The ‘handout notes’ that follow were written for a Lincoln University Dairy Farm Focus Day on 10 October 2013. These focus days are held every two months. This one was attended by about 200 farmers and rural professionals. I gave the presentation as Lincoln’s Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness, standing on a trailer out in the paddock – so basically it was all ad libbed without visual aids. Actually, sometimes it is fun to talk without the distraction of powerpoints!
- The American dairy industry is rapidly transforming to an industrial model based on large scale (>2000 cow) mega farms.
- As of 2013, approximately 40% of American production comes from 800 mega farms. Continue reading
The saga of the Fonterra botulism scare over the last six weeks has damaged New Zealand’s international brand. Fonterra has been unable to take a trick as they have stumbled from one misguided communication to another. The media have also failed badly in their analyses, through a general failure to understand the difference between orange and red flags.
Fonterra has still not communicated the timeline of events and decisions with any clarity, but the general picture is now becoming clear. Continue reading
In recent weeks there have been suggestions that tradable slaughter rights can provide a path forward for the New Zealand sheep meat industry. Mike Petersen from NZ Beef and Lamb has given the notion a ‘leg up’ with his personal endorsement, and apparently at least some of the processors are keen on this idea.
There is widespread agreement that some form of consolidation in the New Zealand red meat industry is necessary. There is also widespread acceptance that there is a problem with over-capacity in the sheep-meat part of the industry, although this is probably not the case for beef. The challenge is to find pathways to solutions that solve more problems than they create. Continue reading
Growth in sheep meat sales from New Zealand to China has been phenomenal. China is now New Zealand’s largest sheep meat destination by volume, and second largest after the UK by value. There is a chance that within the next 12 months it could surpass the UK in value. [Update of 17 May: In the four weeks since I wrote this post, statistics for the first quarter of 2013 show that China has indeed now become Number 1 by value as well as volume.]
The trade started off as mainly lamb and mutton flaps. These are the fatty off-cuts which in New Zealand we have always regarded as being very low quality, but which are highly regarded in traditional Chinese hotpot cuisine. Now the trade is moving up to higher priced cuts, as all the flaps are already allocated, albeit at increasing prices. Continue reading
Yesterday (18 April 2013) I was a guest speaker at a meeting called by the Meat Industry Excellence Group (MIE) and attended by 300 - 350 Canterbury sheep farmers. This is one of a series of meetings MIE is running throughout the country. The purpose is to get a mandate for industry change within the troubled sheep industry. Continue reading
New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay (NZFSU) started out in 2006 as a grand strategy by PGG Wrightson (PGGW) to apply New Zealand farming expertise to dairying in Uruguay. The idea was that land could be bought cheaply and that the application of irrigation, fertiliser and New Zealand grassland farming techniques would lead to healthy entrepreneurial profits.
The initial results were exciting. Continue reading