Rural round-up

October 24, 2012

For want of a name our agriculture flounders – Peter Kerr:

Every story has a name – except the one which describes our agriculture.

This, I argue, is one of the reasons we struggle to tell people around the world and in our cities about what exactly is and has been the basis of our farming’s comparative advantage for the past 130 years.

Let me provide an example.

We don’t start a story with: ‘This is about a wolf and a little girl and a grandmother who lives alone.”

No, we start, “This is the story of Little Red Riding Hood.” . . .

MPI’s Farm Monitoring Report forecasts income drops for diary and sheep and beef; Allan Barber:

MPI’s 2012 pastoral farm analyses, taken from the Farm Monitoring Report, show significant falls in income predicted for dairy, and sheep and beef, and an increase for deer farming.

The reports show typical income patterns based on information gathered from a representative sample of farm properties.

The 2011/12 year was profitable because of favourable growing conditions which saw a 10% lift in dairy production offset the lower payout, while higher prices for sheepmeat combined with better farm productivity generated an 18% increase in cash profit. Deer farmers are enjoying a period of price stability and good productivity. . .

Dairying women push through broadband challenge to access online training:

A professional dairy industry women’s group will deliver an online training programme despite limited access to high-speed internet services in many rural communities.

The Dairy Women’s Network is the premier forum for women working in New Zealand’s dairy industry. With more than 3100 members, it works to develop the leadership and business skills of women in a changing agribusiness environment. It does this by providing a range of training and networking resources.

Chief executive Sarah Speight said that as dairy women’s lives were getting busier, the Network needed be innovative in how it delivered training to allow members to participate without having to be in a specific place at a specific time. . .

Pax Fonterra, Pax:

Federated Farmers is counselling Fonterra Co-operative Group’s Board that now is not the time to start examining the cooperative’s governance arrangements.

“For once it would be great to have some peace within Fonterra,” observed Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“We want Fonterra’s chairman-elect, John Wilson, given time at the helm to show shareholders what he is made of. Fonterra must also bed-in Trading Among Farmers (TAF), so now is not the time to get ahead of itself. . .

And:


Rural round-up

August 30, 2012

Greens and Labour waging war on overseas invest – Allan Barber:

The Greens’ private members bill restricting, in other words banning, all sales of farm land of more than 5 hectares to an overseas investor was defeated last week by two votes. Under a Labour/Green coalition, ably assisted by NZ First and the Maori Party, the terrifying thought is this piece of xenophobic ignorance would be passed into law.

There’s a more than remote possibility of a change of Government in 2014, so this, or some variation of it, could become Government policy and would easily gain a majority in the house. Back in March David Shearer put up his first private member’s bill on the same issue which sought to ensure substantial extra jobs and exports from foreign investment. There were some embarrassing omissions, but the intent was clear, if not as draconian as Russel Norman’s bill. . .

Abigail Vickers, the type of person the dairy industry needs –  Milking on the Moove:

The May 2011 issue of the Dairy Exporter has an article on Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the year, Abigail Vickers.

At the time of the article, Abigail was 25 years old and in her second year as a dairy assistant. She has a goal of owning her own small scale organic farm, that doesn’t necessarily have to be involved in dairy. She already has 5 cows which she leases out, but would like to grow the herd to around 50 cows.
She entered the dairy industry to learn as much as she could about pasture management.
What a great example of a driven young person who has their act together. How many second year dairy assistants have started building up their herd? I don’t know many herd managers who have started building up their herd? She is an example of the type of people the dairy industry needs . . .

Omakau farmer outguns Aussies – Shawn McAvinue:

A heartfelt speech helped a Central Otago grazier beat her Aussie counterparts for an agricultural business award. 

Omakau dairy farmer Jan Manson said she was “taken aback” when she won the Rabobank business development award.

    The $5000 award is part of the executive development programme, which helps agricultural businesses in New Zealand and Australia develop growth strategies. . .

Dairy farmers see milk money in cow pats – Shawn McAvinue:

What creates the perfect cowpat is a hot topic.  Shawn McAvinue   visits a Central Southland dairy farm where staff  are making and mixing quality feed for more milk.

What goes in must come out. 

And Southern Centre Dairies owner Alfons Zeestraten is spending a bit more time examining the green stuff to ensure he gets quality milk. 

You see, he says the ideal cowpat should have the consistency of a children’s chocolate yoghurt. . .

This is a great time to be a low input pasture based farmer and it’s going to get better – Pasture to Profit:

Chaotic extreme weather conditions have caused the worst drought (for more than 50 years) across most of North America.The feed shortages will impact on every dairy farmer. I feel very sorry for those farmers directly affected. Having worked in Australia during years of extreme droughts I know it’s very tough & stressful for both farmers & rural professionals.
Corn/Soybean & to a lesser extent wheat prices are about to substantially increase. All purchased dairy feed will become very expensive. Low input pasture based farmers who don’t buy feed in will avoid the much higher costs but benefit from the expected higher milk prices. . .

Entering Dairy Awards Motivates And Enthuses:

Unique opportunities, enhanced farm businesses and stronger networks are some of the major benefits gained from entering the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Plans for the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are underway, with details to be confirmed at a conference in October. The awards run the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

In reflecting on their participation and success in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, 2011 national winners Jason and Lisa Suisted say the experience delivered a new perspective to their farm business. . .

It’s farming  Jim but not as we know it – Willie Leferink:

Last week, I presented at the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences summit of farming under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

While many of the presenters focused on what we can do right now, I instead focused on what would happen if farming was included in the ETS.

I was brutally frank with my assessment, but would you expect anything less from a Kiwi-Dutchman?

Right now, there is a lot of work underway to deal with the methane belched from the rumen of cattle.

I take my hat off to the scientists who are trying to find solutions over those who have taken 30-pieces of council silver to ‘police’ farmers. . .

Arable on the Rise:

Arable farming is on the rise again, on the back of good prices and consistently good profitability.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has released an analysis of arable production and profitability as part of its annual Farm Monitoring Report series. The report is based on a model of a Canterbury cropping operation and an overview of typical financial performance, based on information gathered from a sample of growers and industry stakeholders. . .

Honey the hot new taste topic

Forget the vegemite/marmite debate – honey is emerging as the hot topic in taste differentiation.

Where once people believed honey was simply honey, a new national competition has highlighted the distinct taste and flavour differences in New Zealand monofloral honey – honey made predominantly from one single nectar source.

The inaugural Airborne Honey MonoFloral Honey Competition aims to raise awareness of New Zealand’s unique honey types, and show the outstanding flavour and taste that can be achieved with stringent quality control and traceability from hive to jar. . .

Nitrogen best option to boost feed for lambing

With bumper lamb numbers due this spring, having the best feed available will be a priority for farmers wanting to achieve optimum live-weight growth, especially with subdued market prices.

Sheep scanning results are showing improvement over last season with 2012 lamb numbers expected to be about 4% up on last year which means an extra 1 million mouths to feed this spring.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Research and Development Manager Warwick Catto says with lambing rates up, the quality and quantity of nutrition will play an important role in determining growth of stock, and nitrogen has a big role to play. . .

Rockburn Pinot Noir 2010 scoops Double Trophies at Bragato Wine Awards in New Zealand

Champion Pinot Noir Trophy & Reserve Champion Wine Trophy

Rockburn Wines’ Pinot Noir 2010 has continued its record of highest success, this time in the prestigious Bragato Wine competition in New Zealand.

Rockburn Pinot Noir 2010 took out the Mike Wolter Trophy for Champion Pinot Noir and also the Richard Smart Trophy for the Reserve Champion Wine. Over 530 wines were entered into the competition that celebrates growers first and foremost. . .


John Wilson Fonterra’s chair-elect

July 26, 2012

Fonterra board member  John Wilson,is to succeed Sir Henry van der Heyden as the company’s chair.

Mr Wilson is a previous Chairman of the Co-operative’s Shareholders’ Council. John lives on his family dairy farm near Te Awamutu and also manages a dairy farming business in South Canterbury. He is the Chairman of South Auckland Independent Testing Society Ltd and a director of Turner & Growers Ltd.

“Over the past two years the Board has been working through a considered and disciplined process to appoint a Chairman Elect and ensure the succession plan we have is in the best interest of the Co-operative,” says Sir Henry.

“John and I will work together over the next few months to assist with a smooth transition to provide continuity for the Co-operative.”

The announcement has been welcomed by Federated Farmers Dairy Section chair Willie Leferink who said:

. . . John will be in charge of taking the world’s fourth largest dairy company forward in its second decade of life. This includes delivering to shareholders and unit holders, everything promised from Trading Among Farmers (TAF) and the strategy refresh.

“The immediate priority for John, during the transition phase, is to put to bed Fonterra’s constitution in November so we can all move forward. . . “

The passing of the DIRA legislation this week ushers in a new era for Fonterra.

It has grown considerably under Sir Henry’s leadership. Reducing the redemption risk should help the company continue to grow and prosper which will be good for its suppliers and the country.


Greenpeace back on PKE hobbyhorse

December 6, 2011

Greenpeace have resurrected their campaign against Palm Kernel Expeller.

Despite the many real issues facing the planet, Greenpeace New Zealand is back on its supplementary feed hobbyhorse. This time with a report written by a consultant who lives in the south of France.

“It must be summer because here comes Greenpeace again on Palm Kernel Expeller. You can almost set your watch by them,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Wikipedia defines palm kernel expeller (PKE) as, “the leftovers after kernel oil is pressed out from the nut in the palm fruit. Palm kernel cake is commonly used as animal feed for dairy cattle because of its high protein content. If not, it is usually treated as biomass to fuel up boilers to generate electricity for use at palm oil mills and surrounding villages”.

“From a quick read of Greenpeace’s report I found a huge flaw in its logic. Their report wrongly treats PKE as a‘coproduct’ of palm oil, rather than it being a byproduct. It’s like saying orange peel is a coproduct of orange juice so must carry the same carbon footprint as orange juice. I think accountants call this type of error double counting.

“Greenpeace tries to use tonnage to talk up the issue, but that’s like saying a kilogram of feathers is the same as a kilogram of gold. According to publicly available statistics on the Malaysian industry, Palm Kernel Cake generates less than one percent of that industry’s export earnings. Being a byproduct, PKE is worth well less than one percent of palm oil’s value.

“Consumers deserve to know that 99 percent of the value derived from Palm Oil isn’t in animal feed. You can actually say some farmers are recycling a byproduct that would otherwise go up in smoke or be left to rot generating methane. Where’s the greenhouse gas sense in that?

If palm oil is such a problem, Green peace should be directing its efforts at the 99% of the industry which uses the product, not the 1% which makes good use of the by-product.

“Until we can get water storage infrastructure in place New Zealand’s farming system is subject to the vagaries of rainfall. The most cost effective supplemental feed is what is grown on-farm and thankfully, water storage is coming due to Federated Farmers’ lobbying.

“You are left with the impression Greenpeace’s questioning of our carbon footprint has an anti-trade dimension to it. This report could be seen as economic vandalism.

“The recent Caygill Report on the Emissions Trading Scheme said that since 1990, New Zealand agriculture has been cutting emissions in each unit of production by an average of 1.3 percent a year. That’s an environmental positive I would have thought.

“Individual farmers through their commodity levies are directly investing in greenhouse gas research and New Zealand is now a world leader in agricultural greenhouse gas research.

“If Greenpeace is truly about the environment, why aren’t they protesting against oil based carpets instead?

“Can you honestly say in a world of food scarcity that recycling PKE as animal feed is the number one environmental issue? Especially if the ‘high value’ product it claims it to be, is either left to rot on the ground or burnt as fuel,” Mr Leferink concluded.

A wet start to summer has enabled farms in most areas to make their own supplements.

But the weather can and will change and it’s possible some farmers will have to buy feed later int he season and PKE will be one of the options.

Even if they do, New Zealand dairy farming is among the most efficient in the world and the industry has been doing all it can to make it even better.

If supply drops off here it will be replaced by milk from other countries whose carbon footprints are much greater than ours. That will cost farmers, the wider economy and the environment.


Milk price probe premature – Feds

September 17, 2011

The select committee investigation into the price of milk began this week.

One of the first submissions came from Federated Farmers who say says the  process is premature.

Unsurprisingly, Federated Farmers recommends that the inquiry find New Zealanders are not paying too much for milk relative to other countries and that our market is operating effectively,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“The fact is MAF, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Treasury are doing work that could vitally inform any future Select Committee. This work was started some months before the Commerce Select Committee decided to look into milk and will continue well after this Committee reports. . .

“Federated Farmers knows there’s a huge amount interest of interest in the price of milk. This interest has come from members of the public concerned about the retail price of milk. Its also come from independent processors concerned about the price they have to pay for raw milk.

“However, our submission shows that milk isn’t some smoking gun. Despite public concern, the retail price of milk has not increased by more than many other foods, many non-food items in the consumer price index.

“The Commerce Commission has also considered this question and found that such an inquiry ‘was not warranted’.

“The Commission also noted, “it is questionable whether Fonterra has scope to exercise substantial market power in relation to the supply of raw milk to other processors. The [Raw Milk] Regulations provide an access regime for raw milk and are designed to counter Fonterra’s market power.”

“There’s also nothing stopping other processors from entering the consumer milk market.

“While we do not agree this inquiry is necessary, it gives us a chance to put some facts across from the farmer’s perspective. New Zealanders are not paying too much for milk relative to other countries and our market is operating effectively,” Mr Leferink concluded.

Anyone who does grocery shopping will have noticed the price of food has increased.

But the price of milk hasn’t gone up more than other food.

I think part of the problem is that milk is compared with other liquids like soft drinks. But milk is a food containing protein, calcium and other nutrients. Soft drinks are just water, flavour and colour.

Feds’ submission on the price of milk is here.

Its submission on raw milk regulations is here.


We’re the rock stars Johnny Rotten

May 19, 2009

Federated Farmers reckon New Zealand farmers are economic rock stars and  want to invite Johnny Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten)  to visit so they can show him just how good dairy produce is when it comes from free range cows.

This invitation has been mooted because the former member of the Sex Pistols has been fronting advertisements In Britain urging people to buy British butter because  – he says – it’s better.

“Never mind the butter, it’s the quality of the milk what counts,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy vice-chairperson.

“While all milk may contain the same basic properties, kiwi cows are in a league of their own.

“Grazing outdoors on GM free grass and natural winter feed makes for happy cows and fantastic quality milk.  This milk is crafted into quality butter and other dairy products and the only thing holding us back in the UK, is the European Union’s ridiculous tariff barriers.  

“One of our senior staff members, David Broome, lived in the UK for seven years.  He tried Country Life Butter, once, and described it to me in colourful terms that Johnny Rotten would understand.

“David said only hand crafted but expensive British butter matched New Zealand butter for quality. The difference being that New Zealand butter can readily be found by British consumers in their local supermarket and convenience stores.

“New Zealand butter and dairy products, like our wine, is a taste revelation.

“New Zealand’s climate and quality pasture means we are in an agricultural sweet spot.  British consumers literally taste freedom when they eat New Zealand butter.

“While I’d like to think of dairy farmers as being the rock stars of the New Zealand economy, I’d be pleased to host that old punk rocker, John Lyndon, on my farm.

While he’s not casting aspersions on our butter, jokes aside, all primary producers need to be very careful about what we say about produce from other countries.

We may compete in the market but we should be allies in the battle against unscientific claims on production methods and quality. There’s more than enough unfounded claims based on emotion making life difficult for farmers and manufacturers of primary produce without people in the industry adding to it.

Attempts to woo consumers by putting them off competitors’ products might backfire and put them off those products regardless of where they come from.

There is one good thing about the ad, though. It might show anyone who still thinks a Buy Kiwi-Made campaign is a good the idea that it’s not, because we can’t say it’s better for us to buy local while exhorting people elsewhere to buy our exports.


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