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Farming

Robert McVitty's failed farming businesses in Hawke's Bay and Fielding finally wound up.

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Feilding farmer Robert McVitty's failed farming empire has finally been wrapped up, with most of the millions of dollars owed to creditors paid back.

The five-year-long saga ended in July, when the liquidation of one of his companies, Patoka Dairies Ltd, was completed by Grant Thornton.

According to the final liquidation report, Bank of New Zealand was left $1.5 million out of pocket.

Unsecured creditors were owed $3.36m, although $2.94m of that was due to McVitty Properties Ltd - another company McVitty ran before it was taken over by receivers and liquidators.

McVitty Properties was the second of McVitty's two companies that were involved in converting beef and sheep farms to dairy.

But the projects could not be completed because the companies ran out of money due to delays, spiralling costs and a reduced milk payout from Fonterra in 2008/09.

The farms in Hawke's Bay and Manawatu were initially placed under the control of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which, according to receivership reports filed with the Companies Office, ran them while finishing the conversions.

The receivers were called in by Bank of New Zealand, which was owed $83.5m collectively from both companies.

The farms were converted by the receivers, and were run before being sold for various amounts.

Soon after the receiverships began, Maurice Noone of PricewaterhouseCoopers said bringing them up to full production was the way to recover debts.

"This is not a liquidation and carve-up, " he said in March 2010.

After the farms were sold, liquidators were called in to mop up the companies.

According to the final liquidation report for McVitty Properties, liquidators could not find any more money for creditors, who were left $3m out of pocket.

Before the farming businesses went under, McVitty made headlines for shooting a cow in front of an Agriculture and Forestry Ministry investigator, which landed him in court.

He was fined $1000 for wilful obstruction of an animal welfare inspector.

The investigator spotted the cow in a trailer, unrestrained, with hts head hanging near oncoming traffic.

While he spoke to farm workers, McVitty came out of a building with a shotgun.

He proceeded to shoot the cow, despite protests from the investigator.

After the shooting, he said: "It's dead now.

"It's all over and you can get off my property. You're trespassing."

Once a vet had arrived, the animal was found to have been in poor physical condition.

McVitty also threatened the vet, saying they would regret testifying in court.

Hawke's Bay schools get digging for conservation.

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Hawke’s Bay’s annual ‘Conservation Week’ schools planting programme begins at Tūtira this Monday (3 August).

Pan Pac Forest Products Ltd is again sponsoring this event which is in its twenty-third year and is run in conjunction with Department of Conservation and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

Each year, five schools take part and this year Greenmeadows, Frimley, Bledisloe, Twyford and Mayfair school students will be bused to Tūtira to experience conservation work first hand.

This year there is a new arrangement with the Guthrie Smith Trust who will take each school group for a walk and talk around their Arboretum at Tūtira and introduce students to the wide range of trees from around the world that are growing there.

Students will plant native trees and shrubs near the shore of Lake Tūtira. On some days, a representative from Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust will talk to them about the Māori history of this area.

Before heading back to school, the afternoon session includes a stop at White Pine Bush and DOC staff will guide students through native New Zealand forest where kahikatea is the prominent species.

These planting days are held ahead of the national Conservation Week as this is the best time to plant native trees to ensure they will grow. Over the twenty-three years of the joint programme, there have been around 115 Hawke’s Bay school groups involved and many hundreds of students.

Declining prices could have a real impact on Hawke's Bay farmers.

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Following the latest GDT auction result, Rural Value says there are already indications of a change in sentiment in the market which could lead to a decline in farm sale prices and values in some parts of the country.

Rural Value is a division of Quotable Value (QV) New Zealand's largest valuation and property services company which offers independent and extensive services across the residential, rural, government and commercial sectors in New Zealand and Australia.

Rural Value National Manager, David Paterson said, “There’s a reasonable expectation that the drop in dairy farm incomes will lead to a reduction in the sale price of dairy farms.”

“We are noticing a definite change in sentiment following the latest Fonterra GDT auction and over the past few months we’ve witnessed a significant decline in the number of farm sales recorded, he said.”

“Prior to the last two or three GDT auctions the market had been operating on the basis that the current commodity prices are a short term aberration and that the market would pick up through the season.”

“However the latest auction, which resulted in yet another reduction, has prompted serious doubt in the market.”

“The projected pay-out is now below the cost of production for most operators and there is now anecdotal evidence of pressure on some farmers to sell before their financial situation deteriorates further.”

“Purchasers are also holding off on making investment decisions until there is a clearer picture of what is happening in the global dairy market and are waiting for distressed sales to occur to see what happens in the rural property market as a result.”

Rural Value has a number of highly skilled and qualified rural valuers working in the dairying areas of the country including Waikato, Manuwatu, Wairarapa, Whanganui, Hawkes Bay, Canterbury, Westland and Otago/Southland. Their insights show the impact of the decreasing dairy prices on the rural land market has so far been varied in different parts of the country.

Rural Value Napier Registered Valuer Bevan Pickett said “the general sentiment of the wider rural market in 2015 in Hawke’s Bay has been positive. There has been good interest shown in properties offered to the market and in most cases good sale prices achieved.”

“The dairying portion of Hawke’s Bay rural profile is relatively small and confined largely to the southern and western portions of the district. For these farmers the impact is real and there will be some clear effect on the region.”

Keen waterfowl hunters wanted in Hawke's Bay

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Operation Duck Pond is still looking for keen waterfowl hunters (or family members and friends) who are able to monitor their ponds over the coming breeding season.

Last year was our first year of the 'citizen science' project, a term that refers to local people (non-scientists) helping in scientific work such as birds counts.

Fish & Game recruited 19 active participants, but needs more; at least 50 ponds are needed to provide enough data to evaluate what habitat features make an ideal breeding pond.

That's why we are counting on you or perhaps family members or relations to help us out.

It doesn't call for a major time commitment; participants are asked to do only four surveys, so volunteers don't have to set aside huge hours.

Duck counts are conducted during the peak of waterfowl breeding, to provide Fish & Game with the best possible data to determine waterfowl use of the ponds as accurately as possible .

If you're keen to help with the collection of data and are prepared to monitor a pond - a fun and fulfilling project, and one that that will help New Zealand's waterfowl and other native water-dependant birds - this is for you.

Don't forget - we are keen to hear from a wide range of people, including youngsters.

Kids - depending on your age, you may need to line up support from mum and dad, a friend or relation.

Regards,
Nathan Burkepile
Operation Duck Pond Coordinator
Northland: 09 - 438 4135
Or Mob: 021-222-7920

To find out more please contact:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or go to: http://www.fishandgame.org.nz/mallard-duck-research
Or visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Operation-Duck-Pond/677991852233814

Even the lawyers say Hawke's Bay stock numbers should come down - Greenss

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Legal advice that says Hawke’s Bay farmers might have to reduce stock numbers in order to mitigate pollution to waterways, will have implications for water allocation all over New Zealand, the Green Party said today.

Earlier this year, a Board of Inquiry ruled that the proposed $80million Ruataniwha Dam in Hawke’s Bay can only go ahead if farmers taking water from the scheme keep the amount of nitrogen from their farms entering waterways below certain limits.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) sought advice from law firm Simpson Grierson on whether farmers could be exempt from that limit if their farms take a best practice approach.

"HBRC are desperate for this dam to go through no matter what," said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

"HBRC have tried to wriggle out of the conditions the Board decided on by getting this advice.

"However, it has backfired, and the lawyers have said that even best practice methods do not let farmers away with high nitrogen outputs, and they will have to reduce stock numbers.

"This advice has implications for other water storage schemes in the works around the country. Every one of them needs to take the environment into account, and not let commercial interests outweigh protection of our water quality.

"Many parts of the Tukituki catchment are all already at the limit of what the environment can handle.

"But HBRC appears determined to see the Ruataniwha dam go ahead no matter what damage it does to water quality.

"New Zealanders want rivers they can swim in, not rivers that are degraded by algal blooms, infested with weeds, or pose a health risk, which is what happens when too much nitrogen and other pollutants from agriculture enter the water.

"Reducing stock numbers is a sensible approach, as it’s the volume of waste from animals that degrades water quality. Fewer animals means less waste, which means less pollution in the long run," Ms Delahunty said.

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