Rural round-up

November 23, 2013

Agresearch defends its restructure:

AgResearch executives have fronted at a farmer meeting in Wellington to defended the state science company’s plans to relocate its operations to Palmerston North and at Lincoln.

There are fears in agricultural circles that regional agricultural science programmes will suffer when many AgResearch scientists are uprooted from their bases in Waikato and Otago.

Agresearch chief executive Tom Richardson told Federated Farmers’ national council on Wednesday that a lot of myths are circulating about Agresearch’s new footprint.

He says neither he nor AgResearch chairman Sam Robinson are smart enough to run multiple agendas – there’s been no pressure from the Government to relocate to Lincoln to support the Canterbury rebuild. . .

Rural Women NZ helps launch International Year of Family Farming 2014:

Rural Women New Zealand played a leading role in today’s launch at Parliament of the International Year of Family Farming 2014 (IYFF 2014), to coincide with the global launch at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

As one of five members of the national steering committee, Rural Women New Zealand has helped bring together a broad cross-section of groups from the agricultural sector.

Representatives of fifty organisations met at Parliament to gather information about the key issues facing family farming, develop plans for research and actions based on this information, and agree on programme outline for IYFF 2014.

Today’s workshops highlighted some of the challenges facing family farms, including succession planning and the price of land, establishment costs and the need to upgrade plant and machinery to remain competitive in an evolving market. . .

John Palmer awarded 2013 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal:

Former chairman of the New Zealand Kiwifruit Marketing Board, John Palmer, was last night awarded the 2013 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal for his tireless efforts to bring the kiwifruit industry through the fiscal crisis in the early 1990’s.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride announced Mr Palmer as this year’s recipient of the kiwifruit industry award at the Hayward Medal Dinner last night, in front of more than 450 people in Mount Maunganui.

“The kiwifruit industry is facing a huge challenge in form of Psa now but we faced a disaster of equal proportions back in early 1990’s. The financial disaster in 1992 saw the bottom drop out of the market, as prices crashed in an over-supplied European market,” said Mr McBride. . .

Taiwan-NZ trade agreement to take force:

An economic cooperation agreement concluded between Taiwan and New Zealand four months ago will enter into force Dec. 1, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs Nov. 20.

The Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC)—signed July 10 in Wellington—is Taiwan’s first free trade pact with a nondiplomatic ally.

“The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Wellington and the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei have completed their respective processes,” MOEA Deputy Minister Liang Kuo-hsin said. . .

Sweet news for cherry growers – Lynda Van Kempen:

Central Otago growers have been served up some ”jolly good news” in time for Christmas – Taiwan has removed its tariff on New Zealand cherries.

About 40% of this country’s export cherries are sent to Taiwan and Summerfruit NZ chief executive Marie Dawkins said the tariff-free agreement would take effect from the start of next month .

The first export cherries to Taiwan this season would be sent within days of the new agreement taking effect. . .

Top Honours for Young Farmers:

New Zealand Young Farmers members are making waves in the agricultural scene at home and abroad.

Former NZYF Chairman, Paul Olsen was recently awarded the prestigious agricultural Nuffield Scholarship for his research topic on potato (cropping) production.

The Nuffield Scholarship is awarded each year to just a few individuals who have been identified as future leaders who want to make a positive difference to their sector of the primary industry. Only 140 scholarships have been awarded over the past 60 years.

“It’s fair to say I was over the moon and slightly humbled given the calibre of the past Nuffield scholars but very much thrilled to be given the opportunity,” said Mr Olsen, a Manawatu potato grower. . . 

Church Road Winemaker Chris Scott named New Zealand Winemaker of the Year:

Hawke’s Bay winemaker Chris Scott has today been named New Zealand Winemaker of the Year 2013 by Winestate Magazine.

With a passion for Chardonnay and red blend winemaking, and the support of an outstanding viticulture and winemaking team, Chris has been crafting award-winning Hawke’s Bay wines for thirteen years.

“Winemaking at Church Road is a team effort,” says Chris, on receiving his award today. “Our vineyard team have an outstanding knowledge of the region and the individual vineyards, and deliver outstanding fruit year after year. Our cellar team has a dedication to wine quality that far exceeds what anyone could hope for. I know everyone at Church Road is extremely proud of the wines we make and this win reflects the passion and commitment of the entire team.” . . .

6 of 14 Wine Prizes go to NZ Wines:

Six of the total 14 prizes in the Wine of the Year for Australia & New Zealand went to NZ wines in the 2013 Winestate Awards announced this week.

Australia’s Wolf Blass Platinum Label Barossa Shiraz 2010 was declared Wine of the Year for Australia & New Zealand.

Winestate NZ Winery of the Year 2013: Villa Maria Ltd Highest scored results audited across the year with wines achieving points across all categories.

Winestate Winemaker of the Year, NZ: Chris Scott (Church Road) Highest score from the top 10 different wines judged throughout the year. . .


Rural round-up

November 12, 2013

Plant not closing – Simon Hartley:

Silver Fern Farms’ Silverstream lamb-processing plant near Mosgiel will not open for the start of its season as usual in December – but it is not being closed.

While the plant’s 12-strong management team are in consultation over potential redundancy, Silver Fern and the New Zealand Meat Workers Union are confident the Finegand plant near Balclutha could take the up to 180 boning staff should they choose to transfer there.

With no staff meeting or statements sent to individual staff, there is confusion over the plant’s future and it was ”inadequate for workers to be left dangling”, Otago-Southland Meat Workers’ Union branch president Daryl Carran said. ”Because Silverstream is for overflow processing, to bone lamb at the peak of the season, it’s more open to volatility.”

Coronial report on quad bike deaths – industry forum to be convened:

 Whangarei Coroner Brandt Shortland has today released findings into five workplace quad bike deaths:

As part of his concurrent inquests in April this year into the five deaths, Coroner Shortland invited submissions on quad bike issues from a series of experts and involved parties, and his findings include his conclusions and recommendations (see summary below).

“These findings and recommendations give weight, in the Ministry’s view, to the need to continue focusing on reducing the death and injury toll associated with quad bike use in agricultural settings,” General Manager Health and Safety Operation Ona de Rooy said. . . .

Federated Farmers welcomes coronial recommendations:

Federated Farmers is welcoming recommendations contained in Coroner Shortland’s written findings released today on quad bike related deaths in 2010 and 2011.

“Can we express our heartfelt commiserations to the family and loved ones of those people subject to the Coroner’s findings,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety spokesperson.

“The one thing we welcome in Coroner Shortland’s findings is that it recognises the practical realities of using quad bikes in a farm setting. Indeed, many of the recommendations are current industry practice and that is a good thing.

“There are far more quad bikes in New Zealand than registered road-going motorcycles. Many farmers will spend hundreds of hours a year operating a quad bike because they have become the farmer’s Swiss Army knife. . .

High input costs in China’s milk benefit NZ:

A dairy industry analyst says it’s a good thing for New Zealand farmers that it costs substantially more to produce milk in China than it does to produce the same volume in this country.

The International Farm Comparison Network 2013 Dairy Report shows that producing 100kg of milk in New Zealand costs $US35. In the United States it costs $US44 to produce the same amount and in China it’s 50% higher again.

NZX Agrifax’s dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says that reinforces China’s ongoing dependence on importing dairy products from countries such as New Zealand.

She says it’s importing feed that makes producing milk so expensive in China. . .

Star rating system for food could benefit primary industry sector:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says food labelling using a star rating system could benefit the primary industry sector in New Zealand.

The star system effectively rates the nutritional value of a product.

The minister announced last week a voluntary star rating system would be the focus of research as to how effective it could be and what consumers think about it.

Ms Kaye says it’s important consumers have the best possible information about making healthier eating choices which is why the New Zealand Front of Pack Labelling Advisory Group decided the system should be looked into.

She says the system could have flow-through benefits for the primary sector.   . .

Giesen, Johanneshof and Villa Maria dominate 2013 Marlborough Wine Show awards:

Family companies dominated the awards at the 2013 Marlborough Wine Show celebration dinner held in Blenheim on Saturday night with Giesen, Johanneshof Cellars and Villa Maria winning nine of the 14 awards presented.

In addition to 12 class trophies, there were two new awards – The Marlborough Wine Show Award for Vineyard Excellence which was presented jointly to Ara Wines and Villa Maria for their Seddon Vineyard and the Marlborough Museum Legacy Award which was presented to Johanneshof Cellars for their Gewurztraminer, vintages 2006, 2010 and 2012. . .


Rural round-up

November 27, 2012

Hardy annual a cut above the rest – Peter Watson:

Tim McKergow isn’t getting much sleep at present.

He’s in the middle of the paeony harvest, a six-week sprint to pick and pack the prized flowers for export to the United States and Asia.

It means long days for his seven staff and even longer days for him deciding which flowers to send where for the best return and filling in an “awful lot of paperwork” to get them there.

The top out-of-season blooms sell for $US30 ($NZ36.37) a stem in upmarket Manhattan florists in New York, although by the time everyone else takes their cut he will only get about $2. . .

Rustlers caught in the act by Bay of Plenty farmer:

Federated Farmers is warning rustlers and poachers that eyes in the rural community are wide open for suspicious activity. Something rammed home to poachers after they were caught in the Bay of Plenty.

“Perhaps the big lesson I learned, is not to leave your mobile phone on the kitchen table,” says Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“As the matter is before the courts I cannot go into the precise details. That said, I was working late on the farm and spotted someone jumping the fence. You can say that got my attention. . .

Grasshopper Rock Central Otago Pinot Noir takes top spot at Air New Zealand Wine Awards:

A Central Otago Pinot Noir has won top honours at this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

The Grasshopper Rock Central Otago Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 was awarded the Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show Trophy at a gala dinner in Wellington on Saturday.

This marks the first ever win at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards for the Central Otago wine producer with judges describing the winning wine as “complex, round and rich”. The wine also won the JF Hillebrand New Zealand Ltd Champion Pinot Noir Trophy. Grasshopper Rock’s vineyard is situated in the southern-most latitude of the winegrowing areas in Central Otago. The five shareholding families of Grasshopper Rock originally met through a common interest in agriculture, with four members involved in rural banking. . .

Southland Hosts Environmental Leadership Forum for Dairy Farmers:

Taking a common sense approach to sustainable dairying is the theme of a sustainability forum for award-winning dairy farmers being held in Invercargill next week.

Forum chair, past-participant and Putaruru dairy farmer Martin Bennett says 54 participants at the Building Environmental Leaders Network Forum will be asked to share their thoughts on how the dairy industry shapes its response to sustainability challenges. . .

Biotech firm gets $2m boost – Hamish Rutherford:

Wellington angel investor Movac is pumping $2 million into Kahne, a biotechnology company trialling wireless devices placed inside dairy cows to provide farmers with health and fertility data.

Founded by Gisborne farmer Michael Eivers in 2002, Kahne was run on a shoestring before hiring former American investment banker Susanne Clay as its first fulltime chief executive last year.

Kahne has about 500 of its wireless rumen and vaginal sensors implanted in dairy cows and is conducting field trials, with the technology expected to launch commercially in about six months. . .

Villa Maria Estate captures big prize at NZI National Sustainable Business Network awards:

Auckland’s Villa Maria Estate has been named Sustainable Business of the Year at the NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards announced last night (22 November).

The awards, which are now in their ninth year, are the pre-eminent sustainability awards in New Zealand. They recognise leaders in social innovation and businesses that are championing sustainability and new sustainable market solutions. The awards celebrate savvy organisations that are reshaping their business models for a more sustainable New Zealand. . .

And from Smile Project:


Rural round-up

November 1, 2012

Wool’s future far from woolly:

Farmers are counting down the days to when major shareholdings in New Zealand Wool Services International (NZWSI) will be on-sold by the receivers.

“In a green-aware age, bales of wool should be flying out of our woolsheds. As they are not, is why management consultants could describe the wool industry as a ‘problem child’,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson. . .

New Head of Farm Environment Trust Ready for Challenge:

Well-known Wanganui farmer Alistair Polson has been elected chairperson of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

He takes over from North Waikato farmer Jim Cotman who has stepped down after six years in the role.

Mr Polson’s extensive experience in farming politics and business management includes serving as national president of Federated Farmers from 1999 to 2002.

Since 2004 he has been Special Agricultural Trade Envoy for New Zealand. He is a former director or committee member of a number of rural-based organisations, including AgITO, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Veterinary Council of New Zealand and NZ Landcare Trust. . .

Deep in the current – Bruce Munro:

Graeme Martin has been described as everything from a compassionate, principled, visionary genius to an inflexible, stubborn, demanding taskmaster. Bruce Munro examines pieces of the puzzle that make up the influential, complex and soon to retire chief executive of the Otago Regional Council.

“I shan’t forget a very large fist waved very close to my face” Graeme Martin says.

He is sitting in a comfortable chair in a corner office with city, harbour and peninsula views.

Three hundred and sixty kilometres and 45 years separate him from what happened that day in the Addington railway workshops.

But there is no denying the edge to his voice.

“A fist waved in my face because I was working too hard.” . . .

Winemaker celebrates 50 years:

The staff lunchroom might not seem an obvious stop on a tour of a picturesque winery. But Villa Maria’s is immaculate – largely due to the writing on its wall. 

One side of the lunchroom at the company’s winery in Mangere, Auckland, is dominated by information about its lean manufacturing programme, Achieving Continuous Excellence (ACE), running in the company for the past two years. It’s brought efficiencies to the business, but benefits in the physical environment are also obvious. Nothing – not even in the caf – is out of place.

It’s a point of pride for founder Sir George Fistonich, but also gives an insight into how the company, which celebrates its 50th vintage this year, has continued to grow in a tough industry. . .

Soil biology is key to saving saving fertility – Peter Watson:

Complacency is costing us some of our best soils, says ecologist and educator Nicole Masters.

New Zealand is losing 11 tonnes of topsoil per hectare a year, more than 10 times the global average, she said during a recent Beef + Lamb New Zealand field day held at Claire Parkes and Simon Vincent’s farm near Wakefield, and attended by about 35 farmers.

“We live in one of the most blessed soil environments in the world.

“We are fertile, we have good carbon and beautiful rainfall, but we are losing all this topsoil and it’s not sustainable.” . .

Convert to sustainability – Tim Cronshaw:

A farmer with nearly 9000 deer who once never put much thought into improving the environment on his farm, has become a fully converted believer.

Graham Carr estimates he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars during the past four years fencing off waterways and putting in settling ponds, so the water coming off his farm at Peel Forest Estate in South Canterbury is crystal clear.

Carr has built up one of the largest deer herds in the country, since emigrating to New Zealand 25 years ago from Britain, where he came from a joinery background. . .

A2 Corp to take control of NZ marketing, enter North America:

 A2 Corp, which markets milk products with a protein variant claimed to have health benefits, wants to directly enter the New Zealand market and is looking to expand into North America and some European nations having wrapped up a strategic review to speed up growth.

The alternative-market listed company will shift its focus to a number of opportunities in a bid to ramp up growth, including directly marketing into New Zealand, it said in a statement. A2 plans to expand rapidly include entering markets in North America, German, France Italy and Spain via joint ventures, using local contract manufacturers or investing in regional processing, it said. . .


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