Rural round-up

May 9, 2015

Low-Cost Pasture-Based Dairying Still Our Best Bet, Say Farm Environment Leaders:

New Zealand dairy farmers shouldn’t lose sight of their competitive advantage, say farm environment ambassadors Mark and Devon Slee, who recently returned from a study tour of the Northern Hemisphere.

In late March the Canterbury dairy farmers and National Winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards embarked on a 25-day trip to the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Ireland, visiting a wide range of dairy farms

Mark says a key aim of the tour, which was facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and supported by a range of industry groups, was to study intensive dairy farming systems in Europe and to find out how farmers were using technology to improve sustainability. . .

Pacing global changes a big ask for Fonterra – Fran O’Sullivan:

Tim Groser’s warning that the dairy sector would effectively have to guts it out during a period of low milk payouts was timely.

It’s perhaps easier said than done maybe from the perspective of a Trade Minister.

But dairy farmers are a resilient lot. They’ve been through cyclical times before.

Yet, last week’s Fonterra announcement that the co-operative has downwardly revised its 2014/2015 payout forecast back to $4.50/kg milk solids (from $4.70) was still a hard knock for those that had factored the higher track into their own financial planning.

Federated Farmers pointed out just how difficult it was for some dairy farmers with their comment that the average Canterbury dairy farmer was now facing a loss of 91c for every kilogram of milk solids that they produced. . .

ANZ Bank was most aggressive in rural rate swaps sales to farmers, ComCom says – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – ANZ Bank New Zealand, the country’s biggest lender, was the most aggressive in pitching interest rate swaps to farmers, over which it subsequently agreed to pay $19 million in compensation, the Commerce Commission says.

General counsel competition Mary Anne Borrowdale told Parliament’s primary production select committee that of the three banks to settle with the regulator, ANZ had the most customers involved and was investigated over both the way it was able to move its margin and the break fees it charged farmers for an early release. While ANZ announced its settlement with the regulator before ASB Bank and Westpac Banking Corp, it only just made its offer to farmers yesterday. The three banks’ collective settlements totalled $24.2 million. . .

Landmark animal welfare legislation welcomed by veterinarians:

The New Zealand veterinary profession welcomes today’s landmark passage of the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill which brings greater clarity, transparency and enforceability of the country’s animal welfare laws, further strengthening New Zealand’s excellent reputation for animal welfare.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), which played a key role in helping to shape the Bill, says some of the key changes include the legal recognition of animal sentience, which is sensation or feeling in animals, for the first time in New Zealand law.

NZVA President Dr Steve Merchant says: “Veterinarians are at the vanguard of animal welfare advocacy and public support is behind us in the call for greater clarity on issues concerning animal welfare and increased sanctions for animal cruelty. . .

 

 High prices and volumes for avocado growers:

Avocado exporter Avoco says its growers are celebrating the end of a season where they not only got a bumper crop – but decent prices for their fruit too.

Avoco said strong end-of-season demand from Australia lifted returns for growers – to $15 per tray for large avocados and $14 per tray for smaller fruit.

Avoco director John Carroll said the company exported a record volume of fruit – 4.5 million trays, out of a total 7 million trays – and still managed to get good returns for its 700 plus growers. . .

Anchor Gives More New Zealanders an Organic Milk Choice:

Anchor is making organic milk more accessible to New Zealanders with the nationwide launch of Anchor Organic.

Fonterra Brands New Zealand Managing Director Tim Deane said that with other organic milk brands only available in certain regions or very expensive, Anchor is on a mission to make organic milk more widely available at a fair price.

“We want to put organic milk in reach of more New Zealanders. We’ve done just that through our nationwide distribution and providing Anchor Organic at an everyday price that works out at only about 20 cents extra per glass compared to our standard Anchor milk,” said Mr Deane. . .

Wool Prices Bounce:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that a weaker New Zealand dollar, limited wool volumes pressuring exporters and renewed client interest, combined to lift local prices across the board.

Of the 6,350 bales on offer, 99 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 1.79 percent compared to the last sale on 30th April.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Full Fleece and longer shears were 7 to 10 percent dearer, stimulated by resurgent Chinese interest with shorter types 3 to 6 percent firmer. . .


Feds & Fonterra on intensive dairy plans

December 8, 2009

Federated Farmers has made a very measured response to the news farmers in the Mackenzie Basin are seeking resource consent for intensive dairy operations under which cows will be housed inside from March to October.

Feds president Don Nicolson says the farmers have the right to apply for consent and warns that tighter local authority rules may lead other farmers to look at similar operations:

“I think we need to take a deep breath here.  These are only applications and as such, they have to go through the full resource consent process.  I think it’s safe to say we’re going to have a very helpful debate,” . . . 

“From what I see, it’s a European style of agriculture being applied to a European style of climate.  The MacKenzie Basin supports rapid grass growth over summer but also has harsh winters.

“Yet it’s the right of every single landowner to make an application and let due process test the validity of that application.  Listening to some of the comments, especially from the Greens, makes me wonder when did we become a dictatorship?

“The Greens can’t have it both ways.  They wish to see pastoral free-range farming controlled, yet oppose applications that are fairly much as controlled as you can get.

“Also, given the increasing trend towards council micro management of farming we are seeing in Horizons’ proposed One Plan, a lot of farmers will be following these applications with interest. 

It is possible that what the applicants are proposing will have a lesser impact on the environment than free range dairying because they’ll have much greater control of the effluent.

. . . “This style of closed cycle farming means effluent can, for example, be put into bio-digesters with the resulting biogas used to power the farm offsetting farm animal emissions.  Surplus energy could be sold into the national grid and all the while, nutrient loss is minimised.  

“This is what the emissions trading scheme is meant to encourage, isn’t it?

“Diluted cow effluent also contains vital nutrients that can be recycled back into pasture over the summer months to support grass growth, which further reduces the need for fertiliser. 

That doesn’t get around concerns about what the proposed operations might do for New Zealand’s free-range branding.

Fonterra milk supply manager Tim Deane said the company had “real concerns” about the environmental sustainability of stall-based farming.

New Zealand had been showcased as an example of a country using free-range systems by the World SPCA, he said.

“We will be watching carefully to see if the farms are able to comply with the regulations governing animal welfare and sustainable land use.”

Deane said Fonterra was comfortable with dairy-farming techniques that supported pasture-based farming, such as feed pads and supplementary feeding.

“We don’t believe stall-based farming of this type is consistent with New Zealand’s reputation as a source of dairy products from substantially grass-fed cows.”

As I said in yesterday’s post, the ability to graze stock outside is our natural advantage and it’s the cheapest way to convert grass to protein.

Concerns over animal welfare have also been raised but I don’t think they have any foundation.

Federated Farmers dairy vice-chairman Willy Leferink said  . . . “For these cubicles to work, the cows need to perform at the top end of their ability and they only do that if they’re given a very desirable environment.

“They just shut up shop otherwise.”

Quite, happy cows feed well and produce lots of milk, unhappy cows don’t.


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