Rural round-up

June 12, 2019

Dairy law changes spur dissent – Sally Rae:

Changes to dairy industry legislation will bring some improvements to the sector but also represent “a missed opportunity”, both Fonterra and Federated Farmers say.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor yesterday announced changes to be made to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA) and the Dairy Industry Restructuring Raw Milk Regulations 2012.

The changes include allowing Fonterra to refuse milk supply from new conversions and from farmers who did not comply with its supply standards. . . 

Crush protection for quad bikes very worthwhile option – Feds:

Federated Farmers is on board with WorkSafe’s decision to “strongly recommend” installation of a crush protection device (CPD) on quad bikes used for work purposes.

“We support WorkSafe’s policy clarification.  For some time Federated Farmers has been saying CPDs, or roll over protection as it used to be called, can be a very useful injury prevention option in many – but not all – farm settings,” Feds President Katie Milne says.

“There is still some debate about CPDs, including from quad bike manufacturers who say they are unsafe, and those who say the device itself can cause injury in some circumstances.  But like WorkSafe, Federated Farmers believes there is now enough evidence from credible sources to say that farmers should at least be considering Crush Protection Devices. . . 

Forest awards apprentices of the year a chip of the old block – Sally Rae:

Paige Harland was born to be in the bush.

Miss Harland (21) comes from a Southland family who have sap in their blood over three generations.

Named apprentice of the year at the recent 2019 Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards, she works for Harland Brothers Logging.

The business was established by her grandfather and great-uncle, later taken over by her uncle Peter and is now run by her cousins Jesse and Corrie Harland. . . 

Deer farmers set example:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Evan and Linda Potter have won the premier Elworthy Award in the deer industry’s 2019 environmental awards.

The Potters were praised by the award judges for their work in enhancing the environmental performance of their property.

They have owned the 640ha Waipapa Station for 20 years.

A bush clad gully on their Elsthorpe farm is a highly visible and attractive aspect of the Potters’ contribution. . . 

 

Decision to not front Lumsden meeting ’embarrassing’, MP says:

The Ministry of Health and Southern District Health Board decision not to meet with Southland midwives today has been described as a slap in the face.

The meeting was called to help midwives practice safely in the area after the former Lumsden Maternity Centre was downgraded.

It was cancelled after both organisations decided not to front up to midwives this afternoon.

National’s Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said it was embarrassing that neither were prepared to meet with midwives for the good of the rural communities. . . 

Meet the midwives at Fieldays:

For this first time this year, midwives will have a stand at Fieldays at Mystery Creek in Hamilton.

Midwives play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of rural communities throughout New Zealand and the thousands of people who flock to the country’s premier agricultural show, will have an opportunity find out more about their work.

Out of New Zealand’s total population of 4.8 million, approximately 576,000* people live in rural areas. Around 55,000 women give birth annually in New Zealand; nearly a third of whom live in rural areas. . . 


Rural round-up

October 20, 2018

Politicised fads don’t sway EPA’s science. Consumer localism fads don’t support real farmers. Prices retreat for livestock although to still-healthy levels – Guy Trafford:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced recently their ‘top’ 40 chemicals they believe are worthy of a closer look.

One of the more interesting aspects of the list is that glyphosate is not on it. This is a small victory to science over uninformed public opinion.

As the general public and ratepayers they have a say over what chemicals may and may not be used within cities and city councils have certainly responded with many councils through-out the world no longer using it.

Councils have found other, arguably more appropriate, ways to manage weeds, sometimes by just ignoring them and getting used to the idea that parks are allowed to look a little scruffy around the edges. . .

Global Dairy Trade looks to boost liquidity, add new markets  – Rebecca Howard:

The Global Dairy Trade platform is looking to boost liquidity, GDT director Eric Hansen told the NZX Global Dairy Seminar in Singapore.

As of May, the 10-year-old platform had seen US$23 billion traded across multiple products in more than 200 trading events. While growth had been significant “we really need to do a lot more work to boost liquidity on the platform,” he said. . .

Sir Michael Fay’s hill country station on the market – Eric Frykberg:

A prestigious hill country station in the Wairarapa is being put up for sale by Sir Michael Fay.

The Lagoon Hill Station includes 1360 hectares of plantation forest.The Lagoon Hill Station includes 1360 hectares of plantation forest.

Lagoon Hill Station comprises of more than 4,000 hectares between Martinborough and the Wairarapa coastline, and has been owned by Sir Michael since 1993. It comprises a sheep and beef farm, plantation forest and a private hunting block. . . 

Tractor fatality – farmer in court:

Tractors are an integral part of farm businesses, but they are also a key contributor to New Zealand’s agricultural industry’s unacceptable number of farm deaths. In the last six years 30 New Zealanders have died while using them.

And WorkSafe is warning farmers that they are legally required to have an effective way of identifying and managing the risks involved in their work on farms, this includes the risks involved in the use of vehicles
. .  .

Glowing Sky – New Zealand merino clothing – Tim Brewster:

Wool is finally on the comeback trail.

Coveted as a cloth for luxurious garments, resilient enough for harsh outdoor environments, the finest stuff is still found on the back of merino sheep up in the South Island’s high country. Aficionado’s of merino wool have always known its natural attributes outperformed synthetics.

Now sustainability and ethical provenance are also key influencers in customer choices and the wool of kings is enjoying a valuable advantage over its traditional rivals. Deep down south, those qualities were never in question when Glowing Sky’s New Zealand merino clothing products, proudly made by a local sewing crew, first hit the shelves in 2005. . . 

Early birds catch the prize:

Time is running out to be in to win an Early Bird prize when you enter the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Online entries don’t close until midnight November 16, however those that enter before midnight on October 20 will go into the Early Bird Entry Prize Draw and be in with a chance to win prizes from Honda. . .


Rural round-up

October 7, 2018

Quite and capable – Richard Rennie:

A farm apprenticeship course now a year old is starting to have an influence on getting more Kiwis in jobs on dairy farms.

Tirau farm apprentice Kadience Ruakere-Forbes is among the first year’s intake under the Federated Farmers’ Apprenticeship Dairy Programme, a pilot programme supported by PrimaryITO, the federation and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. . . 

Dairy database rules under review – Hugh Stringleman:

The valuable core database of the New Zealand dairy industry is subject to a regulatory review by the Ministry for Primary Industries, to which organisations and people can make submissions.

Consultation will run for six weeks until November 12 and any submission becomes public information, MPI said.

The key issue is whether the regulated dataset remains well aligned with the dairy industry’s current and future animal evaluation needs. MPI said there has been some concern expressed among dairy genetics companies about the management of herd improvement data. . .

Huge costs of pasture pests – Peter BUrke:

Grass grub and porina are causing $2.3 billion of damage to New Zealand pastures annually, according to an AgResearch study.

Of the total estimated annual losses in average years, up to $1.4b occurs on dairy farms and up to $900m on sheep and beef farms.

But scientist Colin Ferguson says this figure relates only to the damage to pasture and doesn’t include the cost of replacing the pasture, destocking and restocking and the long lasting damage to affected pasture. . . 

$11m study dives into high value milk products – Peter Burke:

A five year, $11 million research project has begun, aimed at producing new high value milk products.

Led by Professor Warren McNabb, of the Riddet Institute, Palmerston North, the project will seek better mechanistic understanding of the various milks produced in New Zealand including cow, goat, sheep and deer.

A particular aim will be to develop new products for babies, very young children and elderly people in New Zealand and, especially, for export. . .

 

First failed WorkSafe prosecution:

Athenberry Holdings Ltd grows Kiwifruit near Katikati. Zespri buy the fruit, brand, market and sell the fruit. Zespri engaged Agfirst to sample and test maturity and quality of fruit.

Agfirst use a local packhouse Hume to collect the samples. AgFirst’s sample collector died during the collection of fruit when her quad bike overturned on rough ground next to Athenberry’s kiwifruit block.

She was employed by AgFirst who had contracted a local packhouse – Hume Pack-N-Cool Ltd (Hume). It appears the rider had taken the quad bike over steep and rough terrain away from the area where she was required to collect samples.

Her training and industry practices are that you stick to the offical and mown access paths. No-one was sure why she deviated. . . 

Gene edited food is coming to your plate, no regulation included – Lydia Mulvany:

For Pete Zimmerman, a Minnesota farmer, the age of gene-edited foods has arrived. While he couldn’t be happier, the soybeans he’s now harvesting are at the crux of a long-running debate about a “Frankenfood” future.

Zimmerman is among farmers in several states now harvesting 16,000 acres of DNA-altered soybeans destined to be used in salad dressings, granola bars and fry oil, and sold to consumers early next year. It’s the first commercialized crop created with a technique some say could revolutionize agriculture, and others fear could carry as-yet-unknown peril.

In March, the top U.S. regulator said no new rules or labeling are needed for gene-edited plants since foreign DNA isn’t being inserted, the way traditional genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are made. Instead, enzymes that act like scissors are used to tweak a plant’s genetic operating system to stop it from producing bad stuff — in this case, polyunsaturated fats — or enhance good stuff that’s already there. . . 


For the sake of the other families

December 5, 2017

Each time I read or hear reports about Pike River families agitating for a retrieval of the bodies of the men who were killed there I wonder about the other families.

You’d not know it from most reports, but some of the bereaved families have accepted that their men are dead and the mine where they died will be their grave.

How hard it must be for them to get on with their lives when time and time again the disaster and the ongoing saga of re-entry hit the headlines.

The latest news is that the liability for anything that goes wrong in a re-entry will like with the Pike River chief executive, not the Minister for Pike River, Andrew Little.

Documents on the Pike River Recovery Agency show that while the Minister will decide whether a re-entry goes ahead, it will be the agency’s chief executive who will be liable if any re-entry goes wrong, National Party Workplace Relations Spokesperson Amy Adams says.

“This Government has continued to make entering Pike River a political decision but this is patently wrong. While there’s been lots of talk about how Mr Little will be responsible for his decisions, it will be some poor senior public servant who carries the can.

“It is wrong to put a Chief Executive in this position. He or she will have to carry out what their political masters decide in a very unsafe environment. Why would any sensible person put their hand up for that job?”

Sensible or not, a CE would have to resign rather than carry out a directive in the knowledge he or she was putting lives at risk.

Ms Adams says the Coalition went against official advice which was to make the final decision-maker independent of politicians.

“That would have been the responsible approach which fairly reflected the dangers of re-entering the mine. This undermines the very health and safety laws which were strengthened in the wake of the Pike River disaster to try and ensure it never happens again.”

The one good thing to come out of the disaster was the strengthening of health and safety laws. It would be a travesty if they were to be breached by order of a politician.

Ms Adams also notes that the mission of the agency has changed from the Government’s pre-election commitments.

“Up until now all their talk has been about manned re-entry into the mine. Now the papers tell us it’s about achieving manned re-entry of the drift only, all bar 400 metres of which has already been explored.”

The families’ quest for answers is understandable but that quest can’t risk more lives.

John Armstrong writes that Little’s real role as Minister is to let the families down gently:

Little will have to judge what level of risk is acceptable. The answer to that question has been staring Labour in the face. The answer is none.

It is both morally reprehensible and incomprehensibly stupid to place another human being in an environment where death and injury have already proved to be beyond human control.

Rather than humming the Red Flag in solidarity with the miners’ families, Little should be engaged in quiet persuasion that their wish to be reunited with their loved ones risks others’ loved ones suffering the same fate.

At most —and purely to save everyone’s face — a recovery team might be permitted to go part way up the drift.

For his own and Labour’s sake, the minister responsible for Pike River Re-entry needs to become the minister for No Re-Entry to Pike River, if not in name then most definitely in actions.

It is his job to gently puncture the over-inflated hopes of the families.

He needs to get the families to take ownership of the reality that re-entry cannot be a happening thing. He needs to lull them into believing they made the decision —not him nor a faceless bureaucrat chosen to run the Pike River Recovery Agency.

Executing what would be the Mother of All U-turns will require some very deft politics on Little’s part.

Thursday’s Supreme Court’s ruling that WorkSafe’s decision to withdraw its prosecution of Pike River mine boss Peter Whittall, in exchange for payments to the victims’ families, was unlawful provides an unexpected opportunity for everyone to come to their senses.

The families should rejoice in at last receiving the justice so long denied them. They should view it as a cue to drop their demand for re-entry.

That won’t happen. The families are victims alright. They are victims of politicians who have exploited their emotions without caring one jot for the consequences.

There can be no sympathy for Little even if he has deluded himself into believing he is doing the right thing by the families. . . 

The right thing by all the families is to accept, as some of them have, that the risks of re-entry are too high.

A former union head, in what’s supposed to be the workers’ party should know that safety is paramount and each new announcement is a move in that direction.

Each new announcement from the government is a step away from the original irresponsible rhetoric of unconditional re-entry.

Each new announcement includes ifs, buts and acknowledgements that safety must come first.

The honourable and sensible course of action now would be to admit that no-one can guarantee that re-entry would be safe and in doing so to help those families still stuck in the early stages of grief to accept, as the others have, that the mine where their men died is their grave.

When my first son died we waited months for the post mortem results. He’d been dead for longer than he’d lived when they finally arrived and they were somewhat of an anti-climax.

That was partly because we’d hoped the post-mortem might uncover some clues to the condition which killed him that the numerous tests during his life had not and it didn’t.  But it was also because it made me realise that regardless of what the report said, he was still dead and nothing could make that better.

The death of a baby as a result of illness for which no-one was to blame, is different in many ways from deaths in an unsafe workplace for which someone should have, but has not, been held responsible.

But no matter how it happens, death is death and it only compounds the loss if those who survive are stuck, focusing on what they’ve lost and in doing so losing what they’ve got.

Continuing to pretend that a re-entry would be possible is continuing to perpetuate a lie and it’s helping to keep some of the families stuck.

For their sakes and the sakes of the other fmailies who are no longer stuck, the government needs to be honest, stop wasting money and prolonging the inevitable announcement that any risk of life is too high.


Rural round-up

October 11, 2017

Fall in farm worker deaths ‘encouraging’ – Alexa Cook:

The number of deaths and serious injuries in the farming sector have dropped this year.

Figures from WorkSafe show that this year, up until 1 October, there have been nine deaths in agricultural workplaces, compared to an average of 15 deaths for the same period each year from 2014 to 2016.

Statistics show that the agricultural sector has had almost four times the number of workplace deaths than forestry, construction and manufacturing since 2011. . . 

Nine vying for three spots in Farmlands director elections – Sally Rae:

Voting is open in this year’s Farmlands director elections and there is a strong southern presence among the South Island candidates.

Nine candidates will contest the three director vacancies this year, with elections required in both the North and South Islands.

The South Island vacancy will be contested by former long-serving Alliance Group director Murray Donald (Winton), former Otago regional councillor Gary Kelliher (Alexandra), accountant Mel Montgomery (Southland), former Federated Farmers national board member David Rose (Southland) and current Alliance Group director Dawn Sangster (Maniototo). . . 

Alliance plans capital spending of $54:

Alliance Group is investing $54million in capital expenditure during the next year.

Outlining the investment at a series of roadshows throughout the country, chief executive David Surveyor said the success of the business strategy meant the co-operative was in a position to reinvest to continue to build the company’s operational performance.

In addition to a pool payment, the company would have a bonus share issue and reward farmer shareholders by increasing their shareholding in the co-operative.

The level would be based upon the supply of lambs, sheep, cattle, calves and deer during the 2017-18 season, Mr Surveyor said in a statement. . . 

Possum peppering – still totally implausible, seven years on – Alison Campbell:

Kerikeri award entry turns possums into burning issue“, proclaims a headline in the Northern Advocate.

The story is about an entry in the WWF-NZ’s Conservation Awards for 2017; I hope the judges have a good grasp of science and scientific method. From the article:

The entry from Kerikeri promotes a new take on an old-world biodynamic method of ridding fields of rodents and other furry pests.

It is called peppering, and involves burning the pelts and carcasses of said pests until they’re little more than ash, grinding it finely, mixing it with water and “spray painting” the substance back on the affected land.

Apparently, this version of the ‘traditional’ practice is new in the sense that so far it has not been applied because it lacked ‘scientific background’. . . 

Sheep Meat And Beef Levies to Remain Unchanged:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) announced today that sheep meat and beef levies will remain unchanged for the levy year commencing 1 October 2017.

B+LNZ Chairman James Parsons says the Board has reviewed budgets and activities for the financial year commencing 1 October 2017 and that the sheep meat levy on all sheep slaughtered would remain $0.60 per head and the beef levy, on all cattle slaughtered (including beef cattle and dairy cattle but excluding bobby calves), at $4.40 per head GST (exclusive). . . 

Voting for the 2017 Fonterra elections and resolutions underway:

Voting is now open for the 2017 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Elections, the Shareholders’ Councillor Elections in 10 wards, and six Annual Meeting resolutions.

This year Shareholders have the opportunity to elect three Fonterra Directors. The three candidates are Independent Nomination process candidates Brent Goldsack, Andy Macfarlane and John Monaghan. Each candidate requires Shareholder support of over 50% of votes to be elected. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: John McCaskey – Claire Inkson:

Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to John McCaskey : Pioneer of the Wine Industry, Farmers Advocate, Entrepreneur, and Proud Farmer.

1….How long have you been farming?

Since I was big enough to hold a bottle and feed a lamb—say 1939! My infant years were filled with helping feed pigs & chooks progressing to milking the house cow and churning butter after school! By age 10 I was going to be a farmer! I passed all agriculture subjects for School Cert 1954 . . 

New deal sees Palgrove partner with NZ super fund

Leading Queensland seedstock producers, David and Prue Bondfield, Palgrove, are the latest agribusiness to partner with a superannuation fund in order to grow their business.

The Bondfield family released a statement on Wednesday saying their business, had entered into a partnership with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF). The terms of the transaction remain confidential.​  . . 

Select Harvest rejects Arab takeover, launches $65m local capital raising – Andrew Marshall:

Select Harvest has more than 7000 hectares of almond plantations likely to deliver about 15,800 tonnes of crop next year.

Hot on the heels of rejecting a $430 million Arab takeover offer, big almond growing and nut processing business, Select Harvest, has launched a share market capital raising bid for about $65m.

Select has already placed 10.7m new shares worth about $45m with institutional investors. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

June 15, 2017

More funding to support rural mental wellness:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have committed another joint funding boost to rural mental health.

The Ministers committed $500,000 for Rural Mental Wellness at the opening of the Fieldays Rural Health Hub earlier today.

It will go towards 20 workshops for rural health professionals treating people at risk of suicide, continued support for the rural Clinical Champions and Medical Director, as well as support aimed at younger rural workers.

“The Government recognises that rural life goes in cycles, and we want to support our rural communities through the ups and downs,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Rural Mental Wellness initiative is administered by Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and Rural Support Trusts. . . 

Helping farmers return home safely:

Last year, 18 people died as a result of work-related incidents in agriculture, accounting for 36 per cent of all work related fatalities in 2016. This is significantly higher than any other primary industry.

The introduction of the 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act and WorkSafe’s ongoing scrutiny requires businesses to understand and adapt to minimise potential for harm to employees and contractors.

To help agri-businesses keep their employees and contractors safe, Safetrac has partnered with MinterEllisonRuddWatts to develop an interactive online training course. . . 

Sustainable farming fund hits 1000th project:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Louise Upston have tonight celebrated the 1000th Sustainable Farming Fund project, and awarded two Emerging Leaders scholarships at an event kicking off National Fieldays.

“The Sustainable Farming Fund supports the primary sector’s own forward thinking and kiwi ingenuity – which in turn helps keeps New Zealand ahead of the game,” says Mr Guy. 

“1000 projects have now been funded since the fund was initiated in 2000. This represents around $150 million in government funding alongside a significant level of sector support.

“The fund has supported projects as diverse as reducing nutrient run off on lowland farms, reducing use of antimicrobials when managing mastitis, and increasing the market share for New Zealand olive oil,” Mr Guy says.

Ms Upston says much of the success of the fund is due to its grass-roots nature. . . 

Commonsense prevails on firearms recommendations says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that Police Minister Paula Bennett has listened to the concerns of the rural community on the Parliamentary Select Committee report into the illegal possession of firearms.

Minister Bennett rejected 12 of the 20 recommendations made by the committee that would have significantly impacted on licensed firearms owners- but done little to stop firearms getting into the hands of criminals. . . 

Vegetable prices up 31 percent in year to May:

Higher lettuce prices helped push vegetable prices up a record 31 percent in the year to May 2017, Stats NZ said today. Overall, food prices increased 3.1 percent in the year.

“Our wet autumn has pushed vegetable prices to their highest level in almost six years in May, with the largest annual increase to vegetables on record,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “The increase was more pronounced because warmer-than-usual weather in the 2016 growing season resulted in cheaper-than-usual vegetable prices in May last year.” . . 

NZ agriculture needs to latch onto tech faster:

New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.

A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says. . . 

Smaller NZ wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however, export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . 

Bellamy’s to pay Fonterra A$28M to change supply contract as it struggles to crack China – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bellamy’s Australia plans to raise A$60.4 million from shareholders and will pay nearly half of that to New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group in order to change their milk supply contract in its quest to comply with Chinese import regulations.

The two companies have been in negotiations this year after announcing changes to their take-or-pay organic powder contract. Fonterra and Bellamy’s first entered into a five-year, multi-million dollar deal to manufacture a range of baby nutritional powders at the Darnum infant formula plant in south-east Victoria in November 2015. . . 

Wrightson warns wet autumn will weigh on annual earnings Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, whose chief executive yesterday signalled his departure at the end of the year, warned a wet autumn sapped the performance of its seed and grain business and will weigh on annual earnings.

The Christchurch-based company said it expects operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be in the bottom half of its earlier guidance for earnings of between $62 million and $68 million, while net profit will be near the low end of its previous forecast for between $46 million and $51 million. . . 

Rural sector stabilises despite challenges:

Rural businesses show signs of improvement despite facing constrained business environment

However, 1-in-5 rural businesses expecting no change from technology a “cause for concern”

As Fieldays 2017 kicks off, a new survey by accounting software provider MYOB reveals rural businesses are showing strong signs of economic improvement despite a constrained environment. . . 

Fieldays an opportunity for careers advice:

More than 500 students will be offered advice on careers in the primary industries as they pass through the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays this week.

Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Louise Upston says that with strong growth in the primary sector anticipated over the next few years, the Government was encouraging more young people to consider careers in primary industries.

A number of schools, totalling more than 500 students, have registered to visit the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Careers NZ will be among those offering advice to young people considering such a career. . . 

Plenty to celebrate for Zespri at Mystery Creek :

Kiwifruit’s growing importance to the rural economy is being celebrated at Fieldays 2017 at Mystery Creek this week, together with the 20-year anniversary of the Zespri brand.

The kiwifruit marketer has a large presence at the biggest agricultural and horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, hosting growers and industry stakeholders at its hospitality site over the four-day event. . . 

Wrightson boss Mark Dewdney to leave at the end of the year – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson chief executive Mark Dewdney will leave the rural services firm at the end of the year, by which time a new leadership team is expected to be in place.

Dewdney will end three-and-a-half years in charge of the Christchurch-based company at the end of 2017 “to pursue private interests”, and will help the board install a new leadership group by 2018, Wrightson said in a statement. Chairman Alan Lai said Dewdney had done an “excellent job” in building staff engagement and targeting growth in certain areas of the business.. . 

Vodafone calls on rural Kiwis to check their coverage at this year’s Fieldays:

Thousands of rural Kiwis are within reach of better broadband and Vodafone is on a mission to end their ‘buffering blues’ at this year’s Fieldays.

The company is challenging visitors to use its brand new interactive coverage wall to see if they can get a faster and more reliable broadband connection where they live.

In addition to super-fast wireless broadband, Vodafone has a range of coverage solutions on display to help rural New Zealanders improve their connection to the world. . . 

BEC Feed Solutions expands to meet growth:

BEC Feed Solutions has expanded its New Zealand operation with the appointment of Rhys Morgan as South Island Sales Representative. The new position was created following substantial business growth after a successful three years in business, and the desire to expand BEC’s presence in the South Island.

Reporting to BEC Country Manager, Trina Parker, Mr Morgan will be accountable for growing the business via the sale of ingredients, solution-focused feed additives and premixes within the South Island. He will also have responsibility for developing the company’s presence in the dairy sector, in addition to account managing a number of existing clients across New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

December 22, 2016

Sheep and beef industry confidence – a tale of two species:

While overall sheep and beef farmer confidence in their industry has taken a dip in the last four months, there is a solid core that remains upbeat about the future.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand commissions UMR Research to gather a range of confidence and performance indicators to understand three main topics. These are the mood of the industry, to assess the key areas farmers’ want their organisation to deliver on for them and to assess Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s performance.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Sam McIvor said the latest 2016 quarterly report shows that farmers with high beef numbers are more confident than the sheep dominant enterprises. . . 

High value sheep milk PGP programme officially kicks off:

Building an environmentally, socially & economically sustainable industry to meet the growing demand for sheep milk products is the goal of a new sheep milk Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme that has officially kicked off.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Spring Sheep Milk Co. have signed a contract for the new Sheep – Horizon Three PGP programme, which means the programme can formally start.

Sheep – Horizon Three will provide a major boost by creating a high value, sustainable sheep milk industry in New Zealand. Internationally, sheep milk is growing in demand. This is particularly clear in Asia, where consumers like its nutritional value, flavour and digestibility. . .

A2 scotches talk of infant formula woes; shares gain – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co shares gained after the milk marketer played down fears about the infant formula market stemming from ASX-listed rival Bellamy’s Australia’s extended trading halt.

The stock gained 5.4 percent to $2.15, having been under pressure since Dec. 12 when Bellamy’s sought a trading halt, stoking speculation about the formula market. . . 

Research could lead to agricultural emissions reduction – Andrew McRae:

Scientists from New Zealand and the United States have made a discovery which could lead to new ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector.

They have worked out how reactive nitrogen could be chemically converted to unreactive di-nitrogen gas, without forming harmful greenhouse gases.

Agriculture contributes more of the harmful greenhouse gas nitrous oxide than any other sector worldwide, primarily through nitrogen fertilisation. . . 

Dairy prices on the rise after sustained low:

Food prices fell 0.1 percent in November, Statistics New Zealand said today. Seasonally lower prices for vegetables in November were mostly offset by higher prices for dairy, meat, and fruit. After seasonal adjustment, food prices rose 0.3 percent.

“Prices for the cheapest available cheddar cheese rose 17 percent in October, to $8.44 a kilogram,” consumer prices manager Matt Haigh said. “Cheese prices overall rose 7.9 percent.” . . 

Farmers encouraged to keep children safe this summer:

Farmers are being encouraged to keep children safe on farms over the school holidays with a heightened risk of accidents on farms.

Accidents involving children on the farm peak over December and January, account for more than 22% of injuries to those aged 15 years and under. Seven children died as a result of an accident on a farm between 2013-2015. In the 12 years up until 2015, nearly 20,000 children were injured on the farm.

WorkSafe’s sector leader Agriculture Al McCone says children are a vital component of farming family life and it was important this tradition continued. . . 

Misha’s Vineyard Opens Pop-Up Cellar Door:

Misha’s Vineyard will open a pop-up cellar door in Cromwell for just two weeks commencing on Monday the 2nd January. Located in The Mall in the heart of Cromwell, the pop-up cellar door will be open from 10am to 4pm daily.

Misha’s Vineyard produces an extensive range of Pinot Noir and aromatic white wines including Pinot Gris, Riesling, Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, as well as a late harvest dessert wine – all of which will be available for complimentary tastings at the pop-up cellar door. . . 

Dijon Bleu (NZ) Stakes Karaka Million Claim:

It took just one start for Dijon Bleu (NZ) (Burgundy) to race her way into contention for next month’s $1m Karaka Million (1200m) at Ellerslie.

Purchased for $26,000 by Awapuni trainer Lisa Latta at the 2016 Select Sale, Dijon Bleu made her debut in Sunday’s$20,000 Mills Reef Winery 2YO (1100m) at her home track. Ridden by Kelly McCulloch, she edged out her stakes-performed stablemate Dreams of Platinum (Dream Ahead) by a nose.

Dijon Bleu earned $12,500 for Sunday’swin, putting her in equal eighth position on the Karaka Million . . 


Rural round-up

June 29, 2016

Out of town and out of touch:

Hawke’s Bay farmer Hugh Ritchie said today if Greenpeace acutally understood the big environmental issues facing New Zealand, such as climate change, it wouldn’t need to interfere in a local water storage project like Ruataniwha.

“Hawke’s Bay people can decide what’s best for their community without the influence of this misguided and uninformed green lobby. These out-of-town protesters need to realize robust public process has been followed and the scheme has been intensely scrutinized.

“Ruataniwha has been through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) process. Individuals and groups have had ample opportunity to voice concerns and these have been accessed for merit. This same EPA process saw an end to Wellington Basin Reserve’s proposed flyover. The EPA delivers robust, objective decisions on environmental matters, and ensures compliance with rules. Its decision must be respected. . . 

Debbie Hewitt can vote on Ruataniwha dam despite ‘pecuniary interest’ – Simon Hendery:

The auditor-general has ruled a Hawke’s Bay regional councillor can continue voting on the Ruataniwha dam, despite finding she is likely to have a pecuniary interest in decisions the council makes about the project.

Debbie Hewitt represents Central Hawke’s Bay, the area where the council is planning to build the Ruataniwha irrigation scheme.

Through a family trust, she has an ownership interest in 19 hectares of land in an area that would be irrigated by the scheme. The Office of the Auditor-General said it was “uncertain” how much she would gain financially if the scheme went ahead, but it believed her interest in it was greater than that of the general public. . . .

If you buy health and safety advice, make sure it’s the right advice:

Good health and safety practice is not something you can just buy off the shelf, and farmers need to build health and safety into everyday activity on farm.

WorkSafe’s Agriculture Programme Manager, Al McCone, says while many farmers will want to get consultants in to give them expert advice, there is no single product or document that is a silver bullet for farm safety.

Farmers should only employ competent and qualified professional health and safety advisors. “When selecting a new contractor or buying stock, farmers do their homework,” says Mr McCone. “They shop around, look online, ask other farmers and make a decision based on sound information. The same should apply to buying health and safety advice and resources. . . 

Big bounce in farmer confidence – Rabobank: Rural Confidence Survey

Results at a Glance

 Overall farmer confidence has improved considerably from the previous quarter

 Farmers’ expectations for their own business performance also rose, with big lifts recorded among dairy farmers and sheep and beef farmers

 Horticulturalists’ expectations for their own businesses remain at elevated levels with more than half surveyed expecting their farm business performance to improve in the next 12 months

 Investment intentions were at their highest level in more than a year, with one quarter of survey participants expecting to increase their farm business investment in the coming year . . 

Spring Sheep Milk Company Finalist in World Dairy Innovation Awards:

 New Zealand company, within its first year of operation, has been named as a finalist in two categories in theWorld Dairy Innovation Awards; Best Ice Cream or Frozen Yoghurt and Best Dairy Packaging Design.

Spring Sheep Milk Co is the only fully New Zealand owned large scale sheep dairy operation and the attraction for forming the company was to create a model to bring the goodness of New Zealand sheep milk products to the world says Chief Executive Officer Scottie Chapman

“Consumers are looking for quality alternatives to traditional dairy and sheep milk offers a premium alternative thanks to its sensational taste. It is richer and creamier than traditional cows milk. Sheep milk has been used in Europe for centuries as a gastronomic indulgence, renowned for quality cheeses and is now a rapidly growing category worldwide.” . . 

Companies Office confirms no evidence that Silver Fern Farms’ board acted in anything other than good faith and in best interests of the company:

• Companies Office completes consideration of complaint from Rt Hon Peters

• Has “not identified any evidence of a breach of s 138A of the Companies Act 1993”

• Follows announcement from the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) confirming FMA does “not have any reason to believe the [Notice of Meeting and Shareholder] Information Pack was misleading or deceptive.” . . 

Murray Goulburn announces 2017 farmgate milk price, sees only ‘modest’ recovery – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Murray Goulburn Cooperative, Australia’s dominant milk processor, announced its forecast farmgate milk price for the coming year, saying it expects only a modest recovery in prices in the second half of the year.

The company forecast a farmgate milk price of A$4.80 per kilogram of milk solids for the season ending June 30, 2017, compared with an expected payment of between A$4.75 to A$5.00 in the current year. It announced a 2017 net opening farmgate milk price of A$4.31/kgMS after repayment of a 14 Australian cents/kgMS milk supply support package. . . 

Traditional crop knowledge preserved in Tongan  book :

The author of a new book documenting traditional methods of growing yam says the book has preserved indigenous crop planting knowledge that’s valuable for Pacific farmers.

The book ‘Tokanga ko e Mo’ui’anga’ has been published in the Tongan language and was launched in Auckland by author Sione Tu’itahi.

Mr Tu’itahi based the book on the experience of the late Kiteau Tatafu, an award-winning farmer in Tonga. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 30, 2016

Dairy farmers not  looking for handouts – Jamie Gray:

Farmers want better infrastructure, roads and greater access to broadband, but are not looking for any handouts from the Government in Thursday’s Budget.

Dairy farmers across the Tasman are looking to politicians to support them through the current milk price slump but their New Zealand counterparts do not expect any such treatment from the Budget.

Deputy Australian Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, after a three-day trip to Victoria, last week called for a bipartisan approach to develop a dairy industry support package to help dairy farmers struggling with milk price downgrades from the two biggest players in that market – Murray Goulburn and Fonterra.

But New Zealand dairy farmers, many with memories going back to the farm subsidy days of the 1970s and early 1980s, don’t expect any special treatment from the Budget. . . 

Guy looks to trim access to Fonterra’s raw milk for big processors in DIRA review – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk)Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is seeking feedback on proposals to reduce the amount of raw milk Fonterra Cooperative Group has to sell to large independent processors in the latest step towards full deregulation of the dairy sector.

The minister’s discussion paper on proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act was triggered last year when independent processors in the South Island passed the threshold needed to review the law. Guy’s preferred options would amend regulations for raw milk so Fonterra didn’t have to sell to large, export focused processors and reduce the volume of raw milk available to other processors by 60 percent over three years. Submissions close on June 29. . . 

New Zealand hoki fisheries meet international best practice standard for sustainability:

Following a report from the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has confirmed that the New Zealand hoki fisheries meet the high requirements of the MSC Fisheries Standard, widely recognised as the world’s most credible assessment of the sustainability of wild-caught seafood.

In 2001, New Zealand’s hoki fisheries became the first large-scale whitefish fisheries to achieve MSC certification, and have since been re-certified twice in 2007 and 2012. To achieve certification, fisheries must demonstrate to a third party certifier that they: ensure the long-term sustainability of fish stocks; minimise impacts on the marine environment; and are well managed, with effective governance and enforcement systems. Certification requires robust evidence to demonstrate that requirements are met. . . 

It  all started at school for beef ambassador – Kate Taylor:

A high school careers expo led Gisborne’s Emma Pollitt into an agricultural career and a love of working with cattle.

The 23-year-old was named the Allflex Senior Beef Ambassador at the Future Beef event held during the 2016 Beef Expo in Feilding. Wellsford 16-year-old Cara Doggett is the new Allflex Intermediate Beef Ambassador.

Pollitt grew up in Gisborne city and attended Gisborne Girls’ High School, where a careers expo opened her eyes to the possibility of farming.  Pollitt says she was into horses at high school, in terms of local shows and pony club, but hadn’t thought about any career options. She was accepted into Taratahi in Masterton and completed a Certificate of Agriculture (Levels 1-3) in the first year, staying an extra six months to complete Level 4. 

Her first job was on high country station Loch Linnhe at Kingston, near Queenstown, for a couple of months. . . 

NZ Yarn targets high fliers with the ‘Viagra’ of carpet – Amanda Cropp:

A high tech process to make the “Viagra” of carpet that doesn’t mat down is helping NZ Yarn carve out a niche market for custom-made floor coverings among the jet set. 

The Christchurch company recently sent samples to two American companies that carpeted the oval office and presidential plane, Airforce One, and executive chair Ross Callon said getting NZ Yarn product into the White House would be quite a coup.

The company, which exports its entire output, is also targeting the specialist carpet market for private jets, super yachts and high end apartments.  . . 

Manawatu stock buyer is about  to retire after 45 years on the job – Jill Galloway:

Kerry Lewis has been a prime stock buyer for 45 years. Jill Galloway talks to him about the changes he has seen from the 1970s to today.

In the 1970s there was only one phone in the Kerry Lewis’ household. These days there are two phones, a fax and Lewis always has a cellphone at his side.

Keeping pace with technology has been part of the job for Lewis who is retiring after 45 years in the business as a “fat” stock buyer in Manawatu.

The buying veteran has been through a few companies in his time. . .. 

Seeka’s avocado policy pays off for its growers with improved returns:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries’ commitment to its avocado growers has paid off with average export returns of $26.86 per export tray for the 2015-16 season, well up on last season’s $16.64 per export tray.

“Our growers have done a great job in producing really good quality fruit,” said Simon Wells, Seeka General Manager Grower Services.

“And because Seeka is fully integrated, we are able to control our supply chain and manage the quality of the fruit all the way through from orchard to market.” . . 

Sanford almost doubles first-half profit; shares rise to month high – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, the country’s largest listed fishing group, almost doubled its first-half profit as it focused on lifting values over volumes and benefited from lower fuel costs and a weaker New Zealand dollar.

Profit jumped to $18.8 million, or 20.1 cents per share, in the six months ended March 31, from $9.6 million, or 10.2 cents, a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue from continuing operations edged up 1.3 percent to $215.6 million even as sales volumes sank abut 20 percent as the company extracted more value from its catch. . . 

Fonterra Co-operative wins major health and safety award:

Two innovative employee health and wellness initiatives from Fonterra Co-operative Limited brought the company the WorkSafe New Zealand and ACC sponsored Supreme Award at last night’s Safeguard Workplace Health and Safety Awards in Auckland.

The company won WorkSafe’s category award for the best initiative to address a workplace health risk with a programme addressing milk tanker driver fatigue. Fonterra also won another category award for its employee wellbeing initiative which created a village concept where facilities for all contractors and subcontractors on site were centralised in one spot. . . 


Rural round-up

April 26, 2016

Safety change generational – Sally Rae:

Lynn Carty reckons Health and Safety is a little bit like the old seatbelt campaigns.

Nobody wanted to adhere at the start, then it became a generational change; advertisements targeted children, who quickly began to “click” and encouraged their parents to do the same.

“I think this is similar. It’ll be a generational change as well,” the WorkSafe Otago health and safety inspector said. . . 

App saves H&S paperwork:

Onside has launched an online health and safety app for farmers to make compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 easier.

It enabled farmers to develop their own health and safety plan by working through a pre-populated list of risks overlaid on a satellite map of their farm, chief executive Ryan Higgs said.

Contractors and visitors who entered the farm would be prompted to sign in on a smartphone as they crossed a virtual “geo-fence”. . . 

Industry calls for Kiwi farmers to be allowed to grow cannabis – Charlie Mitchell:

It’s green, environmentally-friendly and growing in popularity around the world but some say a roaring cannabis market is about to pass New Zealand by.

Growers and farmers are taking a keen interest in cannabis, as countries around the world legalise its cultivation for medicinal purposes.

Some are looking at the plant’s potential in light of falling dairy prices and restrictions around importing seeds, most recently due to an outbreak of the invasive weed velvetleaf. . . 

Deer farmers focus on meat in the box – Kate Taylor:

Tim Aitken breaks into a smile when asked why he’s a deer farmer.

“A lot of people think deer are hard to farm but they’re not. You just have to get the basics right. We love every minute of it.”

Tim Aitken and Lucy Robertshawe have been farming deer since the late 1980s. The continual improvement is one of the aspects they love about their business… alongside a simple love of farming deer. . . 

This one’s for you Dad‘ – Kate Taylor:

Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year Grant Charteris saluted his father Bruce, who died on the Tikokino farm three years ago, as he and wife Sally celebrated their win.

The couple have a mix of deer, cattle and sheep on their 320ha farm with an economic farm surplus (EFS) of $941/ha and a 9.6 per cent return on capital. They will host a winner’s field day on May 12.

“It was awesome to be able to pull it off and we’re pretty blown away, to be fair,” Grant said.

After thanking people such as vets, bankers, contractors and staff who had helped make their business successful, he also thanked Sally, who had been “the glue that makes our family stick” while looking after a “two-year-old boy who is very active and a seven-month-old girl who’s nocturnal.” . . 

Successful trip to China concludes:

Primary Industries Nathan Guy has concluded a successful trip to China as part of a delegation led by Prime Minister John Key with Trade Minister Todd McClay and New Zealand businesses.

“This visit has reinforced the strong and growing agricultural ties between our countries. Not only is China our biggest export market, there is now a depth of two-way investment and cooperation between our primary industry sectors,” says Mr Guy.

“We have made great progress on an updated meat protocol that includes chilled meat access which will be significant for exporters and farmers. This will help put premium chilled meat cuts on the tables of high end restaurants.

“A new Halal Arrangement will recognise New Zealand’s halal standards and will provide our producers with a first mover advantage in this culturally diverse market that takes 33 percent of our total halal certified exports. . . 

Pacific farmers using web tools for market updates:

Young farmers in the Pacific are being taught web and social media skills to help them earn more, and to share information with other farmers in the region.

The workshop, by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community, or POETCom, began in Niue last week, and will move to the Cook Islands and the Marshall Islands.

POETCom’s coordinator, Karen Mapusua, says farming is often just seen as manual labour by young people, but social media and internet skills can be useful in the agriculture sector. . . 

Peterson Farm Bros's photo.


Rural round-up

February 3, 2016

Booklet kicks off Fonterra structure review – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders have received a preliminary booklet on the co-operative’s governance and representation, raising many questions but not providing answers.  

It begins a five-month journey to a revised structure more appropriate for Fonterra’s size, complexity and global ambitions.  Farmer-shareholders will be expected to contribute to the review and vote on the final proposal in May. . . 

Rabobank announces new head of Food & Agri Research:

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group has announced the appointment of Tim Hunt as new General Manager of its Food & Agribusiness Research (FAR) division.

Mr Hunt takes on the role after five years with Rabobank in New York, where he served in the international position of Global Strategist – Dairy.

In his new role, Mr Hunt will lead Rabobank’s highly-regarded food and agri commodities research team – comprising 10 specialist analysts – in New Zealand and Australia. . . 

Alliance drafter has eye for winner – Sally Rae:

Warwick Howie received a little good-natured ribbing when he won the Paddock to Plate competition at the recent Otago-Taieri A&P Show.

Mr Howie, a drafter for Alliance Group, laughed that he had ‘‘copped a bit of flak” following the victory.

The competition, which attracted 41 entries, has become an annual fixture at the show, with proceeds going to the A&P Society. . . 

Course already tidy for Legends – Sally Rae,

When it comes to maintaining the Tokarahi golf course, greenkeeper Marty McCone has the same philosophy as for his farm – he likes it tidy all the time.

So preparing for this month’s PGA Legends Tour, which is returning to Tokarahi for the second year, did not require an extraordinarily massive effort.

‘‘I try and keep the course up to speed all the time. There’s a lot of little things you do to have it really tip-top,” Mr McCone said. . . 

Synlait revises milk price forecast to $4.20:

Synlait Milk has revised its forecast milk price for the 2015 / 2016 season from $5.00 per kgMS[1] to $4.20 per kgMS.

Chairman Graeme Milne said the revision is driven by the sustained low global commodity prices since September 2015, and a view that the recovery will be slower than anticipated.

“Our previous forecast of $5.00 kgMS expected prices to recover somewhat by this stage in the season, however this hasn’t happened and our revised forecast reflects this,” said Mr Milne. . . 

World Wetlands Day celebrated:

World Wetlands Day is a chance for New Zealanders to find out more about some of the country’s most important natural treasures, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner say.

To mark the day the Department of Conservation has released a new online resource,Our Estuaries, to help people explore and look after the wetland environment.

“New Zealand has more than 300 estuaries, and they are home to a wide range of native plants, fish and birds,” Ms Barry says. . . 

Rethink needed over dairy farm planting incentives:

The cost and benefits of planting trees to help mitigate environmental effects of dairy farming need to be shared by us all for it to succeed, a new study says.

Evaluation of an agri-environmental program for developing woody green infrastructure within pastoral dairy landscapes: A New Zealand case study says Government incentive programs are ineffective in overcoming barriers to planting such as the higher cost and slow growth of native plants, and the perception of planting being of little direct benefit to farmers’ operations.

Lead author, Lincoln University Landscape Ecology Senior Lecturer, Dr Wendy McWilliam, says the Government and the dairy industry need to work closely together to develop and maintain a landscape-scaled woody vegetation network on both private and public land. . .

Forestry show NZ way to better safety:

A sharp drop in forestry deaths and serious injuries after a massive safety overhaul in 2014 shows what can be achieved when an industry joins together to make improvements, the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum says.

The fall is welcome and sets an example for other industries to follow, says Forum Executive Director Francois Barton.

“Forestry has shown us some of the things that need to be done to bring down high fatality and serious injury rates in an industry,” Francois says. . . 

Good Progress – But More Work to Do to Make Forestry Safe:

A reduction in deaths and serious injuries in forestry since 2013 is encouraging but there is more work to be done yet, the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) says.

WorkSafe figures show serious injuries halved to 78 in 2015 from 160 in 2013, FISC National Safety Director Fiona Ewing says.

“The trend is going in the right direction but we can’t rest on our laurels. Three forestry workers died in 2015. That’s well down on the 10 who died in 2013 but it’s up from just one in 2014.. . .

Irrigation scheme loan approved:

An $8 million loan from the Selwyn District Council means design of stage two of a multi-million dollar irrigation scheme can go ahead.

The council approved the loan to Central Plains Water last month, with the money expected to transfer over next week.

But a community group told RNZ News rate payers should not be lending money to fund a private shareholder scheme. . .

Ruataniwha Dam: Investor mix still being finalised:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment company (HBRIC) says work on getting farmers to sign up to buy water from the proposed Ruataniwha Dam is on hold until the project’s investor mix becomes clearer.

HBRIC has been looking for institutional investors to put money into the dam since Trustpower and Ngai Tahu pulled out in early 2014, saying the risks surrounding the dam were too high and the returns too low.

The company said it had countersigned contracts for 31 million cubic metres of water with a minimum of 45 million cubic metres needed to be sold to make construction financially viable.

It said finalising the investor mix for the Ruataniwha Dam was its current focus. . . 

Global slump in fert prices benefits NZ farmers:

New Zealand farmers stand to benefit from significant savings on their farm nutrient inputs with Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ latest round of price reductions, effective 31 January.

The price review sees urea drop $50 to $525, DAP reduce $25 per tonne, sulphate of ammonia by $15 and potash by $10. These changes will flow through to product blends.

Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says the move comes on the back of a global slump in fertiliser prices, driven by strong supply and soft demand. . . 

Lowest urea price since 2007:

Farmers stand to benefit from a $50 per tonne saving for urea from 1st February, when Ravensdown will drop its prices.

Chief Executive Greg Campbell says he is pleased that Ravensdown is again leading on a price reduction for farmers who are facing increasing costs in many aspects of their business whilst their returns are under pressure.

“We said it not long ago, with our recent superphosphate cap,” Greg says, “that we are about delivering all-year value to our shareholders, and we’re demonstrating it again with urea and other products.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 27, 2016

NIA shows duty cuts to major export destinations – Neal Wallace:

Annual duty savings of $272 million will be removed on exports to five signatories to the Trans Pacific Partnership with which New Zealand does not have trade agreements, the Government revealed today.  

Trade Minister Todd McClay released the national interest analysis (NIA) on the 12-country agreement which largely confirmed trade benefits it had announced earlier.  

The NIA revealed exporters paid duty of $334 million a year on exports to five countries with which NZ does not have free trade agreements, the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Peru. . . 

Westland Lowers Pay-Out Predictions as Global Dairy Prices Predicted to Remain Low:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, today announced a drop in its pay-out predictions for 2015-16, saying a forecast 15 to 25 percent reduction across all commodity products for the remainder of the season is the driving force behind the decision.

Chairman Matt O’Regan says the new predicted payout of $4.15 – $4.45 per kilogramme of milk solids (kgMS) (previously $4.90 to $5.30 per kgMS) will be grim news for Westland’s shareholders but, given the widely publicised state of the global dairy market, not unexpected. He says lower prices are expected to remain for this season and probably into the second half of 2016 – the beginning of the 2016-7 season. . . 

New Zealand’s future agri-leaders in running for trans-Tasman award:

• 2016 Zanda McDonald Award finalists announced

Two young New Zealand agri-business professionals have made it through to the finals for the 2016 Zanda McDonald Award.

Dean Rabbidge, a dairy, beef and sheep farmer from Wyndham, Southland, and Erica van Reenen, an agricultural and environmental consultant with AgFirst, based in Manawatu, have been selected as finalists alongside soil scientist, Wesley Lefroy, from Western Australia.

The three, who attended interviews in Brisbane late last year, will join the PPP ‘Capital Connections’ Conference in Wellington in March – where the award winner will be announced. . . 

Drought in South Island enters second year:

Widespread drought conditions in the South Island mean the medium-scale event classification will be extended until the end of June, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $150,000 will go to local Rural Support Trusts with $40,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Trust,” says Mr Guy. 

Speaking with farmers at a sheep and beef farm in Weka Pass, Hurunui, Mr Guy acknowledged this is the third time the classification has been extended.

“Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago were originally classified as a medium-scale event on 12 February 2015 and have had very little rainfall for more than a year now. . . 

Drought resistant pasture being investigated:

Scientists have identified a type of plant that recovers quicker than others after drought and are taking the next steps to get it on to farmers’ paddocks.

But they say it could be eight to 10 years before it is available.

The Primary Growth Partnership – Transforming the Dairy Value Chain is funding the research into pasture resistance.

It comes at a crucial time with 2015 being the hottest on record and Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago enduring their second season of drought. . . 

Industry Challenged by new forest technology:

Foresters face paradigm shift for logging steep slopes

The tables are being turned on foresters and logging contractors in British Columbia. Disruptive technology from New Zealand is set to create a whole new way of logging in B.C.’s forests. When meeting challenges to safely harvest NZ’s steep sloped forests, practicing foresters found convincing safety advantages with the new harvesting technology.

In recent years, loggers in New Zealand’s forest industry faced safety challenges in tree falling, especially on steep slopes. There was no choice but to reduce accidents. Up and down the steep, forested country, people turned to the safety of mechanised harvesters. Simultaneously, safety and productivity improved. . . 

Intensifying workplace laws means there are no longer any ‘family farms’ and they can’t be an extension of a backyard playground – John Brosnan:

It’s a new year on farm.

You have negotiated the Christmas and the New Year breaks with the team, so now is a good time to take a breath and consider – what next?

Well first out the gate will be the new WorkSafe legislation which comes into force 1st April this year. Are you prepared for this? Have you prepared an operational plan and put in place a robust health and safety policy? Do you and all your employees have a means to adhere to it? . . 

Canterbury dairy farm penalised for employment law breaches:

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered Viewbank Dairy Ltd near Rakaia to rectify employment law breaches discovered by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate and pay $7,500 in penalties.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate visited the farm as part of an audit to check for compliance with minimum employment standards on dairy farms. A number of breaches were identified and an Improvement Notice was issued. The Inspector brought the case before the ERA when the employer failed to comply with parts of the Notice.

Labour Inspectorate Southern Regional Manager Stuart Lumsden says the investigation found that several workers had been treated as casual employees when in fact they were permanent. . . 

Take advantage of steady nutrient costs:

The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) says current stability around fertiliser prices will give farm budgets an early boost for 2016 – but only if farmers are quick to seize the opportunity.

The two main fertiliser manufacturers, Ballance and Ravensdown, have kept costs for major nutrients under control since September 2015 – despite economic volatility caused by last year’s slide in the value of the New Zealand dollar.

The FQC says there’s no knowing for how long the good deals will continue and urges farmers to take advantage of the co-ops’ goodwill while it lasts. . . 

Karaka Select Sale Commences Today:

The first day of the Karaka Select Sale commences today at 11am with Lot 448 to Lot 670 going under the hammer.

The Sale will be streamed live online. To view the live stream, click here.

There have been 27 Group 1 wins from graduates of the Select Sale over the past three seasons. The new season has seen Mongolian Khan (Holy Roman Emperor) and Tarzino (NZ) (Tavistock) both land Group 1 races during the Melbourne Spring Carnival. . . 


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