Friday Offcuts – 25 May 2018

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Late last week the announcement on Australia’s largest plantation-based hardwood mill and the first ever hardwood cross-laminated production plant for the country was made. The Hermal Group, who sold the Heyfield Timber Mill to the Victoria Government last year, has selected an 80ha site in Hampshire in north-west Tasmania (inland from Burnie) for their new AU$190 million operation. Forico will be supplying most of the timber for the new mill, it’s expected to create around 200 jobs and construction is expected to start later this year and be completed by around mid-2020.

In New Zealand this week amidst the ongoing commentary on record log exports into China, both in terms of volume and price, comes a note of warning from one bank economist - “let’s be careful out there”. Although record softwood and lumber imports were recorded in 2017 (see stories below), he’s predicting that Chinese building activity is expected to ease in the year ahead. This may in turn lead to a softening in demand for New Zealand logs and as a consequence, prices.

For those involved in growing, log harvesting, transporting and exporting in NZ, the message from the economist is, keep an eye out on this particular segment of the Chinese economy in the months ahead. The better news is that local wood processors may in fact be the beneficiaries of any upcoming correction - if it comes. In another report this week though, contrary to the predictions by Westpac, the remainder of the year according to AgriHQ still looks bright for log exporters. Record volumes of softwood log exports went out in March and they’re forecasting further strength in the market through to the end of this year.

On the other side of the Tasman, Australia has been doing alright as well. Stats released this week by ABARES show that the country’s forestry sector has reported its fourth consecutive year of strong growth in log harvest volumes along with higher wood processing industry output. Wood Volumes harvested in 2016-17 reached record levels topping 33 million cubic metres, a 10 per cent increase on the previous year. The value of harvested logs, and sawn wood production were up, as was the value of wood exports. The link to the full report can be found in the story below.

And finally, in our featured tech space this week, we’re often highlighting trends being seen with robotics and automation. Experts inside and outside our own industry are increasingly being brought into FIEA technology events to outline recent advancements and opportunities open to local companies. Principally the focus has been on manufacturing industries. This time it’s closer to home and this time it’s in wood harvesting. Two small teams of University of Canterbury Engineering students with the backing of FWPA and FGR have been working on developing ideas for the next generation of machines which will be able to extract wood autonomously. Mechanical and mechatronic students have designed and are already building an autonomous model forwarder prototype. The goal here is in proof of concept. Watch this space. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Chinese softwood wood imports reach new high’s

China imported record high volumes of softwood logs and lumber in 2017, making the country the largest log importer in the world and the second largest lumber importer after the US, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly. Over the past two years there has been a sharp shift towards importing lumber rather than logs, with lumber volumes in 2017 exceeding logs by 36%.

With limited domestic forest resources, China continues to be a major importer of forest products in order to meet its growing domestic demand for logs, lumber, chips, pulp and paper. In 2017, import volumes of both softwood logs and softwood lumber reached all-time highs despite a slowing activity in the house construction sector. Over the past ten years, the total importation of softwood logs and softwood lumber has gone up 3.5 times in roundwood equivalents (RWE), according to the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ).

Over the past two years, importation of lumber has grown much faster than has importation of logs, with lumber import volumes in 2017 surpassing log import volumes by 36% (in RWE). This is a shift from the past, when there were substantially more shipments of logs than lumber entering Chinese ports. Today, China is the world’s largest importer of logs and the second largest importer of lumber after the US. With these large volumes being shipped to this growing dynamic market, there have been a number of changes in supply sources based on availability and costs over the years.

On the lumber side, the biggest changes over the past five years include a more than doubling of shipments from Russia, declining imports from North America, and higher shipments from the Nordic countries, reports the WRQ. In the short to mid-term, it is likely that European lumber producers will increase shipments to China, while lumber producers in Western Canada may choose to ship their products to the hot US lumber market where lumber prices are at record high levels.

The changes in log suppliers over the past five years have been more dramatic than those for lumber, and there are also fewer countries shipping logs to China as compared to the number shipping lumber. Five supplying countries, New Zealand, Russia, the US, Australia and Canada together accounted for 92% of total log imports in 2017. The biggest change from 2013 to 2017 was that Australia became a major source of logs, with volumes increasing from 1.6 million m3 in 2013 to 4.2 million m3 in 2017.

Source: Wood Resources International LLC,

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New forestry apprenticeships on offer

Forestry companies across New Zealand could benefit from new apprenticeship programmes designed to upskill their workers ahead of predicted industry growth. Industry training organisation Competenz has launched two forest harvesting apprenticeships – one in manual operations and one in mechanised operations.

These apprenticeship programmes come at a time the forestry sector is poised for growth following the government's pledge in January to plant one billion new trees over the next ten years. With mechanisation increasing the new apprenticeships will ensure apprentices gain key entry-level skills and knowledge before advancing to operation of mechanised processors and harvesters.

Competenz chief executive Fiona Kingsford said over 11,000 people were employed in the forestry sector in 2017 and 4339 more will be needed by 2022 to replace workers who retire or leave. "This year alone there is demand for up to 1000 workers nationally and about 500 of those are needed to fill existing roles being vacated by people retiring or changing jobs.

Kingsford said a qualified workforce leads to greater efficiency, safety, productivity and profitability. "There's a lot of focus right now on the future of forestry – the goal to plant a billion trees, and the investment through the Provincial Growth Fund. It is vital our workforce is skilled and productive to meet the government's growth targets.

"Nearly 65 per cent of the forestry workforce has no post-school qualification, but we would like to see that number reduce. Training and education are essential if the sector is becoming more mechanised and moving into to a period of rapid growth," she said.

Appointed to the Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group this week, Kingsford said the new apprenticeships have been designed with extensive input from the forestry sector. The two apprenticeships fall under the government's fees free scheme that makes the first two years of industry training free for some people.

"There's no better time for forestry companies to take on an apprentice.For people new to forestry or for those already working in the industry but haven't completed tertiary training before – this is a real opportunity to start getting qualified at no cost.

"Workers will grow their skills and knowledge and gain NZQA-recognised qualifications while learning on-the-job," she said. For more information contact your local Competenz Account Manager.

Source: NZ Herald

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Site for new AU$190M CLT mill selected

Early last week the potential site for the Hermal Group's new hard wood operation in Tasmania was being debated by the media. Late last week the announcement on the location was made. The Hermal Group on Thursday announced that an 80-hectare site in Hampshire will be the location of their AU$190 million Cross Laminated Plantation timber mill and production facility.

The new facility will be Australia’s largest plantation-based hardwood mill and the first ever hardwood cross-laminated production plant. Once complete, the facility expects to create around 221 jobs, and a further 160 jobs will be created during the construction phase.

The Hodgman Government is backing this game-changing Hampshire project and the hundreds of jobs it will provide with a AU$13 million grant and training support. A loan of up to AU$30 million also will be available.

Source: Premier of Tasmania

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Australasian Forest Products Industry Map out now

The only thing that is constant is change… This of course applies to the wood products industry. Every two years Australasia’s wood processing and manufacturing industry is detailed in an eagerly awaited Forest Products Industry Map that’s produced for this region. The new 2018 map has just been printed.

This is the third edition of a full colour 980mm wide x 680mm tall map produced by the Forest Industry Engineering Association combining major wood processing and manufacturing plants in both Australia and New Zealand.

It features 186 wood processing operations including over 70 sawmills (with sawn timber production levels), all fibreboard, particleboard, plywood, pulp & paper, veneer/LVL/CLT, paperboard and chip export operations along with major wood manufacturing operations.

Since the last edition produced in early 2016 there have been over 50 major updates to mill locations, ownership and production. Changes in the last two years have indeed been significant. The new map is now the most up-to-date industry reference providing an essential mapping resource for New Zealand and Australian forest products companies.

If you haven’t yet received a copy of the new map, orders can now be made from the FIEA website ( or by clicking here.

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East Coast celebrates 2018 Forestry Awards

The 2018 Eastland Wood Council Forestry Awards were a record-breaker across the board, and fittingly produced the first two-time supreme winner. Ricky Kuru – from Kuru Contracting – was toasted last Friday by more than 500 guests at the Awards dinner as the Eastland Wood Council Skilled Forestry Professional of the Year, as well as collecting the individual Roading Excellence Award. Mr Kuru last won the top award in 2013.

In its ninth year, the Awards attracted the most entries ever, the highest calibre of nominations, some of the closest competition in categories and the biggest celebration dinner.

For the past 16 years Mr Kuru’s company has provided road line harvesting and road construction services to Hikurangi Forest Farms, and many others prior to that. He is known for his efficiency and high standard of work on all sorts of terrain. He has a strong focus on training for himself and his team – a trait he has carried since he first started in the forestry industry in 1992.

The multi-generational Kuru Contracting began as a family business, with Mr Kuru and his wife Leanne taking over from his own parents. Sheldon Drummond, who chaired the Awards’ judging panel, praised Mr Kuru and his crew.

“He has diversified over the years and continued to develop excellence while providing excellent service to the companies he works for,” said Mr Drummond. “There were several others very close for that overall award, but Ricky came through as a clear winner in the end.”

The Awards have continued to grow in both stature and numbers over the past nine years. “It is an industry which is growing but we are also now into our third generation of forestry people from within the region. So, it is an industry which is feeding on its own expertise and we are really developing excellence as we go”.

“Entries are up about 25% on last year and just continue to grow. We are just over the moon with the quality of entrants and where the industry has come from and gone to in the past 30-plus years. Forestry on the East Coast is no longer a fledgling industry – it is up and running and growing.”

“When the first commercial logging in plantation forestry began in the region back in 1985 in Patunamu Forest, the loggers came from Bay of Plenty. That has all changed now and it is awesome to see leading expertise emerging from within Tairawhiti,” he said. “Plans are already well underway for an extra special celebration for next year’s 10-year anniversary”.

The full list of award winners for this year can be found here.

Photo: Maa Parata, Operations Manager Kuru Contracting accepting the award on behalf of Ricky Kuru, Anne Tolley, MP

Source: Eastland Wood Council

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Latest stats positive for Australian forest products industry


The latest issue of the Australian forest and wood products statistics (AFWPS) includes 2016-17 data for key domestic indicators of forestry sector activity, including Australia's commercial plantation estate, volume and value of logs harvested, wood products production and trade. This issue also presents updated quarterly data for dwelling unit commencements for the September and December quarters of 2017.

Key findings

Business conditions strengthened for Australia's forestry sector in 2016-17, with the fourth consecutive year of strong growth in log harvest volumes supported by higher wood processing industry output.

The total volume of logs harvested from commercial plantations and native production forests reached record levels in 2016-17, exceeding 33 million cubic metres, a 10 per cent increase from the 2015-16 log harvest and 45 per cent higher since 2012-13. The gross value of logs harvested also reached a record level, up 13 per cent from the previous year to $2.6 billion (mill door prices).

Australia's production of sawnwood has been growing since 2011-12 and reached 5.2 million cubic metres in 2016-17, up 3 per cent from the previous year. The strong export performance of Australia's wood products industries in recent years continued in 2016-17, with the total value of wood product exports increasing to $3.5 billion (up 11 per cent from the previous year).

Following three years of consecutive growth, the total value of wood product imports decreased in 2016-17 to $5.3 billion (down 4 per cent from the previous year). Dwelling commencements decreased to 220,900 dwellings in 2016-17, down 5 per cent from the previous year, which was primarily driven by a 10 per cent decrease in the number of new residential buildings other than houses, such as units and apartments.

The full report can be viewed here

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Engineers developing robotic skidder and forwarders

With the support of Forest Wood Products Australia (FWPA) and Forest Growers Research (FGR), two small teams of University of Canterbury Engineering students have been working on developing ideas for next generation autonomous extraction machines. The Forest Engineering students (Georgie Holdaway, Toby Bell and James Ma) have looked into the cut-over operating environment and explored ideas as to what a robotic extraction might look like.

The drawing shown (by Seamus Bardoul) is effectively a skidder capable of extracting trees, with the vision that a logging operation would have multiple units that extract the stems from a manned feller-buncher that fells and loads, and autonomously brings them back to the landing for processing.

“You can see by the design that such robotic skidder would be very manoeuvrable, without the need for a cab have very low centre of gravity for stability, and with the stems being held in clam-bunk manner directly over the drive wheels have excellent traction capability”, says their supervisor Prof Rien Visser. The second group with Mechanical and Mechatronic students (Jordan Treanor, Alex Hartley, Grant Harvey and Brendon May) have designed and are already building an autonomous model forwarder prototype.

“The goal here is here is proof of concept, and the real challenge will be in developing the guidance system that proves a machine can navigate itself through a forest environment” says Visser. Such a navigation system could then be installed into an existing forwarder, with the operator being able rest and relax as the forwarder drives itself to and from the landing. That team is also being mentored by Prof XiaoQi Chen who specialises in mechatronic applications and has been involved in a number of FGR projects.

“It is great to see these young engineers getting involved in equipment design, it bodes well for additional equipment manufacturing opportunities and innovation that will link the next generation of forest engineers with mechatronic disciplines and skills coming out of Australasia in the near future”, says FWPA R&D manager Chris Lafferty.

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Enough wood for proposed NZ$180M plant

Concerns that there may not be enough wood fibre to supply a new NZ$180 million particleboard plant proposed for Kawerau, NZ have been quashed by an industry study which concludes "there is more than enough wood available" although it notes the increased demand may push up prices in an industry dependent on low-cost supply.

China’s Guangxi Fenglin Wood Industry Group last year announced plans to establish a plant in Kawerau by 2020 to produce 600,000 cubic metres of panel boards a year and generate 100 new jobs, at an expected cost of NZ$180 million. That prompted push back from some in the industry, with the Wood Processors & Manufacturers Association of New Zealand raising concerns that timber mills in the region didn’t produce enough wood fibre to supply the proposed plant as well as existing big pulp mills of Kinleith in Tokoroa and Tasman in Kawerau, which are owned by Japan’s Oji Fibre Solutions. Fenglin’s proposed plant is expected to initially produce particle board and later expand to medium-density fibre board (MDF).

"There is more than enough wood available to support an additional 700,000 cubic metres of domestic fibre demand," Finland forestry consultancy Indufor concluded in its evaluation of wood fibre availability for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. "The question becomes the availability by fibre type (and hence fibre cost)."

Pulp log prices in New Zealand have remained remarkably static over recent years even though prices for other log types have surged higher. Data from NZX's agricultural analysis business AgriHQ shows average national pulp log prices have fallen over the past six years, from $52.60 a tonne in the first quarter of 2012 to $50.50 a tonne in the first quarter of this year. That's in contrast to other log prices, with A-grade export logs surging from $82.70 a tonne to $131.30 a tonne over the same period, and domestic S1 logs jumping from $98.40 a tonne to $131.20 a tonne.

More >>.

Source: BusinessDesk

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Slowdown being suggested for forestry

New Zealand’s forestry sector has had a stellar two to three years, with China soaking up the country’s logs as fast as they could be sent there. However, Westpac industry economist Paul Clark explains clouds are gathering, to Simon Hartley of the Otago Daily Times.

New Zealand's forestry owners, managers and contractors are being cautioned to heed the changing times, as Chinese building activity is expected to ease in the year ahead. Westpac industry economist Paul Clark said the Chinese softening in demand during the next year is expected to slow demand for New Zealand logs, and prices should fall as a consequence.

"This won’t be good news for forestry owners, managers and contractors, who have, for some time, dined out on China’s massive appetite for logs. Cashflow-dependent contractors will be especially vulnerable during this time," Mr Clark said in report on the forestry and wood processing sector.

However, as with every supply and demand story there is a winner, and Mr Clark picked lower prices would be better news for the downstream wood processing industry. That sector had struggled during the past two to compete with prices paid by the Chinese for logs produced locally, he said.

"Since 2008, the volume of logs exported has grown by a whopping 190%," Mr Clark said. That was mainly because of the growth in demand from China. Almost 12.7 million cubic metres, or 70% of softwood logs harvested in New Zealand were exported to China in the year ending June 2017. That figure compared with just 1.4 million cum exported in 2008, he said.

"Not surprisingly, earnings generated from exporting logs to China have also risen sharply, from $131 million in 2008 to $1.9billion for the year ending June 2017," he said.

Mr Clark said the increase was largely driven by strong demand from China’s subsidised wood processing sector, supplying its own construction sector. Increased Chinese demand came from a lowering of import tariffs on logs and a clampdown on logging activity, following an extended period of unsustainable harvesting in China.

"Residential building activity in China has begun to slow, with recent indicators suggesting that there’s been a decline in completed dwellings. The implementation of wide-ranging structural reforms in China, slower economic conditions overall and tighter credit conditions is likely to deepen contraction, slowing demand for New Zealand exports”, he said.

However, Mr Clark said the medium to long-term outlook for demand looked promising for log producers. "As the world’s population expands, so too will the demand for logs. "Growth will be driven by emerging markets, especially those that have large populations and rising income levels," he said of countries such as India, the Philippines, Indonesia and potentially Brazil. Demand from India, in particular, was expected to grow strongly as its economy expanded, following a similar, albeit delayed, trajectory to that of China’s economy”.

"That’s not to say that there will be no further growth in demand from China," Mr Clark said. “While China’s population growth had slowed dramatically because of its strict adherence in the past to the one-child policy, and its economic growth pace had "ratcheted down", China’s urbanisation drive still had some way to run”, Mr Clark said.

"This is likely to mean that over the medium to long-term, residential building activity should continue to grow strongly, which is likely to be good news for New Zealand exports," he said.

New Zealand’s downstream sawmillers, in particular, should benefit from having to pay lower prices in the future and having more logs being directed to their mills, as external demand slows. "Whether they will be able to take advantage of this depends on what happens to residential building activity domestically," Mr Clark said.

New Zealand’s competitive advantage is in growing logs, producing them quicker than most other countries. However, New Zealand loses that competitive edge in downstream processing, as it does not have the economies of scale to compete head-on with large overseas producers.

"Despite some significant investment, this is unlikely to change anytime soon," Mr Clark said. Mr Clark painted a tough "knock-on" effect for sector participants, in the event prices begin to soften. He said forest owners and forestry managers were much more likely to limit their harvesting activities, which would mean lower revenues and falling investment returns.

"This will have negative consequences for contractors, particularly those involved in logging, a large number of whom will be heavily indebted because of prior investments made in capital equipment when times were good," he cautioned. “Those cashflow-dependent operators were unlikely to survive for any period of time and could well leave the industry”.

Transport contractors could similarly be affected, and while being able to service other industries, they would face strong competition. Domestic road freight charges could be forced lower.


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Moreland invests in PBS road train

South Australian logging transport company, Moreland Holdings, has taken delivery of a Performance-Based Standards (PBS) approved A-double road train combination from Kennedy Trailers. While other trailers in the 33-strong fleet are capable of carrying up to 45 tonnes, the newest addition to the business will be able to carry 62 tonnes.

“It’s almost a third in extra payload – the same sort of benefit that was achieved by being able to go from a single to a double trailer years ago,” said Transport Manager, Kelvin Moreland. “In terms of manoeuvrability, it has the same tracking as a 26-metre B-double, despite the extra four metres in length.”

Kennedy Trailers has provided eight B-double trailers to Moreland Holdings, but this is the first A-Double logging trailer to be built by the East Gippsland based trailer manufacturer. In order to meet PBS criteria, it has also been manufactured so that the static rollover threshold is always maintained for added safety.

The A-Double has been fitted with EBS braking, which Moreland said has been a major step forward in safety and is particularly important with logging trailers, along with four onboard scales, automatic load binders, folding front guards to constrain the logs, work lights around the entire trailer, and a fifth wheel and Rockinger couplings from JOST.

Moreland Holdings has been using JOST fifth wheels for many years, but this is the first trailer in the fleet to be fitted with the company’s Rockinger couplings. More >>.

Source & Photo:

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NZ log exports smash new monthly record

New Zealand exported a record volume of softwood logs in March, as shipments to most major markets increased, with further strength forecast through the rest of the year, according to AgriHQ, NZX's agricultural analysis business.

The country shipped a record 1.975 million cubic metres of softwood logs overseas in March, up 22 percent from both the February level and from March last year, AgriHQ said in its latest monthly forestry market report. That beat the previous monthly record set in October last year and puts first quarter log exports 22 percent above last year's levels.

All major destinations for New Zealand logs were up in March, except Japan due to timing issues, although Indian shipments had been volatile as regulators clamp down on the Indian banking system and South Korea was subdued due to a sluggish economy, the report said.

"A stellar March for exports of NZ softwood logs broke previous records," AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said under a section of the report titled 'Only direction upwards'. "Expectations are for the strength in this market to continue throughout 2018, with demand expected to pick up from India in the second half of the year."

The latest gains come after New Zealand shipped a record 18.8 million cubic metres of softwood logs overseas last year, up 18 percent on 2016, with exports to China jumping 29 percent and accounting for three-quarters of the total. AgriHQ said exports to China continued to grow in March, up 20 percent on year-earlier levels and marking 14 straight months of gains. He noted China's log imports in March were "incredibly strong" this year as Chinese New Year celebrations, which typically lead to a slowdown, occurred in February.

"Any worries around a post-Chinese New Year log slump have been put to bed," Brick said. "In fact, the past few weeks have been among the most encouraging in at least the past twelve months, arguably longer."

Log offtake levels at Chinese ports have rushed above previous record rates, with periods where more than 100,000 cubic metres a day has come off, with the average rate sitting around 90,000-95,000 cubic metres a day, he said. That has pulled port-level inventories down to 3.8-4.2 million cubic metres and it’s very likely these figures will be even lower by this time next month, he said.

The combination of higher in-market pricing and the falling value of the New Zealand dollar against the greenback had pushed log export returns further towards record territory, although rising shipping rates had held back values a little, Brick said.

Shipping rates were firmer through April and there were mixed views on where shipping rates will track with some saying elevated oil prices pointed towards a lift while others believed there was enough spare shipping capacity across the globe to keep a lid on rates in the medium term, Brick said.

"As a whole, it is still one of the strongest periods ever to be a log trader," Brick said. "Export markets continue to keep domestic mills on their toes, making them pay near to what can be achieved overseas or simply miss out on supplies."

Source: BusinessDesk

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PM's visit to Brisbane timber operation

Last Thursday the Australian PM visited Kennedy Timber’s Brisbane timber operation. He was accompanied by the country’s Employment and Innovation Minister, Michaelia Cash.

Although principally a political visit (celebrating the 1,000,000th job (or very close to it) with Cherri Adams taking up a sales administration and production support role with the company’s head office - created under the coalition government) it was pleasing to see the business and the industry in Canberra being recognised during question time.

Attached is a link to discussions on the day with Michael Kenedy and the PM. Click on the link here to hear more.

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Serious potential for change with alternate protein

Now this story is out of left field. It is technology based though. However, it just might pique your or your partner's, friends or families interest. The speed of technology change in alternative proteins for food is now attracting increasingly positive comments from high profile leaders across the agriculture and food export sectors. A national conference in Auckland, New Zealand on Tuesday 24 July is set to bring new information for sector leaders.

In this burgeoning field of food technology disruption price points are changing fast. These changes bring opportunities that just a few short years ago were being discounted by market commentators and traditionalists.

These new protein and meat-alternative developments also offer new market advantages to some consumers. The environmental perception of younger consumers with a greater social conscience about the impact of the food they buy and consume is growing.

Entitled “ProteinTECH – Disruptive Innovations in Food Production”, the conference features a strong lineup of independent thinkers including people from leadership, market research and technical roles in this changing food technology sector.

“We’ve brought together a diverse group of skilled people from professional directors to angel investors and technical food technologists to market research specialists. The one thing they have in common is strong awareness and assessments of the attributes of these rapidly developing food production technologies,” says conference director John Stulen.

All rural leaders and industry professionals will find inspiration in the diverse and experienced lineup of speakers that have been brought together for this one-off technology event. These include;

- Melissa Clark Reynolds, Professional Director & Independent Director Beef & Lamb New Zealand
- Paul McGill, Farming Innovation Manager, Landcorp, PAMU
- Rod Oram, Independent Journalist & Economic & Corporate Columnist
- Con Williams, Rural Economist, ANZ Bank
- Blake Holgate, Animal Proteins Analyst, Rabobank
- Nick Beeby, Market Development Manager, Beef and Lamb New Zealand
- Bill Murphy, Executive Director, Enterprise Angels

Further details on the event can be found here.

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US teen ordered to repay NZ$53m for forest fire

A US teenager who started a major wildfire in the scenic Columbia River Gorge in Oregon has been ordered to pay restitution for at least the next decade, though it's unlikely the boy will ever cover his nearly US$37 million bill (about NZ$53m).

The Oregonian reports that Hood River County Circuit Judge John A Olson issued the opinion on Monday (local time), awarding the restitution totaling US$36,618,330.24 to cover the costs of firefighting, repair and restoration to the gorge and damage to homes. Victims include the US Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation.

The 15-year-old from Vancouver, Washington, earlier this year acknowledged wrongdoing and said he threw two fireworks in Eagle Creek Canyon on September 2 when flames spread quickly. The fire caused evacuations, an extended shutdown of a major interstate highway and devastation to a major outdoor tourist attraction.

The judge's order notes that the boy can set up a payment plan, though payments can be halted after 10 years as long as he complies, completes probation and doesn't commit other crimes.

At a hearing last week, the boy's lawyer urged for a "reasonable and rational' penalty, calling the US$37 million sought an "absurd' amount for the child. The restitution is solely the responsibility of the teen, and not his parents, who came to the US from Ukraine.

Olson called it "an extraordinary amount' and then deferred on a separate restitution order because he wanted more time to review the case. The judge said the largest figure he could find for prior juvenile restitution cases in Oregon was US$114,000.

The teen in February pleaded guilty to reckless burning of public and private property and other charges. Olson sentenced him to community service and probation, and the boy had to write more than 150 letters of apology to those affected by the fire that burned 75 square miles (194 square km).

Source: Stuff

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... the new Amazon Alexa

And one more for you. With the final of the European cup being played out this weekend, the following may be of interest.


English Prince gets married

Liverpool won European Cup

Pope dies


English Prince gets married

Liverpool won Champions League

Pope Dies


English Prince gets married

Liverpool in Champions League Final

Pope now really starting to look over his shoulder ….

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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