Fonterra posts €110m loss
The largest dairy exporter in the world has released poor annual results amid declining profitability and leadership shake-ups.

New Zealand's largest milk processor, Fonterra, has published accounts showing a €110m net loss after tax for the 2018 financial year. According to local media reports, this is the first loss in the co-op's 17-year history.

The bad result results from a combination of falling profitability, with Fonterra's EBIT falling by 22% in the past year, and exceptional charges related to its overseas partners.

The co-op wrote €247m off the value of its Chinese subsidiary, Beingmate, and paid Danone €131m in compensation for a past food safety scare.

Rising costs

Chief executive Miles Hurrell reported rising costs across the business, from an increase in the farmgate milk price late in the last season – which he said was good to co-op members – to other ingredient, development and support costs.

"There are no two ways about it. These results are disappointing," he wrote in Fonterra's annual report.

The bad result are a consequence of falling profitability and exceptional charges

Chair John Monaghan added that "Beingmate's unacceptable performance over the year has been frustrating".

Fonterra also faced the departure of both its former chief executive Theo Spierings and chair John Wilson in the past financial year.

Police called after 100 vegan activists invade Australian farm
Australia's minister for agriculture has called for stronger local trespass laws after a livestock farm invasion and warned of the risk of someone being killed.

Australian Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud this weekend condemned the invasion of a feedlot and dairy farm at Lemon Tree in his constituency of Maranoa.

According to the minister, police from surrounding towns had to intervene when 100 animal rights activists entered the property.

He added that this was the second farm listed on a map created by activist group Aussie Farms to be attacked in recent months.

A similar map has been drawn from public records in Britain under the name Project Calf, with activists encouraged to take video recordings on farms.

They are prepared to intimidate innocent Australians and their actions taint their own cause

Minister Littleproud was critical of animal welfare activists.

"They have no moral compass when they are prepared to intimidate innocent Australians and their actions taint their own cause," he said.

"A real deterrent is needed before someone gets seriously hurt or killed. There are children living on these family farms."

Last month, an Australian farmer was reported to have fired a warning shot after activists taking pictures of his farm refused to leave.

Penalties

According to the minister, penalties imposed after such incidents have been mere "slaps on the wrist", with examples of trespassers receiving fines of €0.60 in one case and €125 in another. "States must create a serious penalty for trespassing on family farms," he said.

"Vegans eat plenty of farm produce and I respect their right to be vegan. However, nobody has the right to trespass on to people's family properties," Minister Littleproud added.

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New Zealand dairy scholarship open for applications
Interested in travelling to New Zealand for six months to work on a dairy farm? Why not apply for the Stephen Cullinan scholarship?

The 2019 Stephen Cullinan scholarship is open for applications. Every year, recipients of the scholarship travel to New Zealand and work for six months on a dairy farm where they experience alternative methods of dairy farming.

This year’s scholarship winners will receive a return travel ticket to New Zealand and a paid six-month work placement on a progressive dairy farm which will commence toward the end of June. All travel tickets are valid for 12 months.

Applicants must be a current member of Macra na Feirme, be aged between 18 and 30 years on 1 January 2019 and committed to pursuing a career in the dairy industry. Applicants will be required to present for interview.

The Stephen Cullinan Scholarship organised by Macra na Feirme and New Zealand Dairy Careers is sponsored by the Irish Farmers Journal.

Opportunity

“The Stephen Cullinan Schloarship offers young dairy farmers a unique opportunity to learn about dairy farming abroad. Every year our young farmers return with life-long memories and a dairy farming experience that is second to none,” Macra na Feirme national president James Healy said.

“It’s a phenomenal way to learn about different methods of dairy farming.”

Application forms are available from www.macra.ie. Completed forms and a CV must be sent to Jennifer Keegan, Macra na Feirme, Irish Farm Centre, Bluebell, Dublin 12, or alternatively email it to jkeegan@macra.ie on or before Monday 16 April 2019. Interviews will take place the week following the application deadline.

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€2.5bn compensation for Canadian farmers over trade deals
The Canadian government's budget includes multi-billion payments to farmers facing increased competition from the EU and elsewhere.

A surge of imported agri-food commodities such as Irish dairy products under new trade agreements has led the Canadian government to include a €2.5bn support package for farmers in its budget proposal this Tuesday.

Canadian farmers have been worried about access for European cheese and other products under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), while the Tran-Pacific Partnership has also entered into force and a new Canada-US-Mexico trade agreement was recently concluded.

We will make available an income protection program for supply-managed farmers, along with a measure to protect the value of quota

"To ensure that Canada's dairy, poultry and egg farmers can continue to provide Canadians with high-quality products in a world of free trade, we will make available an income protection programme for supply-managed farmers, along with a measure to protect the value of quota investments these farmers have already made," said Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

He announced a €1.4bn top-up to existing direct payments to farmers affected by greater competition as a result of CETA, and €1bn to compensate farmers for the loss of value in their quota.

Dairy, poultry and egg farmers in Canada are in a quota system similar to dairy in the EU prior to 2015.

Those sectors represent around 20,000 farmers, which puts the average compensation announced in Tuesday's budget at over €100,000 per farm.

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