Dairy farm sales are down 10 percent in the first quarter of this year, with the price of dairy and other grazing land lower than it was a year ago.  Only 48 farms were sold compared with 86 for the same period last year.   However horticulture was strong in Hawkes Bay,  Bay of Plenty and Marlborough with good returns from kiwifruit, pip fruit and grapes stimulating farm sales.   Median value per hectare on dairy farms sat at $33,897 while in horticulture it was $261,665.   Good beef finishing properties also proved attractive.   The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show, overall, 383 farms were sold in the first three months to March, compared to 425 during the same time last year.  Manawatu-Whanganui recorded the largest number of sales, followed by Bay of Plenty and Northland.   there had been limited activity in Hawkes Bay due to a shortage of property.   REINZ spokesperson Brian Peacocke said, while the dairy sector was subdued, some farms were still selling at very good prices.   There was evidence of banks requiring higher levels of equity from Northland farmers and there had been steady sales of grazing stocks and strong activity in lower value properties suitable for planting manuka for the honey industry in the province.   REINZ said its Dairy Farm Price  fell by 15.9 per cent compared with the same year-ago period.

Beef + Lamb’s latest figures for the first half of the 2015 / 2016 meat export season show lamb tonnages were 162,700 a 5.9 % rise on the last season.   While worth $1.38 billion it was only 1.5 % up on the previous season.    Farmers are earning less for their meat and really only being helped by a weaker NZ Dollar.   The volume of exports to the USA our largest destination for beef and veal was down 15 % while exports to North Asia were at one point up 55% but finished at a much lower rate of 5.5%.    Lamb and mutton exports were significantly higher October to January but dipped in February March of 2016.    Shipments to Europe were 7.2% up and 11 % higher to North Asia. Beef + Lamb economist Andrew Burtt says its hard to predict returns for the second half of the year with a rising dollar, volumes generall falling between now and September, offset by the US demand for beef increasing as the grilling or barbque season kicks in
The Magnificent Seven have been found.   They are the seven Grand Finalists in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest.     The last of the regional finals was held in Ashburton  to choose the Aorangi representative.   Time was running out for 30 year old Athol New,  a dairy farm business manager for Purata Farms in Rakaia.   Athol  will turn 31 later this year which is the cut off age for the Young Farmer Contest.    He won the final and took home prizes worth more than $10,000 and now advances to the Grand Final in Timaru in July.   Athol New, who’s now in the running for the top price worth more than $160,000,  and last year was runner up to Mathew Bell, the eventual winner of the contest in 2015.       Second place went to 30 year old Sam Bryan from the Foothills Club, with  Milford Club’s 29 year old Toby How in third.

New Zealand export log prices held steady this month as improved demand offset an increase in shipping costs.   The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs was unchanged at $119 a tonne in April, from March, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and sawmillers. Demand picked up last month following a slowdown in activity during the Chinese New Year holiday.   Log inventories on Chinese ports stood at between 3.6 million to 3.8 million cubic metres, 60,000 tonnes being dispatched from the Chinese ports each day  a day.   AgriHQ analysts Reece Brick and Shaye Lee say general demand out of China is relatively positive but there are still concerns about the stagnant Chinese economy.    Shipping prices edged up this month due to increased oil prices and as fewer ships visited New Zealand due to a decline in the importation of products such as palm kernel and fertiliser.

Last week more than 300 of the farming industry’s top minds gathered in Rotorua  for two-days to discuss hill country farming’s future direction.    The five million hectares or 37% of NZ’s land  used for hill country farming provides a key red-meat breeding platform but  Hill country farmers face continuing pressure on profitability, rural de-population, climate change and the environment.  Six thousand farms in New Zealand are classified as hillcountry and Federated Farmers national vice president Anders Crofoot was there and he joins us today on Roundup

The giant lamb market in China looks to be reawakening with processors breathing a sigh of relief as volumes traded increase and prices see some recovery.  Lower domestic production in China this season is one of the predominant drivers behind the recovery in demand.  The last two seasons have seen large domestic kills, placing pressure on the supply of lamb to the marketplace.   Inventories are now significantly lower, and there are clear signs of flock rebuilding in China.    According to the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture their long term interest in lamb looks solid with demand for imported lamb  set to increase over the next five years.   That demand is expected to outstrip supply by around 250,000 tonnes a year by 2020 which can only be good for our lamb industry.     An expected 3% increase in consumption each year until 2020 is being driven by a growing trend for consumers to be focused on premium products with a preference for branded and certified products. During this period, domestic lamb production is also forecast to increase, as government policy supports the country’s pasture based industries.

After cow prices improving last week, a few less buyers in the rostrum and bigger numbers bought them back down, with dairy prices easing 5-7cpk. The majority of the straight Friesian cows sold for $1.35-$1.36/kg, while Friesian x, 422-479kg, made $1.25-  $1.39/kg. Beef x cows sold on a steady market, with Angus and Angus x, 599-710kgs, making $1.66-$1.76/kg, and next cut at $1.55-$1.65/kg. The rest of the sale was minimal compared to the big yarding of cows and heifer prices eased with Beef lines mainly  trading at $2.55-$2.65/kg for better types. Hereford x and Angus steers, 515-581kg, sold for $2.60-$2.68/kg, while higher yielding but lighter Hereford x made $2.72-$2.75/kg. The better bulls were making $2.50-$2.60/kg, with Jersey x at $2.36-$2.46/kg.   Someone pushed the offload switch today with lambs converging on Temuka from local areas as well as farafield as Central Otago. Male lines were in the minority with big numbers of ewe lambs and mixed sex lines.   Plenty of buyers from Mid to South Cant ensured there  were bids flying, and despite the bigger yarding the  market firmed. Where just a month ago, lambs struggled to crack $70, this was the bottom level today, with most lambs making $70-$90. Ewe lambs, 28-34kgs, were trading at $2.42-$2.50/kg, with 26-27kg lines at $2.69/kg. Most mixed sex were very good types weighing  32-37kgs and sold for $2.24-$2.29/kg, while 28-29kg lines made $2.45-$2.55/kg. Breeding ewes also joined the mix and for made breeding values, with run with ram lines at $70-$127. Prime lambs were not totally overshaodwed by the stores with prices slowly but surely starting to strenthen. Most sold for $80-$117, while ewe prices remained steady.