Rural round-up

May 15, 2019

Tip Top sale half of debt target – Hugh Stringleman:

The sale of Tip Top to a joint-venture northern hemisphere company, Froneri, for $380 million has achieved almost half of Fonterra’s debt reduction target.

When its Beingmate shareholding is divested and a half share of DFE Pharma is sold, Fonterra should reach its $800m reduction target by July 31.

The Beingmate stake has a market value of about $280m and the DFE share about $200m, based on annual sales figures.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell has therefore made a good start on promised financial reforms of substantial debt reduction, cuts in capital and operational expenditure and 7%-plus return on capital invested by farmer-shareholders and unit holders. . . 

Gisborne woman takes out SI Sheep Dog trials event:

Gisborne’s Jo Waugh has won the zig zag hunt at the South Island sheep dog trial championships, the first time a woman has won the event in more than 100 years.

And not only did the 30-year-old and her huntaway dog, Guy, get on the podium, but two other women also joined her in the top seven, clocking up another achievement in the usually male-dominated event.

The South Island Sheep Dog trials were held in Hanmer Springs this week but farmers and shepherds have been competing since the sport first landed in New Zealand in the 1800s. . . 

MIE man changed priorities fast – Neal Wallace:

Richard Young was elected to the Silver Fern Farms board on a platform of industry restructuring and agitating for a merger with Alliance. Six years later the Otago farmer is the co-operative’s boss. He talks to Neal Wallace.

Richard Young vividly remembers the induction for new directors the evening before his first meeting as an elected member of the Silver Fern Farms board.

It was 2013 and the newly elected directors were taken through the co-operative’s accounts ahead of the annual meeting the next day.

It was not pretty. . . 

Tiny farm run on ethical principles– Sally Brooker:

An Alma family is proud to have set up the district’s smallest dairy farm.

Bethan and Bryan Moore have a herd of just 13 Ayrshire cows with calves on 6ha alongside State Highway 1. They will soon be selling milk in glass bottles.

The Moores bought the land about 18 months ago, after four years of sharemilking in Tasmania. Mrs Moore grew up near Cardiff, Wales and met Mr Moore, a farmer from the North Island, on her travels to New Zealand. . . 

Seeka cuts earnings forecast on smaller crop – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit grower and marketer Seeka has cut its full-year earnings guidance by $4 million due to reduced harvests in both New Zealand and Australia.

Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are likely to range from $32.5 million to $33.5 million in the 2019 calendar year, down from the $36.5-$37.5 million range the Te Puke-based company signalled a month ago.

Seeka, the biggest kiwifruit producer in New Zealand and Australia, said unseasonably hot, dry weather in both countries has reduced fruit size and crop volumes. . .

Meeting of Otago Drought Group – Sally Rae:

The work of the Otago Drought Group is a great example of farmers and their organisations collaborating to manage climate challenges locally, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The group met again this week to update its discussions on the dry conditions in the Clutha district, how farmers were faring and what actions might be needed.

The group, which included Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, representatives from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, the Otago Rural Support Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, convened early in any adverse weather event. . . 

Flying Pig cafe going to market:

One of the Waitaki district’s most recognisable restaurants is on the market.

The Flying Pig Cafe, with its distinctive porcine pink exterior, has long been a landmark in Duntroon.

It has been closed since illness befell its owners in early 2017, and is now for sale.

An Auckland couple bought the cafe in 2007 after discovering it during a holiday driving around the South Island. Business began to soar after the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail opened in 2014. . . 

Hi-tech boosts growers’ bottom lines:

“Incredibly clever” technology that elevates cool rooms into a state-of-the-art controlled atmosphere chambers is helping Hawke’s Bay’s growers make the very best of their crops.

It is not just about chilling fruit, it is about controlling the air conditions inside the cooler to hold it in the best possible state until market conditions are optimal; which could be any time over the 12 months after the crop has been picked.

Next week, growers have the opportunity to learn more about that technology from the Europeans who make it. . . 


Rural round-up

May 13, 2019

Tip Top to join Froneri global family:

New Zealand’s iconic ice cream company has a new owner, after global ice cream company Froneri today purchased Tip Top from Fonterra for $380 million.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell confirmed the sale, saying it was a bittersweet moment for Fonterra.

“Since we took ownership of Tip Top in 2001, a lot of work has gone into ensuring it remained New Zealand’s leading ice cream company. Over that time, we’ve had strong support from New Zealanders, and I want to recognise and thank them for that.

“Tip Top has always listened to consumers and cared about their changing tastes, as well as their long-time favourites. An average of 340 serves of Tip Top are enjoyed every minute of every day. . . 

Froneri unlocks NZ & Pacific with acquisition of Tip Top:

Froneri has today agreed to acquire the iconic New Zealand ice cream business Tip Top from global dairy co-operative Fonterra with completion expected by the end of the month.

Commenting on the deal, Froneri CEO Ibrahim Najafi explains: “We have always admired Tip Top, which is an iconic brand in New Zealand with a long proud history and we are looking forward to welcoming the team into Froneri. Our vision is to build the world’s best ice cream company; an important part of our strategy is to develop local market successes and roll them out across our other markets.” . . 

RWNZ: communities, opportunities, support – Sally Rae:

“We’re not just tea and scones.”

But as Rural Women New Zealand national president Fiona Gower points out, the social support aspect of the organisation remains as important today as it did when it was established nearly a century ago.

Ms Gower, who was in Oamaru last week for a RWNZ regional conference, wears many hats.

As well as her RWNZ position, she is also chairwoman of the New Zealand Landcare Trust, a qualified lifeguard and instructor, a Scout leader and a mother. . . 

The evolution of lamb:

New Zealand lamb has come a very long way since the first shipment of frozen lamb left Port Chalmers bound for the UK in 1882.  After a 98-day voyage it arrived in London on May 24th (aka #NationalLambDay) and New Zealand lamb’s export market was successfully established. 

I was curious to know how lamb has evolved in New Zealand’s foodservice industry over the years and spoke to Beef + Lamb New Zealand Platinum Ambassador Chef, Michael Coughlin.  Michael has been serving New Zealand lamb in restaurants for more than thirty years and in his current role as chef advisor for Provenance Lamb, he is now at the forefront of the gate to plate story which today’s chefs and their customers are eager to hear.

When Michael started his cooking career, he said the only Spring Lamb that was available to chefs was frozen, pre-cut export grade lamb destined for the European Market.  It was mainly racks from the middle of the saddle which were not Frenched or whole legs.  This meant that chefs needed to sharpen up their butchery skills or have a good relationship with their local butcher to trim down the cuts for their menus.  Slow cuts such as lamb shanks and lamb necks were still seen as dog tucker and it was all about the French Rack or traditional roast on restaurant menus.  Some years later the likes of Gourmet Direct started up which gave chefs more of a variety with vacuum packed individual cuts.  This opened up creativity for chefs and by the early-eighties the Lamb Cuisine Awards were introduced by Beef + Lamb New Zealand to entice and reward chefs for having creative lamb dishes on their menu. . . 

From Aussie jackeroo to Dunedin consultant – Sally Rae:

Sam Harburg may have grown up in the city but his affinity for agriculture developed at a young age.

Mr Harburg recently joined agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio as a consultant, moving from Australia to Dunedin with his wife Liz and their two young children.

Brought up in Brisbane in a non-farming family, he spent his school holidays on the farms of family friends.

As far back as he could remember, he was going to study agriculture at university but, at that stage, he never realised the scope that existed within the sector for careers, he said. . . 

We must become the world’s deli – Annette Scott:

Ashburton farmer Gabrielle Thompson has become the first appointed farmer director of Silver Fern Farms in a move designed to ensure succession and development of skills around the board table. She talked to Annette Scott.

When Gabrielle Thompson was approached to put her name in the hat for the Silver Fern Farms board she saw a chance to be involved in governance of a company that is a big part of her farm business.

A sheep an arable farmer, Thompson farms in partnership with her husband Peter and his brother Chris on 530 hectares at Dorie near Ashburton.

The trio finish up to 14,000 store lambs a year and for three generations the family has been a loyal SFF supplier. . . 

Third time lucky for dairy award winners

Colin and Isabella Beazley from Northland have been named share farmers of the year at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards dinner in Wellington.

They are a smart, humble and practical couple who are doing very well at dairy farming on a challenging property in Northland.

Canterbury’s Matt Redmond was named dairy manager of the year and Nicola Blowey, also from Canterbury, is the dairy trainee of the year. 

They shared prizes worth more than $210,000. . . 


Rural round-up

April 24, 2019

Otago’s long rabbit war wages on – Jono Edwards:

They are fluffy, cute, and devastating to agriculture. Jono Edwards examines Otago’s rabbit problem and asks if there is any solution.

Otago’s problems with the long-eared grey/brown menace – the rabbit – began as early as the 1830s, when colonists brought them to New Zealand shores for food and sport.

They quickly realised their mistake as the pests spread and destroyed crops nationwide.

In the 1860s they became established between Invercargill and Riverton, and were devastating crops all over the south by the early 1880s. . .

Horticulture welcomes call for protection of versatile land:

An environmental report released last week further substantiates Horticulture New Zealand’s concerns about ongoing urban and lifestyle block expansion into prime growing land, and shows that urgent action is required to slow this down.

The Environment Aotearoa 2019 report, released by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, shows that the growth of urban centres threatens the limited versatile land surrounding regional centres such as Auckland, Waikato, and Canterbury. . .

Handling psychological pressure key – Sally Rae:

Lance Burdett describes his job as helping people as much as he can.

A safety, wellness and resilience expert, Mr Burdett has worked with elite international tactical units across police, the military, emergency services, prisons and the FBI.

Now he focuses his time on helping people understand the pressures on their brains and how to handle them.

Rural Support Trusts are bringing Mr Burdett to the South, where he will be speaking in Oamaru on May 13, Balclutha on May 14, Gore on May 15 and 16, and Winton on May 16 . . 

Fonterra mulling Tip Top offers :

Fonterra has moved to the next stage of its plan to sell-off its Tip Top ice cream business.

A spokesperson for the co-operative said it received a number of offers from buyers last month and is now considering them.

Follow-up offers are due on 29 April. . .

N surplus shows performance:

Nitrogen leaching varies significantly depending on soil type and climate, which means it’s not a straightforward performance indicator. An alternative approach is to look at a farm’s nitrogen surplus.

It’s a goal of many farmers to improve sustainability, with a significant focus on N leaching in many regions. However, nitrogen (N) leaching varies significantly depending on soil type and climate, factors that cannot be changed (though irrigation can alleviate dry conditions, but also increase drainage).

Focusing on N surplus instead is an easier method of determining farm performance and gaining environmental benefits. Reducing N surplus can also save farmers money. . .

Applications now open for Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships 2019:

Silver Fern Farms welcomes applications for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships for 2019. In its third year, the Plate to Pasture Scholarship programme will award six winners from across the country $5000 to assist with developing their careers and capabilities in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says that supporting emerging talent in the red meat sector is vital to developing relationships that will strengthen the red meat sector.


Rural round-up

March 8, 2019

Test will come when new cattle rustling laws applied

Livestock rustlers could spend up to seven years in prison when new penalties are imposed but a Northland farming official says police need more resources to investigate and take rural crimes more seriously.

The Crimes Amendment Bill, which was passed unanimously by Parliament on Tuesday, makes theft of livestock or any other animal, including beehives and farm dogs, an offence liable for up to seven years in prison.

Also passed was the offence of unlawful entry on agricultural land with the intent to steal livestock or to act unlawfully against specified things such as buildings or machinery on that land — a crime which could see the offender put behind bars for up to a decade.

It makes it the same penalty as for burglary. . . 

Water levels drop and fire dangers rise as drought continues in Nelson – Tim Newman:

Water restrictions in Nelson continue to tighten as the region continues its long dry period into the beginning of Autumn. 

Nelson’s Maitai Dam, which supplies the city with drinking water, has seen its water levels drop significantly during that time. 

Nelson City Council infrastructure group manager Alec Louverdis said the dam was currently 71 per cent full.  . . 

The future of food production from a female perspective:

Nine influential Kiwi women from across the primary industries sector are gathering in Manawatu next week to discuss where-to-next for our food producing nation. They’re coming together as part of the ASB Perspective 2025 round-table discussion, which is a headline event at this year’s New Zealand AgriFood Week in Palmerston North.

It’s the fourth year ASB has been the main sponsor of New Zealand AgriFood Week, which is delivered by the Central Economic Development Agency, and its unique perspective panel is considered a must attend event at the Globe Theatre in Palmerston North. . . 

Majority of beekeepers vote against commodity levy on honey:

Commercial beekeepers have voted not to support the introduction of a honey levy with only 23.56% voting for the introduction of a commodity levy.

Commenting on the result Bruce Wills, Chair of Apiculture NZ, the industry organisation which led the commodity levy proposal says: “It’s no secret that this is not the outcome I, or the Board, wanted to see. I believe it will set back the development of the honey industry, but I understand that at present commercial beekeepers are hurting with the erosion in honey prices as a result of over-supply, for all floral types other than mānuka honey.” . . 

Bids for Fonterra’s Tip Top due in by Monday – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Indicative bids to buy Tip Top ice-cream from Fonterra Cooperative Group are due in by Monday, according to the Australian Financial Review which says it has seen a copy of the confidential information memorandum.

Its Street Talk column says the business is being pitched by First NZ Capital as a “unique opportunity to invest in an iconic New Zealand company with 80 years of heritage.”

While the memorandum talks about Tip Top’s “unrivalled market position,” it also notes that Unilever, which has the rights to Magnum ice-cream and a host of dairy free products, dominates the premium end of the market where the fat margins are. . . 

Fonterra appoints Judith Swales COO Global Foodservice:

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell has confirmed Judith Swales to the role of Chief Operating Officer, Global Consumer and Foodservice. This follows her appointment to the role in an acting capacity earlier this year.

Miles Hurrell says “Judith has been providing strong leadership into our Consumer and Foodservice business unit, and the momentum she has gathered deserves to be continued.” . . 

Scales Corporation enters into petfood joint Venture with Alliance Group:

Diversified agribusiness Scales Corporation Limited today announced an agreement to enter into a petfood Joint Venture (JV) with Alliance Group Limited (Alliance). Under the terms of the JV, Alliance will pay $15 million to acquire a 50% interest in Meateor’s New Zealand business and operations.

Managing Director Andy Borland says: “We are pleased to enter into a partnership with one of New Zealand’s leading farmer co-operatives. This venture is about developing New Zealand as the premier supplier of petfood proteins. We think the venture provides a number of benefits to the entire New Zealand petfood-supply industry including as an avenue for the industry to improve scale; improved relationships with customers including the ability to commit to longer-term relationships; an ability to move into higher value and added value ingredients; and ability to leverage extended customer and supplier networks.” . . 


Rural round-up

December 11, 2018

Plant a tree grow a community – Luke Chivers:

Matawai farmers Eugene and Pania King are dedicated to sustainability but it isn’t just about the environment. Luke Chivers reports.

Sheep and beef farmers Eugene and Pania King from Kiriroa Station at Matawai are combining their passion for the land with hard work and whanau support.

The couple have a longstanding connection with their family, their environment and their local community.

“We both grew up in rural New Zealand and a career in agriculture was inevitable,” Pania says.  . . 

 

Wee dog helps child farm safety – Alan Williams:

A serious little dachshund and a devil-may-care miniature fox terrier are the heroes in a new book aimed at making children safer on farms.

Ted the foxy races round doing silly things but Poppy is always close by teaching him to put his think-safe brain on.

“They’re both very small and they highlight just how small a child also is on a farm and through them being out and about I’m trying to help children understand about making good decisions,” author Harriet Bremner said. . . 

Farm safety story book launched in wake of tragedy:

A woman who lost her partner in a farm incident has launched a book to keep children safe on the farm.

Harriet Bremner’s partner James died in a farm machinery incident in Hakataramea Valley in January 2017. Now, her new book, Be Safe, Be Seen, sees her miniature dachshund Poppy take on the challenges of keeping safe on the farm as a little dog.

Primary School teacher Harriet hopes that kids will heed the safety messages in the book and that families reading the book to their children will be reminded to make safe choices at work every day. . . 

Fonterra’s strategic reset interacts with new Board dynamics – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s December update shows that the strategic reset is under way, albeit at an early stage.

Key indicators include that the Beingmate JV is being unwound and that Fonterra’s China Farms are under heightened scrutiny. The big shock is that Tip Top is on the market. The ownership of Soprole in Chile must also be under scrutiny, although little has been said publicly.

I will return to those issues within this article, but first it is necessary to understand something of the dynamics within the new Fonterra Board. . .

A2 rings in more executive changes under new CEO Hrdlicka – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka’s executive team is going through more changes as two senior managers depart – one for early retirement and one to pursue another opportunity.

Long-serving executive Simon Hennessy, who is currently general manager international development, will take early retirement. Relative newcomer Michael Bracka, who heads business development in emerging markets, will leave this month to pursue another opportunity, the company said. . . 

Major breakthrough for Mānuka farming initiative:

A ground-breaking milestone could see more Hawke’s Bay farmers producing high-grade mānuka honey worth millions to the New Zealand economy.

Scientifically-bred mānuka cultivars planted on a 130 hectare trial site at Tūtira, Hawke’s Bay between 2011 and 2013 have produced their first crop of mānuka honey with an average Unique Mānuka Factor (UMF®) value of 7. One sample reached medical grade by exceeding UMF® 10. . . 

Dairy and meat products lead manufacturing fall:

A fall in dairy and meat products pushed overall manufacturing sales down for the September 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the volume of total manufacturing sales fell 1.6 percent in the September 2018 quarter. This fall was led by a 6.7 percent decrease in meat and dairy product manufacturing.

“Most meat and dairy products in New Zealand are exported and occasionally, the timing of exports, price changes, and exchange rates can affect manufacturing sales,” manufacturing statistics manager Sue Chapman said. . . 


Give shareholders first option on Tip Top

December 7, 2018

Fonterra is considering selling its Tip Top ice cream brand:

Chairman John Monaghan said it was looking at its ongoing ownership of Tip Top and had appointed FNZC as an external advisor to consider a range of options.

“We want to see Tip Top remain a New Zealand based business and this is being factored into our options,” Monaghan said.

“While performing well, Tip Top is our only ice cream business and has reached maturity as an investment for us. To take it to its next phase successfully will require a level of investment beyond what we are willing to make.” . . 

Fonterra shareholder Matthew Herbert has started a petition opposing the sale:

Problem
Fonterra is looking at selling off it’s Tip Top ice cream brand.
Kiwi’s eat more ice cream per person than any other country on earth.
Tip Top ice cream is one of the biggest links between fresh New Zealand milk from Fonterra farmers, and people who live in our cities.

Solution
Sign the petition and help farmers save Tip Top from the chopping block!

Lets tell Fonterra to hold onto Tip Top and keep our delicious ice cream going from farm to freezer.
#SaveTipTop

 

I’m not opposed to the idea of selling the company.

Fonterra needs to reduce debt. If it can’t make the investment needed to take the company further then it is better to sell it to others who can, and sell it at the best price it can get.

But why not give Fonterra shareholders first option to buy Tip Top?


Rural round-up

November 24, 2018

Whanganui berry farm forced to close pick-your-own strawberry service – Jesse King:

Popular family attraction Windermere Berry Farm has cancelled pick-your-own days after repeated thefts and other poor behaviour.

For the second year in a row, staff have been forced to put a temporary stop to the farm’s pick-your-own strawberry service.

Yesterday, people who had paid for the experience were seen wrenching a waratah out of the ground and picking strawberries from a block that was off-limits. . . 

 Fonterra is big but Mataura (nutritionally) aims to be world’s best – Point of Order:

Earlier this week Point of Order drew attention to the contrasting fortunes of key components within New Zealand’s dairy sector, which by any account is a mainstay of the country’s export industry. In that instance it was the contrast between the report of rising revenue and profit of specialist milk supplier A2 Milk and the slide in Global Dairy Trade auction prices likely to lead to another downgrade in the milk payout for Fonterra suppliers.

The contrast was heightened later in the week, first with speculative reports that Fonterra is putting up for sale the iconic icecream company Tip Top (which could yield $400m to reduce debt) as well as its South American operations. . . 

Effluent monitoring paying dividends:

An innovative approach to monitoring dairy farm effluent runoff is reaping rewards for farmers and the environment.

Taupo milk processor Miraka, with about 100 suppliers, is offering bonuses to suppliers who meet the five criteria set out in its Te Ara Miraka Farming Excellence programme: people, environment, animal welfare, milk quality and prosperity.

NZ agricultural technology company Regen is helping Miraka farmers manage their effluent more effectively with a smartphone app. This texts daily effluent irrigation recommendations to farmers, and logs data to prove compliance, meeting the company’s caring-for-the-environment criteria. . . 

Merino muster heads out on the highway – Sally Rae:

 It was hard to know which was the more spectacular sight on the snow-blanketed Lindis Pass yesterday – the weather or the wethers.

Munro family members were continuing a tradition of driving sheep between their two pastoral lease properties, Rostriever, at Otematata, and Mt Thomas, on the south side of the Lindis summit. 

At about 67km, John Munro reckoned it could be the longest sheep drive in New Zealand. . .

Frustrated farmer’s consent renewal attempts :

Turakina dairy farmer Andrew Major is frustrated by the difficulty of renewing his existing consent to spread effluent on sandhills.

He’s had the consent for 24 years. It is due for renewal next year and he is beginning the process of applying to Horizons Regional Council.

He was hoping to be offered help, but has been told he will be emailed a form to fill in.

It’s good that he’s applying early, Horizons Regional Council strategy and regulation manager Dr Nic Peet said. Applying six months before the consent is due to expire means he will be able to continue to operate under the old consent until the new one is decided. . . 

Woolshed injuries targeted :

The wool industry wants a new online training tool to become part of every woolshed in the country, so that injuries occurring in and around the sheds can be reduced.

Tahi Ngātahi was officially launched at the New Zealand Agricultural Show by shearing and farming industry leaders.

New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said most wool harvesting injuries were preventable and all have a detrimental effect on everyone working in the business. . . 

 

Blades shearers cutting a track for France 2019

South Canterbury shearers Tony Dobbs and Allan Oldfield have confirmed their places at the 2019 world shearing and woolhandling championships.

With Fairlie farmer, Dobbs, again winning the New Zealand Corriedale blades shearing championship final, and Geraldine shearer Oldfield placing fourth, it confirmed their positions as winner and runner-up in a series of eight competitions which started at Reefton in February.

They become the first part of the Shearing Sports New Zealand team confirmed for the 18th world championships to be held in Le Dorat, France, on July 1-7. . . 

Milk production up 12% on Donald Pearson Farm:

It’s been a great start to the season for the Auckland dairy farm owned by NZ Young Farmers.

Milk production on the 74-hectare Donald Pearson Farm (DPF) is up “12 per cent on last season”.

The farm’s new manager, Tom Ruki, is being credited with the rise. . . 

Students to learn about food and farming in new ag curriculum – Andrew Norris:

Recommendations from a review into agricultural education and training in NSW completed in 2013 is bearing fruit, with the roll-out of new mandatory agriculture components in the school curriculum from next year.

The Pratley Review was conducted by Jim Pratley, the Foundation Dean of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.

NSW Education Standards Authority inspector for technology education, Mark Tyler, said recommendations from this review played a crucial role in the introduction of these new courses. . . 


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