Rural round-up

July 7, 2019

Group think clears the waters – Neal Wallace:

The message to those attending the recent South Island Dairy Event in Invercargill was unequivocal: If farmers create an environmental issue they need to take control of the solution. Neal Wallace reports on how farmers are resolving water quality issues in Southland and Otago.

Farmers  are the only people who can reverse the declining quality of Otago’s Pomahaka River, farmer Lloyd McCall says.

The Pomahaka Water Care Group was formed in 2014 because the Otago Regional Council and the Landcare Trust were not going to improve the river’s water quality.

“It’s got to be by farmers,” McCall says.

“You couldn’t fix it by rules.” . . .

Wairarapa shepherd bucks trend of youth rejecting farming careers -Gerard Hutching & Jessica Long:

As fewer young people are signing up for primary sector vocational courses, Wairarapa shepherd Ashley Greer is one swimming against the tide.

Every since she was a teen Greer wanted to work on a farm, although she never had the opportunity when she was young.

“I grew up in Bulls, my dad was a farm worker but we left the farm when I hit high school. I never got all the hands-on experience like other kids did because it wasn’t our farm,” she says . .

Yili’s gain on the West Coast brings a $500,000 windfall to farmers – but local leaders lament sale to foreigners – Point of Order:

Westland  Milk  Products  farmer-shareholders  voted overwhelming in the past week to accept  the  $558m  takeover bid   by   Chinese  giant  Yili  for the   co-op’s  milk processing  operation.

For  individual  farmer shareholders, the  bid  means an injection of  around  $500,000 each  into their  bank accounts,  plus better  returns for their milk  over  the  next  10 years.

No wonder  94%  of the  96% eligible shareholders  cast their votes in   favour.  West Coast farmer and Federated Farmer president Katie Milne, who is also a WMP director, said it was an “absolutely stunning” result for West Coast farmers. . . .

Positive event encourages future farmers – Yvonne O’Hara:

”If we don’t have young people who are passionate and who see a future in the sector coming through, we won’t have a future.”

South Island Dairy Event organising committee chairman Simon Topham was speaking at the end of a BrightSide session in Invercargill last week.

About 120 people, mostly young farm workers, attended the session devoted to finances and career progression.

Mr Topham said the positive response to BrightSide, proved there was a demand for similar sessions in future events. . .

Wool courses target pressing need – Luke Chivers:

New qualifications will help solve a critical need to train shearers and wool handlers, Primary ITO chief executive Linda Sissons says.

Dr Sissons launched three micro-credentials – ‘Introduction to the Woolshed’, ‘Learner Wool Handler’, and ‘Learner Shearer’ – at the Primary Industries Summit in Wellington on Monday afternoon.

The courses are bite-sized pieces of learning, aimed at recognising or teaching specific workplace skills on the job in a short time.. .

Colin Hurst named Arable Farmer of the Year:

His “immense contribution” to Federated Farmers, related industry bodies and across the nation’s arable sector saw Colin Hurst named Arable Farmer of the Year last night.

Federated Farmers Arable Industry Group Chairperson Karen Williams said it was difficult to know where to start with Colin’s contribution to farming. The South Canterbury farmer has served Feds at national, regional and branch level and has also put in countless hours for the South Canterbury Rural Support Trust, the Arable Industry Group’s Herbage Seedgrowers Subsection, United Wheatgrowers and the Foundation for Arable Research. . .

Lighter wines :

This programme is the largest research and development effort ever undertaken by New Zealand’s wine industry. Lighter Wines (formerly Lifestyle Wines) is designed to position New Zealand as number 1 in the world for high quality, lower alcohol and lower calorie ‘lighter’ wines. It aims to capitalise on the domestic and international market demand for these wines.

The challenge

The challenge is not just producing high quality lighter wines but producing them naturally, giving New Zealand a point of difference and making New Zealand the “go to” country for high quality, lighter wines.

The solution

This programme aims to capitalise on market-led opportunities domestically and internationally, using applied research and development to provide innovative solutions. . . 

Hey farmer: you are not the farm – Uptown Sheep:

Hey Farmer,

I need you to hear something right now. I need you to hear this loud and clear – I’m so sorry for everything this year has thrown at you. I’m so sorry for all the things you cannot control that put so much weight on you. But hear me – YOU are not defined by this year’s crop. Or this year’s income. Or this year’s “success”.

You are not the farm. You are more than the farm.

I saw you leave again this morning, smiling, but still carrying the stress. I know the first thing you did was drive down by the creek to see how much the water has receded. After you do chores in flooded pastures, you’ll sit with your Dad to try and figure out what fields might dry out the fastest and what, if anything, can be done while you wait. . . .


Westland shareholders vote to sell

July 4, 2019

Westland Milk shareholders have backed their board’s recommendation to sell the company:

Westland shareholders have voted overwhelmingly in favour of selling the 150-year-old co-operative to Yili.

The Hongkong Jingang Trade Holding Co. Limited (Jingang), a wholly owned subsidiary of Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co. Ltd, offered shareholders $3.41 per share.

More than 93% of votes cast were in support of the deal, with just under 90% of votes able to be cast in support. 

At least 75% of votes actually cast and 50% or more of the total number of votes able to be cast were needed for the proposal to succeed.

Chairman Pete Morrison said shareholders had shown strong support for the proposal.  

“When the board initiated the strategic review process, we did so with the full understanding that all Westland farming families needed to have a competitive milk payout. We know this has been, and is, a driving need for all shareholders. . .

Some might have voted reluctantly but there was no viable alternative.

 


Rural round-up

June 24, 2019

The race to future-proof our farms – Tracy Watkins, Paul Mitchell and Piers Fuller:

Fielding farmer Ian Strahan was at the dairy buying milk when he picked up the Sunday Star Times and read about Hollywood heavyweight James Cameron calling for a meatless future to save the environment.

A frustrated Strahan felt like once again farmers were being used as the whipping boys.

Cameron told TVNZ’s Sunday programme we weren’t living up to our image as clean, green New Zealand and had harsh words for our reliance on meat and diary.

Strahan got angry, then he decided to take action. He wrote to the Star Times and asked why no one had bothered to investigate the huge change and innovation already well underway in the agriculture sector. . . 

Veteran environmentalist tells farmers to brace themselves for change – Gerald Piddock:

Change is coming and farmers can either take it by the hand or it will grab them by the throat.

The magnitude of this change meant farmers have to begin planning to avoid future pain, environmentalist Guy Salmon told dairy farmers at the Waikato Small Milk and Supply Herds group conference at Lake Karapiro.

“If we don’t, it’s going to be much more difficult to make those changes.” . . 

Machinery sales steady, challenges loom

Sales of tractors and farm machinery so far in 2019 are steady versus 2018 but challenges loom, says Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) president John Tulloch.

TAMA’s year to date figures to April 30 show 1104 sales across all sectors vs 1111 in 2018. North Island sales fell by 4.7% to 713 (2018 – 748). South Island sales rose by 7.4% to 390 units delivered (2018 – 363). April 2019 sales figures are down 11.7% on April 2018, says Tulloch.

This is partly due to 10% fewer sales of smaller (20 – 50hp) machines typically used by small commercial operators and lifestyle block owners. . .

 

Dealing with the on-going complexities of wool – Brent Mountfort:

Wool has so much potential yet we do not seem to be making any progress, writes Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty Meat & Wool Chairman Brent Mountfort.

Many of the issues farmers in the Bay were facing last year are still exactly the same a year on.

Wool is still in the doldrums. Beef and lamb/mutton returns in the main are still good.

Plenty of regulations and uncertainty surrounding these different regulations are ongoing. Most meat and wool farmers will most probably agree this past season has had its challenges due to the lack of rain at different stages of the year. . . 

Strong plea to Westland farmers – Hugh Stringleman:

Westland dairy farmers have been urged to very carefully consider the costs as well as the benefits of selling the co-operative.

Shareholders will vote on July 4 on a proposal to sell to the Chinese Government-owned Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group for $588 million.

A group of shareholders extremely disappointed at the lack of any viable alternative to Yili’s purchase read a powerful statement to six pre-vote meetings of Westland farmers.

The meetings followed distribution to all shareholders of the notice of meeting, scheme booklet and an independent evaluation by Grant Samuel.

Westland chairman Pete Morrison said the documents will not be made public. . . 

Why I ditched manicures for life with Thrusty the randy ram! Farmer’s wife who left an office job to live on her husband’s farm reveals what a year in rural Britain is really like – Helen Brown:

When Sally Urwin married a farmer, she had visions of ‘harvest picnics in our stubble fields in lovely sunshine, with apple-cheeked children wearing tasteful Boden clothes . . . eating wholesome homemade sausage rolls with lashings of ginger beer’.

When an August picnic eventually materialises, she realises that ‘the fields are prickly, the kids are arguing over who last went on the iPad and they hate my homemade sandwiches’. 

Urwin’s account of a year on High House Farm, with its mix of arable land and 200 sheep in windswept Northumbria, is no rural idyll. But it’s full of passion for the realities of life lived knee-deep in the countryside. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 3, 2015

Tips to help farmers get through – Sally Rae:

Otago Rural Support Trust co ordinator David Mellish offers some advice to farmers facing the dual challenges of a low dairy payout and a very dry season.

The Otago economy relies heavily on a strong and thriving agribusiness sector.

The agricultural sector faces two potentially significant challenges at present _ the low dairy payout and the very dry season. . .

Westmere Lavender business a personal purple patch – Sally Rae:

Sam Laugesen admits to being an avid animal collector.

Joining the 1400 cows on the Kurow dairy farm on which she lives with partner Luke Campbell and daughters Daisy (4) and Sylvie (3) is her very own farmyard, open to the public, alongside her new small business, Westmere Lavender.

It is home to a variety of chooks, miniature and full sized horses, a sheep, kunekune pigs and Highland cattle, with delightful monikers, such as Handbag the steer.

”I call this my farmlet. All this is mine, the [dairy] cows don’t come here,” she said, as she indicated the paddocks around her lavender patch. . .

Dry will restrict GDP growth – Sally  Rae:

The dry conditions plaguing farmers seem set to take a toll of the economy, with expectations they will take a ”significant chunk” out of total GDP growth over the first half of the year.

Although Westpac economists did not expect it to result in a recession (two quarters of negative growth), given the positive momentum in the rest of the economy, they expected GDP growth to be ”very low” over the coming two quarters.

Dry conditions were most intense on the east coast of both islands but were becoming more widespread. . .

Encouraging signs as Yili MOU takes first steps:

Lincoln University hosted senior management from both Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group and its subsidiary Oceania Dairy last week in discussions aimed at building on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Lincoln University and Yili in 2014.

The group was headed by Dr Xiaopeng Huang, deputy director of Yili‘s Innovation Centre, and Mr Shane Lodge, Quality and Compliance Manager of Oceania Dairy.

A range of topics were discussed during the visit, with a particular emphasis on value chains. The visit also included presentations and demonstrations on Lincoln University’s ‘paddock to plate’ research. . .


Yili to buy Oceania Dairy

December 28, 2012

Chinese company Yili Industrial Group plans to spend $214 million building an infant formula plant in South Canterbury in a deal that will see it take over Oceania Dairy Group.

Yili will acquire Oceania to access its land resource consents to build a plant over 38 hectares in South Canterbury, according to a notice on the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Dec. 18. The Chinese firm said it’s attracted by New Zealand’s relatively cheap raw milk and the prospect of the free-trade agreement with China completely removing Chinese import tariffs by 2020.

The plant is scheduled to be completed by June 2014 operating at 60 percent capacity, with annual full capacity of 47,000 tonnes expected in the 2016/17 year.

The deal is subject to Overseas Investment Office and Chinese government approval.

This will increase competition in the milk market which ought to help with OIO approval.

It will also attract the xenophobes who will complain about profits going overseas.

But the company plans to spend $214 building the plant which is a significant investment that will provide jobs.

It will be buying milk from local farmers and employing locals to process it. It will also be buying other local goods and services, paying rates and tax.

All of that will be good for the local and national economy.


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