NZFarmer : January 19th 2010
7 Straight Furrow • January 19, 2010 NewsWeek John Labes, Otago farming leader Community stalwart honoured for selfless service TRIBUTES have flowed in recent weeks for an influential Otago farm- ing leader who has retired after an extraordinary range of service to the Lawrence community, Otago farmers and New Zealand woolgrowers spanning 40 years. John Labes was awarded life member- ship of the Clutha Agricultural Development Board at a Christmas func- tion in Lawrence. On the same night he was made a life member of the Lawrence Lions Club, to add to similar awards he has received from the Tuapeka Goldfields Museum, of which he was a founding member, and the town's Jaycees club. Mr Labes, a former executive officer of the Clutha Agricultural Development Board, was involved during that organisa- tion's formative years when it came out of a district strategic review managed by the Ministry of Agriculture under the late John Falloon. He was vice-chairman to the late Alan Shaw and to Peter Cummings from 1995 to 1999. Mr Cummings said Mr Labes played a crucial role in establishing a pro- fessional structure that had sur vived when no other district was able to establish such an organisation. As executive officer from 1999 to early 2005, Mr Labes led the board's involve- ment in Landcare groups, drought com- mittees, work on sheep genetics, manag- ing a crucial district water study and beginning the FarmSafe work. He also organised an associate action group in the battle against Californian thistle, which led to recent biocontrol success in this area. Current Clutha Agricultural Development Board chairman Dave Inder of Paretai, said Mr Labes managed the board successfully through five crucial years when interest in the organisation could easily have waned and income could have dried up. "The board needed an organised, enthu- siastic, strategic thinking individual, and John's promotion of the board and its work was great," he said. His wife Aileen also ably supported the board as secretary by keeping the paper- work and finances in order, Mr Inder said. "John and Aileen Labes have been a team who have done the Ag Board and the district proud," he said. Mr Labes was an active member of Federated Farmers for many years and rose through the ranks to serve as chair- man of the Otago branch's meat and wool section and on the dominion executive of that organisation. With his national profile in Federated Farmers and as vice-president of the Sheep Owners Industrial Union of Employers, he was elected to the New Zealand Wool Board in 1983, which he describes as a "fantastic experience". A special interest in wool research spun into 10 years service to the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand, of which he also holds life membership and chaired for five years. When Mr Labes finished with the New Zealand Wool Board in 1995, he chaired the New Zealand Sheep Council for the next three years. "That was very satisfying because we produced a series of booklets of really useful information for farmers on things like feed budgeting and pasture manage- ment that were successful and widely cir- culated," he said. The couple retired to Mosgiel before Christmas. firstname.lastname@example.org By ROBTIPA John Labes THE dairy based investment company MyFarm is offering a new sheep and beef syndicate with five to seven per cent returns. Last year was a good one for MyFarm: the company settled 45 investors into six properties in New Zealand and two in Australia with a net asset value of approximately $65.7million. MyFarm director Andrew Watters said all farms invest- ed in last year were dairy but investors were also showing keen interest in sheep and beef investment. Kaiangaroa station near Taihape is a 2000ha top quali- ty property. A large portion of the farm is suitable for finish- ing, and there are forward contracts for supplying lamb out of season. "Returns from that are five to seven per cent, which is not unlike a dairy farm." There has been strong and grow- ing demand over the past six months from investors attracted to the security of a farming investment. Most of the investors are New Zealanders and some expat Kiwis that have always found productive property in New Zealand to be a good secure investment, he said. "There is an acknowledgement that farms last year and this year can be purchased at more realistic prices (up to 25 per cent less for stock and land than the 2008 boom)." Using reasonably conservative pay-it-out forecasts, an investment into a good quality dairy farm in Canterbury or Southland without too much debt, can generate pretty attractive business returns with min- imal risk, he said. Mr Watters said because of this there were quite a few people enter- ing the investment market that had- n't historically been there. These included sheep farm- ers that saw a good opportuni- ty to invest in dairy without converting their own proper- ties; farmers that had sold property in the high period and saw this as a good opportunity to invest part of their money back into the sector; and a few wealthy Kiwis that saw invest- ing in farming as a good alterna- tive to the traditional sharemarket. Looking ahead to 2010, Mr Watters said MyFarm had a good outlook in terms of dairy payout but pre- dictability was relatively low. MyFarm syndicates are forecast to produce cash yields of five to seven per cent per annum, based on pay- outs significantly lower than the cur- rent $6.05/kgMS Fonterra milk price plus value return forecast. "It's good to be relatively conserv- ative, not paying too much for prop- erty, not having too much debt, and not having an overly aggressive busi- ness plan." email@example.com HIGH flying Mosgiel-based new technology develop- er TracMap NZ Ltd has signed up three new American distributors of its award win- ning GPS guidance systems for agriculture. TracMap produces guidance systems for vehicles operating in hazardous environments and is the major provider of GPS sys- tems to farmers and the fertilis- er spreading industry in New Zealand. The company has targeted the United States and Australia as two key markets that offer posi- tive growth opportunities for export. The company now has nine international distributors, five in the US and three in Australia. It has sold units, largely through word of mouth, into Australia, Alaska, Russia, Bulgaria, Canada, the US and South Africa. Managing director Colin Brown expects sales in the United States will be worth about $300,000 this year and potential orders worth between $500,000 and $1 million in the following two years. Mr Brown, who won the New Zealand Young Farmer of the Year title in 1982, recently returned from a sales trip to the US. While there he signed up Californian company Storm King Mountain to promote and dis- tribute the company's ground- based products, with an imme- diate focus on bulldozers build- ing firebreaks in mountainous country. "There has always been a problem in providing bulldoz- er operators with adequate situ- ational awareness," Mr Brown said. "Our units provide the robust- ness and ease of operation that allows drivers to clearly see a map of the terrain ahead of them, as well as any hazards or protected sites to be avoided, such as native burial grounds." Mr Brown said Storm King Mountain had excellent linkages into the rural fire fighting indus- try throughout North America. He also signed up Turbine Conversions in Minnesota and IsoLair Helicopter Systems in Oregon to sell the company's aviation product. "Just as in New Zealand, pilots like the simplicity and reliability of our units, particularly when operating in hill country, or where they have numerous small fields to cover," he said. "We have designed some unique features into our sys- tems not available in any other similar product, such as display of background farm maps and the ability to fly multiple base- lines." TracMap also exhibited its products at the US National Agricultural Aviation Association's annual conference in Reno Nevada, where Mr Brown said there was a great deal of genuine interest from pilots who were dissatisfied with the reliability and cost of other products on the market. Being associated with well- known and respected compa- nies such as Simplex Manufacturing, and now Turbine Conversions and IsoLair, helped considerably, because "we don't have the same credibility issues as if we were trying to do it alone". TracMap NZ Ltd has exhibited rapid growth since its market launch in October 2006. The company recently secured 50th place on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific ranking with a 560 per cent increase in turnover over the past three years of trading. It was placed eighth in the Deloitte Fast 50 for New Zealand companies. The company won the Telecommunication Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) rural award in August 2008 and was also a finalist in three other categories at the TUANZ awards, for initiative of the year, mobile application of the year and ICT innovator of the year. TracMap was also listed as one of three finalists in the Gen- i NZ incubator awards for the Innovation of the Year category. Dairy investment company releases sheep, beef offer Andrew Watters By BRONWYN SAVAGE Kiwi technology developer cracks tough US market By ROBTIPA Colin Brown with his award winning TracMap GPS system. . . back from a successful marketing trip to the US. ONE FARM ALL YEAR ROUND ACCESS BRIDGES AND STOCK UNDERPASSES 400 Heads Road, Wanganui Phone 06-349-1788 Fax 06-344-2406 A/hrs 06-345-0082 or 06-345-6100 NZ1096017 Est 1948 EMMETTS CIVIL CONSTRUCTION LTD Contact the people who have developed practical solutions to every possible access problem. They're the North Island specialists in farm access bridges and stock underpasses.
January 27th 2010