Rural round-up

July 9, 2019

Uncertainty plus unique ownership structure drive Fonterra share volatility – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s shares have been on a steady downward slide for the last 18 months. In January 2018 they were selling at $6.60 dropping to $3.86 at closing on 30 June 2019.

Then this last week things suddenly turned volatile, dropping at one point on 4 July a further 10 percent to $3.45, before rising by six percent to $3.69 at close of trade on 5 July.

The causes of the long-term drop are well understood. Very simply, Fonterra made a loss of $196 million in financial year 2018 largely because of write-down on assets. Fonterra is also now in asset-selling mode to strengthen its balance sheet. Non-farmer investors are coming to understand that, with family silver having to be sold as well as some rubbish disposal, any turnaround is likely to be long-term rather than short-term. . .

One billion tree flawed says climate scientist :

The Forestry Minister Shane Jones’ one billion trees won’t reduce carbon emissions, as too few natives are being planted, climate scientist Jim Salinger says.

The government has allocated $120 million in grants to landowners to plant trees on their properties, and wants two-thirds of those planted to be natives.

Forestry New Zealand figures show in the first year, of the 91m trees planted, only 12 percent were native. . .

Falling log prices may make some woodlots unprofitable – ANZ -Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – In-market prices for logs in China – New Zealand’s largest export market – have fallen in recent weeks and ANZ Bank warns the drop will make the harvest of some woodlots unprofitable.

While some price softening is not unusual at this time of year as construction activity slows in the hot months, “the scale of the correction was unexpected,” said ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby.

The price of an A-grade log landed in China has fallen from US$130/JAS cubic-metre in early June to approximately US$105/JAS cubic-metre.. .

Vet behind Mycoplasma Bovis detection hopeful for eradication:

The Ōamaru vet, whose efforts led to the identification of cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis in New Zealand, says she is optimistic the disease can be eradicated.

Earlier this week, Dr Merlyn Hay was given the Outstanding Contribution to the Primary Industries Award, for her work to identify M Bovis in July 2017.

Dr Hay told Saturday Morning that the disease was very hard to diagnose, and in many other countries it was only detected after it had already been spreading for several decades . .

Group aims to help farmers improve M. Boris response – Daniel Birchfield:

Lines of communication between the Ministry for Primary Industries and farmers impacted by cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis have been muddied for too long, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

Alongside Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley, he chaired the first meeting of the recently formed Waimate/Waitaki Mycoplasma Bovis Advisory Group held at the Waimate District Council on Wednesday.

The group, modelled on a similar Ashburton arrangement, was formed to support the ministry’s M. bovis eradication programme and assist with regional decision-making to benefit farmers. . .

Lamb contract rewards loyalty – Colin Williscroft:

A $9/kg fixed-price lamb contract for August is a reward for customer loyalty, Affco national livestock manager Tom Young says.

So, farmers generally should not raise their hopes it signals prices higher that they might usually expect as the season unfolds.

The contract has been the subject of much discussion at sale yards but Young said it is not an offer being made to every farmer.

It is only available to loyal clients, farmers who have shown Affco consistent support. . .

Dismantling free markets won’t solve biodiversity threat – Matt Ridley:

Driven perhaps by envy at the attention that climate change is getting, and ambition to set up a great new intergovernmental body that can fly scientists to mega-conferences, biologists have gone into overdrive on the subject of biodiversity this week.

They are right that there is a lot wrong with the world’s wildlife, that we can do much more to conserve, enhance and recover it, but much of the coverage in the media, and many of the pronouncements of Sir Bob Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), are frankly weird.

The threat to biodiversity is not new, not necessarily accelerating, mostly not caused by economic growth or prosperity, nor by climate change, and won’t be reversed by retreating into organic self-sufficiency. Here’s a few gentle correctives.

Much of the human destruction of biodiversity happened a long time ago . . .


Rural round-up

June 27, 2019

Culling our cows isn’t the only way to reduce emissions – but greenies shy from the GE option – Point of Order:

Climate  change  warriors  who   are  demanding  NZ’s  dairy  herd   be culled  immediately to  meet  targets of  lower methane emissions  may be confounded by the evidence  that leading farmers  are  already succeeding  in  lowering gas emissions.  And the  prospects  of  huge  advances  in other  aspects  of  dairying,  particularly  in   AI, robotics  and  the development of  new crops,  portend further  gains..

And what’s holding  up another  key development?

It’s the intransigence of the so-called  Green lobby against the introduction of genetic technology. . . 

South Canterbury champion shearers to take on the world’s best – Samesh Mohanlall:

Two South Cantabrians who are New Zealand’s premier blade shearers are headed to France and world shearing championships.

Tony Dobbs from Fairlie and Allan Oldfield of Geraldine are hoping for a good showing when they line up against the world’s best from July 1 at Le Dorat in Haute-Vienne.

The Olympics of shearing round up 35 nations, 300 international shearers, 5000 animals and more than 30,000 visitors, into a small town of 1900 inhabitants in southern-central France. . . 

Venison, velvet and … milk? – Farah Hancock:

How do you milk a deer? Very, very carefully.

In Benio, close to Gore the McIntyre family are doing just that with a herd of 90 hinds. It’s something they’ve been doing for four years and they put their success down to good handling of the deer.

Peter and Sharon McIntyre’s son Chris is in charge of the twice daily milking. He said at first a lot of people didn’t believe the family were milking their deer. Four years on, and with food and innovation awards under their belt not much has changed.

“It depends who you talk to. A lot of people still don’t believe us.” . . .

Fonterra says full-season milk collection up 1.2%- Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra says its New Zealand milk collection for the year through May rose 1.2 percent despite a weak end to the season.

New Zealand’s biggest milk processor collected 1,522.7 million kilograms of milk solids in the year, and noted that the prior year had been a poor production season.

Fonterra said May production by its suppliers fell to 68.4 million kgMS, down 3.5 percent from a year earlier, despite more favourable conditions across many regions in recent months. Conditions in May 2018 had also been more favourable, the firm noted in its latest dairy update. . . 

Lower North Island butchers sharpen up for competition:

Butchers from across the lower North Island sharpened their knives and cut their way through a two-hour competition in the regional stages of the 2019 Alto Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year.

It was a close call, but after a fierce competition Simon Dixon from Island Bay Butchery placed first in the Alto Butcher of the Year category and Makalah Stevens from New World Foxton claimed first spot in the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year category.

This was the second regional competition in a national series to compete in a Grand Final showdown in August to crown New Zealand’s top butchers, culminating in a glitzy dinner – a highlight of the industry’s year. The Lower North Island competition involved the butchers breaking down a size 16 chicken, a boneless beef rump and a full pork loin into a display of value-added products. . .

Australia’s drought now eating into New Zealand’s rainfall figures – Weather Watch:

On Sunday we wrote about how NZ is being affected by Australia’s drought now a review of the past month’s rainfall shows some places only got 10mm of rain.

Farmers are increasingly telling us they have only received about one third of their normal rainfall in some parts of the country so far this year.

Enormous high pressure systems – like the one moving in this week and weekend – have been drifting east from Australia for months now and it is clearly having an affect on our rainfall figures. As we approach the halfway mark of the year the low rainfall is now starting to concern some in the agri sector about the impact this might have on summer. Likewise power companies are watching the South Island’s hydro lakes.

Recent rain should teach us to be careful what we wish for when it comes to Brexit – Tom Clarke:

Not too long ago, farmers were praying for rain, but now surveying our flattened crops and flooded fields, we’re wishing we hadn’t prayed quite so hard. There’s a lesson to be learned here about pushing for a no-deal Brexit, says arable farmer Tom Clarke.

Ten days ago arable farmers across the South and East of England were praying for rain to end the remarkable dry spell we’ve endured since spring 2018.

This week we got what we wanted. Good and hard. In many places, crops lie flattened and fields flooded.

The moral of this story is to be careful what you wish for. If it comes, it might not be quite what, how or when you wanted it. . .

Fertile large-scale certified organic property crops up for sale:

A large scale and diversified Hawke’s Bay certified organic business and landholding has been placed on the market for sale.

The 62-hectare site at Bridge Pa near Hastings consists of an L-shaped property producing commercial quantities of blueberries, carrots, onions, potatoes, kumara, and pumpkin

Much of the produce grown and sold through the site is branded under the true earth™ branding label. true earth™ food products are sold to wholesalers, food processing and manufacturing companies, selected supermarkets and speciality stores, with a small portion exported to Australia and Asia. . . 


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. . . 


Rural round-up

October 9, 2018

Alliance has work still to do on beef prices – Alan Williams:

Alliance has a lot of work to do to get up to competitive pricing for prime beef and bulls.

“We’re a mile off where we need to be,” chief executive David Surveyor told shareholders in North Canterbury.

It will be working to get a better offer in the market this season but there will not be an overnight fix.

“We need to get the price to a point where its profitable for us and for farmers,’’ he said afterwards.

The co-operative’s beef suppliers are loyal but it is important to be frank with the owners about the issues. . .

Recovery worries buyers – Hugh Stringleman:

Prospects of a good spring flush for milk production have again trimmed world prices at the most-recent Global Dairy Trade auction, when the index fell by 1.9%, the ninth consecutive fall.

Its is now mid May since the GDT index registered a rise and during that four and a half months the dairy market has lost a cumulative 15.7%.

That is a slow decline by international dairy market standards, showing supply and demand are balanced but the market is worried by New Zealand milk production recovery.

Rabobank said near-perfect weather and more cows milked over the winter resulted in production growth of 5% year-on-year during the seasonal trough from June to August. . . 

Giving rural people’s health top priority – Sally Rae:

Kelly Burnett’s career aspiration is simple: to continue helping rural people get the best out of their bodies.

The Dunedin-based osteopath has a passion for farming and the rural community, and her masters degree research looked at how to help farmers maintain their physical health.

As she put it, tractors and motorbikes were regularly serviced and working dogs went to the vet for any injuries or ailments. But rural people often did not see themselves as the most important tool on their farm or in their business. . . 

Kiwis win blade shearing, wool handling – Sally Brooker:

New Zealand won the transtasman blade shearing test and the New Zealand woolhandling champion won his third consecutive title at the Waimate Shears on Saturday.

The 51st annual two-day shears at the Waimate showgrounds attracted strong entries across its categories, which began with woolhandling at noon on Friday.That culminated on Saturday afternoon with the open section win to Joel Henare, who splits his time between Gisborne and Motueka.

A highlight of the programme was the test between Kiwi blade shearers Tony Dobbs,  of Fairlie, and Allen Gemmell,  of Rangiora, and their Australian rivals Johnathon Dalla and Ken French. The New Zealanders finished 13.63 points ahead. . . 

Sustainability experts join Fonterra’s new advisory panel: 

Fonterra has appointed an independent Sustainability Advisory Panel to guide the Co-operative as it strives to be a world leader in sustainably produced dairy nutrition.

The panel features a diverse range of experts including:

• Sir Rob Fenwick (Chair), who co-founded the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development and was the first New Zealander knighted for services to both business and conservation. . . 

Fonterra has three alternatives for its China Farms and none are attractive – Keith Woodford:

This is the second part of a two-part series putting Fonterra’s China Farms under scrutiny. The first part is here

In the preceding article I traced the internal thinking within Fonterra as to why Fonterra decided to produce milk in China. The underlying belief was that Fonterra had the necessary expertise but could not play the desired role within China without having in-country production systems.  By late 2009, having lost its key China partner San Lu from the melamine disaster, Fonterra decided to go it alone with an expansion that would become known as the Yutian hub. From there, additional hubs would be developed.

Fonterra decided it would work towards a supply of one billion litres of China-produced milk per annum and this would require about 80,000 cows milking at any one time. There was an assumption that high-quality milk from these farms would sell at a premium to other China-produced milk. Whether or not Fonterra would also undertake processing operations was seen as a question for the future, but with a likelihood this would occur. . . 

Profiting from precision irrigation: –  Andrew Swallow:
Economic, environmental and social benefits are prompting a growing number of Australasian and US farmers to adopt precision variable rate irrigation systems.

New Zealand, a country generally known for its ample annual rainfall and phenomenal natural crop growth, is an unlikely origin for a precision irrigation development that’s gaining traction globally. However, light soils and sporadic precipitation in some regions, plus readily available water for irrigation, mean close to 800,000 ha or 6.5% of the country’s farmland is artificially watered.

Originally, much of that was with flood irrigation using border-dykes but, in the drive for water use efficiency and environmental protection, spray irrigation has become the norm, mostly with centre-pivots. . . 

 


Big Ben beats Shrek

January 29, 2014

Shrek, the merino wether hermit found on Bendigo Station, has held the unofficial title for the heaviest fleece since being shorn in 2004.

But he’s now been beaten by Big Ben:

A merino wether dubbed Big Ben has been shorn of a fleece even heavier than Shrek’s in what is claimed as a world record.

Big Ben was captured with three other renegades on a high country station near Twizel after years escaping musters.

The merinos, estimated to be aged about 7, were clipped at Omahau Hill Station on Saturday night in accordance with Guinness World Records criteria.

Big Ben weighed 71kg before he was relieved of his 28.9kg fleece by New Zealand blade shearing champion and former world champion Tony Dobbs, who said his 25-minute effort was ”certainly not the fastest I have shorn a sheep”.

Shrek’s 27kg fleece had been unofficially regarded as the heaviest in the world.

If confirmed, Big Ben’s record will be the first recognised by Guinness World Records. . .

The fleece will be spun and used to make a baby’s shawl which will be auctioned to raise funds for the Twizel Medical Centre.


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