Rural round-up

16/02/2014

Price fixing doesn’t work Part XVII – Tim Worstall:

Thailand is finding out, in a most painful manner, what happens to those who try to fix prices:

Thailand, once the world’s biggest exporter, is short of funds to help growers under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s 2011 program to buy the crop at above-market rates. After the government built record stockpiles big enough to meet about a third of global import demand, exports and prices have dropped, farmers aren’t being paid, and the program is the target of anti-corruption probes. Political unrest may contribute to slower growth in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

In order to curry favour with the rice farmers who compose a substantial part of the electorate prices were fixed and fixed high. The inevitable thus happens, magically more is produced than anyone wants to consume and here at least it is looking like the government will go bust over it. “Produced” is of course a flexible word: there are long running reports of rice being smuggled over the Burmese border to take advantage of those high Thai prices. . . .

NAIT helps clear Northland TB infection:

ONLY ONE bovine tuberculosis (TB) infected herd remains in Northland.

Six other herds have been cleared by TBfree New Zealand. The single, remaining infected herd has recently had a whole herd TB test and is also on the verge of being cleared of the disease. The six other herds were linked by stock movements made before the disease was diagnosed.

TBfree Northland committee chair Neil MacMillan QSM said the cooperation of farmers and landowners in allowing TB testing and wild animal control contractors’ access to their properties to remove the disease was appreciated. . .

Rain and visitors pour into Waimumu – Terry Brosnahan:

It was cold, wet and muddy, but the money still poured in at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu, near Gore, this week.

Persistent rain on the second day of the three-day event didn’t deter farmers from attending and spending.  

Exhibitors spoken to reported strong sales and enquiries. They said farmers and contractors had done their research and were ready to do business rather than just come for a day out.

Field days chairman Mark Dillon said 12,100 people paid to attend the first day and 12,500 the second. Figures for Friday, the final day were not available when Farmers Weekly went to print. In 2012 a record 33,000 people went through the gates of the biennial event. Based on the area filled, a record number of cars were parked. . . .

Biocontrol bugs on show at Waimumu:

THEY’RE CREEPY, they’re crawly, and they’re on display in the Environment Southland marquee at Southern Field Days.

Following on from biocontrol success in several areas, a raft of biocontrol agents including Dung beetles, Broom galls mites, Green thistle beetles; Gorse soft shoot moths and Ragwort plume moths are making an appearance in the council’s tent this year.

Senior biosecurity officer Randall Milne says it’s an opportunity to educate the public about biosecurity and biocontrol agents. . .

Success: farming smarter, not harder

Fifteen years ago Doug Avery was locked into failure.

The Marlborough sheep and beef farmer was barely coping, personally and financially, after years of successive drought had ravaged his farm.

“The severity of eight years of drought, including four one-in-one-hundred-year droughts, was so bad that I recognised the road that I was travelling was completely stuffed,” Avery says.

His 1500ha farm, Bonaveree, overlooking the Dominion Salt facility at Lake Grassmere, has been in the family for nearly 100 years.

But the glorious sunshine and drying nor’westerly winds that create perfect conditions for extracting salt from seawater were destroying the 59-year-old and his farming business.  . .

From white gold to kiwi gold:

Exchanging the dairy farm for kiwifruit vines came down to seeing the golden-sweet potential that was ripe for the picking for Bay of Plenty couple Elaine and Wayne Skiffington.

After 28 years of dairy farming, the couple decided to invest all their efforts into kiwifruit around 12 years ago and have never looked back.

“We saw the potential kiwifruit had to offer and went for it,” Wayne says.

Originally purchasing their 50 hectare property in Pongakawa, in the Western Bay of Plenty 20 years ago for run-off purposes for the dairy farm, it also happened to include a kiwifruit orchard. Not knowing much about kiwifruit but not wanting to get rid of the vines, the couple decided to lease the orchard to Direct Management Services (DMS), while they ran the farm. . .


Rural round-up

26/03/2013

Station owner hunts hunters – Matthew Littlewood:

A South Canterbury high country farmer is offering a $20,000 reward for any information about suspected illegal helicopter-hunting activities on his property.

Donald Aubrey, of Ben McLeod Station in the headwaters of the Rangitata River, said the most recent incident occurred in the headwaters of the neighbouring Hewson River on March 22.

He said yesterday the reward would be “payable for any information that enables the prosecution and future prevention of those responsible”.

“Apart from the obvious intention to shoot wild game, pilots are typically unaware of the impact they have on sheep,” Mr Aubrey said. . .

NZ seen as agribusiness beacon – Sally Rae:

Damien McLoughlin has a simple message for New Zealand’s agricultural sector – it needs a pat on the back.

Prof McLoughlin, professor of marketing and associate dean at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, in Ireland, co-led the Queenstown Agribusiness Symposium last week.

The symposium, hosted by Dunedin-based agribusiness consulting and new ventures company AbacusBio Ltd, attracted about 50 people from throughout New Zealand. . .

Synlait stock to trade on unlisted platform:

Synlait Farms, the Canterbury dairy farmer whose owners tried unsuccessfully to raise funds for its milk processing associate in a 2009 IPO, is to have its stock quoted on the Unlisted platform starting tomorrow.

The company runs 12,970 cows on 13 farms in Canterbury.

The listing is to “provide options to enhance liquidity to shareholders”, founder Juliet Maclean says. “Synlait Farms is now well positioned to consider further expansion options.” . . .

Greater innovation needed – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand could miss out on opportunities in the global market if it does not become a more effective innovator, Synlait Farms’ chief executive Juliet Maclean says.

Farmers were fantastic with coming up with ‘number 8 wire’ ideas. But she questioned if farmers were taking good ideas and applying them to their farm businesses to gain better outcomes.

“That’s what innovation is all about,” she said at a field day to celebrate the company winning the 2012 South Island Farmer of the Year.

The day was held at Synlait Farms’ Hororata property, Robindale Dairies. . .

Huge potential in tools – Gerald Piddock:

Precision agriculture is an industry that is still maturing, but has huge potential to benefit New Zealand agriculture, 2012 Nuffield scholar Michael Tayler says.

His report, New Technologies in Arable Farming, identified precision agriculture as a technology that would play a big part in New Zealand’s agricultural future.

Farmers were going to have to turn to new ways of fine tuning their crop management as they faced tighter environmental regulations, he said in his report.

Advances in precision agriculture would enable farmers to more accurately record placement of the fertilisers and pesticides creating more accountability and traceability. . .

Callaghan Innovation Co-Funding Enables Large Herd Trials For Kahne:

Kahne Animal Health (Kahne) today announced that Callaghan Innovation will co-fund a large-herd testing project for their world-first sensor-based wireless monitoring systems used to track health and fertility in cows.

Callaghan Innovation will provide $1 million towards testing the biotelemetry-based rumen and fertility monitoring devices which measure temperature, pH levels and identify oestrus indicators in cows. The devices track and transmit data to provide farmers with health alerts and reports to help with the early detection of health problems, effectiveness of nutrition management, disorders that could impact fertility, and accurate oestrus detection.

Kahne Chief Executive, Susanne Clay, said while there is a global market for the technology, the company has given priority to the local market to help Kiwi farmers solve livestock issues to drive efficiencies that impact their bottom lines. . .

Trust as much as science is at the heart of water management – Chris Arbuckle:

For many years now “Water User Groups” (WUG’s) have done a great job implementing community-based water management initiatives. And they have achieved this with the assistance of organizations such as the Landcare Trust, Crown Research Institutes, non-government agencies and regional councils. Projects on the Waituna Lagoon, Upper Taieri River and Aorere Catchment attest to this. They were formed because a community of people desired practical action to address concerns about environmental change. Usually a champion has encouraged a group of interested people to form around an issue to seek a solution. In the main this is all done voluntarily, for the well-being of the water resource and community, and by someone with great charisma to drive it through.

Of the three main recommendations in the Government’s “Freshwater Reform 2013 and beyond” [http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/water/freshwater-reform-2013/index.html] (national objectives framework; collaborative community planning (CCP); managing within quality and quantity limits using best industry practices); the collaborative planning bit clearly represents the biggest challenge. Without this working the other two recommendations lose their effectiveness. . . .

Thai Prime Minister Sees Fonterra’s Quality Processes First Hand:

Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday met with Fonterra Co-operative Group Chairman John Wilson for a tour of a South Auckland dairy farm and also visited the Co-operative’s Te Rapa manufacturing site.

The visit was an opportunity for Mr Wilson to further strengthen the company’s relationship with Thailand, where it is the number one supplier of dairy ingredients.

Mr Wilson said Fonterra was honoured to host Ms Shinawatra and provide her, and the Thai trade delegation with a deeper understanding of their business, and the New Zealand dairy industry. . .


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