Quotes of the year

December 31, 2014

Offering to trade fines for sexual favours is not simply sleazy as the judge seemed to view it. It’s about a principle which is absolute, regardless of its nature or monetary dimension. It behoves the Police Commissioner to appeal against this ridiculous sentence so wiser heads can send a vitally important message, namely that corruption is corrosive, strikes at the heart of civil society and will absolutely not be tolerated. Sir Bob Jones

“I love to observe how they process the high school situation. Over the last couple of months I’ve just started to realise that, wow, people in the real world don’t care if your legs aren’t perfect.” Lorde

”I find the chances of it being stolen are pretty minimal, but the chances are even more minimal of it disappearing by itself through two paddocks surrounded by deer fencing,” Bill Keeler

It’s been said that the New Zealand economy is likely to be the “rock star” of 2014 but we all know what happens to rock stars who spend all their money on having a good time. I’ve said it before – the only way we’re going to become a top-tier First World country is by growing the pie.

Sadly, we’ve always been much better at eating them. – Colin Espiner

To judge the dead may give some comfort to the living, but no matter how fervently the misdeeds of previous generations are condemned, they cannot be undone. Therefore, whatever justice we seek to do here and now, let it be to right the wrongs of the present – not the past.

We fair-skinned Polynesians are not – and can never be – “Europeans”. Just as contemporary Maori are not – and can never be again – the Maori who inhabited these islands before colonisation. Both of us are the victims of historical forces too vast for blame, too permanent for guilt.

And both of us have nowhere else to go.Chris Trotter

 

Just 380,000 individuals pay half of all income tax.

If you earn more than $80,000 you are in that group. Most tax is paid by businesses through corporate tax or receipted GST payments. Possibly 80 per cent of the country is taking more from the state than they are contributing.If you are a net contributor most of your money will go to paying for the welfare of others.Most of those who seek to reduce their tax obligations are net contributors to our society. The only complaints against them are they do not pay enough.Beneficiary cheats, by contrast, are providing nothing to start with and seek to enrich themselves further by deception and dishonesty.Judges understand this, which is why beneficiary cheats go to jail for longer, as they should. – Damien Grant

Democracy, certainly at candidate selection level, isn’t generally a process of exquisite delicacy, scrupulous manners and sensitivity to hurt feelings. Oftentimes it’s just a few steps removed from full-on internecine civil warfare, albeit conducted largely out of sight. – Southland Times commenting on Labour’s selection process for the Invercargill electorate.

“The other analogy I have learned quite a lot is this idea that life’s like the drafting race because you learn quickly, farming, all the things that begin with D like drenching and drafting, docking and dagging, getting into debt and dealing with DOC. If you go up the drafting race, even for a ewe you have to look good: You mustn’t limp, head up, eyes forward don’t show your teeth if they aren’t terribly good, clean bum, good digestion, good tits – the whole way – because you want to go to the right, to the mixed age ewe mob, because [then] you get kind dogs and good food. Straight ahead is not much fun because you will end up a chop on the table. – Christine Fernyhough

“Nah, no tear in the eye. I’m from south Dunedin,” he grinned. Brendon McCullum

‘‘A government is a periodic monopoly that needs the threat of other entrants to get it going.’’ – Bill English

We must avoid complacency that might flow from believing today’s good times are permanent.

We don’t want to make a habit of doing the hard work under pressure, then putting our feet up just when the serious long-term gains are within our reach.Bill English

If there are going to be on the ground and social media campaigns, they needs to be led by Australians.  We need to get Australians saying that they want the best products at the best price.  We need Australians to demand choice instead of supermarkets telling them what they’re allowed to buy.  We also need Australians to see how deeply cynical the supermarkets are by reinforcing the values we share, namely, freedom of choice.  This needs to turn Coles and Woolworths market research on its head and hit them where it’ll hurt the most; market share.  That’s the only language they understand.  It is also by reinforcing that Kiwis are kin, something the centennials of the Great War will strongly affirm. – Bruce Wills

Personally, I’ve never heard of an economy taxing its way to greatness but I have sure heard of economies taxed into oblivion.Willy Leferink

And perhaps that’s the every day wisdom of parents at the fore – it’s the minestrone soup solution of life – if you’re short of meal options, throw all the vegetables into a pot, with a sprinkle of flexibility and the seasoning of life, and see what you come up with. – Tariana Turia

The notion that environmental protection and economic development are potentially conflicting goals is not, in my view, a recipe for success. It removes any expectation that businesses should take responsibility for protecting the environment; or that environmentalists need to consider social or economic costs of environmental outcomes.

In my world, economic and environmental considerations are two sides of the same coin. It is hard to be green if you are in the red; but you cannot have long-term social or economic prosperity if you undermine the natural capital you rely on to create it. – Lynda Murchison

People’s first consideration when buying food was price, despite claims they might buy based on factors like organic growth, she said.

While people might think buying organically or from the farmers market was environmentally friendly, research showed carbon dioxide emissions were higher buying that way, Prof Rowarth said. – Jacqueline Rowarth

. . . Even during booms some businesses will fail, and even during recessions some businesses will soar. That is because what ultimately determines the fate of companies is not whether the economy grows 1% or shrinks 1%, but the quality of management and their ability to anticipate and handle changing conditions be they for their markets, their inputs or their processes. . . Tony Alexander

Members of the Opposition believe monetary fairies can make the exchange rate settle permanently lower by forcing interest rate cuts and printing money while letting inflation therefore go up. Given the non-zero possibility that such economically ignorant policies get introduced it is worth getting inflation protection by investing more in property – not less. Tony Alexander

 The global financial crisis was the worst economic meltdown in living memory.

“The 1987 crash was a a blip on the charts by comparison.”

On top of that, the Christchurch earthquakes dealt a massive hit to the government books. “The mythical observer arriving from Mars who saw the accounts in balance after two thumping great shocks like that – you’d have to say someone had navigated pretty smoothly through that.” Donal Curtin

Two thirds of the [welfare] liability came from people who first got a benefit under the age of 20. “So it confirms what grandma told you. “Don’t let those young people get off the rails because when they do it’s very expensive.” – Bill English

That it can sweetly awaken, and joyously strengthen and that you need to give it to get it. Sarah Peirse answering the question: what do you know about love?

“I don’t think our native species care too much as to whether it is public land or private land. Whether it be iwi, or whether it be Sir Michael Fay, what we’re interested in in these partnerships is maximising conservation gain.” Nick Smith

Federated Farmers is an apolitical organisation – “we don’t care who is in government as long as they agree with us”.Conor English

. . . Taxes are not the price we pay for a civilised society. At best they are the price we pay for a civilised government. But they are also the price of overly bureaucratic procedures, unpredictable outcomes, and the loss of freedom to make our own decisions. – NZ Initiative

I make no apology for being a male. I hope I’m seen as a considerate, compassionate and communicable male; I make no apology for that. If I have faults, and I’m sure I do, well I don’t think  I can blame my gender for my behaviour without it being a cop-out. There ain’t nothing wrong in being a bloke if you behave yourself properly! – Chris Auckinvole

Mr Speaker, my second point I wish to make is the importance of valuing hands on learning within our education system. We must appreciate these very important students who in the future will fix things, build things, be it trucks, motor cars, be it buildings, be it bridges, roads, essential infrastructure and all manner of other things.

To do this the education system must equally value these people as much as we do doctors, nurses, lawyers and accountants and design an education curriculum accordingly. Putting it simply, we want to create many Einstein’s, but to create an Einstein you also need 1000 skilled technicians to make those things. – Colin King

“Talking about ponies and horse races, if you think of the economy as a horse race, you know it would be silly to put the hobbles on one of the leading horses so the rest can catch up,”Alister Body.

“I don’t think a party that’s on the extreme edges one way or another is going to be beneficial for Maori,” . . . “I think we as Maori also need to realise that compromise is a part of political involvement in New Zealand politics,”  . . .  Dr Lance O’Sullivan.

. . . if democracy means anything, it means suppressing the savage within and submitting the issues that divide us as individual citizens to the judgement of the electorate as a whole. Even more importantly, it means accepting that collective judgement – even when it goes against our individual contribution to its formation.Chris Trotter

HONG KONG | How did this small city-state of 7.3 million people go from having a per-capita income of only a few hundred dollars per year to a per capita income that is equal to that of the United States in only 50 years? The simple answer is they had the British common law legal system, strong private property rights, competent, honest judges, a non-corrupt civil service, very low tax rates, free trade and a minimal amount of economic regulation. There was no big brother government looking after the people, so they had to work hard, but they could keep the fruits of their efforts. . . Richard W. Rahn

One of our human limitations is that we look at the problems ahead through the eyes of our current technology and from this perspective they can look overwhelming. This myopia traps us into negativity – we think we must go backwards to achieve our goals – Dr Doug Edmeades

For the health-conscious, the prevailing wisdom is that natural food is the best food. But no matter what studies of GMOs say, one scientific fact is inescapable: basically none of our dietary staples are natural. Some 10,000 years ago, our ancestors picked tiny berries, collected bitter plants and hunted sinewy game, because these are the foods that occurred naturally in the wild. Then came agriculture, and with it the eventual realization that farmers could selectively breed animals and plants to be bigger, hardier and easier to manage. David Newland

. . . Most of all they should embrace the modern age and recognise that social and economic salvation and uplifting the underclass does not simplistically lie in ever increasing taxes on the industrious and thrifty and their transfer to the indolent. There’s nothing positive or progressive about that. . . Sir Bob Jones

We think it’s pretty legal, we think these guys are just having a crack and have a bit of an eye for the main chance because it’s an election campaign. – Steven Joyce

I won’t be wanting to see any hint of arrogance creeping in.” . . .

. . . “One of the big messages I’ll be wanting to give incoming ministers and the caucus is that it is incredibly important that National stays connected with our supporters and connected with the New Zealand public.” John Key

“Make sure you know why you’re in it – politics is not about celebrities. And nurture your self worth.

“You can’t afford to mortgage out how good or bad you feel because of tomorrow’s headlines.” – Julia Gillard

New Zealand is not perfect, but we do now have a multicultural society based on a bicultural heritage.Philip Burdon


Rural round-up

July 5, 2014

 Proud to be a dairy farmer – Will Leferink:

You could say I started back in the day when no one would likely tweet what you said or even know what a tweet was.

I will probably end my Feds career on the national stage with someone tweeting something right now.

So please Tweet this.

I am so very proud of New Zealand’s dairy farmers.

To use farming vernacular you are good buggers.

I am not talking our immense economic contribution because everyone gets that.

I am talking about the fantastic contribution being made by us environmentally. . .

Minister corrects incorrect claims about national freshwater standards:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today moved to correct incorrect and misleading comments made about the Government’s ground-breaking national freshwater standards.

The Government yesterday announced clear, robust national standards for freshwater that will make a significant improvement to the way freshwater is managed.

This means, for the first time, New Zealand’s rivers and lakes will have minimum requirements that must be achieved so the water quality is suitable for ecosystem and human health.

However, some, including the Green Party, the Labour Party and Massey University environmental ecologist Dr Mike Joy, have resorted to making incorrect claims about the freshwater reforms that have gone unchallenged.

“Some of New Zealand’s best freshwater scientists came up with numeric values for the national standards.

“Ministers have not been involved in any way in the scientific detail of the framework. We were deliberately hands-off during this part of the process so we could get the best scientific information. . .

Environment the winner in freshwater reforms:

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, incorporating the National Objective Framework, is the most comprehensive approach to sorting environmental issues for this country’s freshwater resource. While tough on farmers it is equally tough on urban New Zealand.

“Unlike the Green Party, which has the divisive notion the dairy industry should be held accountable for absolutely all water quality, this seminal policy makes it clear that urban and rural water must be treated equally,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Water and Environment Spokesperson, who was also on the NOF reference group.

“Using a local example, this applies equally to the Avon River, the South Island’s most polluted urban waterway even before the earthquakes, as it does to the Hinds River in Mid-Canterbury. . .

Dairy farmers ready to take action to implement water quality standards

Dairy farmers are up for the challenge of working with local communities to fix local water quality problems and deliver on the Government’s new national water quality standards.

“DairyNZ will implement these new standards with farmers. We have a firm commitment from the industry and from our farmers on that front. Where there’s an agreed problem that needs fixing, we’ll get in there and do our bit,” says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for sustainability, Dr Rick Pridmore.

“The dairy industry supports farming to environmental limits to solve identified water quality problems. We’re already doing that kind of work across the country with farmers and councils in 15 priority areas. We also spend more than $11 million a year of dairy farmers’ levy money on environmental initiatives including local water quality studies and supporting farmers to take action to fix issues.” . . .

Earthquake-prone buildings farm exemption welcomed as a first step:

Federated Farmers is delighted Government has seen the logic of exempting farm structures from the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill as a first step to ensuring the viability of rural towns is not compromised.

“It was mind boggling to hear the Minister cost the inclusion of farm structures in the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill as being an imposition of $170 million,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers new Vice-President.

“We naturally welcome this exemption since no one in the recorded history of farming in New Zealand has ever been killed in a collapsing farm structure during an earthquake. It was a clear case of regulatory overreach. . .

Fonterra Forms Exclusive Partnership with UK-Based Dairy Crest:

Fonterra has entered into an exclusive partnership with UK-based Dairy Crest to market and sell two products for the fast growing global baby food market.

The products – Galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) and Demineralised Whey – are both used in the manufacture of infant formulas, and will be manufactured by Dairy Crest. Fonterra will be the dedicated and exclusive sales channel for the infant formula ingredients produced.

Dairy Crest is entering into a newly-formed joint venture with UK-based Fayrefield Foods to produce the GOS. These plants are expected to begin production in 2015. . . .

First NZ tourism attraction to gain certification:

Rotorua’s Te Puia became the first visitor attraction in New Zealand to have staff certified in rural skills today, with its Environment Team members presented with a National Certificate in General Skills Agriculture (Level 2) – Primary Sector.

The Primary ITO, New Zealand’s largest industry training organisation, officially presented the certificates this morning, after 12 months of training on and off-site. The qualification included training in the use of chemicals; driver training for tractors, forklifts and quad bikes; chainsaw use and health and safety.

Te Puia’s Environment Team are responsible for all maintenance across the 70 hectare geothermal site, including horticulture, hygiene and the conservation of native flora and fauna. Part of their role has involved the removal of undergrowth to expose natural geothermal features, with an ongoing focus on ensuring pathways are clear and safe for visitors. . . .

96 Points Rapaura Springs Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Back to Back Double Gold’s:

Marlborough Winery Rapaura Springs is justifiably proud of its recent Double Gold award and 96 point rating at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Challenge 2014.

One of only a handful of wines from New Zealand to achieve this award, it’s made all the better by the fact we received the same recognition from the esteemed panel of judges last year. Both the 2013 and 2012 vintage Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines have been awarded Double Gold medals. Talk about consistent!

Owner Brendan Neylon praises “a great team effort and an unwavering focus on quality, from the vineyard to the winery”. . .

Luring British Wine Professionals to New Zealand’s Largest Wine region:

Wine Marlborough and the NZ-UK Link Foundation are proud to announce that applications for the 2014/2015 Wine Marlborough NZ-UK Link Foundation scholarship are now open.

The history of the scholarship began in 2009 when Wine Marlborough and the NZ-UK Link Foundation, together with the late John Avery MW, established a scholarship to fund an exceptional wine industry professional from the UK to travel to New Zealand to experience Marlborough’s wine industry. The aim of the scholarship is to further the recipient’s wine knowledge and assist in their personal development as a potential leader in the wine industry. . .


Rural round-up

July 3, 2014

Labour policy under fire from Hort NZ:

The Labour’s Party proposed immigration policy has come under fire from the horticulture sector which says it would make life more difficult for growers employing foreign workers.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock said if Labour’s new immigration policy was implemented it would penalise growers using the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

He said they would have to pay foreign workers more than local ones – and pay for their accommodation too.

“Those people (under the RSE scheme) are only brought in when we can prove that there are no New Zealanders to do the work, so we’re concerned it’s going to penalise people who are growing their businesses just because there are not New Zealanders available,” he said. . .

Lower dairy commodity prices and higher interest rates drive down farmer confidence:

Results at a Glance
• New Zealand farmer confidence dropped significantly, led down by a slide in dairy farmer confidence. Higher interest rates also tempering sentiment.
• Beef and sheep farmer confidence, however, rose to three-year high.
• Dairy producers concerned about falling commodity prices and the exchange rate, while sheep and beef farmers buoyed by improving prices.
• Investment intentions remain stable.
• 82 per cent of farmers consider that they are implementing best practices for environmental sustainability in their business.
• Only 50 per cent of farmers considering farm succession have formal plans in place. . . .

Sustainable farming protects economic skeleton:

Agriculture is not only the backbone of our economy, it is also its entire skeleton, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Chairman David Peacocke told the Ballance Farm Environment Awards national sustainability showcase last week.

“To support our economy’s growth and our country’s growth, we need to look after those bones. That work starts with us as farmers on the land, but it also needs good working partnerships with regional councils and with local and central government so we can increase productivity and profitability and still safeguard our agricultural future.” . . .

New Meat & Fibre Executive:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre Executive have elected their new Chairperson, Rick Powdrell, and consequently elected to the Federation’s Board.

“It is with great pleasure that I hand over the reigns to Rick Powdrell, who has been my vice-Chair for the past year. I would also like to congratulate Sandra Faulkner, as the new vice-Chairperson, the re-election of Chris Irons, and to our two new executive members, Michael Salvesen and Miles Anderson.” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers outgoing Meat & Fibre Chairperson.

“The new Meat & Fibre Executive have all been active members of the Federation’s Meat & Fibre Council, and I would like to congratulate them all on their well deserved appointments,” said Mrs Maxwell. . . .

Federated Farmers Dairy elects new executive:

It’s goodbye from him and hello from me

Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry Group has elected Fielding farmer Andrew Hoggard as its new chairperson. The Federation’s dairy council also elected Waikato’s Chris Lewis to be one of two vice-chairpersons, joining Kevin Robinson who was reconfirmed in that role.

“I am stoked dairy farmers have placed their faith in me,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers new Dairy chairperson.

“Willy has been a great leader and it is comforting to know he’s just at the end of the telephone.

“The challenges and arguments about dairy have grabbed the headlines but this has masked many of the good things dairy farmers are doing. . .

July marks final countdown for cattle in NAIT transition:

Farmers have one year left to make sure all cattle are tagged and registered with NAIT.

“We are entering the final 12 months of NAIT’s three-year transition for cattle. By 1 July 2015, all stock should be tagged and registered in the NAIT database,” said Dan Schofield, Acting NAIT and Farm Operations Manager.

This includes cattle that were born before the NAIT scheme became mandatory on 1 July 2012. Cattle born since July 2012 must be tagged within six months of birth, or before they are moved off farm, whichever comes first. . . .

Safety And Quality First for Forestry – Changes announced for national forestry training qualifications:

A review of qualifications for forestry workers led by industry training organisation Competenz has resulted in new qualifications being developed with an increased focus on health and safety, and environmental protection and quality.

The New Zealand Certificates, to be launched later this year, will give more weight to essential knowledge like health and safety and quality. They also increase the focus on supervisory and crew management skills.

Competenz’s newly appointed national manager, Mark Preece, says the organisation has closely collaborated with contractors, workers, forest owners, trainers and assessors throughout the country to develop the new qualifications. . . .

New Zealand’s Multi- Million Dollar Bee Industry Moving Towards One Body:

The country’s bee industry could soon be represented by one body, following a mandate given at the NZ Apiculture Industry conference last week.

“I recognised a clear indication from the both the floor at the conference and the AGM for the NBA to explore the value in uniting with other industry stakeholders in the formation of a single representative industry body,” says NBA President Ricki Leahy.

“For us to get results it is important that all the different categories within the industry such as commercial beekeepers, hobbyists, exporters, packers, and researchers and others, speak with one, united, clear voice, and that we are all on the same page when talking to government.”

Meanwhile Federated Farmers Bees agrees. . .


Anti-irrigation, anti farming, anti-provinces

May 20, 2014

Thursday’s Budget included $40m of new funding for irrigation and the environment:

The Budget’s $40 million of new funding for irrigation projects will deliver economic and environmental benefits for New Zealand, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“This will help unlock the potential that water storage and irrigation can deliver, giving a real boost to jobs and exports in regional economies,” he says.

“This new capital funding of $40 million comes from the Future Investment Fund and will be used to purchase shares in Crown Irrigation, enabling it to make further investments. It is in addition to $80 million allocated in last year’s Budget.

“If current proposals are advanced there could be a further 420,000 hectares of irrigated land available for a variety of uses over time. Research from NZIER suggests that exports could be boosted by around $4 billion a year by 2026.

“Irrigation often has real environmental benefits, with more consistent river flows in summer and reduced pressure on ground water sources.

“Only 2 per cent of rainfall in New Zealand is captured and used for irrigation. Clearly we need to do a better job of using this precious resource.

“After the extreme drought most of the country suffered last year, and the one earlier this year in Northland and Waikato, the need for better water storage is obvious,” Mr Guy says.

Crown Irrigation makes targeted bridging investments in irrigation schemes that would not be established with private finance alone. All decisions are made by an independent board.

Last month, Crown Irrigation announced its first investment, with $6.5 million going towards the Central Plains Water Scheme in Canterbury.

Bridging investment enables schemes to get off the ground and must be paid back.

The extra money shows the government recognises the importance of irrigation for both economic and environmental reasons.

That has always escaped the Green Party and now Labour too is turning its back on irrigation.

This has, not surprisingly, upset Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills:

. . .  A recent jaundiced attack upon irrigation has me questioning if the Party gets it.  This speech reads as an electoral game plan designed to demonise a minority of the population while amplifying prejudices and preconceptions about what we do.  Labour’s political calculus is cynical because ‘farming equals bad water’ is dog whistle politics.  Something, I honestly thought we’d moved beyond when Labour Leader David Cunliffe said, in more agricultural parlance, that farmers are good guys.

Labour’s anti-irrigation stance is a flip-flop from when Jim Anderton was Agriculture Minister.

Anderton talked a lot about irrigation but never delivered.

He used to come to North Otago, promise the earth, get positive media coverage for that but failed to do anything at all to support irrigation in the area.

It also contradicts Labour’s desire to enact the world’s most repressive Emissions Trading Scheme.   Winding up the Crown Irrigation Company not only flies in the face of regional economic development but regional climate adaption.  Are memories so short, we have forgotten adaption was a key criticism of the International Panel on Climate Change? 

According to the IPCC, the Hawke’s Bay can expect to double or even triple the time spent in drought by 2040.  Adaption means new pastures and technologies, but fundamentally, it means storing rainwater.  Residents in towns and cities do not wait for rain before taking a shower.

While water is vital to farming, without stored water, it means some of our rivers will increasingly run lower and warmer.  This is a consequence of less rainfall in a changing climate.  It will also impact farming and the environment equally.  The most distressing thing about dog whistle politics is that it denies that farmers live where we farm. It denies that we drink water and denies that our families swim and fish too.  It is a naked attempt to make farmers a breed apart.  It is unreconstructed class warfare.

One thing we agree with Mr Parker on is his speech title, because “you can have both.”  Farming and the environment are flipsides of the same coin so are we perfect?  Far from it.  Does intensive agriculture have an impact on the environment? Of course it does.  Do our growing cities impact the environment? Of course they do. 

Look, farming does need to do better and we are putting huge resource and effort into reducing the footprint of our most important export industry.  This takes money but it also takes time and yet we can point to marked improvements from Lake Rotorua to Otago’s Shag River.  Last year, the Ministry for the Environment’s river condition indicator, said that 90 percent of the sites tested were either stable or improving. You need a clean and healthy environment to farm successfully, so making innovations like water storage more difficult, simply isn’t going to help. 

A denial of water in concert with an ETS seems just the start.  If I can surmise Labour’s economic strategy from this speech, it seems to tax agriculture into the sunset hoping that something, anything, will take its place.   That’s an unprecedented gamble.

According to David Parker, we can also look forward to Resource Rentals targeting farms and a Capital Gains Tax too, which pretty much puts the Sword of Damocles over our head and the 138,000 jobs we support.  I have recently seen policies and politics akin to what’s being proposed.

Argentina may not have capital gains tax, but it does have taxes on property sales with stamp duty on rented accommodation.  It may not have resource rentals but it does have GST on utility leases like water of 27 percent.  It may not have a punitive emissions trading scheme, but it does have export taxes on primary exports of up to 35 percent.  Argentina has a tax for almost every occasion and it also has 30 percent inflation.

As some Argentinean farmers face 86 percent taxation, the only way to survive is to farm in wide but ever decreasing circles.  Its big export is soy where over 20 million hectares is in cultivation and that’s a lot more acreage in one crop than the entire South Island.  It is also overwhelmingly genetically modified and that I was told came at the behest of the Argentinean government.  All needed to fund a tax and spend Catch-22.

What is at stake here is a very large chunk of New Zealand’s $50 billion merchandise exports which pays for everyone’s daily bread. 

A calculated demonisation of farming is an attempt to drive a wedge between a farming minority and the urban majority. It plays on every cliché and every negative perception about farming and it was telling there was no mention of the Land and Water Forum’s success.  It is a worry when many positives seen in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Dairy Industry Awards, QEII National Trust and the NZ Landcare Trust are blithely ignored.

While Labour certainly took one small step forward with its Monetary Policy, this tone represents one giant leap backwards, which is why Federated Farmers has the backs of farmers.

Labour’s not just anti-irrigation, its for more taxes and Feds’ Dairy chair Willy Leferink says Labour is gunning for farmers:

Let me put my cards on the table I am a swing voter so Labour’s recent economic policy release from Finance spokesperson, David Parker, pricked my interest.  If a week is a time in politics a few days must be like years, because another speech from him had me shaking my head in disbelief.

According to Parker, National is allowing “public rivers and estuaries to be spoiled by nutrient and faecal contaminants from agriculture.”  Funny I didn’t think we had private ones.  We also got this, “In the absence of effective environmental standards, this will also mean more dairy effluent and nutrient run-off into our rivers and lakes, and into our estuaries and inshore fisheries.”  It reads like something from Fish and Game’s head office.

Labour’s big idea is to tax farming.  I wonder what that will do to supermarket prices let alone our international competiveness.  Labour also keen to impose the world’s most extreme Emissions Trading Scheme incorporating all biological emissions.  That will see our costs explode and consumers will ultimately foot the bill.  That’s not all.  Instead of giving more money to DoC to save Kiwi, they’re going to save lawyers by toughening up the RMA and DoC’s advocacy role.

But wait there’s more.  In a bizarre contradiction, given the UN’s climate boffins say New Zealand isn’t doing enough to adapt to climate change, Labour is going to scrap all public support of irrigation. 

This gets even surreal since Labour will introduce a Resource Rental Tax on water but only that used by agriculture.  I can only surmise Mr Parker believes there is zero pollution whenever he enters the littlest room.  There’s got to be a Tui billboard in that.

When you put this together with a Capital Gains Tax (yep, targeting farms) you’ve the impression Labour doesn’t like us and wants to tax us into the sunset. 

The sting in the tale means the price of food will skyrocket but I bet Labour has a KiwiFarm policy up its sleeve.  It will have collectivised state farms producing cheap bountiful food for the masses to be sold in nationalised KiwiSupermarkets.  I think the Soviets once tried that.

Yet we shouldn’t worry because clean energy is apparently the new dairy.  Despite the fact you cannot export electricity, Parker says we have great opportunities in clean energy like hydro and geothermal yadda yadda yadda.  He talks about LanzaTech but misses the point they left New Zealand because of stultifying regulations and that’s under National!  Hydro must also be an in-joke given the last aborted attempt to build one failed and under Labour, the RMA will be tightened.  Meanwhile, any industry capable of using this bountiful energy won’t be able to emit a puff of greenhouse gas without being walloped by the ETS.

The most distressing thing to me is Labour’s clichéd view of farming.

It was a real shame the only MP at the recent New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland was Nathan Guy.  The lack of an opposition MP surprised and disappointed me in equal measure.  One person volunteered, ‘because the tickets weren’t free’ and perhaps that is sadly true.  As a farming leader and as farmers, we get a few raspberries chucked at us but this makes you look in the mirror. 

While my farm gate is open to Mr Parker, can I suggest visiting the inspirational entrants of the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.  Being close to this competition, which Federated Farmers started 25 years ago, I know the winners are really first among equals.

Charlie and Jody McCaig have gone from being Taranaki farm management winners in 2011 to become 2014 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity farmer of the Year.  How about Ruth Hone, who was named Dairy Trainee of the Year and the first ever women to lift that title.  She is smart, capable and adaptable and those words sum up the dairy industry in 2014.  Then you’ve got a 27 year old Nick Bertram, who came into dairy with a background in accounting thanks to his teacher dad, but no farming experience.  He was named Farm Manager of the Year for 2014. 

These awards showcased others who’d joined dairying from fields as diverse as professional rugby, hospitality, engineering and the police.  As one in the eye for Kim DotCom’s party, it included an IT professional too.

Then again I suppose it shows why politicians are far less trusted than us farmers.  While they may subscribe to ‘don’t let the facts get in the way’ we don’t.

Labour has given up any pretence it’s supportive of farming and in doing so shows it has also given up on the provinces which depend so much on farming success.

The Waitaki District’s population has been going backwards for decades.

Last year’s census showed that it is beginning to grow again. The biggest influence on that must be irrigation.

There were four houses on our farm and the two nearest neighbours before irrigation, now there are 14.

We’re building a 15th and another neighbour is building two more.

That is happening everywhere that’s been irrigated bringing economic and social benefits to the district and it’s being done with due regard for the environment.

All shareholders in the North Otago Irrigation Company must have independently audited environmental farm plans which ensure that soil and water quality aren’t compromised.

Farmers used to have some faint hopes that Labour would counter the anti-irrigation, anti-farming policies of the Green Party.

Those hopes have been dashed and should they get into power, the provinces will be the first to pay the price.

 


Rural round-up

May 16, 2014

One in the eye for dairying’s critics – Jon Morgan:

Dairying is the popular whipping boy of the age. Dissembling politicians, rabid environmentalists, lazy news media, ignorant online commenters – they all have a go.

They peddle the usual half-truths and blatant lies: Dairying is responsible for all water pollution, dairy farmers are saddled with too much debt, they are running too many cows, using too much nitrogen fertiliser and poisoning the soils and plants, they mistreat their workers, they don’t pay their fair share of taxes, they’re responsible for global warming, the moral decay of today’s youth, war in Ukraine, the Pope turning Communist and, don’t forget, they also shot JFK.

However, one or two of their assumptions will have to be revised after the release of the latest DairyNZ economic survey.

It was a surprise even for those who support dairying to learn from the survey – which has been running for 50 years – that the costs of dairy farming have stayed the same for the past 25 years and that farms are as affordable as 40 years ago. . .

Angus cleans up at Steak of Origin Grand Final:

Colin Brown from Cambridge has been named Grand Champion in the 2014 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin competition with his Angus processed at AgResearch Ruakura.

After being a finalist in previous years and his Lake Farm Beef brand winning Supreme Brand in 2009, Colin has taken out the competition, sponsored by Zoetis, to find the country’s most tender and tasty sirloin steak in the Grand Final at AgInnovation in Feilding this evening.

Colin is humbled with the announcement.  “I am absolutely thrilled with the result after being named as a finalist four times in the last six years, and finally taking the title”, he says. . . .

Victory for man with big stake in beef:

It’s taken a few years, but an artisan beef producer has finally cracked the big one.

Colin Brown of Lake Farm on the shore of lake Karapiro in Waikato won the grand champion title in the Steak of Origin competition this week with a pure Angus sirloin steak.

He’s been a finalist for four of the past six years and in 2009 he won the supreme brand award with his Lake Farm Beef brand.

He’s a small scale operator, producing his beef from 100 cattle, and selling directly to customers through the internet. . .

Rockstar awards showcase our rockstar dairy industry:

The only shame about last Friday’s 2014 New Zealand Dairy Awards, at Auckland’s SkyCity, was the absence of the dairying’s most ardent critics.  Instead it was the perfect showcase for the capability and dynamism of New Zealand’s leading export industry. 

“I can forgive the print media as the Canon Awards were on the same night and the media at our industry’s event got to see dairying in its dynamic reality.  Special thanks must go to the brilliant MC Mike McRoberts but especially the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Trust,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“I honestly thought there would have been more than one Member of Parliament present but as MP’s go, the Minister for Primary Industries is a very big fish indeed.

“After the awards I saw one political party leader in a debate label-dairy low value.  There is no way you could hold those views if he’d attended these awards.  That’s the problem we have.  There are some who won’t risk shaking their beliefs by opening their eyes. . .

Firenze sires 40,000 cows, retires:

With more than 40,000 daughters in New Zealand alone there’s no denying Firenze has been one very busy bull.

The herd improvement company CRV Ambreed retired the 12-year-old holstein-friesian bull this week at a ceremony in Hamilton.

Firenze has generated about $8 million in revenue and produced about 650,000 doses of semen that have been sold around the world.

Now he’s heading back to the farm where he came from near Dunedin.

His original owner, Philip Wilson, says he’s going to ensure Firenze sees out his days in style.

“Well, we’re just bringing him home because we are proud of him and we reckon he deserves a bloody good retirement. . . .

UN look to Marlborough grape vine pruning crews – Chloe Winter:

Marlborough’s autumn colours are slowly disappearing as vine-pruning contractors move in to prepare the vineyards for next season’s growth.

Alapa Viticultural Services owner Alan Wilkinson has a team of 230 workers for the pruning season.

The workers were from Thailand, Japan, Samoa, China, Malaysia and the Czech Republic and would stay until the end of the season in September.

By that time, more than four million plants would have been pruned, stripped and wrapped, Wilkinson said. . .

 Bee’s conference breaking ground for the industry:

This year, for the first time, Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group will be joining with the National Beekeepers Association to host a New Zealand Apiculture Industry Conference in Wanganui.

“The theme of this conference is “Working Together” with a critical focus on advancing our fast growing and vital industry that is pivotal to New Zealand’s economy, with an estimated annual contribution of $5 billion a year,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bee Chairperson. . . .


Rural round-up

May 2, 2014

Canada, dairy and the TPP – Keith Woodford:

Canada and New Zealand are currently in serious negotiations as to future rules for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In relation to dairy products, we sit on different sides of the debate. We want free access. In contrast, they want to retain their supply management quotas which control how much milk is produced, and hence protect the farm-gate price of milk.

The widespread assumption in New Zealand is that free trade will open up new markets in Canada. The current dairy market there is 8 billion litres per annum. To put that in perspective, our total milk production in New Zealand is about 20 billion litres per annum. So on the surface, free trade could open up exciting new opportunities.

A recent report from The Conference Board of Canada places a different perspective on matters. They agree with New Zealand that Canada should get rid of its supply management scheme. However, they see the outcome being that Canada would rapidly transform its industry and become a major exporter. . .

Dairying’s other big 2014 vote – Willy Leferink:

This year will see a general election but you have to wonder if three-year cycles are sufficient.  Let’s face it, year one is learning the ropes and doing what you promised.  Year two is fine tuning what you’ve done or running a mile from what you’ve done, meanwhile, year three is all about getting re-elected.

Many systems have four or even five year cycles and DairyNZ’s impending vote on its $61 million industry good levy fits into the five year cycle.

It isn’t appreciated by many who bemoan the lack of research and development in New Zealand, that every time my girls come in for milking, 3.6 cents in every kilogram of milksolids they produce goes towards R&D.  This money is collected by the milk processors and passed to our industry good body, DairyNZ.  It undertakes a whole host of research activities that no farmer could ever hope to do individually.  DairyNZ further leverages what it gets from us farmers in larger programmes like the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP. . . .

Westland Milk Products Registered for Infant Nutrition Products Export to China:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative has confirmed today that it is registered to export dairy products including infant formula milk powder to China.

The company has been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Chinese authorities and has been notified of its registration with the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA).

“We support the Chinese moves to impose greater controls and stricter standards around the importation of infant formula. Ultimately this will benefit New Zealand exporters by giving Chinese consumers more confidence in our products” says Westland CEO Rod Quin. . .

Synlait misses China regulation deadline as it waits on factory build – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the dairy processor which counts China’s Bright Dairy as a cornerstone shareholder, missed out in the first round of approvals under China’s new regulation of imported infant formula as it waits for the completion of its new processing and packaging plant.

The Ministry for Primary Industry expects Synlait will receive approval once the new dry blending and consumer packaging factory is built which is scheduled for completion next month, the Rakaia-based company said in a statement. Companies without the new registration won’t be able to sell infant formula produced from today in China.

A2 Milk Company, whose Platinum infant formula is manufactured at Synlait’s Canterbury plant, also missed out on registration, which includes demonstrating a close association between brand owner and manufacturer. . .

Synlait Milk confident of China registration:

The initial list of registered New Zealand companies issued by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) did not include Synlait Milk as an exporter of finished infant formula into China. This announcement has been anticipated by the Company for some time.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has confirmed that it expects Synlait Milk to receive registration following the approval of its Risk Management Plan by MPI for its dry blending and consumer packaging facility. Construction of this facility is scheduled for completion in June 2014. . .

FGC welcomes Nutricia’s investment:

The intended acquisition of New Zealand milk-drying and infant formula blending and packing capacity by French-owned Nutricia is a further indication of confidence in the New Zealand food and beverage industry, says the Food & Grocery Council.

Chief Executive Katherine Rich says today’s announcement is significant.

“This is great news for the industry and for New Zealand’s infant formula manufacturing capacity.

“Having such a renowned multinational company purchasing two New Zealand firms to ensure it has a major infant formula local manufacturing facility affirms once again that New Zealand’s dairy industry remains among the best and safest in the world.” . . . .

Comvita annual earnings pip 2013, meeting guidance; shares fall:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, which makes health products from manuka honey, said annual earnings and revenue eclipsed 2013, meeting guidance, as recent apiary acquisitions improved its security of supply. The shares fell.

The Te Puke-based company said net profit was about $7.5 million in the 12 months ended March 31 from $7.4 million a year earlier, on revenue of $115.3 million, up from $103.5 million in 2013. The company had previously said it anticipated beating 2013 profit and sales.

“When unconstrained by raw material shortages, as happened in the second six months, we clearly have growth momentum,” chief executive Brett Howlett said in a statement. “The strategy of acquiring apiary businesses is working to alleviate the supply shortage pressures.” . . .


Rural round-up

April 21, 2014

Taking the crosshairs off farmers – Willy Leferink:

Some politicians and lobby groups hell-bent on making farming a feature of the 2014 general election will be taking names and counting numbers.  Yet if you search online with the words “big targets,” you’ll find the banks are in the gun in the United Kingdom while across the ditch, it is tax cheats.

In the universe which is the European Union, its Climate Commissioner has challenged other carbon emitters to follow its lead.  Those big target emitters are the United States, who contribute 15.6 percent of global emissions and this surprised me, China, which is now up to 23.6 percent.  Then again, a fair chunk of humanity and the global economy resides there and in the other big target emitters; Russia, India, Brazil and Indonesia.

Speaking of Russia, I guess Vladimir Putin has made himself a big target for his ‘hostile takeover’ of the Crimea.  While the west rattled less its sabres and more its teacups,you’ve got to wonder if Putin is reassembling old Russia in some kind of geopolitical Lego.

So what’s the lesson here for farmers? . . .

West Coast farms start recovery:

While the South Island’s West Coast bore the brunt of former Cyclone Ita’s wrath, the defining image is that taken by the Otago Daily Times, of past Federated Farmers North Otago provincial president, Robert Borst, using his digger to rescue a motorist trapped by rising floodwaters.

“This is one of the worst storms I can recall,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president and the Federation’s adverse events spokesperson.

“Federated Farmers is working with the West Coast Rural Support Trust and we’d like to ask the media to help us in spreading the Trust’s direct telephone number to affected farmers: 03 738 0038.  I need to stress this applies to the West Coast only.

“Getting the Rural Support Trust’s number (03 738 0038) out there is particularly important to beef farmers or graziers who may be struggling. . . .

Wheat disease develops fungicide resistance – Annette Scott:

New Zealand wheat growers will need to rethink their crop-disease management following confirmation the wheat disease speckled leaf blotch has developed fungicide resistance.

Septoria tritici blotch (STB), or speckled leaf blotch, the principal disease affecting NZ wheat crops over the past four years, has developed resistance to the fungicide group that has been most effective in controlling it.

A research team led by Dr Suvi Viljanen-Rollinson, from Plant and Food Research at Lincoln, working with scientists at Rothamsted in the United Kingdom and Aarhus University in Denmark, has confirmed resistance by the NZ zymoseptoria tritici population to quinone outside inhibitors (QoIs), a fungicide group commonly referred to as the strobilurins. . . .

 

Manawatu River improvement is encouraging:

Federated Farmers is thrilled by the improving health of the Manawatu River. A detailed report for the Manawatu River Leaders Forum reveals that the first three years of the clean up have been a success.

“This report is a huge boost for the farming community,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“While improvements in water quality aren’t able to be measured overnight, we are seeing a downward trend already in nutrient and e-coli levels. With 93 percent compliance and climbing in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region, this improving trend will only continue.

“What we can measure is the actions of our community and the numbers are so encouraging it’s something the farming community can take pride in. Well over 100 kilometres of waterways have been fenced, over 60,000 plants planted for erosion control and riparian margins, as well as farm plans and mapping well under way. . . .

Inaugural Game Animal Council appointed:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Minister Peter Dunne today announced the appointment of 11 members to the inaugural Game Animal Council.

“The new Game Animal Council is about giving hunters of deer, thar, chamois and pigs an active voice in the management of their recreation. These appointments include a diverse range of interests in hunting and a geographic spread across the country,” Dr Smith says.

The 11 members are:
· Donald Hammond (chair)
· Thomas (Mark) Brough
· Roger Duxfield
· Professor Geoffrey Kerr
· Steven McFall
· Alexander (Alec) McIver
· William Garry Ottmann
· Terence Pierson
· Roy Sloan
· Carol Watson

 


Rural round-up

April 11, 2014

Farmers back irrigation feasibility study:

A planned large-scale irrigation scheme in South Canterbury has got enough farmer backing for it to carry out an in depth feasibility study.

The Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme, which could irrigate up to 40,000 hectares of land from Waitaki to just south of Timaru, also has significant financial backing from the Government.

Hunter Downs Irrigation chairman Andrew Fraser says they’ve been going through a capital raising process over the last several weeks – and have managed to get over the threshold of 20,000 hectares of farmer uptake.

“This funding will enable us to do a feasibility study and so that will tell us whether the scheme is economically and technically viable so we hope to have that result back out to the shareholders and farmers by the end of the year.”

Mr Fraser says the capital raising period has been extended as the scheme gauges corporate interest and speaks to more farmers in the area. . .

Winners committed to pushing farming change – Gerald Piddock:

Mike and Sharon Barton’s innovative approach to farming in an environmentally sensitive area has earned them the supreme title in the 2014 Waikato Farm Environment Awards.

The Western Taupo beef farmers were presented with the award as well as category awards for soil management and innovation at a ceremony near Karapiro last night.

The Barton’s farm at Glen Emmreth Farm near Tihoi. They purchased the 142ha property in 2004 at a time when strict environmental legislation to protect the health of the lake was looming.

They faced this challenge head-on, determined to make their farm as environmentally sustainable as possible. . .

Farmers warned to tidy up act:

Federated Farmers is warning farmers not to risk making the dairy industry a scapegoat at this year’s general election through poor farm practices.

In a message to farmers, dairy chairman Willy Leferink said he was worried they could be negatively portrayed during the election campaign and they needed to do the basics properly to avoid bad publicity.

Visual aspects of the industry needing to be tidied up, and that could help create a better public image, Mr Leferink said. . .

Call for better health and safety on farms after death –  Collette Devlin:

Farming is a hazardous occupation and the number of injuries and deaths on Southland farms must come down, industry insiders say.

They are calling for better health and safety awareness on farms.

The issue has been put in the spotlight by the tragic death of fertiliser truck driver Les Cain, killed when the truck he was driving overturned on a northern Southland farm on Tuesday.

Southland Federated Farmers president Russell MacPherson said one farm death was one too many.

The old attitude of ‘she’ll be right’ needed to disappear from the industry. . .

Hawke’s Bay Farmers of the Year – Hugh and Sharon Ritchie – RivettingKateTaylor:

Well done to Hugh and Sharon Ritchie – Hawke’s Bay Farmers of the Year.

I’ve just been writing about Hugh lately as I am doing the Nuffield NZ newsletter and he has just retired after 12 years as a trustee (we also went through Young Farmers together, although I hasten to add he is older than me!!!  Hugh, Shane Tilson and I won a national debating final in 1995!)

So last night (back to the important news) they were awarded the prestigious Silver Fern Farms Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year title in front of 350 people at a dinner at Showgrounds Hawke’s Bay (well done on great night Hillary). . .

D2S ‘growing at a rate of knots’:

Wool growers have rallied behind Wools of New Zealand’s Direct-to-Scour (D2S) spot market sales option.

Launched in October last year, volumes under D2S are doubling month on month and have now reached around 350,000 kgs, with annualised volumes expected to reach between 3.5m – 4m kilograms within its first year, about 8% of the market.

Ross Townshend, Chief Executive of Wools of New Zealand told shareholder growers and supporters during the company’s roadshow series of 12 national meetings this week that the system was “simpler and put more money into the pockets of growers than the conventional model. It makes logical sense for growers’ wool to go to the first point of processing which is the scour where it can be core-sampled, independently tested, objectively assessed and fairly priced. . . .

Wool Market Defies Dollar:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that despite a resurgent New Zealand dollar the South Island offering of 11,500 bales saw most types range from firm to 3 percent dearer. Even with the strength of the sale and an 86 percent clearance, some growers were still unprepared to accept current market levels with 13 percent of the offering being passed in.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was 1.36 percent up on the last sale on 3rd April.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Fleece and Shears were between 1 and 3 percent firmer. . .


Fonterra fined $300,000

April 5, 2014

Fonterra has been fined $300,000 for it failings in last year’s food safety scare.

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the country’s biggest company, was fined $300,000 for breaches of the Animal Products Act during last year’s whey protein concentrate incident.

Judge Peter Hobbs fined Fonterra $60,000 for three separate charges and $120,000 for a fourth charge in the Wellington District Court. The judge took a starting point of $375,000, before mitigating factors including Fonterra’s early guilty plea and steps it took to address the issue, though he lifted the penalty to reflect the company’s size.

“There’s no doubt the flawed reworking process and its fall-out had wide ramifications,” Judge Hobbs said. “I accept, however, the offending resulted from careless failure to follow proper procedure rather than a deliberate or reckless plan – things could have and should have been done better.” . . .

Every company which deals in food faces the risk of a safety problem. All should have better systems in palce to deal with it than Fonterra had.

It let its customers and suppliers down and it is the latter who will ultimately pay:

After accepting four Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) charges relating to the 2013 whey protein concentrate recall, Federated Farmers believes the $300,000 fine is proportionate.

“To a shareholder, $300,000 is much better than what the cooperative potentially faced,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Given the size of negative coverage relating to the non-botulism scare and the dent it put into the coop’s reputation, the size of the fine is proportionate.

“Especially given Fonterra did not contest the charges brought by MPI. Even the Crown Prosecutor acknowledges Fonterra has swiftly moved to put its house in order.

“As supplier shareholders and unit holders will ultimately meet the cost of the fine, we are certain Fonterra’s management has got the message loud and clear,” Mr Leferink concluded.

The company has implemented changes which show it has got the message.

This is vitally important because it’s not just Fonterra but the country’s reputation for food safety which would be damaged by another debacle.


Rural round-up

March 27, 2014

Guy prepared to help, but unwilling to interfere – Allan Barber:

Nathan Guy gave a very positive speech to Beef + Lamb NZ’s AGM on Saturday which covered three major points: what the government is doing for farmers, his vision for the red meat sector and thoughts on the discussions about industry structure.

Obviously, given MPI’s bullish view of agricultural exports, the Minister was extremely positive about economic performance. However he was at pains to point out the government’s role as an enabler, citing his focus on biosecurity resources, trade negotiations for market access, and investment in research.

He began by referring to his intention to strengthen resources at the border and to establish Government Industry Agreements (GIA) with various sectors which will ultimately involve the private sector in sharing the costs of biosecurity; different sectors are at various stages of negotiation on this issue. . . .

Project explores the potential of EID:

Warren Ayers farms 890ha of rolling country near Wyndham. The property runs 600 Perendale stud ewes and another 5,700 commercial ewes.

Lambing averages 135 per cent and lambs are finished to 17kg. Two-year-old replacement heifers are bought in annually for the 120-head Angus cow herd. Every year, all but the lightest 10 calves are sold at weaning. The policy is simple to manage and keeps the genetics of the herd diversified sufficiently that the same bull can be used for several years. For the past five years, the property has also wintered 650 dairy cows.

Warren has EID tagged his stud animals since 2006 and the commercial two-tooths have been tagged since 2009. . .

Fonterra begins construction on new IDR357 billion plant in Indonesia:

Fonterra today commenced construction on its first blending and packing plant in Indonesia, which will support the growth of its market leading consumer brands Anlene, Anmum and Anchor Boneeto.

Located in West Java, the plant is Fonterra’s first manufacturing facility in the country and its largest investment in a new manufacturing facility in ASEAN in the last 10 years.

Director General of Agro Industry at the Ministry of Industry, Panggah Susanto, joined Fonterra at an event in Jakarta to mark the official start of construction today.

Pascal De Petrini, Managing Director of Fonterra Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA), said that Fonterra Brands Manufacturing Indonesia Cikarang Plant will allow Fonterra to meet the ever-growing demand for dairy nutrition in Indonesia. . .

Dry conditions in Northland and Waikato remain a big concern:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says dry conditions in parts of Waikato and Northland remain a serious concern.

“Local authorities in Northland have announced the western parts of their region are in drought. This reflects the tough few months they’ve had as pasture has browned off.

“Cyclone Lusi has helped green tinges appear in some places, but the rainfall was erratic and insufficient. Western Northland and large parts of the Waikato remain very dry.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries is keeping a close eye on conditions here and elsewhere. I’ve seen for myself how dry things are on two trips to the Waikato in the last two weeks. . .

West Coast Northland drought declaration a relief:

The adverse event declaration covering drought in Northland’s West Coast the declaration will not provide a lot of direct financial assistance but will provide huge psychological relief.

“New Zealanders will get an inkling of what the guys on Northland’s West Coast have been going through. Not just since November, but since 2012 and even before that,” says Roger Ludbrook, Federated Farmers Northland provincial president.

“The big thing a declaration triggers is the Northland Rural Support Trust, so any farmer can approach the RST for free advice on farm management, or just someone to have a decent chinwag with.

“Beyond this, it doesn’t mean much financially unless the absolute worst happens. There is a safety net, but it is exactly the same as for any other New Zealander and carries the same eligibility rules.

“Then there is Inland Revenue and to be fair to them they aren’t unapproachable. . .

Drought-affected farmers encouraged to talk to their banks

Drought-affected farmers should talk to their banks said the New Zealand Bankers’ Association in response to increasingly dry conditions in parts of Northland and Waikato.

“We encourage any farmers facing hardship as a result of the lack of rain to contact their bank to discuss options for assistance and how they can work through these challenging conditions,” said New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Kirk Hope. . . .

Fonterra profit down but revenue on track to break $20 billion:

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s half year results means it could be back on track to break the $20 billion revenue barrier; corporate New Zealand’s ‘four minute mile.’

“I think the fall in operating profit will grab attention instead of where it ought to be focussed, on revenue,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“This is real money coming into the New Zealand economy.  I mean revenue for the half-year is up 21 percent to $11.3 billion.  While we’ve got close to the $20 billion barrier in the past, this time, we’ve got a real chance of breaking it.

“That said, the declared drought in Northland along with drought-like conditions in the upper North Island could act like a brake.  We’ve also seen GlobalDairyTrade retreat in recent trading events due in part to increased volume. . .

Pengxin picks up former Fonterra executive Romanos for NZ Milk role, report says:

(BusinessDesk) – Shanghai Pengxin has hired Gary Romano, who resigned from Fonterra Cooperative Group last year during the botulism scare, to oversee the Chinese company’s overseas operations including its New Zealand farms, the NZ Herald reports.

Romano’s Linked In profile says he is “currently on the beach before becoming active again in 2014.” He resigned as head of NZ Milk Products at Fonterra last August as the company embarked on a global recall of whey protein concentrate. The bacterium was eventually shown to be harmless.

He will become chief executive of NZ Milk Management and a director of Pengxin’s two farm groups in the North Island and South Island, according to the Herald. Terry Lee, managing director of Pengxin’s Milk New Zealand unit, didn’t immediately return calls. . .

Samoa sheep farming increasing:

Sheep farming in Samoa is growing through a programme funded by the World Bank.

Under the Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project, the World Bank is helping develop livestock, fruits and vegetable farming.

Sheep were introduced in Samoa in 2004, with the flock now grown to 700. . .

Macca’s hits milestone of three million kilos of Angus

AngusPure recognises programme as instrumental to success of Angus demand

McDonald’s New Zealand today announced it has sold a whopping three million kilograms of New Zealand Angus beef since 2009. With today’s launch of the promotional Angus the Great burger, the company expects to continue its contribution to the success of local Angus beef sales

This milestone is acknowledged by AngusPure’s chairman Tim Brittain, who says the ‘McAngus’ programme has been instrumental in helping grow the demand for Angus cattle, and that Kiwi farmers have been well rewarded since the original launch of the Angus burger range in 2009. . .


Rural round-up

March 20, 2014

Charmaine O’Shea takes 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year title:

Northland dairy farmer and Chartered Accountant Charmaine O’Shea was named the Dairy Woman of the Year last night at a gala dinner held by the Dairy Women’s Network in Hamilton.

With more than 20 years’ dairy farming and financial expertise, O’Shea has played an important role in improving the profitability of the New Zealand dairy industry through strong financial, environmental and people performance.

She is an equity partner in a Maungatapere dairy farm with brother Shayne. The sibling’s robust environmental stewardship and actions to demonstrate best farming practices were recognised last year when they were named the 2013 Northland Supreme Ballance Farm Environment Award winners. . .

Fonterra Launches China-New Zealand Dairy Exchange Centre:

Fonterra today announced the launch of the China-New Zealand Dairy Exchange Centre in Beijing. The Centre is a joint initiative between Fonterra and China’s National Dairy Industry and Technology System to support the sustainable development of the dairy industry in both countries.

“It is a key priority for Fonterra to contribute to the development of the Chinese dairy industry and we believe there is a lot to be gained by both New Zealand and China through the sharing of knowledge, research and dairy expertise,” said Kelvin Wickham, President of Fonterra Greater China and India.

“Both parties have world-class dairy research and know-how so we are very pleased to be playing a key role in bringing this initiative to life,” he said. . .

Local Government-Backed Website for Water Quality:

The local government sector is leading the way to provide New Zealanders with up to date information about fresh water, with the launch of a new website that makes water quality data public.

The Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website www.lawa.org.nz was created by 16 regional and unitary councils that are Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) members, together with the Ministry for Environment, Cawthron Institute and Massey University with support of the Tindall Foundation.

LAWA provides a rich source of data from more than 1100 freshwater sites local government monitors to give the public easy access to water quality monitoring information. It allows users to see levels of bacteria, acidity, water clarity and other parameters in rivers and catchments. . .

The incredible shrinking current account deficit:

While the value of dairy exports has helped New Zealand record a current account deficit in the December 2013 quarter, $900 million less than in the September 2013 quarter, Federated Farmers knows trade agreements are a must to continue this positive trend.

“Our export performance continues to shine and while dairy is leading, it is a story of our superbly resilient primary industries,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“As Westpac Institutional Bank noted, “A sharp rebound in export volumes, after the severe drought in early 2013, led to the strongest seasonally-adjusted goods balance on record.” . .

High Country innovative leaders:

Federated Farmers High Country farmers are keen to work with Environment Canterbury in making the industry sustainable, so that they can continue improving the land, and keeping the iconic landscape pest free.

“Federated Farmers High Country Field Day yesterday saw 140 industry stakeholders and supporters make a pilgrimage through five of the country’s iconic stations, now a far cry from the barren, rabbit filled desert they once were,” says Simon Williamson, Federated Farmers North Otago High Country Spokesperson.

“There has been an enormous amount of work done to transform some of this barren land into productive pastures. A fundamental part of this transformation has been irrigation, which has allowed this land to generate enough income to support 23 families over eight farms, as opposed to just seven families on six farms nine years ago. . .

Support Trust to highlight farmers’ plight – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland Rural Support Trust has called a meeting of central and local government officials and farmer representatives to help west coast farms gripped by drought.

Former tropical cyclone Lusi turned out to be a damp squib, delivering 20mm of rain at most in the western Kaipara regions of Pouto Peninsula and South Kaipara Head, considerably les than the 50-75mm that fell on Northland’s east coast.

Farmers who attended the Northland Agricultural Research Farm annual field day near Dargaville last week heard of the continuing extreme soil moisture deficit, which has been evident since before Christmas. . . .

Verda Deal Gives New Hope To NZ’s Wood Processing Industry:

 A long-awaited turnaround in the wood processing sector has been signaled today by outdoor wood specialist Verda New Zealand Ltd, who announced they are forming a new entity after a successful capital raising exercise.

Local and international investors have come together to form Verda International Ltd (VIL). VIL has purchased all of Verda New Zealand’s assets, brands and IP, and has taken a 47 per cent stake in the company’s sawmill in Napier.

VIL CEO Grant Butterworth, says the deal is the culmination of 12 months of work to form the new entity, attract new investors and finalise the company structure. . .

Lies, damned lies and statistics (surveys) – Willy Leferink:

What would happen if Federated Farmers put out a survey asking respondents to agree or disagree with broad sweeping statements.  I’m thinking along the lines of, ‘do you feel introduced fish species should enjoy significantly more legal protection over native fish?’ What about, ‘should the trout license fee ($121 for an adult) be abolished, with trout and salmon rules aligned with those for saltwater recreational fishing?’

Something tells me one organisation would cry blue murder before exploding in a rage of apoplexy.  So guess what, I am not going down that line. 

Instead, I am going to respond to what I heard Bernard Hickey and RadioLIVE’s Marcus Lush recently say on radio.  Lush said, “we’re becoming more dairy intensive with these great irrigation projects in Canterbury and to a lesser extent Hawke’s Bay…they are all geared for more people going into dairy.” 

Funny then that the sheep and beef guys in Central Hawke’s Bay are going to use Ruataniwha to part irrigate their farms, just like Federated Farmers’ Mid-Canterbury provincial president Chris Allen. . .

Updated dairy cattle code of welfare to include calf management:

Federated Farmers welcomes the consultation process announced by NAWAC late last week, as it updates the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare.

“There has been a lot of media coverage recently of calves being slaughtered in Chile,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Federated Farmers agrees with most New Zealanders that this sort of behaviour does not belong on New Zealand farms. . .


Rural round-up

March 14, 2014

Concern over dry conditions in Waikato, Northland:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has visited the Waikato today to see first-hand the challenging dry conditions facing farmers.

“Most farmers are managing the dry conditions in Waikato and Northland, but it’s becoming difficult for some. The last few months have been very dry as pasture has browned off.

“Rain is forecast to hit the upper North Island this week as the remnants of Cyclone Lusi hits New Zealand. Any rain will be gratefully received by farmers.

“At this stage, the Government has not been asked to declare an ‘adverse event’ in any region. MPI have been providing me with regular updates and I’ll be watching these dry conditions around the North Island closely.

“Farmers are not interested in handouts, but they want to know the Government understands the challenges they are facing. That’s why I’m here today to see firsthand how they are coping with the conditions. . .

Irrigation share offer a test run – David Bruce:

An irrigation scheme designed to bring water to about 40,000ha in the Waimate area and create up to 1200 jobs has taken a big step forward with farmers being offered shares, which will help determine if it is feasible.

The Hunter Downs scheme, originally estimated in 2009 to cost about $200 million, was first mooted about eight years ago and Hunter Downs Irrigation Ltd has now issued a prospectus offering 40,000 shares to fund investigations to see if the scheme is viable.

The company needs to sell at least half of the shares, at $200 a share, for the share offer and scheme to proceed. . .

Dunne deal on doing things differently:

THE MINISTRY for Primary Industry (MPI) will look “quite different” as a result of an “alignment process” that started last week, says the new chief executive, Martyn Dunne.

Three months in his new role, he is ringing changes. For example, he has appointed deputy director-general Roger Smith to head MPI’s operation in China and is about to appoint two more staff there. He’s also adding staff to other key diplomatic posts in countries where market access is an issue.

Dunne told Rural News the “alignment process” is to meet the huge expectations and demands on his organisation. MPI and its previous incarnations have undergone almost constant restructuring for 25 years, but Dunne denies this is the case with the current moves.

“I don’t call it a restructuring and the staff don’t see it that way,” he says. “Normally restructuring is something driven by cost pressure and other demands and generally results in a downsizing. . .

Positive step in Fonterra accepting charges:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see Fonterra has accepted the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) four charges over the whey protein concentrate recall last year.

“This scare has been invaluable learning curve for Fonterra and they are making positive changes already to make sure this never happens again,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Our reputation for food quality and safety is paramount to our success on the world stage. Whilst this product recall was a false alarm it has unearthed some flaws in Fonterra’s system. By whole heartedly accepting the charges laid by MPI yesterday, Fonterra has shown they are on the front foot of this issue. . .

Manawatu Dairy Awards Winners Raise Reputation:

The major winners in the 2014 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards, Duncan and Kim Fraser, have become role models in the industry after raising their profile from entering the awards.

The couple won the 2014 Manawatu Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title last night “One of the benefits of the awards is that it does raise your profile in the industry and so opportunities are now coming to us. People are also now coming to us to seek advice,” the Frasers say.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Awapuni Raceway were Sam Ebbett, the Manawatu Farm Manager of the Year, and Hayley Hoogendyk, the 2014 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Hot contest for dairy awards spurred on by record prize pool:

The region’s top dairy farmers will be revealed this Friday as they compete for a coveted spot in the national final and a share of the record $710,000 prize pool.

Several hundred people are expected at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Taranaki dinner at The Hub in Hawera where winners of three categories will be announced: Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The winners of each category will join entrants from 10 other regions around the country vying for the national titles to be announced in Auckland on May 9. . .

Extra feed equals extra dollars for dairy farmers:

With farmgate milk prices at an all-time high, maintaining production for the final months of the season is a priority for dairy farmers, and getting those extra kilos of milk solids means making some good calls around feed.

Low rainfall and drying winds in some parts of the country is slowing grass growth, while in other regions, there has been enough rain to maintain good pasture conditions. Ballance Agri-Nutrients General Manager Sales, Andrew Reid says farmers taking stock of mid-summer feed supplies can look to Ballance for the right advice on nutrient choices to keep herds producing.

“Because we take cover the complete farm nutrients spectrum, we’re in a good position to help farmers use forage and supplementary feed to keep up production. What to use, and when, will all depend on individual farm goals and weather conditions.” . . .

New rural masthead to showcase the best of our rural products to farmers:

Entrepreneurial agritech firm Bell-Booth has signed up to showcase their innovative probiotic products Queen of Calves™ and X-Factor™ through the new rural masthead product, Field Trials, being launched by “The rural sector is our nation’s backbone,” says Richard Stevens BrandWorld’s managing director.

“It’s also the single largest opportunity for many goods and services with around 68,000 holdings nationwide and an average per farm spend of $341,000 each year.

“With those sorts of budgets farmers are very astute businessmen so you have to find clever ways to reach them. Good suppliers like Bell-Booth know the trick is not to sell to those farmers but to give them the information they need, in a format they understand so they can make the best decisions they can.” . . .

Local Baby Formula Maker NuZtri reaches milestone with first shipment to China:

New Zealand owned Best Health Products Limited, producers of NuZtri Premium Formula and fortified Milk Powder today dispatched their first shipment of Fortified Milk Powder destined for the Chinese market.

“We have been waiting for some time for this day to arrive, finally NuZtri has dispatched our first shipment of Premium Forfeited Milk Powder to China” said Craig Calder General Manager of NuZtri.

“NuZtri has invested a considerable amount of money researching and developing a Premium Milk Powder product in New Zealand for the Chinese consumers. The demand for our product is high”. . .


Rural round-up

March 12, 2014

Three top dairy farms open to the public: see for yourself:

The public are being invited to see for themselves real dairy farms in action, in this case, finalists for the 2014 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Maori Excellence in Farming Award for Dairy.

“Given what’s been in the media over the past 24-hours, this is frankly the best antidote,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“It is an opportunity to see three top-performing dairy farms in action tomorrow, Friday and next Wednesday.

“This is also a chance to talk to the trustees, the farm managers and the organisers of this fantastic competition.  Above all, it’s a genuine opportunity to use your Mark I eyeball and see for yourself what a modern dairy farm is and perhaps, what it isn’t. . .

Fine over quad bike death:

Share-milking company Holden Farms Limited has been fined $28,125 and ordered to pay reparations of $75,000 after a farm hand died last year when the quad bike he was riding rolled on top of him.

Holden Farms pleaded guilty in the Tokoroa District Court to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of Gary Tantrum.

Mr Tantrum died one year ago tomorrow while he was mustering cattle on a farm at Mangakino in Waikato. His quad bike rolled while he was riding up a steep slope. It fell on top of him, crushing him causing fatal injuries. . .

Rural contractors need to bone up on employment obligations:

Agricultural contractors need to ensure they are on top of their all employment and health and safety obligations, according to Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ)

“Our industry is working hard to encourage and attract good people into the sector,” says RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton. “It is all very well having a top-of-the-line tractor, but it is not much use if there is nobody to drive it!”
He says one way of ensuring that both employers and employees have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and obligations is to have written employment agreements in place.

“It is actually a requirement of employment law to have EAs and these should be signed before any work begins.” . . .

Life after Cloudy Bay: New Kiwi classics (and barely a single Sauvignon Blanc among them) – Olly Smith:

I’m just back from the vineyards of New Zealand.

You don’t need me to tell you about Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, which has hordes of fans.

You’ll know Cloudy Bay, but try Greywacke (pronounced Greywacky) by Kevin Judd, winemaker at Cloudy Bay for two decades. Outstanding.

And breaking out from Sauvignon Blanc, how about the spine-tingling Paddler Grüner Veltliner, Kumeu  River Chardonnay, Vinoptima’s exotic Gewürztraminer, or the world-class reds of Craggy Range in Martinborough?

Otago in South Island is showing glimpses of world-class Pinot Noir. . .

Cloudy Bay vineyard leads oyster season globally:

This year, two of New Zealand’s finest local luxuries Cloudy Bay Pelorus and freshly shucked oysters will be served together as a first of the season food and wine pairing. From 10 March, 19 of New Zealand’s top restaurants will be taking part in the launch of Cloudy Bay Pelorus & Oysters. The delicious crisp palate and creamy complexity of Cloudy Bay Pelorus is the perfect wine match for the taste of freshly shucked Bluff oysters.

Joining New Zealand, top restaurants in Australia including Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne will also take part in this new Cloudy Bay culinary experience. Diners will be able to indulge in perfectly chilled Cloudy Bay Pelorus, served by the glass or bottle with freshly shucked bluff oysters served over ice in a custom made Cloudy Bay wooden crate. . .


Taxed into oblivion

March 12, 2014

Quote of the day:

Personally, I’ve never heard of an economy taxing its way to greatness but I have sure heard of economies taxed into oblivion. – Federated farmers Dairy chair, Willy Leferink.

No party is promising tax cuts, but Labour and the Green Party are threatening us with more and higher taxes based on political philosophy rather than economic sense.


Rural round-up

March 11, 2014

Dairy Women’s Network’s community leadership award finalists announced

The Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) has announced the three dairy farming women who have been selected as finalists for its annual Dairy Community Leadership Award.

They are Chris Paterson from Rotorua, and Megan McCracken and Ann Kearney, both from Kerikeri.

The award recognises the voluntary role dairy farming women play in leading their communities by sharing their time and skills beyond the boundaries of their own farm gates.

The winner of the award will receive a $2500 scholarship to attend a leadership programme of their choice in New Zealand. . .

Ahuwhenua Trophy farms to have field days – Stephen Bell:

The three Ahuwhenua Trophy Maori farming award finalists will open their farms to the public through onfarm field days.

Putauaki Trust–Himiona Farm, Ngati Awa Farms, and Ngakauroa Farm from Bay of Plenty, and Te Rua o Te Moko from Taranaki are having field days today, Friday, and next Wednesday. 

After the recent Fish and Game New Zealand survey Federated Farmers dairy chairman Willy Leferink said this is the best antidote. . .

Meating the market 100 years – Andrew Ashton:

A week of celebrations to mark the 100-year-old link between the people of Oamaru and the Pukeuri meat processing plant began on Friday with a centennial reunion for past and present employees.

Joyce McDougall (90) started work at the plant in 1951, and was one of the first women to be employed. She said Friday’s ”meet and greet”, in Oamaru, had been a chance to catch up with past colleagues.

”I just wanted to come and see how they have all weathered.” . . .

Irrepressible 234 selected as link ram: – Sally Rae:

When it comes to prolific breeding, it does not get much better than Lochern 234-07.

The Perendale stud ram, bred and owned by Alan and Annette Williamson, from Ida Valley, has been selected as a link ram for the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test, which aims to help sheep farmers identify the best genetics across sheep breeds.

The ram’s selection required about 1500 straws of semen to be collected, which would be used in all five trial sites throughout New Zealand over the next four years.

Mr and Mrs Williamson already had 200 straws in storage from last season, so when they were combined, it could result in about 2500 new progeny, Mr Williamson said. . . .

Rural sector makes beefy contribution to urban Christchurch:

They may not be turning the same kind of dollar as their dairy farming counterparts right now, but when it comes to contributing to Christchurch city’s economy, sheep and beef farmers are leading the way.

That’s according to recent research by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) which was commissioned by Aqualinc Research to examine expenditure flows into Christchurch from local farms and their households.

The research, which focused on farms from the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts, also included an assessment of the expenditure in Christchurch from rural businesses as a result of serving those farms and their households, as well as an assessment of employment generated on account of these expenditure flows. . .

Meet David Brunton who believes the future of agriculture demands professionalism, thoroughness and tenacity – Art4Agriculture:

Today’s guest post comes from budding young plant doctor David Brunton

“I like to think that things that start as a dream usually turns into reality, if you are willing to work hard with diligence, motivation and passion towards it. These dreams usually seem unachievable at the start however the pathway on which we choose to chase these dreams ultimately determines the outcome”.

My name is David Brunton and my story begins as a young child on the farm, getting my hands dirty, driving the machinery and ultimately paving a pathway towards my future ambitions. Not only did I grow up in the best location for a child, the wide open spaces of the country, but I also never had to put up with any siblings. We (my parents and I) farm two hours west of Melbourne, at Vite Vite North in Victoria’s western district running a mixed farming enterprise of super fine merinos, prime lambs and winter cereals. . .

Fonterra Milk for Schools Hits the High Seas:

The ships have set sail to deliver nearly 5,000 Fonterra Milk for Schools milk packs to Kiwi kids on the Chatham, Stewart, and Great Barrier islands.

Around 160 children from 17 schools across the islands now have the opportunity to join their mainland friends to drink milk every school day.

Operations Manager In-School Programmes, Louise Aitken, says the Co-operative wants to make sure that all Kiwi kids year one to six and their schools have the opportunity to be part of the programme.

“Bringing schools on board in the Chatham, Stewart, and Great Barrier islands demonstrates what Fonterra Milk for Schools is all about – making great dairy nutrition accessible to New Zealand kids no matter where they are,” says Ms Aitken. . .


Rural round-up

March 10, 2014

This land of milk & honey of ours: – Willy Leferink:

The former U.S president, Ronald Reagan, was well known for his turn of phrase. At one farmer meeting Reagan delivered this advice on politicians peddling a plan: “the 10 most dangerous words in the English language are, “Hi, I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help”.

I was reminded of what Reagan said when, by chance, I caught Parliament a few weeks ago just as the MP Andrew Little let rip:  “This is a Government obsessed with mucking around in the same puddle of water we have been in, frankly, for far too long – more primary production, more mining, more commodity goods to be sold at commodity prices. The challenge for this country is to make the shift in our economy into totally new productive enterprises and into the new economy…”

It’s some puddle when ‘primary production’ will be worth $36bn this 2013/14 season!  It is even more of a puddle when dairying has helped New Zealand to a record trade surplus in January, or, as Statistics NZ’s Chris Pike put it, “dairy export prices helped lift the terms of trade to their highest level since 1973.” . . .

Sheep do most harm to farmers – Neil Ratley:

Southland and Otago farmers have been flocking to ACC with farm animal-related injury claims.

And sheep top the list of most dangerous animals.

Across the south, there were more than 1000 farm animal- related injury claims made to ACC in 2013. Sheep were responsible for 473 of those, with cattle being blamed for 367 injuries and horses coming in with 131.

However, in Southland where dairy cows command the paddocks, cattle inflicted the most pain on farmers with 123 injury claims last year.

But the district’s sheep also got in on the act, with 116 incidents reported to ACC. . .

Gorse attacked to halt nitrogen runoff:

A plan to eradicate gorse in the Lake Rotorua catchment as a way of stopping nitrogen runoff into the lake has been launched by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Council general manager of natural resources Warwick Murray says gorse can contribute as much nitrogen as a dairy farm but because it’s so widely spread, the control of it rests with landowners.

He says it’s a very difficult task to accomplish because the gorse is often on steep, difficult country and comes back quickly after being cleared unless some alternative vegetation cover is established. . .

Day a chance to give it a go – Sally Rae:

Sarah O’Connell says she did not choose agriculture as a career – it chose her.

Ms O’Connell, now an extension officer for Beef and Lamb New Zealand, was addressing a Get Ahead career experience day at Totara Estate, just south of Oamaru, last week.

More than 130 pupils from John McGlashan College, Taieri College, East Otago High, Otago Boys’, Timaru Boys’, Craighead Diocesan, Mackenzie College, St Kevin’s College, Waitaki Girls’ and Waitaki Boys’ High School attended the day, while just over 140 attended a similar day in Gore earlier in the week. . . .

Winton newlyweds’ winning form  – Sally Rae:

March will go down as a memorable month for Winton 50% sharemilkers Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale.

Not only did they win the 2014 Southland Otago sharemilker/equity farmer of the year title, but they also got married.

Mr Henderson (27) and Ms Heale (28) met at Lincoln University, where they completed agriculture degrees before starting in the dairy industry in 2007.

Both came from farming backgrounds, with Mr Henderson brought up on a dairy farm and Ms Heale on a sheep and beef farm in the North Island. . . .

Tractor pulling gains popularity – Sonita Chandar:

Wheels will be spinning and the dirt flying when the big rigs roll in to Feilding for the annual Norwood Tractor Pull competition.

All leading tractor manufacturers will be represented at the event which runs as part of the Central Districts Field Days from this Thursday and put through their paces by the Tractor Pull New Zealand tractor pull sledge.

Modified tractors will be running daily – providing all the noise-making, smoke-generating and wheelie- popping action you can handle. . . .


Rural round-up

February 11, 2014

Australian milk war becomes the NZ product war:

Federated Farmers of New Zealand believes Australian consumers will ultimately decide it’s not fair dinkum to remove New Zealand products from the shelves of Coles and Woolworth supermarkets in Australia.

“It seems like the Australian milk wars, which so badly affected the viability of many Australian dairy farmers, is fast becoming the New Zealand product war,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President and its trade spokesperson.

“My take on this is that Australian consumers will see a lessening of choice and quality as being not fair dinkum.

“Australia is New Zealand’s second largest export market behind China so what goes on there does matter.

“This seems less a reaction to consumer demand and more a new chapter in Australia’s supermarket war.  Coles and Woolworths are cynically trying to proclaim themselves truer than blue Aussie companies. . .

 

A tale of two spills – Willy Leferink:

What would you say if a dairy farmer took full responsibility for the actions of his relief milker and copped a $45,000 fine in the process?  All the while, human and industrial effluent leaks almost daily into our major rivers and harbours with very little mention. 

Wairarapa dairy farmer Selwyn Donald accepted that as the farm owner, the buck stopped with him. There’s something wrong with a picture where a farmer or business gets pinged but council sewerage spills are either covered by “emergency discharge consents” or a slap by the wettest of wet bus tickets.

Last July, Hamilton City Council was “sentenced” after it released about the same volume of human effluent into the Waikato River as happened on Mr Donald’s farm.  Did Hamilton cop the $600,000 fine the media talked about?  Did the guy at Hamilton responsible get charged just like Mr Donald did?  No way.  That was all traded down to stream restoration, planting and fencing near to where the council spill took place.  Restorative justice.  The guy fingered saw all charges “dropped” against him because Hamilton pleaded guilty. . .

Vehicle tracking programme taking off – Sally Rae:

It was while driving a tractor in Australia that Andrew Humphries came up with the idea of a software system to track farm vehicles.

After growing up on a sheep and beef farm near Gore, he headed to the University of Canterbury where he spent a year studying computer engineering.

He then returned to the farm for four years, flying to Western Australia each year to drive seeding rigs during the April-June seeding season. . .

We don’t’ like seeing animals suffer – James Houghton:

In light of the recent story around the footage of a farmer in Chile euthanizing some calves, there has been a lot of uproar and emotion. To me it is understandable because I know just how awful it feels to have to euthanise an animal and how bad things look with limited information.

It is no fun shooting an animal, and anyone who has done it can tell you that it is not an easy job either in the practical or emotional sense. But if you are to work with animals you need to have the strength to take responsibility for that animal and be there for them when they need you. Recently, I found a cow in the paddock with a broken leg and I had to put her down. It was horrible, but what would have been worse is if I had left her and waited for a vet to come, which could have been the following day. On some properties the farmer can be over an hour’s round trip from parts of the farm. So when you encounter an animal in pain and distress, such as a botched attempt at poaching, then you need to have a means to end their suffering. Banning emergency measures would be wrong but neither should it be the first measure.

We have rules and guidelines around what we can and cannot do, for this very reason, so that farmers do not have to let an animal suffer. These rules have to be realistic and practical otherwise farmers won’t be able to do what is right and help put the animal out of its misery. . .

NZITO and Primary ITO join forces:

On Saturday, 1 February 2014 the New Zealand Industry Training Organisation (NZITO), the industry training provider for the meat processing, dairy manufacturing and seafood sectors, officially merged with the Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO) as the Government’s strategy to amalgamate ITOs continues. Primary ITO provides industry training across the agriculture, horticulture, equine, water and sports turf industries.

The two organisations share a natural synergy and the move will help to strengthen and enhance the links between the producer and processor sectors. The merger also means Primary ITO is now officially the largest ITO in the country.

As well as training the workforce involved in the production and processing elements of the food chain, Primary ITO also provides qualifications for people working in the service sectors connected to the primary industry. While these sectors are not export focused, they still have an important role to play.

NZITO Chairman, Graeme Sutton, says “we’ve created an organisation that offers the complete primary industry training package. There’s enormous capacity for training and education to raise global and national awareness of New Zealand’s primary industry.” . . .

And a media release:

Ambitious young Māori dairy farmers urged to enter Ahuwhenua competition:

This is the final call for all candidates to submit their entries for this year’s Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer of the Year competition. Entries close on Friday 14 February 2014.

Sponsored by Primary ITO, Te Tumu Paeroa and Allflex, the competition alternates between dairy and sheep and beef farming and will for the second time recognise the skill and proficiency of young Māori employed in the dairy farming sector.  It is free to enter and open to those aged 16-25 who are currently enrolled in or have completed a National Certificate in Agriculture Level 3 or higher in the last year.

“The judges will be looking for ambitious young Māori with initiative and industry knowledge,” says Fred Hardy, General Manager of Strategic Business Development at Primary ITO. 

Fred, who acts in an advisory capacity, says those who enter the competition will be rewarded with ample opportunities to build their profile within the industry.

“The competition gives you access to a network of industry professionals and expert feedback, so it is necessary for entrants to have clear goals in mind.” He continues, “It’s also important that they demonstrate a commitment to Māoritanga.”

The finalists will be announced in April and are invited to attend the Ahuwhenua awards ceremony in Tauranga in June, where the winner will be announced and awarded a cash sum of $3000. 1st and 2nd runners up will each receive $1000.

Previous winners, dairy farmer Tangaroa Walker and sheep and beef farmer Jordan Smith, have both embarked on successful farming careers and look back at the competition as a key stepping stone in their journey to success.

For detailed information about the Young Māori Farmer of the Year competition click here.

Entry form here.


Rural round-up

January 29, 2014

Cattle top NZ’s most dangerous farm animal list – Chris Hyde:

Cattle are New Zealand’s most dangerous farm animals according to ACC.

Figures obtained by Fairfax Media under the Official Information Act show that in 2013 there were 2262 cattle-related injuries requiring ACC funding.

Sheep were in second, inflicting 1612 injuries, while the horse also had a hoof in the payout of 1285 claims.

Cattle were not, however, the most dangerous farm animal in all areas of the country.

For example, in the Manawatu district, Manawatu District farmers in particular flocked to ACC in 2013, claiming 43 sheep-related injuries in the calendar year, a number that earned the sheep the title of Manawatu’s most dangerous farm animal – beating out cattle on 40. . .

End of an era as breeders downsize and head to town – Jill Galloway:

Steph Holloway and Hamish Hawker are getting out of their breeding farm at Hunterville, after a long family association with the property.

Five generations of Holloway’s family, including her, have worked on the hill country farm.

She said she and Hawker sold 600 two-tooth ewes at last week’s Feilding ewe fair. A further 1300 mixed-age ewes were sold at the sale on Friday.

Holloway said that while they could stay on the farm until May, they were already looking for a smaller finishing farm closer to town.

“Our breeding unit was 800 acres [324 hectares], and it was 50 minutes to Feilding, where I work. We want 200 acres [80ha], and it will mean a day or two a week on the farm.” . . .

Synlait ups the milk price ante:

Canterbury milk processor Synlait has fired the dairy equivalent of a full broadside by upping its forecast milk price for 2013/14 to a range of $8.30 to $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids (kg/MS).

“Before Christmas, the coop Westland Milk Products lifted its in-season forecast to $7.90-$8.30 kg/MS. Now we see Synlait joining the fray to be in the same ballpark as Fonterra,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Of course, Open Country operates a continuous payout while we know Miraka will be highly competitive as will be that darling of value-add, Tatua.

“For farmers, this level of farm gate competition is positive with other processors getting closer to joining the market. . .

Decline in dairy cow fertility may have halted:

New dairy industry data indicates a long-term decline in dairy cow fertility may have been halted.

It’s an issue that’s been challenging dairy scientists and farmers in New Zealand and overseas, because cow fertility is fundamental to dairy farm productivity and profitability.

Dairy New Zealand strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold says the lower fertility was linked to the import of American Holstein cows into the country in the late 1990s. . .

“Importantly, we are getting advance rates that will help cashflow following the train wreck drought hit season that was 2012/13. . . .

What it takes to compete in the global dairy industry – Dr Jon Hauser,

The dairy industry is a hot topic in Australia at the moment. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, a prized dairy asset in southwest Victoria, is up for grabs. There is currently a 3 way bidding war between local publicly listed dairy company Bega, farmer co-operative Murray Goulburn, and the Canadian dairy giant Saputo.

This week United Dairyfarmers Victoria organised a meeting of farmers in Warrnambool. The UDV is a farmer representative group charged with lobbying government and industry on behalf of Victorian dairy farmers. They invited me to talk about the global dairy market – what it takes to compete, and what industry capital and marketing structures are best suited to serving farmer interests. This article reproduces the main content of the presentation. . .

Going the distance to get to school – Shane Gilchrist:

As another school year looms so, too, does the weekday routine of actually getting children to class. For some, that means going the distance, as Shane Gilchrist discovers.

Off to school on a sunny morning into the farm truck and heading to the boat. Open the gate, out of the truck and into the boat. Lifejackets on and we are heading to Camp Creek. That is where we meet the school bus to get to school …

”If it is a smooth lake we play and you can move or guess what we are going to do for the day. But on a rough lake we have to sit in our seats for the whole way. When we get there I race to the bus. I get on and one of my friends said, `You are early – it was only 8.20 when you should be there at 8.30′. But it doesn’t really matter …”

Eight-year-old Alice Wallis’ story might be relatively short, but her weekday journey is a wee bit longer than that typically taken by the many thousands of New Zealand children who return to school next week.

Even though Makarora School can be seen from Minaret Station, on the western shore of Lake Wanaka, it still takes 45 minutes to make the one-way trip by (as Alice has explained) farm truck, boat then bus. . .


Rural round-up

January 18, 2014

Meat Options Paper Seeks Farmer Opinions – Allan Barber:

Federated Farmers’ Meat Options discussion paper, written by Sarah Crofoot, does an extremely good job of laying out the alternative market orientations companies can adopt. It presents three different focus options from which farmers are asked to select their set of preferences.

It should be noted up front that the discussion paper is aimed at Federated Farmers’ farmer members and its key purpose is to engage those farmers in thinking about what they want their industry to look like in 5,10 or 20 years from now. The final output will not be binding on anybody, but it will provide a more comprehensive summary of farmer opinion than the feedback from the series of Meat industry Excellence meetings.

The paper starts with a late 1980s definition of the industry’s unique characteristics quoting Anita Busby, Editor of Meat Producer at the time:

“Meat industry people don’t need to take advice or listen to new ideas. They already have the answers. They strangle new thoughts at conception. If that fails, they discredit the source. If you haven’t been in the meat industry for years, you don’t know what you are talking about. If you have, you’re washed up…”

Sarah Crofoot with the confidence of youth has nevertheless taken the bold step of producing a set of ideas which merit serious consideration. It is now 30 years since subsidies were removed, even longer since the deregulation of the meat industry, and despite many positive developments, the industry still has fundamental structural problems. . .

More than 4000 sheep perish on live export:

More than 4000 Australian sheep have died from heat exhaustion after 21 days on board a live export ship bound for Qatar from Fremantle.

Exporter Livestock Shipping Service said 4179 sheep perished in August aboard their Bader III vessel – the same ship that was loaded with animals last weekend in Perth despite searing 44-degree heat.

LSS are a Jordanian-owned company based in Perth and are already under investigation by Australian Federal Authorities for two breaches of live export regulations in Jordan and Gaza. . .

No downtime for shearing gangs – Jill Galloway:

When it has been too wet for shearing in one area, sheep have been dry enough in another so shearing has cracked on.

Shearers and contractors say they are not behind, in spite of the recent moist weather. “The boys have not had a day off,” said Feilding-based contractor Erin Bailey.

“They had a few days off over New Year, but they have been working since,” she said.

She and her husband Scott run two shearing gangs from their Feilding base, but shear a lot around Marton and Apiti, she said. . .

Taranaki Trust leads dairy research – Sue O’Dowd:

The Taranaki Agricultural Research Trust provides two platforms for cutting-edge research beneficial to the dairy industry.

The trust leases a 126ha (111ha effective) research farm across the road from Fonterra’s Whareroa site near Hawera and owns the 350 cows milked there. DairyNZ manages the Westpac Taranaki Agricultural Research Station (WTARS) under contract to the trust.

The station, established at Normanby in 1974, has done research into areas as diverse as grass grub, nitrogen and phosphate use, once-a- day-milking and feed conversion efficiency.

It had made a significant contribution to New Zealand farming over the last 40 years, said trust chairman Brendan Attrill. . .

Neil’s pinot empire expands – James Beech:

Actor Sam Neill says his winery’s fourth vineyard acquisition demonstrates ”faith and confidence” in Central Otago and its pinot noir for the global market.

Two Paddocks announced this week it had become the only Central Otago winery with a foothold in all three Central Otago wine-producing sub-regions, owning vineyards in Gibbston, the Alexandra basin and now the Cromwell basin.

Neill said a sum of money which was ”considerable, but both vendors and purchasers think it fair” had bought the established 6ha Desert Heart Vineyard, plus woolshed and house, at the end of Felton Rd, Bannockburn, last week. . .

Don’t let Fonterra’s lawyers run off with the fresh cream – Willy Leferink:

They say bad things come in threes.  We’ve had the news Fonterra is going to “vigorously defend any proceedings” taken by Danone against it for US$400 million.  In recent days, Fonterra Brands has voluntarily recalled 330ml and 500ml bottles of fresh cream sold under the Anchor and Pams brands in the upper North Island. 

As a farmer you wonder, what’s next?

First of all Fonterra is doing things by the book in voluntarily recalling affected bottles of fresh cream stamped “best before 21 January”.  Visit foodsmart.govt.nz and you’ll quickly learn that food product recalls happen irrespective of who’s in government.  In 2008, there were 19 recalls versus the 14 last year and they have involved everything from hash browns to fish fillets to soy milk powder.

While the timing of this is far from ideal given last year’s events, this voluntary recall came from Fonterra’s own testing.  It shows consumers that a company owned by thousands of Kiwi farmers puts food safety first.  When consumers take a Fonterra product off the shelf, they deserve to know someone back at Fonterra is testing it. . .


Rural round-up

January 15, 2014

Ingredient for plastic has global potential – Cecile Meier:

It took more than 10 years for Ashburton-based LignoTech Developments to create a technology that turns organic waste material into an ingredient to make lightweight plastic, chief executive Garry Haskett explains.

This is interesting for makers of cars and trucks as they strive to produce lightweight vehicles to make them more energy-efficient, chairman John Rodwell says.

The raw material, corn residue, is worth 12 cents a pound as a stock food. After running through Lignotech’s process, it is worth more than 70c a pound.

With the corn-ethanol industry in the United States alone responsible for more than 40 million tonnes of bio-waste a year, the potential is huge, Rodwell says. . .

Ngai Tahu leads way in sustainable dairying – Howard Keene:

It’s fair to say that while Ngai Tahu has had an increasing influence in the South Island economy in recent times, its participation in the commercial agriculture boom has been minimal up to now.

However, that is changing as it converts its vast tracts of plantation forestry land in North Canterbury into dairy paddocks, which could eventually make it one of the biggest dairy farmers in the country. But more importantly it aims to be a leader in sustainable dairying.

In the 15 years or so since its $170 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Crown, Ngai Tahu has successfully grown its asset base to around $1 billion, mainly through investment in property, fishing and tourism. . .

  Water storage vital in changing climate – James Houghton:

Now most of you will be back from a well rested break, having indulged yourselves silly and feeling a little guilty perhaps? Well just thought you might like to know, like most farmers, I have been kept busy as farming is a 365 day a year job. Thankfully, summer has been kind to us so far and the ever increasing drought has been kept at bay.

Looking to the year ahead, I am hoping we will see an improvement in people and organisations being accountable for their actions and learning from their mistakes. Last year, we saw some disappointing performances in the biosecurity area and animal welfare. We also seem to be struggling with the ever increasing reality that we need a reliable source of water to maintain a sustainable primary industry and our economic independence. When corporates make a mistake, they need to do what is right and not solely focus on the dollar.

My hope is that this year we learn from past experiences and make changes for the better. If we do not learn from them, how are we meant to protect ourselves from risk or make progress and develop ourselves? The climate and water debate paint this picture well, time and time again. . .

Increase in stock thefts over summer – Abby Brown:

Federated Farmers are warning that stock thefts increase over summer.

“There is normally a pre-Christmas binge and then it’s ongoing for the rest of summer,” their rural security spokeswoman Katie Milne said.

The warmer weather made it easier for thieves to get around farms, as they did not have to contend with winter rain and mud.

Christmas visitors often put pressure on family food supplies and so there would be a spike in the black market for meat.

She said there were commonsense ways for farmers to prevent themselves becoming a target of stock theft. . . .

Why farming brings out the best of us – Willy Leferink:

The great thing about the Christmas/New Year break has been the absence of phone calls.  I don’t know if my sharemilkers and farm managers have appreciated having the boss around a lot more than usual, but it’s been great to be among the girls.

I’m not being sexist or implying that I only employ women.  I am of course talking about my cows.  Given my team, cows included, have been going full tilt our ‘Christmas holidays’ will come mid-year at the end of this season.  Right now it’s pretty full on.

The absence of media calls has given me a chance to catch up on some programmes I recorded, like TV One’s NZ Story.  Several have stood out for me given the way farming has shaped their lives for the better. . . .


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