Rural round-up

September 8, 2018

Action groups are still growing – Neal Wallace:

More than 700 farm businesses have joined Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Network Groups with more than half them in three regions.

Most groups have been formed in Waikato-Bay of Plenty with 133, Canterbury 118 and Otago 114.

The top five areas of interest are animal performance, financial management, business planning, feed management and pasture management. . . 

Plant protein not a threat :

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer is not overly concerned about the threat of plant-based meat substitutes.

Limmer’s transition from chief operating officer of Zespri to chief executive of Silver Fern Farms has been seamless.

He notes protein consumption is growing worldwide and NZ is not going to be able to supply the world. NZ doesn’t need to be everything to every consumer, he says. . .

More than $22m loss for Norhtland dairy farmers as Fonterra slashes forecast milk price – Imran Ali:

Income for Northland dairy farmers will reduce by $22.5 million under Fonterra’s revised forecast payout for next season.

The dairy giant revised its 2018/19 forecast farmgate milk price from $7 per kg/MS to $6.75 per kgMS this week in response to stronger milk supply from the world’s key dairy producing countries.

Northland’s 1030 dairy farms supply about 90 million kg/MS each year. A payout of $7 as earlier announced would have fetched them $630m but $6.75 per kg/MS would earn $607.5m— down $22.5m. . .

Tea from an unlikely source – Mark Daniel:

Best known as the dairy capital of New Zealand, Waikato can also claim to be the nation’s home of tea. 

The Zealong Tea Estate, just north of Hamilton, is NZ’s only commercial tea grower.

The Zealong story starts in 1996, when Vincent Chen noticed the region’s abundant camellia bushes — the same Camellia sinensis that is used to produce white, green, black and oolong teas.  . .

Ballance to reinvest its surplus – Alan Williams:

For the first time in four years Ballance Agri-Nutrients has surplus earnings to reinvest in the business after the rebate payment to farmer shareholders.

The fertiliser co-operative has confirmed a bottom-line profit of $9.19 million for the year ended May 31.  

The rebate took $56.8m though only $39.4m was paid in cash with the balance allocated for new shares, further helping the cash position, the annual report said. . .

Crowdfunding saves a Jamberoo family from losing its livelihood – Rebecca Fist:

A drought-striken Jamberoo dairy farmer reached out for help, and found relief through his neighbour and drought funding campaigner Jason Maloney.

Jamberoo Road farmer Michael Harris has been working 12 hours a day, seven days a week to keep the dairy running, take care of his pregnant partner Natalie Fava, and put food on the table for their three children, and his brother living with a disability, Randall.

For months, Michael watched the prospect of keeping the family farm diminish before his eyes, like the grass on his land. . .


Rural round-up

September 6, 2018

Daunting report puts trees first – RIchard Rennie:

A landscape full of daunting challenges for the primary sector as New Zealand transitions to a zero carbon economy has been painted in a Productivity Commission report of Biblical proportions.

While by no means confined to agriculture the Low Emissions Economy report studying steps to zero carbon by 2050 puts agriculture at the sharp end of main policy shifts its authors cover.

It calls for major land use change to increase forestry and horticulture.  . .

Kiwi agri women lead the way – Annette Scott;

New Zealand is leading the way when it comes to including women in agricultural businesses, Agri Women’s Development Trust executive director Lindy Nelson says.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry for Primary Industries and Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment as the sole NZ representative at the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (Apec) 2018 in Papua New Guinea, Nelson was inspired by what she had to offer.

She was presenting as part of the agriculture and fisheries dialogue that had member economies addressing the importance of including women in the agribusiness value chain.

The focus of discussions was exploring practical ways of doing that. . . 

Fonterra split must be debated – Hugh Stringleman:

Further evolution of Fonterra’s capital structure needs discussion by farmer-shareholders, 2018 Kellogg scholar and dairy farmer James Courtman says.

Shareholders first need to settle on the direction of travel and whether the co-operative should be a strong player in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market.

“Or are our values and risk appetite more aligned to producing high-value base products to sell to multinationals who already have strong consumer brands,” Courtman wrote in his Kellogg report.

“Neither option is right or wrong but doing one option poorly due to a lack of capital or misaligned strategy is not a good option for the business.” . . 

Apple and stonefruit industry members disappointed with revised MPI directions:

With one minute before the 5:00pm deadline set by the High Court, MPI has issued revised directions to the affected apple and stonefruit industry members, under s122 of the Biosecurity Act.

The directions appear to be as wide as the previous order, referring to the tens of thousands of apple (Malus) and stonefruit (Prunus) plants previously seized by MPI under s116 of the Biosecurity Act, which was deemed unlawful following a High Court judicial review. . .

Zespri forecasts jump in annual profit as it seeks to maintain value in ‘challenging’ market – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group, the country’s kiwifruit export marketing body, expects profit to surge higher in the coming year as it grows volumes and seeks to maintain values in “challenging” markets with higher volumes of low-priced fruit.

The Mount Maunganui-based company reaffirmed its forecast for net profit of between $175 million and $180 million in the year ending March 31, 2019, up from $101.8 million last financial year. It expects to pay a dividend per share of $1.35-to-$1.40, up from 76 cents per share last season. . .

Genetic solutions to pest control – Neil Gemmell:

New Zealand stunned the world in 2016 announcing a goal to eradicate mammalian predators by 2050. The key targets are possums, rats and stoats; species that cause enormous damage to our flora and fauna and in some cases are an economic burden to our productive sectors.

As all of these species were introduced to New Zealand from elsewhere there is little sympathy nationally for any of them and their control and eradication has been a key component of conservation and animal health management in this country for decades. Thanks to the work of many we can control and even eradicate many of these species at increasingly large scales. The success of these programs has seen a variety of ‘pest-free’ offshore sanctuaries formed, such as Kapiti Island and the Orokonui mainland sanctuary where many native species, including kiwi, kōkako, and kākā now have a realistic chance for population persistence and recovery. . .

MPI joins forces with forest industry on biosecurity readiness:

The Ministry for Primary Industries and the New Zealand Forest Owners Association (FOA) are joining forces under the GIA (Government Industry Agreement) to improve forest biosecurity preparedness.

The first jointly-funded initiative under this partnership will be a forest biosecurity surveillance programme designed to detect unwanted forest pests and pathogens in high-risk places.

FOA and MPI recently signed the Commercial Plantation Forestry Sector Operational Agreement for Readiness under the GIA. This agreement establishes a new way of working in partnership between the two organisations and will see a doubling of efforts to improve forest biosecurity readiness, says Andrew Spelman, MPI’s Acting Director, Biosecurity Readiness. . .

EPA: Views sought on new fungicide to protect arable crops:

The EPA is calling for submissions on an application by Bayer New Zealand Limited to approve a fungicide called Vimoy Iblon for use in New Zealand to protect cereal crops.

The fungicide’s active ingredient isoflucypram, has not yet been approved in any country.

Bayer is intending to market its use to control scald, net blotch, Ramularia leaf spot in barley, leaf rust in barley and wheat, stripe rust in wheat and triticale, and speckled leaf blotch in wheat. . .


Rural round-up

August 18, 2018

A New Zealand farmer looks at subsidies through a different lens – Craige Mackenzie:

A $12-billion “assistance package” to American farmers sounds like a great deal, at least for the recipients: a one-time payment that is intended to soften suffering caused by trade wars and low commodity prices, from a White House that sincerely wants to help.

I have a different perspective. As a farmer in New Zealand who once received government subsidies and then lost them, I speak from experience when I say that agriculture is much better off when governments stay out of our business and let us grow our food without interference.

The federal assistance package is in fact a devil’s bargain: It would deliver short-term benefits but also create long-term problems for American farmers. . .

Law to get tough – Neal Wallace:

Primary Industries Ministry officers now have greater search and surveillance powers than police, lawyers say.

The new law passed under urgency by Parliament strengthens the National Animal Identification and Tracking Act and allows officials to enter farms unannounced without a warrant to search for and seize items.

Penalties under the changes vary from infringement fees of $400 up to fines of $200,000 and five years in jail. 

Ashburton law firm Tavendale and Partners partner Kirsten Maclean said the powers contradict claims MPI wants to work with farmers over the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. . .

YFC champ adds dairying venture – Hugh Stringleman:

The Kidd family has expanded its farming interests in the Auckland province with the purchase of a medium-sized dairy farm and some adjacent leased land for grazing at Shelly Beach on the south Kaipara Head. Hugh Stringleman went to hear about the new venture.

The Kidds have gone to Philadelphia, in the United States, for the wedding of son Hamish, a New York-based investment banker, to an American woman.

Conversations on the long flights and while away among parents Richard and Dianne, of Whenuanui Farm, Helensville, their three sons and their respective partners will feature the latest expansion of the family farming enterprise. . . 

Drought proofing a dry continent – Viv Forbes:

Earth is a blue watery planet.

70% of its surface is covered by oceans of salt water, some of which are extremely deep. These oceans contain about 97% of Earth’s water. Another 2% is locked up in snow, ice caps and glaciers. That leaves just 1% of Earth’s surface water in inland seas, lakes, rivers and dams. We have plenty of water, but not much to drink.

In addition to these vast surface water supplies, water vapour is the fourth most abundant gas in the atmosphere, after nitrogen (76%), oxygen (21%) and Argon (1%). Moisture in the atmosphere varies from almost zero over deserts and ice caps up to 4% over the wet tropics. (Carbon dioxide is a miniscule 0.04%). . .

Wrightson posts record earnings, lowers dividend and eyes reinvestment options – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, which is selling its dominant seed and grain business, posted record full-year earnings but lowered its final dividend payment to shareholders, saying it was eyeing reinvestment opportunities.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose to a record $70.2 million in the year ended June 30, in line with its forecast for earnings at the top end of its guidance range of $65 million to $70 million, and ahead of $64.5 million a year earlier, the Christchurch-based company said. One-time items pulled net profit after tax down to $18.9 million from $46.3 million. . .

Zespri launches industry realignment process:

World leading horticultural company, Zespri Group Limited lodged several key documents to support its strategically important industry realignment initiative today, with MinterEllisonRuddWatts advising on the targeted share issue and buy-back.

Zespri’s Product Disclosure Statement, Disclose Register Entry and the Buy-Back Disclosure Document were today submitted to the Registrar of Financial Service Providers for review by the New Zealand Financial Markets Authority, as well as lodged on the USX Share trading platform. . .

Frankie Goes to Wellywood – and Deer Milk stars in the show:

Frankie Goes to Wellywood – and Deer Milk stars in the show

Deer Milk was up in lights last night at the first of three special evenings that chef Frank Camorra from Melbourne restaurant MoVida is presenting in conjunction with Wellington restaurant Logan Brown and Visa Wellington on a Plate.

In his first trip to the capital, Camorra’s menu features the ingredient that is lighting up fine dining in New Zealand. . .


Rural round-up

August 6, 2018

Top official knows the human cost of bovis – Sally Rae:

July 22, 2017, will go down as a significant date in New Zealand’s agricultural history. On that day, bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was confirmed as being in the country, triggering New Zealand’s largest and most expensive biosecurity response. Sally Rae, who has covered the outbreak since the beginning, reflects on the past year and also talks to the man charged with heading the national response.

Geoff Gwyn admits hearing from farmers hit by Mycoplasma bovis is the toughest part of his job.

“These stories are intensely personal. Being under regulatory control or, worst case scenario, having a herd built up over decades culled is a really tough time for people.

“It has a large impact on their psyche, their mental health, the financial viability of their business. All these are hard conversations to have.” . .

US company buys NZ wool for insulation – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand wool producers have landed a large contract to supply a United States company with fibre for home insulation.

They also claim wool is a healthier product than fibreglass which is the dominant insulating material on the market, a claim that has been disputed by fibreglass manufacturers.

The deal, brokered by NZ Merino (NZM), will see 200 tonnes of Landcorp coarse wool supplied to US insulation company Havelock Wool. This represents about 10 per cent of Landcorp’s supply to NZM. . . 

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd continues to grow:

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd increased by 1.9 per cent over the past year while the decline in the sheep flock was slowed by a lift in hoggets as farmers responded positively to strong prices and good grass growth leading into winter, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The annual stock number survey conducted by B+LNZ’s Economic Service, shows 3.7 million beef cattle with beef production continuing to grow.

The largest contributor to the increase in the number of beef cattle was a lift in weaner cattle in Marlborough-Canterbury, which was driven by younger cattle being retained by beef breeders. . . 

No big rise in calf kill expected – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers should get a little more money for their bobby calves this season but meat companies don’t expect a big increase in slaughter tallies.

Higher prices overseas for skins and the lower value of the New Zealand dollar have enabled some meat companies to add up to 20c/kg to their bobby calf schedules.

Others said they are paying the same as last winter and will be competitive with prevailing prices.

The range for medium calves, 13.5kg to 18kg carcaseweight, where most weights fall, is reportedly $1.85/kg to $2/kg. . . 

Storage ponds a ‘ludicrous’ alternative to dam:

Claims about storage ponds being a viable alternative to the Waimea Community Dam are ludicrous, says Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) Chair Murray King.

“There are many reasons storage ponds won’t solve the region’s water problem, including insufficient capacity, ponds not addressing the minimum flow requirements on the Waimea River, and the lack of funding available for them.

“The idea is utterly ludicrous. A combined storage volume of 6 million cubic metres of water won’t meet the minimum flow requirements set out in the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP) and provide adequate water for water users in dry periods. The minimum flows were established through an Environment Court process so the Council can give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. . . 

Collaboration critical to capture red meat sector opportunities:

The opportunities and challenges facing New Zealand’s red meat sector were highlighted at the annual Red Meat Sector conference held in Napier this week.

The one-day conference, which attracted around 250 red meat industry stakeholders, featured a range of speakers who set the scene for the sector, identified the challenges and highlighted the many opportunities for red meat in a dynamic global market.

One of the over-riding themes was the need to work collaboratively to ensure the red meat sector is well positioned to capture premiums for its product on the world stage.

In setting the scene, former Zespri CEO and chair of the Primary Sector Council Lain Jager said he is convinced there will always be a market for ruminant protein because the world needs more protein. . . 

The dairy season in New Zealand kicks off with a reasonable seasonal weather outlook:

Even with El Nino talk intensifying the weather looks good for the start of the dairy season

Dairy cows around the country tend to freshen in the month of August and grass growth becomes important as production ramps up with warmer weather. It was only last December when large parts of the country were shocked by the dry and exceptionally warm weather. This year, in contrast, looks to be headed in a slightly different direction. The latest and updated every ten-day seasonal rainfall and temperature outlook is for benign conditions through October.

The slightly drier monthly forecasts for Northland through the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and the Manawatu and down the west coast of the South Island and into Southland might be welcomed. . . 

Cedenco Foods is Hawke’s Bay Exporter of the Year:

An impressive commitment to product development and innovation has seen fruit and vegetable manufacturer Cedenco Foods New Zealand named as ExportNZ Hawke’s Bay ASB Exporter of the Year.

The Gisborne-based business was presented with the award by the Head of Trade Finance at ASB Bank, Mike Atkins, at the sold-out awards dinner last night at the Napier Conference Centre. Earlier in the evening, Cedenco had won the inaugural T&G Global Best Medium to Large ExporterAward.

The judges said Cedenco impressed them with their investment in market research, customer relationships, and R&D to get their product right for the customer. . . 

Kiwi ingenuity a stand-out at  this year’s Pork Awards – winners announced at NZPork’s annual gala dinner:

New Zealand’s creative culinary ingenuity shone bright at The Orange in Auckland last night, where a mix of local farmers, butchers, retailers and industry leaders gathered to celebrate the winners of the eleventh annual Pork, Bacon and Ham Awards.

The competition, which took place in July, provided more than 40 pork retailers from across the country with the chance to showcase their best and most innovative New Zealand born and raised pork products. . . 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2018

Three more infected properties – Sally Brooker:

This map shows where infected properties are under quarantine lock-down, as at Thursday last week. Map: Supplied

This map shows where infected properties are under quarantine lock-down, as at Thursday last week. Map: Supplied

A year and 100 official updates later, the central South Island is still in the grip of Mycoplasma bovis.

The bacterial cattle disease has never been far from the headlines since it was confirmed for the first time in New Zealand on a dairy farm near Morven on July 22 last year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, via its new Biosecurity New Zealand arm, released its ”Mycoplasma bovis response stakeholder update 100” late on Friday afternoon.

The map included showed Central Rural Life territory liberally sprinkled with blue blobs denoting infected properties.

The three latest ones discovered were all in Canterbury, connected to other known infections through animal movements. . .

MPI rules on transporting in-calf cows – Sally Rae:

The Ministry for Primary Industries says transporting heavily pregnant cows affected by Mycoplasma bovis is a last resort.

New Zealand Veterinary Association members have been asked to certify late-gestation cows as being fit-for-transport to slaughter premises.

NZVA advised members not to certify within four weeks of the planned start of calving, even if the cows were caught up in the mass culling required to eradicate the disease. . .

 With supermarket groups reacting to fickle ginger group pressure, consumer options become inconsistent in the supermarket aisles, and local farmers lose out to lower standard imports –  Guy Trafford:

One of the issues current food producers have is trying to satisfy a number of masters. The New Zealand pork industry is a classic example.

The general public require that pigs are reared in what are perceived to be systems that meet animal welfare requirements and many consumers desire pork that has been reared in a free-range requirement. These aims to produce a more ‘ethical’ food come at a cost to the producer. . .

 Zespri chair awarded horticulture’s Bledisloe Cup:

An outstanding leader in the kiwifruit industry, Peter McBride, accepted horticulture’s premier award, the Bledisloe Cup, at the Horticulture Conference 2018 on Tuesday, 24 July.

Very similar to the famous rugby Bledisloe Cup, horticulture’s version was one of three cups Lord Bledisloe presented to New Zealand in 1931. . .

Seeka to Invest $18m in Northland Post Harvest Business:

Seeka Limited has announced plans to invest $18m in its Northland post harvest business over the next three years. Seeka is investing in new post harvest capacity, packing machines, packing shed and coolstores in Kerikeri. The investment will significantly lift the capacity of the business and give growers better harvest timing across all varieties handled – kiwifruit, avocados and citrus. The announcement was made to Seeka’s Northland growers meeting earlier this week with the Far North District Council Deputy Mayor, Tania McInnes, in attendance. . .

Wall to wall sunshine – Hannah Binns:

Yesterday the BBC Breakfast team visited our farm to learn about how the prolonged period of dry weather is effecting farmers (in particular livestock farmers) across the country.

Whilst Polly may have stolen the limelight with her best-behaviour and displays of affection for the presenter, the issue is extremely serious and worrying for all involved in British farming since everyone is in a similar situation. Don’t get me wrong, it has been lovely to have such nice weather – I can’t remember a summer when I wished it would rain!

Here’s why the recent weather is so problematic for livestock farmers up and down the UK – feel free to do a rain dance once you have finished reading! . .


Rural round-up

July 9, 2018

Documentary explores Dannevirke sheep shearers’ international success – Kerry Harvey:

Overseas visitors are flocking to Dannevirke – looking to get down and dirty in the shearing shed.

The tourists come from all over Europe to learn from – and work for – Paewai-Mullins Shearing, a fourth-generation family business which is at the centre of Māori TV’s new documentary series Shear Bro.

“We’ve got the best teachers here and that’s why we get such a big influx of foreign shearers,” says Tuma Mullins, a world-class trainer who has worked in shearing sheds around the world. . .

Takapau farmer a public hit at Young Farmer of the Year Competition – Andrew Ashton:

Takapau farmer Patrick Crawshaw admits he was pushed to the “absolute limit” at this year’s FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final but says he “loved every minute of it”.

Speaking to Hawke’s Bay Today after taking on six other finalists over three days of gruelling competition in Invercargill, Crawshaw said he was feeling “tired but not too bad”.

“I learnt a lot through the process, it was a very cool project to go through but certainly one that challenges the body and mind more than anything. I’ve never pushed it that far before in my life. . . 

Disrupters are here – Annette Scott:

Red meat farmers are facing the biggest disruption in more than 30 years, Beef  + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor told farmers at the annual FarmSmart conference in Christchurch.

“We are facing a bigger disruption for our sector than seen in the 1980s when a lamb was $4 and a ewe 50c, if you could get killing space.

McIvor outlined seven forces B+LNZ has identified as driving disruption.

They include global and government institutions putting the impact of meat consumption on the agenda and while it will move slowly the conversation has started. . .

NZ kiwifruit experts share tips with Chinese growers – Gerard Hutching:

It used to be called the Chinese gooseberry; now New Zealand experts are showing Chinese growers how to create the perfect kiwifruit.

Even though China is the home of the kiwifruit, New Zealanders have honed the art of growing them and are now sharing their expertise.

It is all part of Zespri’s Project Bamboo, which aims to contract selected growers to supply the Tauranga-based marketer with fruit for its expanding Chinese market.

Sales in China reached $505 million at the end of June and turnover is expected to double in four years’ time. . .

Synlait applauds high performing farmers:

Synlait recognised high achievers in their milk supplier network at their annual conference in Christchurch for dairy farmers and partners on Thursday 28 June.

Nine accolades were up for grabs at the 2018 Synlait Dairy Honours Awards.

“We make a point of celebrating the significant achievements of an increasingly large number of high performing dairy farmers each year,” says John Penno, Synlait’s CEO and Managing Director. . . 

Icebreaker’s sustainability report sets new standard to follow – Lyn Meany:

Corporate sustainability reporting is almost de rigueur. According to the Governance & Accountability Institute, the number of S&P 500 companies issuing sustainability reports has grown from just 20 percent in 2011 to 82 percent in 2016. That’s quite a trend, and quite a good thing, for the companies and their stakeholders — but only if they do it right.

How can you ensure your sustainability report is a good thing for your company?

Many look at the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework as the gold standard for reporting in the private sector. It is not a quick or easy framework to use — but then again, no effective sustainability report is quick or easy. You have to set goals in all the expected categories: energy; waste; water; and so forth. You have to establish metrics and track your progress against those goals, then write, design and publish your report. . .

Premium Pāmu Venison conquering Auckland and US

From The Sugar Club at SkyCity  to the  Archive Bar and Bistro on Waiheke, premium quality venison from Pāmu in partnership with Duncan Venison and Carve, is livening up the plates of over a dozen restaurants in Auckland and further afield, with more queuing up.

Duncan Venison chief executive Andy Duncan says the demand for the Pāmu Venison is growing as chefs discover the superior taste and quality of the Bistro Fillet product. . .

WA farmers go full Monty to reveal mental health issues – Cally Dupe and Zoe Keenan:

A groundswell of goodwill and humour caused by farmers getting their kit off has drawn attention to a more serious issue: mental health.

The founder of popular Instagram page The Naked Farmer wrapped up his month-long tour of Western Australia this week, visiting farmers across the State.

From Dumbleyung to Kununurra, Victorian farmer Ben Brooksby and his best mate Emma Cross photographed WA grain, sheep and cattle farmers on their broadacre and pastoral properties. . .

 


Orchardists ambassadors for sustainable farming/growing

June 8, 2018

The Ballance Farm Environment Award has been won by orchardists for the first time:

Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit Growers Mark and Catriona White Are the New National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) runs the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and announced the Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at an awards function at Te Papa in Wellington on Thursday night – chosen from 11 regional supreme winners gathered from throughout the country.

Ten years ago, the Whites embarked on a quest to find an improved lifestyle for their family away from the city and found it on a bare block of land near Opotiki. Their work and passion has transformed a 5.85ha section of a former organic dairy farm into the Coastal Kiwis Orchard it is today.

Former national ambassador Dianne Kidd from Helensville, who chaired the judging panel, says the Whites demonstrate an excellent understanding of all aspects of sustainable food production.

“They are outstanding strategic and agile thinkers on the key issues for New Zealand and have strong primary sector and community leadership qualities. They communicate and operate exceptionally well as a team and are natural leaders with a wealth of knowledge and experience and a willingness to impart this to others.”

She says Mark and Catriona show a respect for the Maori principles of kaitiakitanga – acting as guardian, protector and conserver – within their kiwifruit orchard management.

“They are strong users of evidence-based science and technology in their business and orchard and demonstrate a broad global market understanding and a real energy to be agents of change. They come from diverse careers into the primary sector bringing their expertise and capital to their chosen horticultural business and the community in Opotiki.”

Catriona’s family has been on the farm for four generations. Although they initially did not know much about kiwifruit, the couple did most of the physical development work themselves, keeping costs down and learning by their mistakes. Mark also did a National Certificate in Horticulture.

The orchard is BioGro certified. It has 3.19 ha of Zespri Organic Green kiwifruit, producing in 2017 a total of 23,483 trays of kiwi-start fruit. Zespri Organic SunGold (G3) is currently grown on 2.65 ha producing 38,362 trays. This production was achieved in a “challenging growing year” which included various cyclones and a very wet and windy autumn. Recently developed blocks of SunGold have come into production this season.

Alongside Kidd on the national judging panel were Warwick Catto from Ballance Agri-Nutrients, NZFET’s Jamie Strang, George Murdoch from Rabobank and Julia Jones from KPMG.

“New Zealand can be proud of the global leading achievements of our farmers and growers,” Kidd says.

“New Zealand media needs to help tell these great stories about our outstanding food producers. A common theme from this year’s supreme regional winners is a focus and clear understanding there is a need to connect with our consumers – a real market focus.”

The supreme winners of 11 regional awards were invited to the Showcase in Wellington to be considered for the trophy named in honour of Waikato farmer and noted conservationist, the late Gordon Stephenson. As a national award it is separate to the regional programme and judged under different criteria.

Chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, Joanne van Polanen, says she is looking forward to supporting the Whites fulfil their ambassadorial duties including an overseas study tour. “Catriona and Mark will do the country proud as food producers of the highest quality.”


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