Rural round-up

October 27, 2018

Power prices heading north for the summer – Richard Rennie:

 Farmers looking to renew electricity contracts are being cautioned to expect a shock from new prices as the power industry faces tightening supply conditions amid strong demand from South Island irrigators for electricity.

Ruralco Energy general manager Tracey Gordon is dealing almost daily with co-operative farmer shareholders seeking advice as their electricity contracts come to an end and new ones are being set.

While electricity companies are renegotiating contracts with existing customers, those seeking new supply arrangements might find it more difficult to get on board. . .

Large-scale Canterbury irrigation project in new hands:

 An irrigation company has bought the resource consents for the large-scale Hurunui Water Project.

Shareholders on the Hurunui Water Project have voted unanimously to sell the council consents to Amuri Irrigation Company.

Amuri Irrigation chairperson David Croft said the company was aware of a strong desire for irrigation to be delivered to farmers south of the Hurunui River in north Canterbury. . . 

Agritourism witha  touch of southern hospitality – Tess Brunton:

Southland farmers have started looking for greener pasture – and tourist dollars – by welcoming visitors onto their working properties.

 It’s a niche market now, but there are hopes the region could become a mecca for agritourism.

Venture Southland has been running agritourism information workshops across the region this week, attracting more than one hundred people over four sessions.

Velvet prospects sound:

The velvet market during the 2018-19 season is expected to be reasonably stable, with consumption in Asia increasing in line with production growth in New Zealand.

Apart from a brief downward dip in prices two years ago, driven by uncertainty about regulatory changes in China, NZ velvet production and prices have increased for eight years. . .


Meat companies only have themselves to blame if meat prices are too high – Allan Barber:

 Seven years ago, the last time lamb prices were as high as they have been for the last 12 months, overseas customers suddenly decided enough was enough and turned off the tap, causing a sharp drop in price which reached its low point of less than $4.50 per kilo more than a year later. The difference this time appears to be a more gradual climb and a longer peak with no sign yet of a repeat collapse.

The other significant difference is the emergence of China as a key market, whereas in 2012 the traditional markets of UK, EU and USA had to bear the impact of selling to their consumers a product which had effectively priced itself off the market. Today the spread of market demand means more of the lamb carcase can be sold at a higher price; although this doesn’t mean there isn’t some risk of another collapse, there are greater signs of sustainability. . .

Why cows are getting a bad rap in lab-grown meat debate – Alison Van Eenennaam:

A battle royal is brewing over what to call animal cells grown in cell culture for food. Should it be in-vitro meat, cellular meat, cultured meat or fermented meat? What about animal-free meat, slaughter-free meat, artificial meat, synthetic meat, zombie meat, lab-grown meat, non-meat or artificial muscle proteins?

Then there is the polarizing “fake” versus “clean” meat framing that boils this complex topic down to a simple good versus bad dichotomy. The opposite of fake is of course the ambiguous but desirous “natural.” And modeled after “clean” energy, “clean” meat is by inference superior to its alternative, which must logically be “dirty” meat.

See the whole picture here.


Rural round-up

October 30, 2014

The rising star of beef – Keith Woodford:

With so much focus on the current dairy downturn, it is easy to miss the rising star of beef. This year beef prices have been hitting record highs, both in US and NZ dollars. Young steers and bulls are fetching anywhere between $1100 and $1600 at slaughter, depending on weight and category.

The key driver has been demand for hamburger beef from the United States. Demand from China has also been increasing.

The New Zealand Meat Industry Association has reported beef exports of 380,000 tonnes earning $2.2 billion dollars for the year ending June 2014. Since 2001, these exports have fluctuated between about 325,000 tonnes and just over 400,000 tonnes with no clear trend. Cull cows from the dairy industry have been contributing an increasing proportion of total production. . .

Launch of renewable energy initiative in Southland:

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has today welcomed the launch of New Zealand’s first region-wide wood energy heat hub that will help fuel the Southland economy.

Wood Energy South is a joint initiative between the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Venture Southland that will partner with local businesses, schools and healthcare facilities to help them convert to cleaner, renewable wood burning technology.

“Southland’s strong forestry and wood processing industry creates a rich source of wood fuel for the region. This project will help local businesses realise the renewable energy potential in their own back yard. . . .

Lee Valley Dam must be affordable:

Federated Farmers is urging the Government to support the Tasman District Council’s (TDC) Waimea Dam Project to prevent the critical shortage of water for urban and farming development.

“It’s not a matter of whether the dam goes ahead, it is how it goes ahead,” says Martin O’Connor, Federated Farmers Nelson provincial president.

“We are living in a catch 22, because the build is likely to cost irrigators $520 per hectare and increase rates by 11 cents per cubic metre a year, but our rural and urban communities cannot survive without it. . .

 Testing the mobile cow shed – Milking on the Moove:

It’s been a busy month testing out the mobile cowshed. I took this video about a month ago & I have only now found the time to put it up. I’ve been getting a few requests for a video.

It’s just a quick look at how the system works. I’m still in the testing phase & we are ironing out all the little issues. 

At the moment I’m only milking 8 cows & the neighbours are taking the milk to feed to their calves.
I can’t start selling our milk until I have been approved by the ministry of primary industries. That journey is turning out to be a bit of a drama, but I’ll write about that another day. . . .

Sanford takes on KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover new processing technologies for mussels:

Sanford Limited is taking on a KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover novel proposals for high-speed automated technologies that will help it process its current daily rate of 1.5 million mussels. Today, researchers at New Zealand’s public research organisations will be pitching ideas to improve mussel processing in Nelson at the Aquaculture NZ Research Workshop in a bid to win $5,000 of prototype development funding and the opportunity to work with Sanford to develop their solution for commercial application.

Sanford’s Aquaculture Manager Ted Culley says, “Processing as many molluscs as we do presents all sorts of challenges. This a great opportunity for us and others in the aquaculture industry to uncover some novel ideas with commercial potential. While we’re looking for a winning idea, we’re keen to investigate all good ideas, so we may end up with more research projects.” . . .

New fund to assist the growth of New Zealand dairy farming:

Dairy farmers looking to grow their family business will soon have access to a new source of funding, with the launch of an innovative new investment vehicle, the NZ Dairy Farming Trusts.

The Trusts – a joint venture between New Zealand farm investment company MyFarm Limited and German alternative-fund manager Aquila Capital – is seeking to raise up to $100 million from international and domestic wholesale investors. **

The initiative is aimed at providing the New Zealand dairy industry with much needed new capital in order to realise its economic potential. The fund plans to lend money at interest rates tied to milk and land prices, providing dairy farmers with alternative to taking on equity partners. . . .

Ballance moves to science specialisation:

With New Zealand farming systems as diverse as farmers themselves, Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Science Extension team is making the shift to specialist roles to better support the changing requirements of farmers working with different climates, topography, soil types and farm types.

Science Extension Manager Ian Tarbotton says knowledge about soils, fertiliser, forages and nutrient budgets is fundamental to support farmers in reaching their goals, and the demand for more specialised knowledge is growing rapidly.

“We have two driving factors. First, higher environmental demands mean farmers are now working within tighter controls around nutrient management and protecting water quality. There is no one simple solution for each farm and it is not just a case of managing fertiliser. Feeding regimes, stocking rates, stock movements and soil types all have an influence and they will vary from farm to farm. . .

 

Ballance Ward B Election draws record field:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ call last month for director nominations for its Ward B has yielded 9 candidates hoping to replace Dean Nikora who resigned as a director ahead of taking up an international posting.

Ballance Chairman, David Peacocke, says he is delighted that Ward B shareholders have such a strong field of candidates to choose from and he believes that 9 is a record.

“The strong field indicates that we have shareholders who recognise this is an excellent opportunity to contribute to the governance of our co-operative, which is close to being a $1 billion business in terms of revenue. Having high quality candidates for director vacancies is vital to the success of our co-operative, and the response to our call for nominations has certainly achieved that. We have a very good mix with six men and three women seeking election. . .


Rural round-up

May 27, 2014

HBRIC hopeful Ruataniwha scheme can be saved – Tim Fulton:

The council-controlled company promoting the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme reckons it still has a good chance of getting farmers into a bankable project on its three-month deadline.

Farmers were uncertain about the impact of the draft Tukituki catchment plan changes but they hadn’t been scared off, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) chief executive Andrew Newman said.

HBRIC’s immediate problem was that while the Ruataniwha dam had been granted the consents it needed, the proposed Tukituki plan changes didn’t allow the scheme to work, he said.

“I think it’s reasonable to say the decision has had some unintended consequences and a level of ambiguity in it, when viewed in aggregate.” . . .

World Young Shepherds round:

EIGHT YOUNG Kiwis are heading to Lincoln, July 3-5 to compete in the preliminary round of competition at the World Young Shepherds Challenge.

The top two performing competitors will go on to represent New Zealand at the final in France, September 28 – October 4.

“The World Young Shepherds Challenge is a fantastic event, showcasing a vital industry and a range of young people from around the globe who have a major contribution to make to the international sheep industry,” says Beef+Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Dr Scott Champion. . .

Life a blur of activity for radio host:

As the new voice behind the Southern Farming show, Balfour man Jonny Turner is now making his mark on the Hokonui radio station.

His rural background began in the small Northern Southland community and has played a great influence on his getting involved with radio, as well as his passion for horse racing.

Growing up in Balfour on a mixed farming property, Mr Turner had always had a rural background and he had wanted to get involved with radio. When the opportunity arose he could not have been happier. . .

Tall order for responsible publicans:

Jill Derbyshire and husband Peter have been at the Royal Hotel, Naseby, for more than two years and are keenly aware of their host responsibilities under the law.

Mrs Derbyshire said hoteliers were the first in the firing line if something went wrong.

”We could lose our licence,” Mrs Derbyshire said.

One of the tools they use is an incident book, in which they and their staff protect themselves by recording any interactions they had with patrons about suggesting they use the courtesy coach or that they be driven home, or if they had been argumentative in the bar.

”If something happens and they have been in the bar beforehand, it is there,” she said. . .

Funding sought to get young into agricultural jobs

Venture Southland is looking for up to between $200,000 and $300,000 in funding, or in kind, over three years for its Southland Futures project, a strategy designed to help the region’s unemployed young people into jobs in the agricultural sector.

Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group manager Steve Canny said it had surveyed 600 Southland pupils last December, and found that few were considering careers in the agriculture or agricultural services sectors.

The organisation found young people and Work and Income clients did look at agricultural jobs in a positive way, apart from the long hours, but often lacked ”direct experience of the industry”. . .

DPI streamlines water bureaucracy

WATER bureaucracy in NSW is being streamlined, with three organisations being combined into one under the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

Currently the responsibility for water is shared throughout DPI by specific offices – the NSW Office of Water, Sydney Catchment Authority and the Metropolitan Water Directorate.

Now, the DPI is consolidating these parts into a new look Office of Water aligning the water policy and planning, regulation and monitoring and evaluation for all water in NSW. . .

 Irrigators slam water shake-up – Mike Foley:

NSW Irrigators has slammed the NSW government’s decision to remove the role of Water Commissioner from the state’s bureaucracy, in a departmental shake-up announced today.

“It is appallingly bad timing to abolish the Water Commissioner role now,” NSW Irrigators chairman Richard Stott said.

Mr Stott said planning for water recovery infrastructure projects, under the national Murray Darling Basin Plan, are are at a critical point.

“To abolish the position of Water Commissioner when the current incumbent probably has the most knowledge of how the Basin works and how NSW can best meets its water recovery commitments under the Plan is very short-sighted,” Mr Stott said. . .

Grant helps school tree plan – Michele Ong:

Ahititi School is seeing its dream garden come to fruition thanks to a generous grant.

The school received a $2000 grant from the Rural Women New Zealand and Farmlands to help with its gardening plans, such as buying trees to attract native birds, bird feed, and also “bee-friendly” trees.

Principal Chris Richardson said the school was “really pleased” with the grant which would help further add to the school’s orchard, which includes nashis, plums and apples.

Richardson said the school has not been “troubled by possums”, which was a bonus. . .


Rural round-up

December 27, 2013

Sustainably supplying native beech – Simon Hartley:

New Zealand’s largest supplier of Southland beech for the residential and commercial construction market is seeing increasing acceptance of the use of the native timber by architects.

While architects and homeowners may have been showing reluctance in using some native species, Southland beech is harvested by Lindsay and Dixon under a Ministry of Primary Industries sustainable management plan and carries independent certification from the Forestry Stewardship Council.

The fine-grained medium-density hardwood has featured recently in finishings in the Supreme Court building in Wellington, Air New Zealand’s Koru lounge in Christchurch and Auckland’s Novotel Hotel.

Tuatapere-based sawmiller Lindsay and Dixon, in western Southland, is a Southland beech supplier certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. . .

Hooked on meat: there’s no easy way to end the global habit – Michael Parker,

Raising livestock accounts for the largest single land-use on Earth. Cattle, sheep and goats, pigs and poultry occupy around 30% of the planet’s land area not covered in ice, generate 40% of the world’s agricultural GDP, provide livelihoods for 1.3 billion people, and nourishment for 800m people who would otherwise go without.

Despite this massive environmental, economic and social impact on the world, it is not a thoroughly studied industry. The results of a four-year livestock study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences compiles worldwide data that reveal the important role of livestock. While the study lays out the industry’s considerable greenhouse gas emissions, it also shows that demands to reduce numbers and meat consumption will come with unwanted consequences. . .

Venture Southland considers oat push – Allison Rudd:

Economic development organisation Venture Southland hopes to know soon whether it has been able to attract external funding for an ambitious project to develop a high-value oat production and food processing industry in the province.

The project could eventually include establishment of an oat milk plant. . .

Rural Australians are missing out on affordable fresh food

Would you pay A$9 for six mushrooms in inner-city Melbourne? Or A$4.50 for one small piece of broccoli or cauliflower in Sydney?

Probably not – but this is what rural Australians are being asked to fork out for their fresh produce.

Several studies in Australia have highlighted the disparity in the cost of healthy food between urban and rural areas in South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. . .

Farmer confidence up; still gulf: survey – Sally Rae:

New Zealand farmer confidence has continued to edge higher, but the gulf between dairy farmers and sheep and beef farmers in terms of self-assessed viability continues, the latest Rabobank rural confidence survey shows.

The final survey for the year showed confidence slightly up on the already high levels of last quarter.

The most significant gain was among horticultural producers, encouraged by an increase in prices, underpinned by strong global demand in key export markets.

Only 5% of farmers had a negative outlook for the year ahead, down 1% on the last quarter. . . .

Year in review – February – Rebecca Harper:

The dung beetle debate started with scientists and health experts raising concerns about health risks if the beetles were released in the country. Cue spirited debate about the merits of dung beetles, whether they posed a risk to human health and whether they had already been released years ago anyway.

The headline “Parched paddocks and pitiful prices” pretty well summed up the sentiment among sheep farmers with little rain, a depressed store lamb market, devalued breeding ewes and the prime lamb schedule plummeting. . .


Fonterra not alone

September 17, 2008

Fonterra is not the only company whose milk powder has been contaminated by melamine in China.

Twenty percent of Chinese dairy firms investigated in the wake of the health scare have been found to have produced melamine-tainted formula, state media reported on Tuesday.

. . . Out of 109 dairy producers checked, 22 had been found to have produced batches of milk contaminated with melamine, including Beijing Olympic Games sponsor Yili and other major brands, state television said, citing China’s quality watchdog.

A Southland Times report of the concerns of a Chinese businessman who wanted to buy infant milk powder earlier this year. This suggests sabotage is not unexpected:

A Chinese businessman trying to buy 1500 tonnes of baby formula in Southland this year was so concerned the formula would be tampered with once it arrived in China that he insisted it be supplied in sealed 1kg containers.

The unusual export request was revealed yesterday by Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group manager Steve Canny, who said fears the formula could be diluted with other materials like talcum powder or chalk once it arrived in China was the biggest issue for the investor.

The first priority is the safety of the product but this scandal also threatens Fonterra’s hopes  to take advantage of the growing market for milk in China.

Fonterra’s joint venture is a subsidiary of government-controlled Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group, which announced last October that China’s biggest milkpowder marketer would be floated in the second half of 2008.

Chinese yuan-denominated A shares were to be offered in the joint venture founded by Sanlu Group and Fonterra.

The listing was the long-term plan for the venture in the north Chinese province of Hebei, from its foundation — when Fonterra paid 864 million yuan ($NZ150 million) — and its projected revenue for 2008 was 8.6 billion yuan, with a target of 30 billion yuan in 2010.

Headquartered in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, Sanlu is China’s third biggest dairy company, behind the Yili and Mengniu companies based in Inner Mongolia. The company chair who signed the deal with Fonterra, Tian Wenhua, said the joint venture was designed from the start to be floated on the Chinese sharemarket.

Now those plans have been thrown into disarray: Chinese authorities have ordered the Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co Ltd to halt production and its Ministry of Health has ordered all milkpowder produced by Sanlu withdrawn from sale.

And authorities and consumers in China are calling for dairy industry executives involved in the scandal to be held accountable.

Sanlu executives are being targeted after Health Ministry party secretary Gao Qiang told the South China Morning Post the government became aware only a week ago that drinking the milk could cause kidney stones.

Mr Gao denied the government had covered up the problem to avoid detracting from the Beijing Olympics and said it was a “severe food safety accident”.

“Sanlu Group should take a large part of the responsibility,” he said.

That there are so many other companies which used contaminated milk may be a mitigating factor for Fonterra but that will be cold comfort for the families whose babies have died or become ill becaucse of it.

When it comes to a choice between business expansion and baby’s lives, there is only one ethical option. Whoever is responsible for what happened, Fonterra must ensure any company with which it is involved has safeguards which ensure it can’t happen again.

[For more on this issue see Rural Network where Philippa Stephenson writes on reports on bribes and cover ups and that there had been no inspections of the Sanlu factory for three years.]


Girls on tour

August 23, 2008

Our first annual expedition three years ago took us to Prebbleton where we spent the day making garden sculptures.

When fine motor skills were distributed I was somewhere else so I’d approached the activity with some trepedation. However, by day’s end I was the proud owner of a pig which did indeed look like a pig and is now at home in my garden.

We headed north again last year and spent the day at Jo Seagar’s cooking school  at Oxford.

Jo welcomed us and explained the day’s agenda over coffee and loaf then we spent the next few hours gathered round her huge kitchen bench as she chatted and joked her way through the cooking demonstration.

When the cooking was done we were seated at the large dining table to enjoy the food, accompanied by wine and more conversation.

Jo mentioned the first year’s income for the business had been well ahead of budget and it was easy to see why because during her demonstration she’d mentioned how good this tool or that utensil was so of course we all purchased at least some of them before we left. Remembering this over diner last night, we agreeed Jo was right and we’d all found the things we bought were welcome additions to our kitchens.

This year’s expedition has taken us to Southland. We arrived in time for lunch at Woodstock Loft yesterday – tomato soup followed by parmeson loaf topped with lettuce and smoked salmon. One of our hostesses is a director of Venture Southland  and was keen to ensure we contributed to the local economy so the afternoon was devoted to retail therapy in Invercargill before dinner at El Tigre.

We enjoyed the dinner but diners at a neighbouring table didn’t enjoy our company – they told the waitress we were too noisy and walked out. We were a little discombobulated by this but the waitress reassured us that they had been difficult from the time they entered and it was them at fault not us.

Today’s itinerary includes a garden walk, floral art and no doubt we’ll have time for food, wine and conversation. We’ll do our best to keep the latter to a level which doesn’t upset any fellow diners.


%d bloggers like this: