Rural round-up

July 19, 2016

Tool for easy environment planning – Rebecca Harper:

Onfarm environmental planning has just got easier with the launch of a new cloud-based software programme, AgFirst Landbase.

AgFirst consultant Erica van Reenen developed the programme in conjunction with FarmIQ after being asked time and again whether an online tool to help with land and environment planning existed – it didn’t, until now.

Using van Reenen’s knowledge and FarmIQ’s information technology capability was a perfect match. . .

Greenpeace’s deadly war on science – Bjorn Lomborg:

Is Greenpeace committing a crime against humanity?

A letter from 110 Nobel laureates suggests as much. It urges the environmental group to drop its campaign against genetically modified foods, particularly so-called “Golden Rice,” which could help prevent millions of deaths in the developing world.

Calling GMOs food “Frankenfood” is a brilliant scare-mongering term, heavily promoted by Greenpeace. But it has no basis in reality. . . 

Let’s not leave Silver Fern Farms stranded – Stephen Jacks:

As I take time to consider my vote in the upcoming Silver Fern Farms special general meeting on the 50-50 joint venture with Shanghai Maling, my thoughts are around what the future may look like either way.

What we know is that the challenges facing farmers are large.  The challenges of profitably negotiating our way through the physical, climatic, financial and market vagaries appear to be amplified of late.   I don’t envisage the scale of excellence and adaptation required to survive and thrive to diminish anytime soon.

We have a choice before us: To join with Shanghai Maling or not.  . . 

School paddocks nurture future farmers – Rob Tipa:

Senior pupils of Waitaki Boys’ High School’s primary production course see their future in farming, so attending one of the country’s few schools with its own farm is a definite attraction.

Seven out of 10 senior students who spoke to the NZ Farmer were boarders at Waitaki, mostly from sheep and beef farming families from around Fairlie, Methven, Mayfield, Millers Flat and the West Coast.

Waitaki Boys has a proud history and reputation as a fine school but several students said the school farm was a key factor that brought them to boarding school in Oamaru. . .

How we are innovating our way to cheaper land prices – James Pethokoukis:

They aren’t making any more land, at least on this planet. But technology is, in effect, increasing the long-term supply of land. Robert Shiller:

This 20th-century miracle in agricultural science greatly improved crop yields per acre. From the standpoint of farm output, there was no need for new land. This revolution involved the discovery by Fritz Haber of a cheap process to produce ammonia for fertilizer at the beginning of the century and the discovery of new high-yield strains of wheat by Norman E. Borlaug at midcentury. Both men won Nobel Prizes for their work. These innovations permitted multiplication of yields per acre and very likely saved hundreds of millions of lives from starvation worldwide. . . 

Leading exporter sets benchmark for food safety and brand protection:

New Zealand’s largest vertically-integrated grower, packer and exporter of twenty-five per cent of this country’s apples has taken a bold step to scientifically guarantee the integrity of its produce.

Mr. Apple has signed a three year contract with Dunedin-based Oritain to combat what has become a proliferation of food fraud in the export industry, and safeguard the security of its supply-chain.

Mr. Apple CEO Andrew van Workum says that having his apples 100% traceable from orchard to store is a lynchpin of the Mr. Apple brand, and adds critical value to the relationship it has with growers, suppliers and consumers. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 15, 2015

Silver Fern Farms Board Unanimously Recommends Partnership with Shanghai Maling:

Board gives unanimous recommendation to accept Shanghai Maling Aquarius Group (Shanghai Maling) as new partner to secure an improved and sustainable future

• A 50:50 partnership with total commitment to our global plate to pasture strategy

• Transaction values Silver Fern Farms’ equity at $311m. This equates to $2.84 per ordinary share, which compares to the $0.35 share price prior to their suspension in July

• Shanghai Maling to invest $261m in cash to own 50% of Silver Fern Farms’ business, in partnership with the existing Silver Fern Farms Co-operative

• A special dividend of $0.30 per share to Co-operative ordinary and rebate shareholders . . .

Cooperatives and private companies work best in agriculture – Allan Barber:

Good company performance demands clarity of purpose which is defined and monitored by a board of directors elected or appointed by the shareholders. There are five main types of company ownership structure that are or have been represented in New Zealand’s agricultural sector and each has advantages and disadvantages.

The five are private and public companies, cooperatives, subsidiaries of an overseas company and State Owned Enterprises. Whatever the structure, good governance and direction are pre-requisites of success.

A privately owned company normally has the greatest clarity of purpose because of the simplicity of the ownership structure, although there is plenty of scope for disputes between individual shareholders, particularly family members. Private company structures range from very simple to more complicated, depending on relative size of shareholdings and the number and origin of the shareholders. . . 

Rural productivity is improving in some sectors, falling in others. Influenced by soil, technology, size and governance according to Motu research:

The agricultural sector produces 40% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports. Not only is agriculture the primary source of employment in many rural areas, its performance influences the success of urban regions and many secondary industries are dependent upon it.

In this study, we estimate the drivers of revenue and productivity in two key agricultural industries – dairy and sheep/ beef. Together these account for about two-thirds of New Zealand’s agricultural exports.

Productivity is an economic term that, in this case, explains changes or differences in output not explained by use of labour, capital, other expenditures or land. Output is measured as revenue excluding income from interest and dividends. Labour is employees and working proprietors. Capital includes stock, depreciation and rent on tractors, irrigation systems and fencing. Other expenditure includes use of fertiliser, diesel, electricity, wormicide and grass seeds; and land is all the land used for production. Productivity encompasses everything else, including management and worker skills and knowledge, technological improvements, unexpected economic shocks (such as the global financial crisis), changing weather conditions (e.g. droughts), and the inherent quality of each farm. . . 

Strong farmer support for sheepmeat and beef levies to continue:

Farmers have given their organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand a strong mandate to work on their behalf for the next six year sheepmeat and beef levy cycle with over 84% support.

The Declaration of Result provided by the independent Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp, of Electionz.com said 84.56 per cent of farmers on a one farmer, one vote basis had voted in favour of the sheepmeat levy with support of 86.04 per cent on a weighted stock unit basis. There was over 84.66 percent support for the beef levy on a one farmer, one vote and 84.60 per cent on a weighted stock unit basis. . . 

Roles review part of a bigger cost savings project Westland says:

Westland Milk Products confirmed today that it is conducting a review of staff roles throughout the company. The review is part of an overall programme to gain efficiencies and reduce costs to help preserve the best possible return to shareholders during the current global dairy price downturn.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says the review is likely to result in some redundancies. However, he was not going to speculate on how many, or what positions might be affected, until the review is complete, affected staff are consulted, and given an opportunity to provide feedback on any proposed roles under review. The review is scheduled to occur over two rounds, with the first round this month (September 2015) and the second in February 2016. . . 

UN issues stark warning on Pacific drought threat:

The UN’s Resident Coordinator, Osnat Lubrani, says communities and governments need to prepare now for the extreme weather changes El Niño usually triggers.

He says some countries are already implementing or drafting drought plans and the UN is ready to help co-ordinate this and to provide technical advice.

Over the coming months, countries on the equator can expect more rain, flooding and higher sea levels, presenting challenges for low-lying atolls already feeling the impacts of climate change. . . 

Getting the better of El Nino before it gets dry:

Tap rooted, reliable and highly productive, one forage herb species could make all the difference to farmers’ summer feed supply as El Nino looms large this season.

Summer crops are being sown early before soils dry out and chicory is already proving to be a popular drought-proofing choice, according to local pasture specialist Paul Sharp.

“With the long range forecast the way it is, 501 Chicory makes a lot of sense. In a dry year, it’s more reliable than leafy turnips and it also has several other advantages.”

Current soil moisture levels are significantly below average in Hawke’s Bay and Sharp, who works for Agriseeds, says many farmers are being very proactive about setting their feed supply up for the months ahead. . . 

Commission releases final report on 2014/15 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2014/15 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and is currently set by Fonterra at $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2014/15 season.

Having considered public submissions on the draft decision released last month, the Commission’s overall view that Fonterra’s calculation of the 2014/15 base milk price is largely consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 remains unchanged.

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said the Commission appreciated the engagement and effort from Fonterra and the parties they met with during this year’s review. . . 

Funding round starts for new forest planting:

The first funding round of the Afforestation Grant Scheme will see 5819 hectares planted throughout New Zealand, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew.

The Afforestation Grant Scheme is a $22.5m programme to help establish about 15,000 hectares of new forest plantations over the next six years.

“Under the first round of funding the total area applied for covered 9044 hectares, far exceeding our expectations,” says Mrs Goodhew. . . 

Farm skills day proves popular – James Kinsman:

On Sunday, August 23, the Waitaki Boys’ Fraser Farm hosted Opihi College, Waitaki Girls’, St. Kevin’s and Geraldine High to our first farm skills day.

School pupils did a lot of prior planning to make the day a success. It was a big learning curve for us and the school. The day started with a dog trialling demonstration by Barry Hobbs, assisted by Allan Thompson.

The visitors watched with interest as his well trained dogs got the sheep into the pen. Next it was off to be put into random groups for modules. Barrie Rae, an enthusiastic Poll Dorset breeder taught them stock judging, helped by Jack Price. . . 


Rural round-up

February 20, 2013

Fonterra plays down reports of Chinese officials destroying NZ milk powder – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, is playing down reports that China’s quarantine administration destroyed three different New Zealand brands of milk powder as being nothing out of the ordinary and part of a regular review.

No Fonterra product was involved.

The kiwi dollar shed half a US cent amid headlines the Chinese agency destroyed the New Zealand powder, just weeks after a global scare about traces of the DCD nitrate inhibiter being present in locally produced milk. Units in the Fonterra Shareholders Fund were unchanged at $7.13 today. . .

Agriculture course boosts school – David Bruce:

Waitaki Boys’ High School is returning to its roots with a major investment to boost its agricultural courses.

Rector Paul Jackson sees it as one of the keys to increasing the school roll.

”I want Waitaki Boys’ to again be a school of farming excellence,” he said.

The school last week began the first stage with an investment of about $60,000, virtually all raised through donations and in-kind contributions, to irrigate its farm – about 16ha of paddocks north and south of the school. . .

Green light for Wools of New Zealand as it reaches first threshold:

Wools of New Zealand announced today that it has achieved the minimum threshold of $5 million necessary to proceed with establishing a 100% strong wool grower-owned sales and marketing company.

Achieved one week ahead of the 25 February offer close, the company is now positioned to pursue its commercial, market pull strategy, putting Wools of New Zealand’s brands and market connections to work and further developing its technical and marketing capability for the benefit of its grower shareholders.

This milestone has been reached through the continued support of growers who recognise the need to invest beyond the farm gate. This includes investors in Wools of New Zealand who have converted some of their loans to the Wools of New Zealand Trust into shares in Wools of New Zealand, demonstrating their commitment and confidence in the proposition and their desire to see the company thrive under grower ownership. . .

Federated Farmers asks meat companies how parties can work together – Allan Barber:

Last week Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers’ Meat & Fibre chair, sent a letter to the chairmen and CEOs of the five major sheep meat processors and exporters. The letter asked them to suggest how the parties could work together for the good of the industry.

So far one company, AFFCO, has replied formally, but no doubt others will respond in due course. Maxwell sees this as an age of ‘collaborative governance’ in which farmers and meat companies must go forward together instead of fighting each other. She says there’s nothing to be gained by rattling the cage to no purpose and the intention of the letter is to start the conversation between the parties.

The last twelve months have been seriously stressful, if not disastrous for the meat industry. A year ago the companies were paying an unsustainable $8 a kilo slaughter weight or around $150 per lamb, but the market price and exchange rate combined had already sent this into serious loss making territory for the processors. Just how serious was confirmed by the published annual results from Alliance and Silver Fern Farms, although Blue Sky Meats’ result for the period ended 31 March gave a good indication. . .

Think before letting dogs breed – Anna Holland:

EIGHTEEN YEARS ago I retired from shepherding; I had been hitting my head against a brick wall for too many years. It had been a frustrating occupation met with much resistance. Slowly it is changing and now there are some very capable women being given the opportunity to work the land.

Since then I have tried my hand at other things. My passion for working dogs never waned and I still bred the odd litter of pups, and in the last few years I trained a number of young dogs to the point of being ready to join someone’s team. . .

Effluent results improving, but farmers could do better – NRC

Northland’s dairy farmers have received qualified praise for their increased compliance with farm dairy effluent resource standards but there’s still plenty of room for improvement, those doing the monitoring say.

The latest Northland Regional Council monitoring figures for the 2012/13 milking season show almost 80 percent of the region’s 978 dairy farms were either fully compliant with their resource consent conditions and or rules, or had only minor non-compliance.

Operations Director Tony Phipps says particularly pleasing for the council was a thirty percent drop in significant non-compliance, which fell to nearly 200 farms compared with close to 300 farms reported twelve months earlier.

He says in recent years many of the region’s farmers have invested heavily in improvements to their effluent disposal systems and it’s pleasing to see that outlay starting to pay off. . . .

Down to the wire at Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final

Tim van de Molen is the second Grand Finalist in 2013 after he won the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Final for the ANZ Young Farmer Contest on Saturday, February 16 in Hamilton at St Paul’s Collegiate School.

It was a very tight race throughout the competition, the final result came down to just one question.
Van de Molen had his work cut out for him narrowly taking the win by just two points ahead of competitor Dwayne Cowin. Josh Cozens and James Bryan were not far behind, placing third and fourth respectively. . .

Comvita flags 15% fall in FY profit on honey costs, supply shortages:

Comvita, which produces health products from manuka honey and olive leaves, expects a 15 percent fall in annual profit because of expensive honey, supply shortages and tough trading conditions in the UK and Australia.

The Te Puke-based company expects net profit of $7 million in the year ending March 31, down from $8.2 million a year earlier which it had been expecting to beat, Comvita said in a statement.

Sales are forecast to rise 4 percent to about $100 million. The profit warning comes after increases in wholesale honey prices of up to 50 percent, and weak consumer confidence in Australia and the UK, which made it hard to pass on rising costs. . .


Parkinsons prompts rector’s early retirement

August 21, 2011

Waitaki Boys’ High was regarded as one of the country’s best schools under the leadership of legendary rector Frank Milner.

Its fortunes have varied in the decades since then, but under the current rector, Dr Paul Baker, Waitaki has regained its reputation as a leading educator of young men.

It is sad for the school and him that the onset of Parkinson’s disease has forced his early retirement.

I haven’t had a close association with Waitaki recently but have noticed the improvement in the performance of its pupils during Dr Baker’s tenure.

The school always had a good reputation for sport,  thanks to his leadership academic and cultural pursuits now have equal prominence.

Change is nothing new for Dr Baker, who has overseen a period of rapid transformation at Waitaki Boys’, and in the education sector, since he took over the helm in 1999.   

 “I’ve always been a big believer in starting things off to see how they will develop. Planting seeds and seeing how they grow, adapting, amending as time goes on,” he said.   

“I’ve never been a big believer in five-year plans, or three-year plans and knowing exactly where and how something is going to develop. You can’t predict that because you’re      working with human nature.”   

He said boys’ schools had essentially reinvented themselves,  with spectacular success, as places “where a whole variety of  different models of masculinity are promoted”.   

The model student is now academic, cultural and a sportsman, “but the hope always is that they are one and the same person”.   

Dr Baker is passionate about education and an advocate for boys’ schools.

He was a member of the Ministerial Reference Group on boys’ education. The NZ Herald published his views part 1, part 2 and part 3 .


Difference between training and education

July 6, 2008

Professor Malcolm Grant, President and Provost of University College London, gave the address at this morning’s thanksgiving service for Waitaki Boys’ High School 125th reunion.

His theme was the difference between knowledge and wisdom and one of his points was how to differentiate between education and skills training.

He suggested we consider how we’d react if a daughter or grand daughter answered the question of what she’d done at school by saying she’d had sex education; then how we’d react if she’d said she’d had sex skills training.

Professor Grant started his address by referring to the school motto: Quanti Est Sapere, which I think translates as How Much Is Wisdom.

If I’ve got that wrong it’s a reflection on my memory and not Professor Grant’s mother, Vera, who taught me Latin at Waitaki Girls’.

While listening to this morning’s address I remembered that over the doors of rooms at what was called the Senior School building at Waitaki Girls’ (sadly demolished about 20 years ago) were quotes; one was relevant to this morning’s address (and I may not have this word perfect because it’s more than 30 years since I was a pupil): Knowledge is proud it knows so much, wisdom is humble it knows no more.


Old Boy recounts old days

July 5, 2008

The oldest Old Boy at Waitaki Boys’ High School’s 125th anniversary celebrations Sid Hurst told yesterday’s assembly about school life in the 1930s:

Mr Hurst, who is “just on 90” years of age, recalled travelling each day to school by train, arriving just in time for assembly.

The first week of school was always “barracks week” – which concluded with a mock battle using blank ammunition against St Kevins – when pupils were taught military values and “to keep in step with each other and society”.

“It was only years later that I realised how important that military training was,” he said.

Discipline was paramount. Every teacher and even the head prefect had the right to cane pupils.

In those days, pupils had to swim in the school pool without swimming togs and Dr Hurst said it was plain to see who had been in trouble.

These days Waitaki and St Kevins confine their battles to the sports field and Waitaki won the annual rugby match 16-13 yesterday.


%d bloggers like this: