zealand which provides farmers with accurate scientific information.

Other tests available collected information only once every 24 hours, Opus principal rural consultant Dr Marc Dresser, of Hamilton, said.

But the device he and fellow Opus Rural Services engineer Andy Johnson have designed and built uses two probes to calibrate information every 10 seconds, taking into account rainfall, evaporation and atmospheric pressure changes. . .

Minister to represent NZ at UN Food and Agriculture conference:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy leaves for Europe today to represent New Zealand at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations’ (FAO) Biennial Conference in Rome.

The FAO is an inter-governmental organisation with 194 member nations. Its aims include the sustainability of natural resources while driving economic and social progress.

“As a country founded on our primary industries, New Zealand can add real value to the discussions at the conference,” says Mr Guy. . .

Larger Japanese stake in Anzco gains OIO approval – Tim Cronshaw:

A Japanese company investing just over $40 million has won Overseas Investment Office approval to buy a larger stake in the major meat processor Anzco Foods founded by chairman Sir Graeme Harrison.

Existing shareholder Itoham Foods met overseas investment criteria to lift its ownership to 65 per cent of the company, from 48.2 per cent,  after buying three lots of shares from Nippon Suisan Kaisha Limited, known as Nissui,  Harrison and Janz Investments which is majority owned by Harrison with senior Anzco managers.

Anzco is now a subsidiary of Itoham which is Japan’s second largest meat based manufactured and processed foods company. Itoham announced in February it wanted a larger shareholding as part of expansion plans in its processed meat business to meet growing Asian demand. . .

 Visa application holdups add to farmers’ Gypsy Day headaches – Phil McCarthy:

A Southland dairy leader is calling on Immigration New Zealand to extend migrant visa concessions handed out elsewhere to workers on farms in southern regions.

This month the Government announced changes to immigration policy which will make it easier to recruit and retain Filipino migrant workers for the Canterbury rebuild.

The change meant that employers who wanted to retain a lower-skilled Filipino worker could do so without having to renew the visa annually. They would also not have to apply for a variation of conditions if they changed employer. Overseas people working in tourism in Queenstown have also had their visa requirements short-cut  on a temporary basis. . .

 Rural agents bet on farmland boom – Matthew Cranston:

COMPETITION is growing between Australia’s major rural land selling agents as farm sales volumes are expected to come out of a trough and major institutional and private investors seek to gain a foothold in the growth area of agriculture.

Elders chief executive Mark Allison, who saw the rural services company sell more than $1.4 billion in real estate last year, is taking on the new entrants of CBRE and Colliers International.

He is aiming for 12 real estate agency acquisitions next financial year and 40 by fiscal 2017. . .

Saddle up for the High Country: – Mark Abernethy:

THE colonial days of stockmen and bushrangers come alive when you journey on horseback.

There was a point when the slow clop of the hooves and the primal shade of the gum trees could have placed us in a much earlier era of history.

There were eight of us on horseback, sliding through the high country of the Great Dividing Range just north of Glen Innes in New South Wales, the iron barks and gums swaying under the clear skies; and if it hadn’t been for the occasional click of an iPhone camera, we could have been riding through the colonial frontier, about to bump into a bushranger or a bullock team. . .


Rural round-up

April 24, 2015

100 years 100 horses unites community:

The tale behind this Saturday’s 20km trek by 100 horses and riders to honour their Anzac war dead has galvanised rural communities around Waikari, north Canterbury, even after the worst drought for 60 years.

On Anzac Day, a spectacular remembrance called ‘100 Years, 100 Horses’, assisted by a Fonterra Grass Roots Fund donation, will see 100 riders in formation – many of them dressed in replica gear from World War I. They will pay tribute, not just to the fallen, but to the community spirit behind the Canterbury Mounted Rifles.

Fonterra’s Grass Roots Fund was touched by the story of the Rifles, part of the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade which left Lyttelton in 1914 for the conflict in Turkey with just under 2000 men and over 2000 horses. The north Canterbury townships of the Hurunui district – Waikari, Hurunui, Mason Flats, Peaks and Hawarden – provided 187 of the riders, 42 of whom did not return. . .

Landowners ease path to Tinui Cross, NZ’s first Anzac memorial  – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers and landowners in the Tinui district of the Wairarapa have been “superb” over the creation of a walkway across their land to the historic Tinui Anzac Cross.

The first Anzac memorial built in New Zealand, the cross was built in 1916 on top of Mount Maunsell, or Tinui Taipo as it is known locally.

It has long been a tradition for locals to walk the three kilometres from the Tinui cemetery to the cross on Anzac Day, but in recent years numbers have grown.

Chairman of the Tinui Parish Anzac Trust, Alan Emerson, said the Trust had wanted to establish informal access to the cross for a number of years, and a route through Tinui Forest Park and a neighbouring farm belonging to Mike and Lesley Hodgins proved most suitable. . . .

Dealing weeds a crushing blow – Time Cronshaw:

Frustrated by weeds infiltrating his crops Aussie farmer Ray Harrington borrowed coal mining technology to come up with an invention turning heads internationally, writes Tim Cronshaw.

Crushing was the final C option that farmer-inventor Ray Harrington turned to for eliminating persistent weeds on his Western Australia farm.

“I knew we would have to do something different to stave off the impending (herbicide) resistance and knew what was coming. That is why I decided to build in my mind what I dubbed as as the Big C project. We knew the chaff (coming from the header) when we harvested crops contained 98 per cent of the weed seeds and I had to catch the chaff, cart it, cook it, crush it or cremate it and that was the project in my head.” . . .

Bees show taste for toxic pesticides – study:

A New Zealand bee scientist says new international research that shows bees may be getting hooked on some types of pesticides, only paints part of a wider picture.

A study published in the science journal Nature this week shows bees prefer food laced with neonicotinoids in lab tests undertaken at Newcastle University.

Neonicotinoids are long-lasting insecticides which are primarily used to coat the seeds of plants, making them toxic to all insects when they grow.

There is international debate on whether bees are affected by them. . .

Horticulture production exceeds $7 billion:

Plant & Food Research is a New Zealand-based science company providing research and development that adds value to fruit, vegetable, crop and food products.

New Zealand’s horticultural production has exceeded $7 billion for the first time, according to the latest edition of the industry statistics publication Fresh Facts. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 4, 2015

MIE report exposes Silver Fern Farms’ sheep processing dilemma: – Kieth Woodford:

Meat industry reform is back in the news in recent weeks with the long awaited release of the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) report. The MIE perspectives have been well known for some years and so there were no real surprises in what they said. According to MIE, the most important issue is dealing with industry over-capacity through plant rationalisations and company amalgamations.

I will return to MIE’s solutions at another time, but here I want to look at the underpinning analyses provided by international consultancy company GHD, and some key insights therein that could easily be lost. When it comes to finding solutions, losing those insights would be a great pity. For Silver Fern Farms in particular, some of those insights make uncomfortable reading. . .

2015 Golden Lamb Awards (Glammies) Declared a ‘No Contest’:

The 2015 Glammies competition has been declared a ‘No-Contest’ as a result of a mistake made by the testing facility in analysing the data to ascertain the top twenty finalists.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc were made aware of this issue by testing facility late Friday afternoon. Yesterday, we found out the full extent of the mistake which impacted the selection of the top twenty finalists.

An error was made with the final spreadsheet when the testing facility calculated the final score and applied the ranking. In error, their IT person used the formula for shear force – where low is good, high is bad – and applied it to yield. . .

Test error dethrones Glammies winner – Kate Taylor and Tim Cronshaw:

A Dannevirke farmer will hand back his Golden Lamb Award after organisers found a testing mistake.

Hamish Buchanan beat 20 finalists last month to win the competition, known as the “Glammies”, to find the most tender and tasty lamb. 

However, organisers have ruled the results in the competition, run by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, were invalid because of a mistake made by the testing facility in analysing the data to narrow the top-20 finalists. . .

Methodical approach a winner:

An analytical approach has won northern Wairarapa farmers Lucy and Robert Thorneycroft the 2015 Keinzley AgVet Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year Award.

“We entered the competition as a challenge and are delighted with the win. It has been a fantastic competition to be involved in,” she said.

Their high-performing stock, tight control of expenses and concern for the environment were also highlighted by judges.  . .

Just the ticket – Anne Calcinai:

In part two of a series looking at different pathways to farm ownership Anne Calcinai looks at the leasing and contracting routes.

It is tough getting into farming, but not impossible.

Hawke’s Bay couple Jeremy and Gina Sunckell are proof that you don’t need to start out with millions of dollars to have a successful business in the sheep and beef industry. . .

 

Midlands 25 Year Celebrations:

Ashburton business, Midlands Seed Limited has celebrated its 25th Birthday by giving back to the local community and both the Mid Canterbury Cancer Society and the Ashburton Stadium Complex Trust were recipients of a generous donation. The company is celebrating 25 years of success in the International seed trade and rather than spending money in this anniversary year, decided to donate the combined sum of $25000 to two organisations that would benefit the local community.

Midlands Seed Managing Director Chris Green said “On behalf of our staff, grower suppliers and international partners, it is great to be able to make these donations into the same local community which has supported our business since the company’s inception in 1990”. . .


Rural round-up

March 16, 2015

Dairy firms confident of safety, security systems – Alan Williams:

Dairy manufacturing companies are very confident of their food safety systems against any risk of the 1080 threat but one has stepped up its security.

Synlait Milk has brought in round the clock physical security checks for site access, including photo identification for all staff at its plant in central Canterbury. . .

Women must invite themselves –  Annette Scott:

A report suggesting business women need to get more assertive to arrest the dramatic fall in women around New Zealand board tables has been challenged by industry experts.

 Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) chief executive Zelda de Villiers acknowledged it was a challenge for women to get their feet under the table in the male-dominated agribusiness sector. . .

Picked, washed, packed and stacked, it’s all about apples  – Lynda van Kempen :

This year, almost more than 10,000 tonnes of Otago apples will be traded in more than 60 countries around the world. The apple industry has kept the van der Voort family in business in Central Otago for 50 years. Their Ettrick apple export packhouse is one of New Zealand’s largest. Reporter Lynda van Kempen follows some early season Cox’s Orange apples, as careful hands and high technology guide the way from picking and packing to trucking out.

Collected from home, a quick bath, a spin through the packhouse and then chilling out on a leisurely sea cruise before meeting the fans overseas – that’s the lot of an Otago-grown export apple. . .

Sheep and beef are doing it tough in drought – Tim Cronshaw:

The drought has put a dent in the incomes of South Island sheep and beef farmers, particularly those with lower beef cattle ratios.

South Island prices at about $4.95 a kilogram for an average 17 kilogram lamb are back about 12 per cent from $5.55/kg the same time last year. A gap lies between southern returns and North Island prices of $5 to $5.10/kg.

Lamb volumes have increased as farmers cull more stock during the drought through much of the South Island’s east coast. Volumes were up 11 per cent at 9.1 million lambs the middle of last month from 8.2 million the same time last year. . .

Alliance steps up its links with rural women – Tim Cronshaw:

Half of the Alliance Group’s 5000 shareholders are women and the meat processor and exporter is strengthening its links with them to help them improve their decision-making on farms.

A Nelson visit to a meat plant today followed a Christchurch workshop yesterday and a visit to Alliance’s Smithfield site in South Canterbury this week.

The workshops were devised after it was noticed that women sometimes felt uncomfortable attending Alliance meetings and a pilot was held in Invercargill last year. . .

New Zealand’s first purpose-built calf feeding system has been developed:

Inspired by a European farming system, but with an understanding that New Zealand farms are different, a local engineer has developed New Zealand’s first purpose built calf feeding system. CalfSMART has the potential to reduce labour costs and lead to overall herd improvements.

New Zealand has nearly 12,000 dairy herds that rear cohorts of calves ranging in size from less than 100 to over 250. The largest 15% of New Zealand’s dairy farms rear 35% of the entire country’s replacement heifers. Traditionally, calf rearing has been carried out by farming families, however in recent years as farms grow in size this work has increasingly been carried out by a migratory workforce. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

February 16, 2015

Work of dedicated greenie on view  – Tim Cronshaw:

A lifetime’s work by a Canterbury farmer to lay out a tree canopy on his property, the envy of many farmers, will be opened up to visitors this month.

Lochaber Downs was until lately the home of Graeme and Christine McArthur and they spent decades putting in shelterbelts, woodlots and many varieties of native trees and plants on the 680 hectare hill country and downs property at Whitecliffs, inland Canterbury.

This was rewarded with the couple being named the Husqvarna Farm Foresters of the Year for the South Island. As part of the award they will hold a field day on February 21 despite since selling the farm. The field day has been allowed to continue with the consent of new owner Ken Wragg. . .

Kiwi smashes world barley record – Alan Williams:

Timaru farmer Warren Darling set his mind on a new world barley growing record after going close last season without really trying.

His determination has paid off with the numbers and now he’s just waiting to see if Guinness World Records will ratify the result. Word from the United Kingdom-based group was expected any time.

The January 23 harvest produced a yield of 13.8 tonnes a hectare from the 11.5ha block of land on the coastal Poplar Grove Farm. . .

 Dairy man disputes barn finding – Neal Wallace:

A study questioning the merits of wintering barns or free stalls has been slammed as muddled and narrow-focused by an advocate of the system.

Ray Macleod, the manager of Landward Management, a Dunedin company specialising in hybrid dairy farming systems, said the report failed to look at the barn system as part of a year-round production cycle and confused farm intensification with better use of resources.

The study by DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman and AgFrirst consultant Phil Journeaux said the jury was still out on the financial and environmental merits of the barns. . .

Astronauts catch on to wool’s fire resistant qualities – Mary-Jo Tohill:

For merino wool protective clothing specialist Andy Caughey, there’s nothing like going straight to the source.

The New Zealand merino wool advocate was at the Central Otago A&P Show at Omakau yesterday, mingling with some of the farmers who grow wool for his UK-based brand, Armadillo Merino. 

From the sheep’s back to outer space might sound a bit far-fetched, but not when you’re talking about astronauts, whose under-garments are made from merino wool. . .

Government distrust of Fonterra ‘staggering’:

The level of Government distrust in Fonterra was a “huge shock” according to the man who led the dairy giant’s board inquiry into 2013’s botulism scare.

Speaking at an Institute of Directors function in the Waikato today, Jack Hodder, QC, said the inquiry team was taken aback by the lack of goodwill between the country’s largest company and politicians.

“That was a huge shock. That was probably the most staggering thing,” the Chapman Tripp partner said. 

“Accidents happen, but the lack of goodwill Fonterra had in Wellington was a real concern.”

Hodder said what goodwill had existed between the two “evaporated” once the botulism scare broke. . .


Rural round-up

January 12, 2015

Time for tough calls – Annette Scott:

South Canterbury farmers expect their region to be declared a drought zone before the end of the month, unless rain falls.

Dairy farmer Brent Isbister predicts milk production on his farm will be back at least 15% for the season going on the way his business is tracking with the emerging drought.

Before December his 1150-cow herd was producing 3% ahead of last year but with water restrictions since mid-December, milk flow was now 20% down. . .

Stock cut back as drought looms – Tim Cronshaw:

North Canterbury farmers in dry hotspots are two to three weeks away from a drought.

Farmers are calling the dry run typical for North Canterbury after easier summers lately and a return to the summers of their youth.

They are feeding stock extra supplies and have de-stocked ewes from properties and sold lambs to the store market which they might normally finish themselves to get better prices.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Lynda Murchison said farmers around their sheep and beef property in Weka Pass were dry and would go into drought without rain in the next few weeks. . .

Milk collection up; dry fears – Dene Mackenzie:

Fonterra’s New Zealand collection is 4% higher for the season to date but the dairy co-operative issued a warning about the effect dry conditions were having on the east coast of the South Island.

Farmers would be watching closely as irrigation restrictions might be put in place.

Fonterra released statistics for the seven months to December and said the collection rate was 3% higher in December than in the previous corresponding period, as well as being 4% higher for the seven months. . .

Meat goes same way as oil – Dene Mackenzie:

The ASB Commodity Price Index started the year with a fall in all denominations, mainly due to the dipping sheep/beef index.

The 2.7% fall in US dollar terms in the sheep/beef index was largely shared by beef (price down 3.4%) and lamb (down 2.7%).

Dairy prices were flat before the 3.6% overall rise in the GlobalDairyTrade auction. ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said the year started with commodity markets very much in the headlines. . .

Clearing pests would bring range of benefits:

Forest and Bird says clearing pests from New Zealand would have significant economic benefits for the country’s primary production and public health.

The Predator Free New Zealand Trust aims to clear New Zealand of rats, stoats and possums in just a few decades by concentrating research on new removal techniques such as introducing infertile males.

Forest and Bird spokesperson Kevin Hackwell said vertebrate pests cost the primary production sector about $3 billion a year. . .

* * * * *

Farmers take great pride and great care for their animals. The animals come first, before the farmer and their families. No matter what the weather, the farmer is out there taking care of their livestock. Farmers work 365 days a year. No snow days. No holidays.</p> <p>#Farm365 #agproud #agmorethanever #thankafarmer #FarmVoices


Rural round-up

December 21, 2014

Chinese seek bigger stake in Oamaru meat plant – Sally Rae:

Overseas Investment Office approval is being sought to increase a Chinese-based shareholding in Lean Meats’ Oamaru plant.

NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods, whose shares were owned by Heilongjiang Binxi Cattle Industry Co Ltd, has already bought a 24.9% stake in the plant and wants to increase that to 50%.

Yesterday, Richard Thorp, who finishes this week as chief executive of Lean Meats and will join NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods as chief operating officer, said it was positive news for North Otago. . .

Other iwi benefiting from sweet success:

The Ātihau-Whanganui Incorporation is sharing its business knowledge with neighbouring tribes to help generate money for their descendants by using land that’s unsuitable for beef and sheep farming.

Last year, the incorporation collaborated with the Ruapehu iwi Ngāti Rangi to survey the Whanganui River valley using traditional knowledge and modern science to identify the potential of harvesting mānuka honey.

The incorporation’s chairperson, Mavis Mullins, says it is now sharing that information with other tribes, which is paying off as they include different ways of making the whenua more productive. . .

Fashion queen weaves good yarn – Rob Stock:

Few people can claim to have developed a genuinely new fibre. Peri Drysdale has just unveiled her second.

Twenty years ago, Drysdale, founder of Christchurch’s Snowy Peak and Untouched World, blended possum fur, which had previously been considered too short for weaving, with merino wool to create “merinomink”, a much-mimicked yarn that launched an industry.

“It was the first new yarn in 200 years,” Drysdale said. “Now we’ve done it again.” 

Drysdale has now unveiled a textile she’s called Kapua in the Untouched World range, the Maori name for cloud, which she hopes will command prices even higher than merinomink. . .

The big kill – New Zealand’s crusade to rid itself of mammals – Elizabeth Kolbert:

In the days—perhaps weeks—it had spent in the trap, the stoat had lost most of its fur, so it looked as if it had been flayed. Its exposed skin was the deep, dull purple of a bruise, and it was coated in an oily sheen, like a sausage. Stoat traps are often baited with eggs, and this one contained an empty shell. Kevin Adshead, who had set the trap, poked at the stoat with a screwdriver. It writhed and squirmed, as if attempting to rise from the dead. Then it disgorged a column of maggots.

“Look at those teeth,” Adshead said, pointing with his screwdriver at the decomposing snout.

Adshead, who is sixty-four, lives about an hour north of Auckland. He and his wife, Gill, own a thirty-five-hundred-acre farm, where for many years they raised cows and sheep. About a decade ago, they decided they’d had enough of farming and left to do volunteer work in the Solomon Islands. When they returned, they began to look at the place differently. They noticed that many of the trees on the property, which should have been producing cascades of red flowers around Christmastime, instead were stripped bare. That was the work of brushtail possums. To save the trees, the Adsheads decided to eliminate the possums, a process that involved dosing them with cyanide. . .

RWNZ windfall to benefit rural communities – Yvonne OHara:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) sold its home care organisation, Access Homehealth Limited (Access), to Green Cross Health for $18 million last month and intends to use the money to further enhance its charitable and advocacy work in rural communities.

Access, which had its beginnings in a 1920’s bush nurse scheme, provides home health care services to more than 16,000 people throughout New Zealand, including in Otago and Southland, and is one of the largest home care providers in the country, with contracts with DHBs, the Ministry of Health and ACC. Access chief executive Graeme Titcombe said Green Cross Health would continue to provide specialised home-based care and support, as well as funding the organisation’s rural scholarships and awards and Access’s 4000 staff would retain their jobs. . .

Ram breeder a CT scanning fan  – Tim Cronshaw:

A Canterbury ram stud breeder has become a convert to CT scanning after selling a southdown ram for $14,000.

Brent Macaulay, from Maclaka stud, Lincoln, was one of two breeders to take the top price honours, with Chris Medlicott’s ram from his Clifton Downs Southdown stud sharing the same price, at the Canterbury A&P Association’s Elite Ram and Ewe Sale last month.

Both breeders sent their sires through a Lincoln University CT scanner as ram hoggets to examine their bone and muscle composition.

Macaulay was so impressed that he will be sending another five or six rams with sires from other southdown breeders for CT scanning in February or March. . .

 

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image Hat tip Utopia


Rural round-up

September 7, 2014

Possum purge dents TB rate – Tim Cronshaw:

Possum control operations are making inroads into the most inhospitable bush and swamps in the challenging upper South Island area to protect cattle and deer herds from bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Of the 68 herds infected with TB nationally, 44 are in the West Coast, Tasman, Marlborough and Canterbury north of the Rangitata River. Southland, Otago and Canterbury south of the Rangitata have 15 infected herds and nine remain in the North Island.

They have been reduced from 1700 several decades ago as a result of work by TBfree New Zealand. . .

Gourmet fungi could boost farmers’ incomes – Tim Cronshaw:

Farmers with tree plots, and other foresters, could add a side business to their main income after research in high-value edible crops has come out with promising results.

Plant & Food Research’s Alexis Guerin and Associate Professor Wang Yun have been investigating the delicacies of saffron milk cap mushrooms and bianchetto truffle on farm sites in Lincoln.

The scientists believe there is room to commercialise the crops on forest blocks, although much research remains in its infancy.

Truffles sell for about $3000 a kilogram, while the saffron milk cap mushroom usually sells for $30 to $50/kg and double that in upmarket European stores. . .

US now top market for NZ chilled venison – Tim Cronshaw:

The United States has toppled Germany as the go-to market for New Zealand chilled-venison exports.

Deer farmers should be in good spirits, as venison prices are slightly ahead of last year’s and until lately exports to the US were sluggish as the global financial crisis continued to dent sales.

Deer Industry New Zealand venison marketing services manager Innes Moffat said a strong economic recovery in the US had encouraged more chilled venison sales.

“There has been a big increase in chilled venison cuts to the US in the last year compared to the year before. The US is now New Zealand’s largest market for chilled venison and over the last year it has overtaken Germany.” . . .

NZ urged to boost value of dairy goodse of dairy goods – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand can no longer wait for world dairy markets to wash over it and now is the time to be aggressive to create new profitability opportunities and focus on lifting productivity, the NZ Institute of Economic Research says.

While dismaying to dairy farmers who had enjoyed record high global commodity prices, the steep fall in global dairy prices this year was a sign of world markets getting in balance, NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said.

“For a whole bunch of reasons all of a sudden the markets have gone from finely balanced in favour of dairy producers to very much out of favour. 

“We went through a really sweet spot, where the global production side was trying to catch up with a demand that somehow caught us by surprise. . .

Farming ‘breakthrough’ overlooked – Neil Lyon:

THE low adoption of Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) practices throughout Australian broadacre farming areas has soil scientists baffled as to why more farmers haven’t tapped into its many advantages.

By confining weight-bearing machinery wheels to permanent tracks across a paddock, CTF effectively limits soil compaction to about 15 per cent of the paddock and leaves the remaining soil to regenerate and lift crop yield potential.

Despite the system being heralded as a breakthrough for farming nearly two decades ago, a recent survey of eastern Australian grain farmers found that only 13pc were using three-metre CTF, 21pc were using a combination of two-metre and three-metre CTF, and 66pc were using none at all. . . .

Shear adventure – Mark Griggs:

THE adventures of our forebears often intrigues and that is certainly the case for Stuart Town woolgrower, Laurie Pope.

Laurie has long been fascintated by the stories surrounding the journeys made by his grandfather, Michael John Pope, or Mick to family and friends, by bike while he was shearing in western NSW and Queensland during the late 1800s.

The dust is well settled and much now covered by bitumen, but Laurie has always held the desire to retrace his grandfather’s bicycle tracks, so last February, accompanied by neighbour Cliff Hyde, he set out by vehicle to cover the 2077 kilometre round journey from the family property, “Weemala”, Stuart Town, to Eulo, Qld, but was interrupted by rain halfway through at Thurloo Downs Station, Wanaaring. . .

 

Farmers urged to consult their vets as Theileria cases rise:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is encouraging farmers to consult their vet about suspected cases of Theileria on their farms, and how to best manage Theileria, as the latest data from the Ministry of Primary Industries shows an increase this season in the number of cattle infected with the disease. Naïve cattle that have been moved into affected areas are particularly at risk.

Theileria, which causes anaemia in cows and is spread by ticks, affects cattle and is not a human or food safety issue. Signs of Theileria include lethargy, low appetite and reduced milk production.

Dr Jenny Weston, President of the NZVA Society of Dairy Cattle Veterinarians, says that vets play a key role in working collaboratively with farmers to provide advice, taking both a preventive and proactive approach to minimise the disease. . . .

 


Rural round-up

August 17, 2014

Aerial topdressing scheme flies away with top award  – Sue O’Dowd:

A safety programme developed by the agricultural aviation industry to protect the environment has won a major award.

The New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA) Aircare programme received the Richard Pearse Trophy for Innovative Excellence in the New Zealand Aviation Industry, named in honour of the New Zealand pioneer aviator and inventor, at last month’s Aviation New Zealand conference.

Aircare was an integrated environmental safety and flight safety programme that stopped contamination of waterways by fertilisers and sprays, NZAAA chairman Alan Beck, of Eltham, said. . .

Northlander takers Young Grower crown

Northland kiwifruit and avocado specialist Patrick Malley was crowned Young Grower of the Year at an awards function in Christchurch last night.

The 30-year-old contracting manager from Onyx Capital kiwifruit and avocado orchard in Maungatapere, Northland, secured his place at the national competition after being named the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower in June.

In the final phase of the competition he topped three other regional champions in a series of practical and theory challenges testing their industry knowledge and skills. . .

Ngai Tahu appeals dairying decision:

South Island iwi Ngai Tahu is appealing against a decision declining an application to develop large scale dairy farms in North Canterbury.

In July this year, commissioners on behalf of the Canterbury Regional Council granted only partial consent to convert 7000 hectares of Hurunui forest to irrigated dairy farming and another 617 hectares for dryland dairy farming.

The decision was based on the unacceptable adverse effects the full development would have on the environment and the water quality of the Hurunui River. . .

Cow lameness costs farmers – Tim Cronshaw:

Cow lameness could be higher than 10 per cent a year nationally and cost dairy farmers an average of $500 for each case of a cow out of production.

Accurate figures are not kept for lame cows because not every incident is reported, there can be repeat cases for the same cow and the extent of lameness can vary.

DairyNZ animal husbandry extension specialist Anna Irwin said lameness was more difficult to measure than mastitis or other animal health issues because it was not routinely measured by all farmers, had different treatments and few cows needed medical treatment. “We have industry estimates of somewhere around 10 per cent and it could be as high as 15 per cent and that’s incidents for the whole year.” . . .

Call for whitebait sock net ban:

Whitebaiters in Buller on the West Coast are demanding an end to the use of large sock nets to catch the delicacy in their area.

Lynley Roberts said she’s collected close to 400 signatures on a petition calling on the Department of Conservation to ban sock nets.

Whitebaiters in Buller on the West Coast are demanding an end to the use of large sock nets to catch the delicacy in their area.

Photo: PHOTO NZ

She said the use of the nets, which she says can catch up to 200 pounds a tide, is greedy.

Ms Roberts said there won’t be time to make any changes before the season starts in Buller on 1 September. . .

Where have all the whitebait gone?:

Whitebait season opened today and many whitebaiters may be asking themselves, “where have all the whitebait gone?” With predictions that it will be only an average season, it’s a very pertinent question.

Whitebaiting has long been a contentious issue, with feuds over the best positions on the river sometimes lasting through generations of whitebaiters.

These days, with whitebait numbers dwindling further and further, the arguments go beyond who has the best spot. Debate now includes the question of where they have all gone, who’s to blame for the declining numbers and if we should still be allowing people to catch whitebait at all. . .

Nominations open today for the 2014 Fonterra Elections:

This year elections are being held for three shareholder-elected Directors for Fonterra’s Board of Directors, two members of the Directors’ Remuneration Committee, and 22 members of the Shareholders’ Council.

Candidates must satisfy shareholding requirements in order to be elected and further procedural requirements are specified in the Election Rules. These include a requirement for Candidates to be nominated and seconded by Fonterra shareholders.

Nomination Papers and Candidate Handbooks are now available by phoning the Election Hotline on freephone 0508 666 446 or emailing elections@electionz.com. Nominations must be received by the Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp of http://electionz.com/ by 12 noon on Friday, 5 September 2014. . . 


Rural round-up

August 10, 2014

Transformation reaps top award – Annette Scott:

David Crutchley used to feel he was a lone voice but his rise to the top in the inaugural Green Agriculture Innovation Awards has transformed that loneliness to fame. He talked to Annette Scott.

David Crutchley might be familiar to many as a champion dog trialist on the popular 1980s television series A Dog’s Show.

Now he has won fame in the inaugural Green Agriculture Innovation Awards (GAIA) for innovation in pastoral transition.

Crutchley was the supreme winner of the awards.

The humble high-country farmer achieved ground-breaking results finding a profitable way to support growing family enterprises.

“The farm was dead,” he says. . .

Late planting of crops will cause shortages – Heather Chalmers:

Canterbury arable farmers will be hoping for favourable conditions in coming weeks to get a backlog of crops in the ground, months later than usual.

Record wet, boggy conditions in autumn prevented many farmers from planting autumn-sown cereals, with the delayed planting expected to impact on yields come harvest time, says Federated Farmers South Island grain and seed vice-chairman David Clark.

Farmers on heavy soils in the Mid-Canterbury districts of Eiffelton and Wakanui as well as parts of South Canterbury were unable to get machinery on to paddocks for autumn sowing. . .

Demo farm stays on course – Tim Cronshaw:

A lower milk payout will leave little “wiggle room” for the Lincoln University demonstration dairy farm to reach planned targets under its self-imposed tightening of nitrogen losses, following its bumper profit last season.

Under a milk payment of $8.40 a kilogram of milksolids the Lincoln University Dairy Farm achieved a record $1 million result in 2013-14. This result is after farm expenses were removed but is slightly skewed as it is a demonstration farm and normally some of this return would be taken by tax, investment capital, debt, drawings and dividends.

Another $100,000 would have been added had its managers not committed to limiting nitrogen losses. . .

Dairy production for China begins – Jasmine O’Donoghue:

Pactum Dairy Group (Pactum) and China’s Bright Dairy has begun initial production of U+, which is to be shipped to China as a part of the duo’s strategic supply agreement.

The 250mL dairy product U+, will be the first Australian based high quality dairy product manufactured for a major Chinese dairy company under its own brand.

U+ will be marketed on Australia’s reputation for high quality dairy product, and will be launched in China in August. . .

2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Season Opens:

Young Farmers from around the country will be sharpening their agricultural skills over the coming weeks and months as entries are now open for the 2015 season of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The season is set to launch in Taupo Friday 3rd October with the first district final, Bay of Plenty, held Saturday 4th October in Tihoi.

District finals run from October to December and are the entry level for the ANZ Young Farmer Contest. Entry is open and free to all paid members of New Zealand Young Farmers between the ages of 15-31 (entrants must be under 31 years of age at 1st January 2015). Competition hopefuls can enter online at www.youngfarmers.co.nz . . .

It's over and out from national office for the weekend. Here's a Friday funny to put a smile on the dial :-)


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