Rural round-up

May 13, 2020

Hard line on consent deadline adds to farmers’ stress:

Hawke’s Bay farmers grappling with fallout from one of the worst droughts in living memory are extremely disappointed no leeway is being given over an imminent resource consent deadline.

Federated Farmers has been trying to help Tukituki farmers dealing with the drought, a severe feed shortage and the Covid-19 lockdown. The end of May deadline for consents to continue to farm under the Tukituki catchment plan is adding considerably to the stress, Feds Hawke’s Bay Vice-President Matt Wade says.

To try and relieve some of the pressure, Federated Farmers and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council together wrote to Environment Minister David Parker asking for an extension of the consent deadline. . . 

Don’t block trade – Peter Burke:

Dairy processors are warning that any suggestion that New Zealand should adopt a protectionist trade stance is “stupid”.

Dairy Companies Association of NZ (DCANZ) chairman Malcolm Bailey told Dairy News he’s concerned about remarks by certain politicians; they have been quoted as thinking along these lines, he adds.

Bailey says at some stage COVID-19 will transition from being a health problem to an economic problem. Any rise in protectionism will be bad for us.

He says as an economy NZ has done very well “because we have a trading mentality and we have to encourage that and tell other nations that we are able to sell products to them and they can do the same to us”. . .

Z hibernates beleaguered biofuels plant – Nikki Mandow:

An international bidding war for tallow – a fatty waste product from meatworks – has closed Z Energy’s biodiesel plant just 18 months after the company finally got it up and running.

You couldn’t make it up. 

Production at the plant has stopped after rising global tallow prices combined with falling international diesel prices to make production uneconomic.

Staff were told last week the plant wouldn’t reopen after the Covid-19 shutdown. Now the equipment is being prepared for hibernation for at least a year, after which Z will make a decision whether conditions have improved enough to open up again.  . .

Seed plant reopening is ‘icing on the cake’ for Wairarapa Feds:

Confirmation that the old Masterton Vegetable Seeds processing plant will reopen for local seed growers is the ‘icing on the cake’ for peas growers in the Wairarapa this year, Karen Williams says.

PGG Wrightson Seeds has today announced a long-term lease of the former Akura Road site and machinery, which is “absolutely brilliant news” for local growers and the wider Wairarapa community, the Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson and MPI Pea Weevil Governance Group Appointee says.

“To restore an operational seed cleaning and processing facility in the Wairarapa means we’ve cleared the last major hurdle to returning the local pea growing industry to where it was before the pea weevil incursion four years ago.” . . 

 

Earth Sea Sky produces protective face masks  using homegrown merino fibre :

Earth Sea Sky is no stranger to making gear that your life might depend on. For decades, the Christchurch-based company has produced outdoor clothing for the world’s toughest environments and has been a go to brand for Antarctica New Zealand and LandSAR. Now it has entered a new market of protective face masks using home-grown merino filters.

Earth Sea Sky multi-tasker Jane Ellis started researching protective face masks just a few days into New Zealand’s Level 4 coronavirus lockdown, when the country’s shortage of PPE gear hit the headlines. 

The company’s long-time outworker, a skilled machinist called Brenda, was keen to help too. From the safety of their own “bubbles”, the pair debated the merits of various designs and fabrics for everything from scrubs to masks and came up with ad-hoc samples.  . .

Changing of the guard at Pāmu’s Environment  Reference Group:

Pāmu’s Environment Reference Group (ERG) is seeing a changing of the guard, with three members stepping down, and four new members joining the group.

Steve Carden thanked Guy Salmon and Dr Mike Joy, who were both inaugural members of the ERG, along with Dr Dan Hikuroa, all of whom are leaving the ERG.

“Mike, Guy and Dan have all brought their passion for the environment and a desire to help find viable solutions to the challenging environmental issues Pāmu is facing across its farms.


Will he sue himself?

August 29, 2019

An Iwi leader is suing seven New Zealand companies for their failure to protect New Zealanders from climate change:

Climate activist and spokesperson for the Iwi Chairs Forum’s Climate Change Iwi Leaders Group, Mike Smith (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu), made the
announcement on the eve of his departure to Mexico where he will be one of the representatives for the Pacific region at an Indigenous
peoples climate forum .

Oh the irony of that. Will he also sue himself for the emissions produced by the return flights to Mexico?

Smith is alleging that the named companies have committed public nuisance, have been negligent or breached other legal duties by emitting greenhouse gases and by not doing enough to reduce those emissions in the face of scientific evidence that their emissions have caused, and will continue to cause, harm.

“Māori are particularly vulnerable to climate change, being disproportionately represented amongst the poor, who will be the hardest hit. Rising sea levels, coastal erosion, flooding and storm
surges will irrevocably damage low lying coastal communities, and warming oceans and ocean acidification will damage traditional resources, including fisheries.” . . .

The companies he’s suing are Fonterra, Genesis Energy, Dairy Holdings, New Zealand Steel, Z Energy, New Zealand Refining and BT Mining.

That some of the farmers who supply Fonterra are Maori seems to have escaped him.

If he’s worried about the impact of climate change, not only should he not be flying, he should be encouraging more dairy production here where it’s done so efficiently it’s better for the world’s second most efficient producers, the Irish, to drink our milk rather than their own, even when shipping it there is taken into account.

It’s the poor who would be hardest hit by the economic impact of reducing dairy production and the resulting export income and hit again by worsening climate change as less efficient producers increase production to fill the gap in the market that would be created if New Zealand production fell.

“The urgency of climate change means we need far greater action and we need it now, and not just from government but also across the private sector” he says.

“It’s not good enough just to set far off targets, especially ones that let our biggest polluters like the agricultural sector off the hook so they can have a bit more time to turn a profit. The fact is
we are out of time and are now looking at damage control.”

What does he mean by biggest polluter? If it’s dairy versus his flight, dairy is cleaner and if nutrient density is included in the calculation, as it ought to be if it’s to compare like with like, New Zealand milk production is a world leader.

The agricultural sector producers food that not only sustains New Zealanders but earns a significant chunk of the country’s export income.

Without that the poor he purports to worry about would be even poorer.

 


Rural round-up

March 15, 2019

Farmers feeling nervous in regulatory environment – Sally Rae:

A high level of nervousness is apparent in the rural sector around the regulatory environment farmers are facing, Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says.

Both Mr Taggart and chief executive David Surveyor were at the Wanaka A&P Show last week, meeting farmers.

With strong commodity prices – apart from strong wool – and low interest rates, normally farmers would be quite positive, but they were not seeing that, Mr Taggart said. . . 

No land insurance means farmer pays in the aftermath of Nelson bush fire – Carly Gooch:

In the aftermath of the Pigeon Valley fires, one farmer’s land has been left a mess due to fire breaks covering the pasture – so who’s going to pay for the clean up?

Pauline Marshall was one of the first residents evacuated from her Teapot Valley home, along with her son, Simon Marshall. They were unable to return to their properties for 17 days, with the exception of getting access a few hours a day, at best. 

The Marshalls were “extremely grateful” to the fire crews for saving their homes, but after those unsettling times, now the Marshalls are facing the unknown cost of rehabilitating the pasture before winter hits.  . . 

Future Angus leader learns from conference – Ken Muir:

reminder that farming is not just about profit was one of the important takeaways for Rockley Angus stud farmer Katherine McCallum after she attended the GenAngus Future Leaders programme in Sydney in February.

”The programme is designed to support the younger Angus breeders in Australia and New Zealand to grow their business and develop the skills to become future industry leaders”, Mrs McCallum said.

”It was an honour to be chosen from among the New Zealand applicants.” . . 

Fonterra making a move to environmentally friendly fuel option

–  Angie Skerrett:

A new diesel biofuel made from an agricultural by-product is helping power Fonterra’s milk tanker fleet, and it’s hoped more transport operators will follow suit.

Z Energy has built New Zealand’s first commercial scale bio-diesel plant, using a process which turns an unwanted tallow product, usually exported to make soap and candles, to make the high quality diesel. . .

Red-fleshed kiwifruit to be tested in NZ – Maja Burry:

A red fleshed kiwifruit variety is being tested on New Zealanders.

As part of a sales trial, the kiwifruit marketer and exporter Zespri will release 30,000 trays of Zespri Red to both national supermarket chains and selected retailers over the next five weeks.

The company said it wanted to know what consumers and retailers thought about the shelf-life, taste and colouring of the kiwifruit before it decided whether to move to full commercialisation. . . 

130,000 bees go under the microscope :

Sampling has been completed for the largest and most detailed study of honey bee health ever undertaken in New Zealand.

More than 60 beekeepers have participated in Biosecurity New Zealand’s Bee Pathogen Programme.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior scientist, Dr Richard Hall, says the research will provide a wealth of valuable information to the beekeeping industry. . .

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy join forces in carbon afforestation partnership:

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy have today announced the formation of Dryland Carbon LLP (Drylandcarbon), a limited liability partnership that will see the four companies invest in the establishment of a geographically diversified forest portfolio to sequester carbon.

Drylandcarbon will target the purchase and licensing of marginal land suited to afforestation to establish a forest portfolio predominantly comprising permanent forests, with some production forests. The primary objective is to produce a stable supply of forestry-generated NZU carbon credits, but the initiative will also expand New Zealand’s national forest estate. These credits will support the partners to meet their annual requirements under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. . . 


Rural round-up

January 11, 2017

South Island’s two-year drought ends:

After two years, regions along the South Island’s east coast are no longer considered to be in a state of drought.

In 2015, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy classified the drought as “a medium-scale adverse event” affecting Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago.

The following two years made the drought the longest recorded in this country – but the official period has not been extended since 31 December. . . 

Putting New Zealand’s farming woes in perspective – Pat Deavoll:

Over the last 10 years, I have been a few times to an area of northern Afghanistan called the Wakhan Corridor.

I am reminded of the dichotomy between the farmers of this area and the farmers in New Zealand whenever a weak GlobalDairyTrade auction result is announced, or the poor state of the meat industry is bandied around the media, or a wool auction fails to meet expectations.

The Wakhan Corridor is split east-west by the Panj River. On the northern side is Tajikistan and nomads herd sheep and cattle, and above 4500 metres, yaks.

Bio-diesel drives milk flow – Richard Rennie:

Fuel is starting to flow from New Zealand’s first commercial bio-diesel plant with Fonterra in line to be one of the first large-scale fleet operators to power its tankers with the Z Energy blend.  

Z Energy’s $26 million bio-diesel plant in Wiri, South Auckland began processing tallow based bio-diesel before Christmas, with the first commercial product due to be at the commercial pump by February.  

The plant’s commissioning marked a milestone in the country’s chequered history of domestic bio-fuels production. . . 

New weapon in rabbit war – Neal Wallace:

A NEW strain of rabbit-killing RHD virus could be released this winter.  

Increasing immunity among rabbits means the existing RHDV1, or Czech strain, has become less effective and advocates say the RHDV1 K5, also known as the Korean strain, would overcome protective antibodies and improve kill rates by up to 40%.  Federated Farmers South Canterbury high country section representative Andrew Simpson said the original RHD strain was still working to a point but growing immunity had allowed populations in some areas to recover, meaning a new, virulent strain was needed.  

Rabbits less than three months of age exposed to the Czech strain became immune, which resulted in the population returning to plague proportions in some parts of the South Island. . . 

Consumers drive move back to dairy:

The new year is marked by resolutions, often about healthier lifestyles. A new series backed by Fonterra looks at the nutritional and lifestyle benefits of dairy – and at some of the old views now being slowly discarded.

The Wall Street Journal headline ran over two lines: Grass-Fed Milk Is Taking Off With Health-Conscious Shoppers. It was a sign of things to come.

That was in 2014 – a story about how shoppers were prepared to pay more for grass-fed milk (many cows in the US eat feed derived from corn) because it was considered healthier.

Now, an article on the Gallagher Group’s website relates how US dairy retail supplier Organic Valley (the one highlighted in the WSJ two years ago) is enjoying an 82 per cent dollar growth in their grass-fed yoghurt, more than three times that of non-grass-fed yoghurts. Their Grassmilk brand is the top-selling grass-fed dairy brand in the US, experiencing double-digit growth since its launch in 2012. . . 

WTO decision important for NZ beef and horticulture into Indonesia

Trade Minister Todd McClay today welcomed the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) decision upholding New Zealand’s challenge to 18 agricultural non-tariff barriers imposed by Indonesia.

New Zealand and the United States jointly brought the case against Indonesia in 2013 over a range of barriers imposed on agricultural imports since 2011. These included import prohibitions, use and sale restrictions, restrictive licence terms and a domestic purchase requirement.

The barriers are estimated to have cumulatively cost the New Zealand beef sector alone between half a billion and a billion dollars. As recently as 2010, Indonesia was New Zealand’s second-largest beef export market by volume, worth $180 million a year. . .

Quality Pedigrees Abound at Karaka 2017;

Full-brother to G1 winner Lucia Valentina (NZ) (Savabeel) to be offered at Karaka 2017.

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2017 National Yearling Sales Series at Karaka has impressive depth with a large quantity of siblings and progeny of Group 1 winners.

For the second consecutive year, the National Yearling Sales Series will present a full-sibling to the winner of one of Australia’s richest and most prestigious races. . . 

Image may contain: meme and text

Farming it’s an addiction.


Rural round-up

August 3, 2016

DairyNZ: break-even cost pared back as farmers lift efficiency:

Industry body DairyNZ says the increased dividend and the maintained $4.25 per kg MS Fonterra Farmgate Milk Price is some good news for farmers with shares.

But another positive is also emerging – New Zealand dairy farmers have sharpened their systems and reduced costs through this sustained low milk price period.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says while the milk price will continue to keep pressure on farmers this season, the industry’s performance in cost-cutting on-farm means break-even costs have been reduced. . . 

TB Differential Levy:

New Zealand’s meat processors have for some years collected a single uniform biosecurity levy on beef and dairy cattle at meat processors to pay for the costs of TB eradication. Following a review undertaken last year, the Government and DairyNZ agreed that dairy farmers shall pay for a greater share of their share contribution to TB eradication via a differential levy paid on dairy cattle at meat processors.

Meat processors opposed this differential levy on dairy cattle at meat processing. Meat processors believe that it is contrary to good public policy for costs to be charged at the point of production where they do not arise – in this case, costs incurred by dairy farmers should have been met by a charge on their dairy production, rather than through a complex system of differentiating dairy and beef cattle at meat processing. . . 

Walker First Woman to Walk Away with Rural Real Estate Award:

Katie Walker accepts her award from Brennon Skipper (CEO of realestate.co.nz).

Taumarunui farmer Katie Walker, is the first woman to receive the coveted REINZ Rural Rising Star of the Year award.

Katie has made her mark, after her first year in the traditionally male dominated rural sector of the real estate industry. She joined the Property Brokers rural team three weeks after her second baby was born. “I had been in rural retail trade for years, left to have a family and wanted to come back to something more flexible,” she said.

“I went for the interview and I knew this was it.”

Independent travellers bring tourism dollar to new regions:

A new report into New Zealand’s tourism sector says travellers are looking to regional New Zealand for a more ‘authentic’ Kiwi experience.

In its latest report on the tourism sector, consumer behaviour analysts Marketview has looked at the spending patterns of tourists around the country, and Managing Director Stephen Bridle says the results mean good news for regional New Zealand.

“Our figures show confident, independent tourists want unique and authentic experiences centred on specific interests. Those here for cycling, golf, fishing and even shopping can find something uniquely Kiwi almost anywhere in the country.” . . 

Wood and carbon values boost forest interest:

Significant rises in New Zealand carbon prices and positive prospects for exported timber may signal a renaissance for forest plantings, with new opportunities for landowners and investors alike in coming years.

Since April the value of carbon prices in New Zealand have almost doubled to $18/tonne after languishing as low as $2.50 a tonne only two years ago.

Meantime log prices have remained relatively firm, sitting $15 a tonne above their five year average with some strong price signals over the past year coming from traditional markets including China and increasing market share to India and South Korea. As of May export values were up 6% in value on a year to year basis. . . 

Agcarm President Mark Christie to the 69th Agcarm Annual Conference:

New Zealand farmers and growers have been exporting food and fibre for over 150 years. Our primary industry export revenue is estimated to reach over $36.7 billion in the year ending June 2016.

Over this time innovation and research based science has allowed New Zealand farmers and growers to become world leaders in productivity and quality – with New Zealand well placed to help feed a growing global population.

These gains are increasingly at risk due to the politicising of science which is leading to its marginalisation. So arguing for sensible science is one of our industries greatest challenges. . . 

Production imminent at NZ’s first commercial scale biodiesel plant:

New Zealand’s first commercial-scale biodiesel plant today received its first delivery of inedible tallow, which enables the beginning of biodiesel production.

Z Energy’s $26 million biodiesel plant at Wiri, Auckland, is now in the commissioning phase and will start to produce high quality, sustainable biodiesel later this month. At the plant’s peak of production it will produce 20 million litres of biodiesel, which will be supplied as a biodiesel / mineral diesel blend to both commercial and retail customers across much of the upper half of the North Island.

Z’s General Manager of Supply and Distribution, David Binnie, said the delivery of tallow was a milestone which has been years in the making. . . 

Ten Year Milestone for Central Otago Wine Industry Ambassador Programme:

Telling the world about Central Otago’s wines and proving to people who sell those wines just how spectacular they are, is the job of Central Otago Pinot Noir Ltd (COPNL).

COPNL’s latest group of brand ambassadors flew out of Queenstown airport at the end of last week, marking the completion of COPNL’s tenth iconic ‘E’Sensual’ event.

E’Sensual has been part of the Central Otago wine industry’s event calendar each year since 2007, and is targeted at international and national wine specialists who enjoy a first-hand taste of what the region’s wine industry has to offer. The 2016 E’Sensual marked the tenth anniversary of the event and celebrated the 150th E’Sensual guest hosted in the region. . . 

PGG Wrightson says annual profit rose about 20%; shares gain –  Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson shares gained 4.5 percent after it said full-year profit rose about 20 percent and operating earnings beat guidance, which had already been upgraded on the strength of the horticulture and beef sectors.

The Christchurch-based company today said trading beat expectations “due to a variety of factors” and that operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation exceeded $68 million in the year ended June 30. Wrightson raised its earnings forecast in June, predicting ebitda of between $65 million and $68 million in the year, though down from $69.6 million in 2015. . . 


Rural round-up

May 17, 2016

Venison outlook positive – Sally Rae:

New Zealand invested in a second venison processing plant because it was confident about the future of New Zealand venison, marketing general manager Glenn Tyrrell says.

The company, previously known as Duncan and Co, bought out the other shareholders of Otago Venison 18 months ago, to become the sole owner of the Mosgiel-based processing facility.

Mr Tyrrell, who has been involved with venison marketing for 30 years, told those attending the recent deer industry conference in Dunedin that the outlook was “very positive”. . . 

Fonterra advised to better inform – Sally Rae:

Fonterra’s milk price signalling needs to “drastically” improve for its farmers.

That is the message from Federated Farmers Otago dairy chairman Stephen Crawford, who says many need the information sooner to make decisions regarding wintering options and discretionary spending options.

“I understand farmers are sending a clear message to Fonterra this must improve,” Mr Crawford said in his annual report. . . 

Excluding stock from waterways concern for farmers – Sally Rae:

Stock exclusion from waterways may prove more contentious for meat and fibre farmers than the implications of the Otago Regional Council’s 6A water quality plan, Federated Farmers Otago meat and fibre chairman Simon McAtamney believes.

Late last year, the Land and Water Forum published its fourth report on water management and one of its key recommendations was to exclude all large livestock from waterways to protect the water quality of rivers and streams.

In his report to the branch’s annual meeting in Balclutha, Mr McAtamney said while sheep were exempt, it got “a little more complicated” with cattle and deer. . . 

Regulations among most challenging matters – Sally Rae:

Water quality, water quantity and local and regional government remain the principal challenges the collective agricultural industry faces, Federated Farmers Otago president Phill Hunt believes.

In his report to the branch’s annual meeting, Mr Hunt said the Otago Regional Council’s water quality plan 6A was still in its initial stages.

Implementation was ‘‘always going to be a challenge” and he was pleased compliance rates seemed to be increasing. . .

Biodiesel plant ready to fuel NZ cars – Adam Hollingworth:

Bits of beef and lamb we’d otherwise throw away are about to be turned into fuel by New Zealand’s first commercial biodiesel plant.

The plant will soon go online — and it’s hoped it’ll offset the carbon produced by as many as 17,000 diesel cars.

Ninety percent of what goes into the plant will come from cows and sheep, while the fatty bits will be melted into a green slush called tallow.

“It’s not used as a food source. A hundred percent of its produced here in New Zealand so there’s no deforestation associated with the production of tallow — it’s a by-product,” Z Energy biofuels manager Steve Alesech explained. . . 

Livestock Improvement flags proposal to split into two, allow outside investors – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement Corp, the farmer-owned cooperative that focuses on dairy herd genetics, farm software and automation, has proposed splitting into two businesses and allowing outside shareholders to invest for the first time.

LIC, as the business is known, will embark on a nationwide roadshow starting on June 7 to discuss proposed changes to its capital structure. The split would create a genetics/farm management cooperative, working with New Zealand’s dairy farmers, and a new agri-technology company that would put LIC’s existing agri-tech activities into a new corporate structure and “invest in new and innovative products, servicing customers in New Zealand and offshore.” . . .

Fonterra confirms early final dividend payment:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today confirmed it will pay part of its forecast final dividend earlier, to support farmers during a time of extremely tight on-farm cash flows.

Chairman John Wilson said a solid performance during the nine months to 30 April in the current financial year enables the Co-operative to declare the 10 cents per share dividend today. Payment will be made on 7 June, bringing dividend payments so far this year to 30 cents per share.

“While the milk supply and demand imbalance continues to impact global milk prices and our forecast Farmgate Milk Price, the business is delivering on strategy and has maintained the good performance levels seen in the first six months of the financial year. . . 

Fonterra’s milk collection takes a dive – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in New Zealand and Australia — its two largest markets — in the first 11 months of the season, during a period of weak dairy prices.

Milk collection across New Zealand fell 3.3 percent to 1.499 billion kilograms of milk solids in the season through to April 30.

The decline came exclusively in the North Island, while good weather conditions kept South Island production unchanged, Fonterra said in its Global Dairy Update. . . 

#431AM – Ansering the farmers of Fontterra’s call to “Tell Our Story“:

Our 10,500 farming families do amazing work – taking the purest of dairy from New Zealand to the world. They’re also proud of the Co-op they own and their contribution to our country.

It’s a great story that we see every day but the rest of New Zealand doesn’t always get to see it or hear about it.

While the rest of NZ sleeps, some people are up and at it – including the farmers of Fonterra. We want to celebrate the people who get the country up and running. . . 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2015

Z plant turns meat waste into diesel – Adrien Taylor:

Z Energy has started construction on a south Auckland plant to convert meat waste into biofuel.

The plant will produce 20 million litres of the fuel every year, but Z says that’s just the beginning of a green transition, if consumers want it.

In a University of Auckland lab, Z is developing what it hopes will be a growing part of the fuel mix it offers customers. The New Zealand company is converting waste fat from the meat industry, a green tallow, into a high-grade mineral diesel substitute – clear in colour.

Z says the biodiesel has a carbon footprint less than 10 percent the size of mineral diesel. . .

 NZ fights Illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean:

Foreign Minister Murray McCully today put illegal fishing vessels operating in the Southern Ocean on notice and vowed to take action against their owners.

“As part of a multi-agency operation, the HMNZS WELLINGTON has intercepted two vessels claiming to be flagged to Equatorial Guinea, fishing illegally in the Southern Ocean,” Mr McCully says.

“Fishing in this area is regulated by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and New Zealand conducts regular patrols in the Southern Ocean targeting illegal fishing operations.  . .

Hard to fight rural fires without water tanker – Bill Campbell:

Palmerston volunteer firefighters called to send a water tanker to a scrub fire at the weekend had one problem: they no longer have a tanker.

The tanker was taken out of service last month and might not be replaced before July 1, despite East Otago having one of the driest summers on record. . .

Police, farmer at odds over sheep rustling – Sue O’Dowd:

Police and a Stratford sheep farmer are at odds over the disappearance of stock from a backcountry farm. 

Ewes and lambs missing from Backvale Farms at Tututawa, 27km east of Stratford, have been returned by neighbours who found them among their own flocks, Detective Constable Glen Bosson, of Stratford, said. 

But while police believe that may have solved the missing sheep mystery, Backvale Farms spokesman Brendon Back said a further 247 ewes and their lambs were still missing. 

Between 350 and 400 in-lamb romney ewes disappeared from the farm last year between July 28, when there were 1310, and October 20, when there were only 936. . .

Using technology to grow company’s ‘golden goose’ – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand knows how to produce large amounts of animal protein cheaply.

We excel at it and Waikato company Dairy SolutioNZ and its chief executive Derek Fairweather are leading the country in exporting this knowledge across the globe.

It was, he said, the biggest opportunity for New Zealand in terms of the knowledge economy.

“What knowledge that we have that is really valuable? That knowledge is how to turn grass into protein. We do that better than anyone in the world.”

Exporting New Zealand’s farming knowledge was a growing industry and while people quickly understood the idea, putting it into practise was difficult because farming was a conservative long-term business. . .

Years of dedication rewarded – Annette Scott:

When Jan Wills and her husband Barrie were married they followed the Wills family tradition of showing cattle at the local A&P shows.

The young couple soon realised an opportunity to breed their own cattle and being beef farmers surrounded by dairy farmers they themselves were a breed out on their own, Wills said. 

“We chose the Hereford because the quiet temperament of the breed suited our intensive farming style. With dairy all around us we were beef farmers in a pocket surrounded by dairy and growing. . . .


UN warns biofuels do more harm than good

April 4, 2014

The United Nations has admitted that growing crops to make “green” biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices.

A leaked draft of a UN report condemns the widespread use of biofuels made from crops as a replacement for petrol and diesel. It says that biofuels, rather than combating the effects of global warming, could make them worse.

The draft report represents a dramatic about-turn for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Its previous assessment on climate change, in 2007, was widely condemned by environmentalists for giving the green light to large-scale biofuel production. The latest report instead puts pressure on world leaders to scrap policies promoting the use of biofuel for transport.

The summary for policymakers states: “Increasing bioenergy crop cultivation poses risks to ecosystems and biodiversity.”

Biofuels were once billed as the green alternative to fossil fuels, but environmental campaigners have voiced concern about them for some time.

They note that growing biofuel crops on a large scale requires either the conversion of agricultural land used for food crops or the destruction of forests to free up land, possibly offsetting any reduction in carbon emissions from the use of biofuels.

Other concerns include increased stress on water supplies and rising corn prices as a result of increased demand for the crop, which is fermented to produce biofuel. . .

Growing plants especially to make biofuels is an example of a supposedly environmentally   friendly practice which isn’t, and it makes food more expensive too.

Z Energy’s plans to make biofuel from beef tallow might stack up better.

Z Energy has announced plans for a $21 million biodiesel plant that will produce fuel from inedible tallow feedstock.

The listed company said the investment would be made over the 2015 financial year and would produce 20 million litres of sustainable biodiesel a year.

It would be manufactured from inedible tallow feedstock, essentially beef fat, and satisfy New Zealand and European fuel specifications.

The plant would be built in Auckland. . .

Tallow is used for making candles and soap not food.

 

 

 


Labour will meddle in power market

January 17, 2014

Labour is planning to follow through on its policy to meddle in the power market if it is in government:

. . . Labour and the Greens unveiled plans to overhaul New Zealand’s electricity market on the eve of the government’s MightyRiverPower selldown last year. The operator of nine hydro stations on the Waikato River has traded below its $2.50 IPO price since just after the sale last May.  Meridian Energy, sold in October, is hovering around its listing price.

The opposition parties want to create a single, state-owned power buyer and a restructured pricing model, to eliminate excessive power company profits and pass savings onto consumers through cheaper electricity prices.

“A wise investor will be aware if the pricing model changes, in this case to stop the profiteering of public rivers, that will change the companies’ profits,” Parker, who would be finance minister in a Labour government, told BusinessDesk.

“Investors are already discounting those stocks because of what might happen if we win,” he said. “It’s actually a good example of how the market works.” . . .

If they can reduce the value of companies and the wealth of investors this much when they’re in opposition, they will do much worse in government.

Investors have already assessed the threat. The New Zealand stock exchange energy group index, which includes all listed power companies along with Z Energy and NZ Refining, has dropped 9.6 percent in the past 12 months, while the NZX 50 Index has rallied about 17 percent.

“Some people just won’t touch them because they are scared of a Labour-Greens government,” said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. “Others say because they’re dirt cheap people are pessimistic. If National got re-elected they’d go up again.”

A potential change of government may pose risks to other sectors as well, he said.

“Regulatory risk is weighing on those sectors which could be in for attention from a Labour government,” Lister said. “The market is aware of the sectors susceptible to regulation – SkyCity, the electricity sector and Chorus have a cloud hanging over them, which will continue to the election.” . . .

If there’s a Labour/Green/New Zealand Firs/Mana and whichever else party after the election that cloud will darken.


Rural round-up

July 27, 2013

Owen Poole to step down from Alliance Group after 18 years, Taggart named chairman:

Owen Poole is to step down from Alliance Group, after an association with the Invercargill-based meat company stretching back 18 years, and will be replaced as chairman by fellow board member Murray Taggart.

Taggart was a farmer-elected director of Alliance between 2002 and 2007 and was re-elected to the board in 2010. He farms a 457 hectare sheep and cropping unit under irrigation in Oxford, North Canterbury.

Poole will step down as chairman on Sept. 30, having held the position since being appointed to the board as an independent director in 2008. He was the company’s chief executive between 1995 and 2005. . .

Strong backing for CPW share structure:

Central Plains Water Ltd yesterday received strong backing from farmers attending a Special General Meeting to agree the share structure and construction approvals necessary for first stage construction to proceed.

More than 200 shareholders attended the July 25 meeting, along with Selwyn District Mayor Kelvin Coe and MPI representative, Kevin Steel.

The meeting voted unanimously to proceed with construction of the irrigation scheme, with only one shareholder voting against the proposed share structure. . .

Forestry sector stands to gain major economic boost:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed the announcement of a government and industry research study that could rejuvenate New Zealand’s forestry industry.

The 14-month project will study the feasibility of making biofuel from the waste product of forestry harvesting and processing. Material including sawdust, bark and harvest residue currently has little or no value, but could be a valuable new revenue stream if it can be commercially converted into biofuels.

“This study is potentially the first step in a very exciting new revenue stream for the forestry industry,” says Mrs Goodhew. . .

Forest owners pumped by bioenergy project:

Forest owners are hopeful that a project designed to convert forest waste into liquid biofuels will provide growers and mills with extra income streams.

In what is known as the ‘Stump to Pump’ project, the government has approved $6.75 million in funding to be matched by partners Norske Skog and Z Energy.

The $13.5 million project will be based at Norske Skog’s Tasman mill in Kawerau. The initial 14-month study will examine the feasibility and economics of making biofuel from sawdust, bark and harvest residue which currently has little or no value. If successful, a test plant will then be built in Kawerau. . . .

Bioenergy Association is encouraged by the Government’s support for biofuels:

The announcement by the Government of Primary Growth Partnership funding of $6.75 million) to investigate producing biofuels from forestry residues is encouraging and supports the forestry and wood processing sector strategy that identified that some emerging biofuel technologies can provide attractive additional revenue streams for existing businesses. . . .

Young farmer wins upland farm for 12 months – Isabel Davies:

A 23-year-old farmer has been given the chance to run a 248ha upland farm in Snowdownia after winning a unique scholarship.

Caryl Hughes from Dyffryn Ceiriog, near Llangollen, beat off stiff competition to win the opportunity to farm Llyndy Isaf, on the shores of Llyn Dinas near Beddgelert for 12 months from September.

The farm drew international attention in 2011 when £1m appeal to rescue it was spearheaded by Welsh Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys and supported by Catherine Zeta-Jones. . .


Rural round-up

July 26, 2013

Report confirms drought worst in nearly 70 years:

A comparative study on the 2013 drought released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms it was one of the most extreme on record for New Zealand and the worst since 1945-46. The 2013 drought was also one of the most widespread New Zealand has experienced with only the drought of 1972-73 that affected Wairarapa, Tasman, Otago and Southland coming close to its geographical spread.

The report states that the cause of the drought was not El Niño but in fact slow-moving or ‘blocking’ high pressure systems over the Tasman Sea and New Zealand over summer.

Commissioned by MPI and undertaken by NIWA, the study looked at two sets of data records – NIWA’s gridded Virtual Climate Station Network that goes back to 1972, and longer-term station records that go back to the early 1940s. . .

Animal cruelty has no place in the dairy industry:

Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and the New Zealand Veterinary Association, takes a strong stance against animal cruelty on-farms and breaking tails is unacceptable stockmanship.

“As a farmer it saddens me to hear these animal welfare charges because it goes against the very nature of a person working with animals.

“Mr Beaumont broke 40 tails out of the 200 cattle he harmed, goes against the very nature of a person who works with animals. It is indefensible, and he has let the industry down by letting his anger get the better of him,” says Chris Lewis, Waikato Dairy chairperson. . .

Drought takes its toll on Fonterra’s forecast:

Federated Farmers is not surprised Fonterra Cooperative Group has announced a decrease in its 2013 forecast earnings before interest and taxation. This is due to the impact of the drought and pressures in its Australian operations.

“I think farmers will be relieved Fonterra has reconfirmed the forecast cash payout will remain unchanged for the 2012/13 season at $6.12. However, the reality of this announcement is that everything has a flow on effect,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy vice-chairperson.

“All those people who have looked at the increased prices on the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) platform and then decided to buy more Fonterra units on the stock exchange may not have understood how it all works. Increases in GDT prices actually mean tighter margins as the base commodities that Fonterra uses to make its own products also rise in price. . .

Livestock Improvement FY profit falls 3% as bull value gains slow – Tina Morrison:

 Livestock Improvement Corp., a farmer cooperative that sells bull semen and provides a dairy genetics database, posted a 3 percent drop in annual profit because its elite breeding bulls didn’t increase in value as much as the previous year.

Profit fell to $23.7 million in the year ended May 31, from $24.4 million a year earlier, the Hamilton-based company said in a statement. The value of its 866 elite breeding bulls rose $2.7 million compared with a $9.4 million gain on its 870 bulls the year earlier.

LIC, as the company is known, is farmer owned through cooperative control shares and investment shares that trade on the NZAX market. The company, which excludes changes in elite bull valuations when setting returns to shareholders, will pay a record dividend of 54.91 cents per investment share, and 8.4 cents per cooperative control share. . .

Stump to Pump programme receives PGP funding boost:

An innovation programme that will pave the way for generating more value from forestry waste by converting it to liquid biofuels is to receive government funding through the Primary Growth Partnership.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has approved co-funding of $6.75 million for the 14-month ‘Stump to Pump’ PGP programme.

Stump to Pump partners Norske Skog and Z Energy will match funding of $6.75 million, bringing the project’s total funding to $13.5 million.

This relatively short-term PGP programme will study the feasibility, including the cost-effectiveness, of making biofuel from forestry waste. It will determine the commercial viability of establishing a modular test plant to process New Zealand forest waste into sustainable transport fuel. . .

Precision Agriculture Association wins bid to host international conference:

The recently-formed Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ) will host the International Asian Conference on Precision Agriculture in 2017.

The bid was submitted in South Korea and New Zealand beat three other countries – Malaysia, India and Indonesia – for hosting rights. The conference is one of three large international conferences on precision agriculture (PA) held around the world each year. The 2013 conference was held in South Korea and attracted more than 150 attendees.

PAANZ Chairman Peter Barrowclough said the successful bid to host the conference was an early demonstration of the value of now having a national precision agriculture organisation up and running in New Zealand. “And, with our changing export markets and increasingly strong linkages with South East Asia, this will be an excellent vehicle for New Zealand to improve its global networks,” he said. . .


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