Rural round-up

September 3, 2019

FMA looking into Fonterra’s asset write downs and financial performance following complaint – John Anthony:

The Financial Markets Authority is seeking information from Fonterra after receiving a complaint expressing concerns about the dairy cooperative’s expected record annual loss and asset write downs.

In early August Fonterra said it expected to make a loss for the 2019 financial year of between $590 million and $675m due to asset write downs of up to $860m.

A Financial Markets Authority (FMA) spokesman said it recently received a complaint about Fonterra’s financial reporting, and its audited financial statements over the last few years.

The complaint came from shareholder Colin Armer, who said he and his wife owned 10 million shares. . . 

Passion for sheep runs deep – Sally Rae:

She is known simply as “Sheepish Sophie”.

In the world of social media, Sophie Barnes – who has a strong following – is more well-known by that moniker.

Most recently, the young English shepherd and lamb-rearing specialist has been documenting her travels around the South Island with partner Dorrien Neeson and six dogs, working on various stations and farms.

At present stationed in the Waitaki Valley, Ms Barnes (27) admitted she had tried to find other hobbies apart from sheep farming and genetics but for her they did not exist . . 

The battle for trust – Peter Burke:

With distrust growing in consumers, even for science, gaining their trust is now more valuable to win than ever.

Tim Hunt, the head of RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness in Australasia, says trust is becoming more complex to succeed in and more valuable to win because of what is happening in New Zealand’s markets.

He says in emerging markets, such as China and Southeast Asia, consumers are placing enormous value on the safety of products, whereas in western markets they increasingly value sustainability, animal welfare, fairness and provenance.

Five years of Water Accord show dairy farmers doing their bit to improve water quality:

One of New Zealand’s biggest hands-on environmental efforts has created a wave of change on dairy farms across the country and is contributing to progress in improving water quality.

Today, the Sustainable Dairy: Water Accord farmers and partners announced their achievements to date, including:

  • fencing off dairy cattle from 24,249km (98.3%) of significant dairy accord waterways (waterways which are more than one metre wide and more than 30cm deep). That’s the equivalent of nearly 12 road trips from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Excluding stock from waterways is one of the most beneficial ways to improve water quality
  • installing bridges and culverts on 100% of stock crossing points dairy cows use
  • preparing 10,396 nutrient budgets – up from 6,400 budgets in the first year of the Accord. Nutrient budgets allow farmers to carefully plan nutrient applications and manage nutrient losses
  • assessing 100% of Accord farms for effluent management practices – this process checks that farms have appropriate infrastructure and systems in place to manage effluent
  • developing riparian management plans to protect water quality on 52% of Accord farms with waterways. . . 

Taking the bad with the good in dairy industry report:

Federated Farmers congratulates the dairy industry on another robust environmental report, which shows there are some good things to celebrate and some things that need further work.  

Today’s release of the now five year’s running Sustainable Dairy: Water Accord report shows there are still areas that need work, but overall dairy farmers should be proud of what they’ve achieved in a very short timeframe.

Amongst those matters that need further work are the 6.15% of significant non-compliance with effluent management requirements.

But overall Federated Farmers wants to give a big positive shout-out to what hard working farmers have achieved for the environment in the last 12 months. . .

Lamb export prices spring to a new high :

Export prices for lamb reached their highest point in the June 2019 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

This level is the highest since the series began in 1982, and follows steady increases from the second half of 2016.

“Both lamb and beef prices rose this quarter, up 4.7 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, on the back of strong overseas demand,” overseas trade statistics manager Darren Allan said. . . 

Burgers and climate: the real beef

I have two burgers. One is a beef burger from McDonald’s on the left and the other on the right is a Beyond Meat, plant-protein burger from A&W.

You’ve been told by companies, groups and the media to choose; to eat less meat because one is better for the environment, and we’ve been led to believe that by picking one over the other, we’re doing our part in climate change and being more environmentally-friendly.

What if I told you that both burgers are doing their part and all agriculture is part of the solution, not the problem? What if I told you it’s not one versus the other when it comes to climate change? What if I told you there is more to the story than these companies are sharing? . . 


Rural round-up

August 8, 2019

Meat industry concerned by education shake-up :

A shake-up of vocational education could be a backwards step for training in the meat industry, the sector’s leaders say.

Last week, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced seven key changes in store for on-the-job training and apprenticeships, which included the creation of a “mega-polytech”.

Up to seven industry-governed Workforce Development Councils would also be created to “replace and expand” Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). . . 

Consumer trust is key for future success of NZ food industry:

Consumer trust has never been more valuable to the New Zealand food industry and is set to play a key role in its future success, a visiting international agricultural expert has told the horticulture sector. Yet winning and sustaining this trust has also never been more complex.

Speaking at the New Zealand Horticulture conference in Hamilton last week, the Sydney-based general manager for RaboResearch Australia and New Zealand Tim Hunt said consumer trust was becoming an increasingly precious commodity for New Zealand food producers.

“New Zealand’s emerging markets, like China and South East Asia, place a high value on food safety and the process of food preparation, while more mature wealthy markets are willing to pay for sustainability, animal welfare, fairness and attractive provenance,” he said. . . 

‘No ordinary job’: Dairy farmers put in the hard yards over calving – Esther Taunton:

Most calves are born like Superman, with their front legs up over their heads, but sometimes even Superman needs a hand, Taranaki sharemilker Jody McCaig says.

McCaig and her husband, Charlie, farm at Te Kiri, inland from Opunake, and like dairy farmers around the country, they’re headed into another busy calving.

At the height of the season, up to 50 calves a day will be born on the 1000-cow, 320-hectare property. . . 

Stop pigeonholing farm systems– TIm Fulton:

Support for regenerative agriculture is building across New Zealand and Australia. As Crown-run Landcare Research seeks state funding to test the principles and practice Tim Fulton spoke to Australian soil science leader Professor John McLean for an assessment of the movement.

At home with a newborn in southeast Queensland Associate Professor John McLean recently read a an article on regenerative agriculture in the special Fieldays issue of Farmers Weekly.

Bennett is a principal research fellow at the university’s Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems and the immediate past president of Soil Science Australia. . .

New Zealand’s first carbon neutral milk plant – Nigel Malthus:

French global food company Danone says it will spend NZ$40 million on its Nutricia spray drying plant at Balclutha to achieve net carbon neutrality there by 2021.

NZ operations director Cyril Marniquet says it will make the Balclutha plant NZ’s first carbon neutral one of its kind.

A NZ$30m biomass boiler will reduce the plant’s CO2 emissions by 20,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent, the company says, of removing 60,000 cars from NZ’s roads. And a more efficient waste water treatment plant will meet Danone’s stringent global clean water standards.  . .

China confirms it is suspending agricultural product purchases in response to Trump’s new tariffs – Kate Rooney:

China confirmed reports that it was pulling out of U.S. agriculture as a weapon in the ongoing trade war.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said Chinese companies have stopped purchasing U.S. agricultural products in response to President Trump’s new 10% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods.

“This is a serious violation of the meeting between the heads of state of China and the United States,” the Minister of Commerce said in a statement Monday that was translated via Google. . . 


Rural round-up

August 12, 2018

Lumsden birthing centre closure prompts community anger – Tess Brunton:

The Lumsden Rural Women’s network is calling for the decision to shut its local birthing centre to be reversed.

The Southern District Health Board today announced the unit would become a maternal and child hub, where babies are only delivered in an emergency.

The DHB today released a plan that also included four other hubs to be established in Wanaka, Te Anau, Tuatapere and Ranfurly; funding support for midwives working in remote locations; and investment in technology to support care. . . 

Lessons from dairy can help NZ red meat sector develop winning formula in China:

New Zealand’s red meat sector should draw on the experiences of the dairy sector to help formulate its strategy for continued growth in the Chinese market, according to RaboResearch General Manager Tim Hunt.

Speaking at the Red Meat Sector conference in Napier last week, Mr Hunt said the Chinese market offered significant growth potential for New Zealand’s red meat sector and there was much the industry could learn from New Zealand dairy. . .

T&G Global lifts first-half operating profit 40% on improvements in pipfruit, international produce – Tina Morrison:

Aug. 9 (BusinessDesk) – T&G Global, New Zealand’s biggest fresh produce grower, distributor, marketer and exporter, posted a 40 percent jump in first-half operating profit due to improved performances from its pipfruit and international produce businesses, its two largest units.

Operating profit, which gauges the underlying performance of the business, rose to $10.4 million in the six months ended June 30, from $7.5 million in the year earlier period, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. . .

Sustainable plastic recycling solution for farmers:

As plastic waste hits the headlines again, rural recycling programme Agrecovery assures farmers and growers that it offers a complete and sustainable local solution for empty agrichemical containers and drums.

This plastic is collected from over 80 sites and large-scale farms across the country and taken to Astron Plastics in Auckland, where it is reborn as underground cable cover and building materials to prevent rising damp. . .

Tighter import rules to stop stink bug:

New treatment and cleaning rules for imported vehicles and machinery will make it harder for brown marmorated stink bug to make landfall in New Zealand, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.

MPI released the new import health standard for vehicles, machinery and equipment today. It will come into force on 1 September – the beginning of the stink bug season. . .

How Australia’s meat industry plans to flood post-Brexit Britain with products banned in EU – Josh Gabbatiss:

Australian meat industry leaders are heavily lobbying their government to put pressure on Britain to accept products currently banned under EU law after Brexit.

Among the meat products suggested for export to the UK are hormone-treated beef and “burnt goat heads”.

Ministers from both countries met last week to discuss the future of their trading relationship, amid concerns that the Australian government could force the UK to lower food standards.

It comes as a petition supporting The Independent’s campaign for a Final Say on Brexit passed 570,000 signatures. . .

Norway up to 60% crop loss :

The worst grain crops in more than 50 years.

The farmers despair over what seems to be the worst season for grain crops since the early 1960s. “Extreme situation”, says an advisor.

– I do not think the regular Joe understands what’s going on. This is an extreme situation that we have never experienced before, says grain advisor in Norwegian Farm Counsellors (Norsk Landbruksrådgiving), Bjørn Inge Rostad to Aftenposten.

The grain farmers are unevenly affected, but Rostad thinks the grain crops can be down to 40 per cent of what is normal.
Chairman of the Board in the Cereal Producers’ Organization, John Lilleborge also believes that the production is a halved on a nationwide basis. . . 

World’s first Manuka honey jar with 11 separate counterfeit measures available September:

The world’s first Manuka honey jar with eleven separate consumer security and anti-counterfeit measures is available to purchase nationwide and online on from September. Boasting New Zealand’s highest standard of Manuka honey, PURITI Manuka comes in a customised cylindrical jar with a unique lid that features a thick anti-tamper seal.

The jar and lid have the same diameter, allowing for a smooth and seamless fit and a distinctly different visual appearance. This design is unique to PURITI Manuka. The jar also features a tear strip for additional consumer security. . .


Rural round-up

December 21, 2017

Southland stock trading  likely to be affected by Mycoploasma bovis outbreak – Dave Nicoll:

Some Southland farmers are frustrated and concerned as calves infected with Mycoplasma bovis may have been traded before the outbreak in Southland was discovered.

Last week, the ministry identified three farms near Winton that had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird said there was some uncertainty among farmers because they knew little about the disease and it was possible some of them had stock from the affected farms.

Baird said he had fielded calls from several people concerned about the disease. . . 

Success of merino held up as example of how to boost languishing coarse wool – Gerard Hutching:

Rattle your dags” – that might be the call to Kiwi merino farmers following the news that the dags of the fine wool sheep are generating three times the price of quality strong wool fleece.

Higher quality regular fibre is selling up to a 700 per cent premium over coarse wool. The contrast could not be greater with the prices of coarse wool fleeces tumbling over the past 12 months, and a lot of wool not being sold has been put into storage until the industry picks up again.

Coarse wool exports fell 28 per cent to $550 million to the year to June as a lack of demand from China weighed on prices.

But New Zealand Merino (NZM) is starting to put a focus on coarse wool and using its marketing nous to turn the industry around. . . 

Streamlining NAIT comes with tougher compliance approach:

Federated Farmers is pleased that moves to streamline the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (NAIT) process are coming in tandem with a tougher approach on non-compliance.

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has indicated after nearly five years of educating farmers about the importance of NAIT for biosecurity and food traceability, those who continue to ignore their obligations would face prosecution and fines of up to $10,000. . . 

Grant awarded to Paeroa company to study nutritional needs of bees:

It may well be the biggest thing to come out of Paeroa since L&P. 

Paeroa-based biostimulant company AgriSea NZ Seaweed Ltd has just been awarded a project grant from Callaghan Innovation for $74,000. The grant will go towards research and development of their bioactive products and the nutritional needs of honey bees. 

“This grant recognises the innovation happening at AgriSea and will continue to grow our R&D capabilities,” said Agrisea general manager Tane Bradley. “To date there is limited scientific data around the nutritional needs of the honey bee so this is really important.”  . . 

OIO considers $105.5 mln buyout of Harvard dairy farms – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – The Overseas Investment Office is considering the sale of Harvard University’s 5,500-head dairy farms in the South Island to a Singapore-based investor.

Accounts for the dairy farms filed with New Zealand’s Companies Office show that it entered into an agreement to sell its business assets to WHL Otago Operations on May 31, and the sale was now pending OIO approval but the settlement was expected by June 2018. The accounts show that the expected realisation value of all the company’s assets, after the cost of selling, was calculated to be $105.5 million as at June 30, 2017. . . 

Westland Milk Products completes leadership revitalisation:

Westland Milk Products Chief Executive Toni Brendish has completed her revitalisation of the dairy co-operative’s Executive Leadership Team, with the appointment of Jeffrey Goodwin to the role of General Manager, Sales.

Goodwin came to Westland from his role as Vice-President, Global Operations, for James Farrell & Co, which represents United States-based manufacturers in the export of their ingredients and finished goods.

“Jeffrey’s experience in food and ingredients sales is global in scale,” Brendish said, “with a record of success in South East Asia, Japan, China and the United States (among others). . . 

‘Green window dressing’: EU criticised for wasting billions on green farming subsidies:

Attempts to ‘green’ EU farm policy did not lead to any significant increase in environmentally-sound farming practices – despite countries spending a huge chunk of the EU’s annual budget on the scheme.

The UK’s net contribution of £8.6billion from last year went towards the project, but a European Court of Auditors report shows just 5 percent of the EU’s farmland benefited from the scheme.

The auditors found that the new payments added more complexity to the system but had led to changed farming practices on only about five per cent of EU farmland. . . 

Livestock to help offset big fall in grain production – Brad Thompson:

The farm sector appears fundamentally strong following a record year for farm production in Australia, Rabobank says, anticipating a weaker Australian dollar and strong livestock prices will bolster returns for most farmers next year.

Rabobank’s head of research in Australia and New Zealand, Tim Hunt, said Federal forecaster ABARES’ expectation of a 7 per cent fall in the value of gross production reflected less favourable weather conditions for grain growing after a record harvest last year.

“That is a climate story rather than a structural story, as in we are not back into industry decline we have just had a bad grain season,” he said. . . 

Moving beyond the green revolution in Africa’s new era of hunger – Calestous Juma:

A quarter of the world’s hungry people are in sub-Saharan Africa and the numbers are growing. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of hungry – those in distress and unable to access enough calories for a healthy and productive life – grew from 20.8% to 22.7%. The number of undernourished rose from 200 million to 224 million out of a total populationof 1.2 billion.

Conflict, poverty, environmental disruptions and a growing population all contribute to the region’s inability to feed itself.

To tackle hunger, the continent needs to find new, integrated approaches. These approaches – discussed at a recent Harvard conference – must increase crop yield, enhance the nutritional content of people’s diets, improve people’s health and promote sustainability. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 19, 2016

Forging a path for other young Maori women to follow :

Confidence and self-belief have always help Ash-Leigh Campbell achieve her goals in the dairy industry – and she hopes her success will inspire more young Maori women to follow her lead.

“You have to back yourself. If you know you can do it, everyone around you will eventually buy into that too,” she says.

The enthusiastic 25 year-old from Lincoln is one of three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Young Māori Dairy Farmer Awards and has big career ambitions.

“I don’t see myself as an industry leader now but the journey I’m on will hopefully fulfil that in future.

“I definitely want to make an imprint on Maori farming in New Zealand and become an ambassador for others. I especially want to publicise that Maori females can do it.” . . .

Up and coming Agri:

The children are the future, but how well do they know the in’s and out’s of agri? 17-year-old Greer Baldwin, an Agribusiness student at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton, sat down with us to give the inside scoop.

Despite not growing up on a farm, Greer has been around agri her whole life. Her Mum, Karen, works in Agri-tourism and the Baldwin family have been involved at National Fieldays for generations. Karen’s line of work allows overseas visitors to experience a real life Kiwi farm in action and is an interesting line of tourism a lot of young people aren’t aware of.

Thanks to Greer’s experience with her mother’s business, she has grown up fully aware that agri is more than gumboots and milking cows, and now has her sights set on studying agriculture at a tertiary level. Born and bred in the Waikato, Greer is excited to branch away from home and is tossing up between either Massey or Lincoln University where she will study agribusiness and tourism. . . 

New irrigation investments for Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed three new investments totalling $7.85 million into irrigation projects in Canterbury from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“These projects are a real boost to the Canterbury regional economy. A reliable source of water gives farmers certainty and options to invest in such as arable, intensive pastoral, dairy support or horticulture.”

The projects receiving funding are: . . 

Government supports Ashburton water study trial:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has allocated $312,000 to a trial project in the Hinds Plains area which aims to improve water quality and restore spring-fed flows.

The funding comes from MPI’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) and the announcement was acknowledged by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, during his visit to Canterbury today.

David Caygill, Environment Canterbury Deputy Chair of Commissioners, welcomed the announcement which will allow the Regional Council to carry out the Hinds Managed Aquifer Recharge Pilot Study in an area where groundwater nitrate concentrations are well above the national bottom-line. . . 

Central Plains schemes receive government support:

Government support for the Central Plains Water (CPW) Scheme was announced today by the Ministry for Primary Industries during a visit to the scheme by Minister Nathan Guy.

Through the Ministry for Primary Industries Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF), up to $6.64 million has been allocated to CPW to support completion of Stage 2 of their scheme’s development as well as $898,000 for the Sheffield Irrigation Scheme (a sub-scheme of CPW).

CPWL CEO, Derek Crombie has welcomed the latest funding announcements for the two projects. . . 

Change in responsibilities for Crown irrigation bodies:

A change in responsibilities for the Government’s irrigation programmes will help streamline and speed up water storage projects, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

From 1 July, Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) will take over the responsibility for funding grants to regional irrigation schemes in the early stages of development, which are matched by local backers. This role has previously been carried out by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“It makes sense to have a single agency looking after this funding as well as CIIL’s current role of commercially investing in projects which are investment-ready,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Hold on tight farmers, the future is bright – Farmers’ Forum experts:

Leading industry speakers at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum held in Hamilton this week reaffirmed the view that while another year of low milk prices is on the horizon, the long-term outlook for dairy remains bright.

Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English, Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings and Rabobankhead of food and agribusiness research and advisory, Tim Hunt, all reiterated that global demand for dairy products will continue to grow.

Mr English said in the government’s view, the dairy industry will remain the engine room of growth as the second biggest New Zealand exporter behind tourism. But facing up to the reduced milk price is the current challenge. . . 

Fonterra expected to lift milk price – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra is expected to lift its farmgate milk price payout to farmers next season, although it’s likely to mark the third year of prices below the level required by most farmers to break even.

The company is scheduled to hold a board meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, and may release its opening milk price forecast for the 2016/17 season early Thursday morning. Analysts in a BusinessDesk survey expect a payout of at least $4.43 per kilogram of milk solids for next season, up from a $3.90/kgMS forecast payout for the 2015/16 season, and from $4.40/kgMS in 2014/15.

DairyNZ estimates the average farmer required $5.25/kgMS to cover costs this season and hasn’t yet finalised a break-even price for next season. . . 

Sharemilkers lose 49 cows and $73,000 to nitrate poisoning – Gerard Hutching:

Waikato sharemilkers Cam and Tessa Hodgson have lost 49 cows to nitrate poisoning, which could cost them up to $73,000. 

Nitrate poisoning happens as animals graze, and often occurs after a drought when there are high levels of nitrogen in the soil, and is exacerbated by humid, cloudy conditions. 

Cam’s brother Matthew Hodgson has started a givealittle page for them, saying their passion is farming “and to see the cows die in front of them is heartbreaking to them”. . . 

Farmers can cope with stress during busy times – Jill Galloway:

Experts suggest the best way farmers can cope with busy times is by exercising, sleeping and eating well and to never stop talking with people.

Wairarapa farmer, phycologist and rural trust co-ordinator Sarah Donaldson gave stress hints to about 50 people, mainly farmers as well as bank people, trust organisers and rural professionals at last week’s Beef & Lamb New Zealand AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North.

She said it was hard to recognise stress. . .

Food Safety Science & Research Centre launched:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister JoGoodhew today launched the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre at Massey University in Palmerston North.

Formed as a partnership between government, industry organisations and research institutions, the virtual centre aims to ensure New Zealand’s food safety system remains among the best in the world.

“The centre will use the best science available to protect and enhance New Zealand’s international reputation as a producer of safe and  trustworthy food,” Mr Joyce says. . . 

New Zealand Apple Industry the most competitive in the World:

New Zealand’s $700 million apple industry has again been named the world’s most competitive performer.

The World Apple Report, out this week, ranks New Zealand first over 33 major apple producing countries.

Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard said it is a great achievement to have a competitive edge over the world and to keep holding the position. . .  

Johne’s disease solutions available:

Help is at hand for dairy farmers facing a problem with Johne’s disease in their cattle.

LIC is reminding farmers of the options available from their herd improvement co-operative to help them manage the disease, including diagnostic testing and a comprehensive Johne’s disease management guide developed by experts.

“We know Johne’s disease can be a stressful and frustrating challenge for many dairy farmers,” LIC GM Biological Systems Geoff Corbett said. “We want to make sure farmers know there are tools available that can help them manage the disease in their stock.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 22, 2016

‘Dryland specialists — not victims’ – Sally  Rae:

Coping with dry conditions on Otago farms and the ongoing implications is about taking action, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

Soul-destroying. That is how Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Pat Macaulay describes living through drought.

Mrs Macaulay, of North Taieri, knows first-hand exactly what it feels like, having farmed in the Strath Taieri where drought was a regular occurrence. . .

Bank on bright side but farmers sombre – Sally Rae:

Dairy farmers are facing another tough year but a ‘‘generally strong year” is being picked by Rabobank for most other sectors.

Solid demand in key offshore markets, recent progress in export development and generally tight global supply was likely to bring another good year for producers of beef, wool and horticultural products, food and agribusiness research general manager Tim Hunt said.

While beef prices had lost some ground in recent months, they remained well above multi-year average levels and were expected to receive support from a generally tight global market. .  .

Farmers look for exit as prices crunch – Gerald Piddock & Aaron Leaman:

More dairy farmers are looking to shut the family farm gate, some after generations on the land, as the milk price slump pushes rural households to breaking point.

A DairyNZ and AgFirst report on farm ownership pathways out in April is expected to show farm ownership stretching further out of reach of many  as growing numbers look for a managed exit from an increasingly unprofitable and stressful industry.

The looming dairy exodus has prompted a warning that some of the country’s best and brightest will be lost to a sector once considered the backbone of the New Zealand economy.  . . 

Lamb prices better than expected – Sally Rae:

Prices at last week’s Omarama lamb sale were stronger than anticipated, considering schedule pricing, agents say.

More than 70 buyers from throughout the South Island registered for the sale, which comprised a total yarding of just over 12,000 lambs.

The average price for PGG Wrightson’s offering of 7000 lambs was $54, up $8 or $9 on last year’s sale.

Tara Hills achieved the top price for merino wethers at $68, while prices ranged from $66-$31.50. Tara Hills also topped the merino ewe lambs, at $58.50, with prices ranging from $52-$24. . . 

Taranaki avocado shortage blamed on freak weather – Christopher Reive:

Freak storms caused by climate change are being blamed for a poor avocado harvest causing shortages around the country.

Taranaki avocado grower Steve Wright has an orchard of 230 avocado trees near Urenui, north of New Plymouth, and said while the fruit generally ran in a cycle of good crop-bad crop, this season had been particularly bad.

“It’s not just a mild wind that comes through, they come through and they just hammer your place and what happens is, because the avos hang on a stem, they just twist around and break,” Wright said. . . 

First Grand Finalist Confirmed In FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

Jake Thomson is the first Grand Finalist to be named in the 2016 FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

The 27 year old from Whangarei who manages a Dairy Farm took first place at the Northern Regional Final in Pukekohe on Saturday 20 February.

Mr Thomson went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from FMG, Massey University, Ravensdown, Median Energy, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, STIHL and Vodafone. He also won the AGMARDT Agri-Business Challenge, Meridian Energy Agri-Knowledge Challenge and the Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenge . . .

Farm Takeover!  The dirt on raising GMO corn: The Land – Uptown Farms:

“Tell your story!”  Anyone in the agriculture industry has been hearing it!  It is important and I’m the first to boast how much I love to tell my story.
 
But, if I am honest, I’m usually telling my husband’s story. He’s the farmer.
 
Well not this year!  Matt is sliding over into the buddy seat and turning me loose on my very own 60 acres!  And I’m taking you along for the ride by detailing the entire process of raising corn right here, all season long!

When it comes to land, farmers generally talk in acres.  One acre is 43,560 square feet – roughly the size of a football field. 
 
The first step for any crop farmer is the most obvious (and most expensive) one – find some land. . .


Rural round-up

February 3, 2016

Booklet kicks off Fonterra structure review – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders have received a preliminary booklet on the co-operative’s governance and representation, raising many questions but not providing answers.  

It begins a five-month journey to a revised structure more appropriate for Fonterra’s size, complexity and global ambitions.  Farmer-shareholders will be expected to contribute to the review and vote on the final proposal in May. . . 

Rabobank announces new head of Food & Agri Research:

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group has announced the appointment of Tim Hunt as new General Manager of its Food & Agribusiness Research (FAR) division.

Mr Hunt takes on the role after five years with Rabobank in New York, where he served in the international position of Global Strategist – Dairy.

In his new role, Mr Hunt will lead Rabobank’s highly-regarded food and agri commodities research team – comprising 10 specialist analysts – in New Zealand and Australia. . . 

Alliance drafter has eye for winner – Sally Rae:

Warwick Howie received a little good-natured ribbing when he won the Paddock to Plate competition at the recent Otago-Taieri A&P Show.

Mr Howie, a drafter for Alliance Group, laughed that he had ‘‘copped a bit of flak” following the victory.

The competition, which attracted 41 entries, has become an annual fixture at the show, with proceeds going to the A&P Society. . . 

Course already tidy for Legends – Sally Rae,

When it comes to maintaining the Tokarahi golf course, greenkeeper Marty McCone has the same philosophy as for his farm – he likes it tidy all the time.

So preparing for this month’s PGA Legends Tour, which is returning to Tokarahi for the second year, did not require an extraordinarily massive effort.

‘‘I try and keep the course up to speed all the time. There’s a lot of little things you do to have it really tip-top,” Mr McCone said. . . 

Synlait revises milk price forecast to $4.20:

Synlait Milk has revised its forecast milk price for the 2015 / 2016 season from $5.00 per kgMS[1] to $4.20 per kgMS.

Chairman Graeme Milne said the revision is driven by the sustained low global commodity prices since September 2015, and a view that the recovery will be slower than anticipated.

“Our previous forecast of $5.00 kgMS expected prices to recover somewhat by this stage in the season, however this hasn’t happened and our revised forecast reflects this,” said Mr Milne. . . 

World Wetlands Day celebrated:

World Wetlands Day is a chance for New Zealanders to find out more about some of the country’s most important natural treasures, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner say.

To mark the day the Department of Conservation has released a new online resource,Our Estuaries, to help people explore and look after the wetland environment.

“New Zealand has more than 300 estuaries, and they are home to a wide range of native plants, fish and birds,” Ms Barry says. . . 

Rethink needed over dairy farm planting incentives:

The cost and benefits of planting trees to help mitigate environmental effects of dairy farming need to be shared by us all for it to succeed, a new study says.

Evaluation of an agri-environmental program for developing woody green infrastructure within pastoral dairy landscapes: A New Zealand case study says Government incentive programs are ineffective in overcoming barriers to planting such as the higher cost and slow growth of native plants, and the perception of planting being of little direct benefit to farmers’ operations.

Lead author, Lincoln University Landscape Ecology Senior Lecturer, Dr Wendy McWilliam, says the Government and the dairy industry need to work closely together to develop and maintain a landscape-scaled woody vegetation network on both private and public land. . .

Forestry show NZ way to better safety:

A sharp drop in forestry deaths and serious injuries after a massive safety overhaul in 2014 shows what can be achieved when an industry joins together to make improvements, the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum says.

The fall is welcome and sets an example for other industries to follow, says Forum Executive Director Francois Barton.

“Forestry has shown us some of the things that need to be done to bring down high fatality and serious injury rates in an industry,” Francois says. . . 

Good Progress – But More Work to Do to Make Forestry Safe:

A reduction in deaths and serious injuries in forestry since 2013 is encouraging but there is more work to be done yet, the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) says.

WorkSafe figures show serious injuries halved to 78 in 2015 from 160 in 2013, FISC National Safety Director Fiona Ewing says.

“The trend is going in the right direction but we can’t rest on our laurels. Three forestry workers died in 2015. That’s well down on the 10 who died in 2013 but it’s up from just one in 2014.. . .

Irrigation scheme loan approved:

An $8 million loan from the Selwyn District Council means design of stage two of a multi-million dollar irrigation scheme can go ahead.

The council approved the loan to Central Plains Water last month, with the money expected to transfer over next week.

But a community group told RNZ News rate payers should not be lending money to fund a private shareholder scheme. . .

Ruataniwha Dam: Investor mix still being finalised:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment company (HBRIC) says work on getting farmers to sign up to buy water from the proposed Ruataniwha Dam is on hold until the project’s investor mix becomes clearer.

HBRIC has been looking for institutional investors to put money into the dam since Trustpower and Ngai Tahu pulled out in early 2014, saying the risks surrounding the dam were too high and the returns too low.

The company said it had countersigned contracts for 31 million cubic metres of water with a minimum of 45 million cubic metres needed to be sold to make construction financially viable.

It said finalising the investor mix for the Ruataniwha Dam was its current focus. . . 

Global slump in fert prices benefits NZ farmers:

New Zealand farmers stand to benefit from significant savings on their farm nutrient inputs with Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ latest round of price reductions, effective 31 January.

The price review sees urea drop $50 to $525, DAP reduce $25 per tonne, sulphate of ammonia by $15 and potash by $10. These changes will flow through to product blends.

Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says the move comes on the back of a global slump in fertiliser prices, driven by strong supply and soft demand. . . 

Lowest urea price since 2007:

Farmers stand to benefit from a $50 per tonne saving for urea from 1st February, when Ravensdown will drop its prices.

Chief Executive Greg Campbell says he is pleased that Ravensdown is again leading on a price reduction for farmers who are facing increasing costs in many aspects of their business whilst their returns are under pressure.

“We said it not long ago, with our recent superphosphate cap,” Greg says, “that we are about delivering all-year value to our shareholders, and we’re demonstrating it again with urea and other products.” . . 


Subsidies blind producers to market signals

November 24, 2015

Dairy producers overseas aren’t getting low price signals which have prompted New Zealand farmers to reduce production:

New Zealand dairy farmers’ pay packets continue to be thin because overseas farmers haven’t yet received the price signal to cut milk production on the back of a market glut and low demand, says Rabobank’s top dairy analyst.

“Current global commodity prices in dairy are easily low enough to shut off taps globally. The problem is those low prices have not been passed onto farmers in many regions of the world,” said Tim Hunt, the global agribank’s head dairy strategist on a visit from his New York base.

“(With) these current (GDT) auction results of low US$2000 a tonne, there is no farmer in Europe or the US or Latin America who can make money on that. The problem is that New Zealand farmers are the only ones who are at the moment getting the farmgate signal that reflects that. . . 

New Zealand producers have had the very strong market signal that supply is outstripping demand. The price we’re getting is low, in response to that we’ve cut costs and production.

Subsidies in other parts of the world are protecting farmers from the low prices and blinding them to market signals.


Fonterra holds 4th place in global dairy rank

July 16, 2014

Fonterra has held fourth place in Rabobank’s global dairy rankings:

  The latest annual Rabobank survey of the world’s largest dairy companies highlights the giants of one of the world’s most valuable food sectors.

The last 18 months have seen most of these players battle challenging conditions, with weak economies and supply constraints undermining sales growth in key markets. Againt this backdrop, mergers and acquistions have become an attractive route to growth and profitability. But with billion dollar deals increasingly hard to come by, dairy giants will need to acquire or tie up with more companies to sustain the same rates of growth in future. Those adept at acquiring and embracing new businesses will remain well positioned to survive and thrive. 

“Once again, giants Nestlé, Danone and Lactalis top the list, showing that the world’s largest dairy companies are reasonably entrenched,” commented Rabobank analyst Tim Hunt. “We continue to see some companies outperform their peers in sheer growth terms. In particular, the Chinese giants Yili and Mengniu, which saw their sales expand by 14% and 20% respectively, with Yili entering the top 10 for the first time ever”. 

Saputo continued its march up the list to push to eighth place, in part due to several recent acquisitions. Meiji and Morinaga slipped down the list largely due to the sharp decline in the value of the Yen (in which most of their products are sold).  

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2013 was a challenging year for most of the world’s major dairy companies, with stagnant sales volumes in most OECD dairy markets. Acquisitions have become a more attractive route to grow sales and in 2013, there were 124 dairy transactions, up from 111 in 2012 and the highest since 2007.

Positioning for maximum effectiveness in the expanding Chinese market remains prominent. In 2013, joint ventures were announced between Mengniu and Whitewave and COFCO and Danone while Yili announced a partnership agreement with Dairy Farmers of America.

Mengniu took a stake in China Modern Dairy to secure raw milk supply. A further joint venture is pending between FrieslandCampina and Huishan. Despite the increase in transactions, the dairy sector saw no billion dollar deals in the 12 months to 30 June 2014.

While underlying growth will pick up in coming years, many markets will not return to the rapid growth rates seen before 2008. In this context, mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures will remain a key avenue to growth and profitability.

“The catch is that the number of attractive targets is shrinking and multiples have risen,”  explained Hunt. “With billion dollar value deals harder to come by, dairy giants will need to acquire or tie up with more companies than in the past to sustain the same rates of growth”.

Fonterra made a record pay out to its suppliers last season but that was overshadowed in the media by its poor handling of the whey protein concentrate debacle.

However, it maintained its 4th place in the rankings.


Rural round-up

September 25, 2013

Increases for selected fish stocks show success of QMS:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today announced increases to catch limits for a range of New Zealand fisheries, thanks to healthy stock levels.

“These decisions today reflect the success of the Quota Management System (QMS), which is recognised as world leading. It is driven by science and responsive to change, which means that as stocks improve we can increase our sustainable take”, says Mr Guy.

Healthy stocks have led to increased Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits for Hoki 1, Ling 5, Ling 7, Orange Roughy 3B, Scampi 2, Kingfish 7, Leatherjacket 3, Oyster 4 and Sea Perch 1.

“For several stocks, such as Ling 6, Bluenose 1, 2, 3, 7 and 8 and Snapper 7, I have decided to maintain the current TAC. . .

Regulatory Californication – Willy Leferink:

Isn’t it amazing how some people love catastrophy  Last month’s dairy recalls saw some truly leap off the deep end and when we were just getting through that, others latched onto a report by a New York-based dairy strategist.  It warned the New Zealand dairy industry could be squashed by a resurgent U.S. one.

I am only going off media reports but “Arise the Hunter: The Re-orientation of the US Dairy Industry and Implications for New Zealand,” by Tim Hunt certainly impressed the media.  The U.S. dairy industry produces five times the volume of milk as we do and its star used to be California.  I say ‘used to,’ because our new found love of red tape has me worried our dairy industry may be undergoing ‘Californication.’  There is a raunchy TV series going by that name where a fictional novelist solves his ‘writer’s block’ by having affairs.  Is our affair with regulation going to tie our industry up in knots, just like it did to California’s?

I learned how much California has become horridly regulated from Nicola Waugh.  As a Nuffield New Zealand Farming scholarship recipient, she travelled overseas in 2011 from March until October.  As a farm consultant for AgFirst Waikato, she also understands what regulation is. . .

Stay safe these holidays:

With school holidays starting this week, Federated Farmers is putting out a timely reminder to be vigilant with farm safety.

“Our home is our work place and when the children are home from school, we need to be more alert to hazards around the farm,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety Spokesperson.

“Last year we had 14 fatalities and 408 serious injuries on farm, don’t become a part of the statistic these holidays. Be mindful of visitors on farm wanting to experience the rural lifestyle, educate them on hazards and keep them safe. . .

More options for growers under Wools of New Zealand / New Zealand Wool Services International agreement:

Growers will be the ultimate winners of a direct farm-to-scour service agreement between Wools of New Zealand and New Zealand Wool Services International (NZWSI).

Wools of New Zealand will be the face to their grower shareholders and supporters with NZWSI providing all of the back office logistics to move wool efficiently from farm directly to the scour and ultimately, to market.

Ross Townshend, Chief Executive of Wools of New Zealand, says the agreement is a ‘win-win’ for shareholders and suppliers providing them with access to a range of sales options including a weekly schedule, monthly plans and more Wools of New Zealand brand contracts, such as the forthcoming Camira lambswool contract. . .

Big dairy results fortnight kicks off with Synlait:

In a big results fortnight for most dairy farmers and the New Zealand economy, listed milk processor Synlait has started the ball rolling with a net after tax profit for 2012/2013, which was ahead of its prospective financial information forecast. Fonterra Cooperative Group releases its 2012/13 results tomorrow with the other two cooperatives due to follow next week.

“For supplier-shareholders of Fonterra, Synlait, Tatua and Westland, this is going to be a huge fortnight, given Open Country Dairy has already paid its suppliers for the 2012/13 season,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Vice-Chairperson.

“I would add for New Zealand, too, since this relates directly to over a quarter of our country’s merchandise exports. . .

Wrightson chair John Anderson to retire at October meeting:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson chairman John Anderson will retire from the rural services company at the annual meeting next month.

Anderson, who joined the board during a tumultuous shake-up in 2010, will step down from the board at the Oct. 22 meeting, the company said in a statement. A new chairman will be appointed after the meeting. Anderson’s appointment coincided with a changing of the guard in 2010 when Craig Norgate and Baird McConnnon left the board and China’s Agria Corp came on as a cornerstone investor, going on to mount a partial takeover of the company. . .

Lindauer Leads Lion’s Charge at New World Wine Awards 2013

New Zealand’s most popular sparkling wine wins gold medals at wine awards

23 September 2013 – Lindauer Classic Brut Cuveé, Lindauer Classic Rosé and Saints Sauvignon Blanc 2012 have scooped gold medals at the New World Wine Awards 2013, leading the way for Lindauer Special Reserve Blanc de Blancs which won silver. In addition, following on from its gold medal win, Lindauer Classic Rosé was then named Champion Bubbles.

A record number of entries were received for this year’s New World Wine Awards, which were judged by an independent panel of 13 wine experts at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium in July. . . .

Spy Valley Chardonnay Named Champion White Wine:

Marlborough’s Spy Valley Wines is delighted to announce that their 2012 Chardonnay has been named Champion White Wine at the 2013 New World Wine Awards.

Now in its 11th year, the New World Wine Awards utilise the internationally recognised ‘20 point scoring system’, with wines blind tasted and evaluated by an independent panel of 13 judges, many from overseas. Winners of each category are then re-judged to find the Champion Red, Champion White and Champion Bubbles, with the sole criteria being that all wines must retail for under $25. . .

Mission Reserve Chardonnay 2012 wins Gold at the 2013 New Word Wine Awards:

One of only two Chardonnays to be awarded Gold.

The Mission Reserve Chardonnay 2012 is one of only two Chardonnays to win Gold at the 2013 New World Wine Awards. These Awards are exclusively for the very best wines retailing at under $25.

In total, a record 1,099 wines were entered from 157 wineries, with the Mission Reserve Chardonnay taking out Gold and a coveted place in the Top 50.

This recognition follows on from a Gold at the 2010 Awards, and marks 15 years of local and international acclaim for the classically crafted Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay. . . .


Rural round-up

August 17, 2013

Chinese Kiwis defend NZ brand:

An analysis of social media in New Zealand and China has found an emerging group of Chinese residents in New Zealand and others with close ties to China, vigorously defending New Zealand’s brand in the wake of Fonterra’s whey protein contamination crisis.

The analysis was carried out by Dr Hongzhi Gao, a senior lecturer at Victoria Business School and senior research fellow of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre; Vallen Han, Asia marketing director of New Zealand Post; and Simon Young, chief executive of syENGAGE, a social media consulting firm. . .

Two Fonterra managers sent on leave in botulism probe:

Fonterra has placed two of its senior managers on leave as it continues its internal investigation into the whey protein botulism scare.

Fonterra chief executive officer Theo Spierings says the company is moving quickly and establishing key facts and as they emerge they are taking appropriate action.

He says placing two people on leave does not pre-empt the findings of the review and they will continue to be involved in the ongoing investigation.

The review will be finished by the end of the month. . .

Beware sleeping US dairy giant – expert – Hugh Stringleman:

The giant United States dairy industry is re-gearing for exporting and may rival soon the influence of New Zealand in world dairy trade.

Rabobank International global strategist dairy Tim Hunt gave that message to dairy audiences throughout NZ last week.

An Australian economist, Hunt is based in New York and has a special interest in the contrasts between Oceania and North American dairying.

His prepared notes were called “Arise the Hunter, the reorientation of the US dairy industry and implications for NZ”. . .

Economy-wide lessons as white gold loses its shine – Eye 2 the Long Run:

It is critical to understand that the issues for the NZ economy arising from the current Fonterra debacle  (as opposed to dairy farmers and Fonterra directors and managers) is assuredly not a “public relations” issue or one of “reputational management”. The best PR firm in the world cannot resolve such issues through spin – nor should it try.

Calling for better “PR” is simply a form of denial.

Key problems from an economy wide perspective are:

1. Nowhere else to turn

The choice for producers has been narrowed by statute to Fonterra for some 90% of the market. There is virtually no diversity, depth or spread of processing in the industry. The statute prevents it. Dissatisfied producers have nowhere else to turn. All eggs in one basket – then we drop the basket. . . .

Lustrous lambs wanted:

The hunt is on for lambs with unusually lustrous fleece. Crown Research Institute Agresearch says if you have any such lambs this spring, it wants to hear from you.

“We particularly want to understand what proteins or cellular structure may be special to their wool, and then whether these are the same as those in the lustre breeds,” says David Scobie, who is leading the lamb quest.

“Studying a naturally occurring mutation with such a dramatic effect on fibre characteristics provides a unique opportunity to understand the genetic and physiological mechanisms affecting fibre quality.” . . .

AgResearch overhaul tipped to boost research – Annette Scott:

A proposal to overhaul AgResearch’s campus and farm infrastructure will create a vital agricultural research institute for the next 50 years, AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson says.

The restructuring proposal involves axing 180 jobs at Ruakura, near Hamilton, and 85 jobs from the Invermay site near Dunedin.

The $100 million proposal would result in large campuses at Grasslands in Palmerston North and at Lincoln in Canterbury.

A final decision is expected next month following a four-week consultation period. . .

Federations’ ‘www.ruraljobs.co.nz’ a success:

Federated Farmers is thrilled its ‘Rural Jobs’ service has hit 115 job advertisements since the beginning of the year, promising a bright future for agricultural careers.

“www.ruraljobs.co.nz is a fantastic service and it is picking up traction as one of the leading rural job advertisers,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers Chief Executive.

“Great staff are critical to any farming operation. Federated Farmers wants to ensure that our youth realise these opportunities are available to them and that employers have all the right documentation to know what the legal requirements are.

“Our www.ruraljobs.co.nz is not only the place to go to match people with jobs, but also where you can get up to date employment contracts reflecting the latest law changes, information on nationwide wages and salary packages, immigration ACC and OSH requirements and free legal advice for our members. It is a great one stop shop, tailored for the farming sector” . . .


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