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Fonterra’s plan to alter its governance structure has been defeated with the results of electronic and postal voting coming up short of the 75 per cent required to get through.   At a special meeting in Hamilton – attended by a few hundred farmers – Fonterra said internet and postal votes in favour of the proposal to cut the board’s size to 11 from 13 came in at 63.47 per cent.   The package also involved a significant change to the way candidates are voted on to the board.   A motion put forward at last year’s annual meeting failed to achieve the necessary 75 per cent support but nevertheless garnered more than 50 per cent of the vote, indicating farmers were in the mood for a change at the time.   The most controversial of the proposed measures was the change to the voting system.    As it stands, a candidate can get on the board with 25 per cent support, whereas the new system would have meant  candidates put forward need to achieve 50 per cent support under a ratification process.

New rules around  bobby calves have been announced and  should be in place before the 2016 spring calving season.    Farmers will now have to ensure that young calves are at least four days old and physically fit before they are transported for sale or slaughter,  and if transported,  the journey must be less than 12 hours long.   Young calves are prohibited from travelling  by sea across the Cook Strait  and the killing of any calves by use of blunt force trauma, is also banned  except in an emergency situation.   MPI  Minister Nathan Guy says he wants to give farmers, transport operators and processors advance warning of the changes before the start of the calving season in early August.     Further  rules on loading and unloading facilities and  feeding and shelter before transportation and slaughter will be introduced later.  y.

$6 Avocados seem to be the norm in supermarkets these days, but that may change soon as the 2016-17 season harvest begins this month, weather permitting.    NZ Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular says  current high prices for avocados are for season end fruit and she points  out that only New Zealand-grown avocados are sold in this country and none are frozen, rather stored on the tree.    In the meantime, the popularity of the South American-origin fruit has produced record-breaking 2015-16 domestic sales of $41 million, with end-of-season results including exports of $134 million almost matching the $135 million posted for the previous season and when you think back five years,  New Zealand was selling between $15million and $20million annually.  This year’s return of $41million is 25per cent above last year  and shows year on year growth of 17per cent since 2011. The New Zealand avocado industry which produces just 2 per cent of the global supply,  aims to quadruple sales to $280million and triple productivity by 2023.

Fast-growing autumn grass is poisoning some Wairarapa dairy cows and older calves, according to a veterinarian and an industry support body.   Drought-breaking rain has produced early grass that can be rich in unprocessed nitrogen, with dead cows being a seasonal possibility.        Dr Adrian Evans of South Wairarapa Vets says  one farm has lost eight “rising one-year-old” calves after accidentally grazing them on new pasture for two two-hour periods in a day – a reminder of a more serious outbreak in 2013.     Dr Evans says risk periods are when there’s been a prolonged period of drought, followed by growth resulting in lots of nitrogen sitting in the soil.   He says when an animal eats this grass, free nitrogen compounds combine with haemoglobin carrying  oxygen in the blood.    The animal then  literally suffocates internally becoming slow and sleepy and dying  without treatment.

Wool prices softened under the impact of a stronger New Zealand dollar at this week’s North Island sale.    New Zealand Wool Services International’s Malcolm Ching says the trade weighted currency indicator was up 3.74% on last week’s South Island wool sale delivering lower local returns for sellers that didn’t meet some grower reserves.    78% of this week’s offering of 8,000 bales of predominantly second shear North Island wool was cleared during the sale. Fine Crossbred Early Shorn and Second Shears were 1 to 4 percent cheaper. Coarse Crossbred Full Fleece were 3.5 percent cheaper for average style and 1 to 3 percent dearer for poor colour. Coarse Shears were firm to 3 percent cheaper with bigger discounts for lines with a high seed content.   First Lambs was 4 to 6 percent cheaper. Crossbred Oddments ranged from firm to 7 percent easier. Competition among bidders was limited, with buyers for Australasia and Western Europe taking the lead, supported “sparingly” by bidders representing interests in the Middle East, United Kingdom and China.

Prices for prime cattle reflected continuing strong demand as high yielding types are proving harder to source. The top steers were mainly Angus, Ang/H x, and Here x, and at 637-727kg, sold for $2.78-$2.88/kg, while most other lines sold for $2.70-$2.82/kg. The heifer market followed suit and strengthened, with prime types, 492-605kg, making $2.70-$2.80/kg.   The best of the cows cracked $2/kg, while Friesian and Friesian cross, 405-442kg, sold for $1.50-$1.66/kg. Big numbers of store cattle warranted another week of combined sales, with just over 400 on offer.    It was a mainly local buying bench, with  extra buyers not usually seen until later in the season.   Angus cross R2 steers,  334 – 416kg, sold for $1010-$1265 at $3.01-$3.04/kg, while Here x, 342-462kg made $2.85-$2.95/kg. Angus and Here/Frx stood out in the R2 heifer pens, with 317-448kg making $2.61-$2.70/kg, while R1 Angus heifers, 167-196kgs, cracked $3/kg to sell for $505-$600.     In the lamb pens  22-25kg lines were making $61-$70 at $2.89-$2.94/kg, with 28-29kg lines not much higher at $69-$76 for $2.62/kg.     32-34kg lambs sold on a steady market at $80-$83, to average $2.54/kg.    The heaviest lambs weighed were ewe lambs, 38-40kg, which sold for $85 at $2.25/kg.    There were almost more prime lambs offered than stores with 1252 on the books. Prices were mainly steady with the bulk selling for $81-$129, though one small line sold to $131 and    A bigger offering of 2th ewes mainly sold for $65-$81