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National Farming Review August 2017


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Dialogue opens with urban Kiwis By: KATIE MILNE Federated Farmers New Zealand President


irstly, I’d like to thank the council for giving me the support to take up the role of National President. Having been in the hot seat for a little over six weeks I can say it has felt like a true baptism by fire. New animal welfare regulations, the mycoplasma bovis biosecurity issue, and more flooding than you can shake a stick at from north to south have been mixed in with leadership changes, portfolio shuffles, along with new ideas by political parties. It all has to be navigated through with our rural lens in place. Being a new face in the job has been a great opportunity to get in front of mainstream New Zealand media and talk about a mix of issues that face farming families and businesses. So far feedback has been good, with one group of city dwellers telling me that now when they think of farming or farmers they think of food. A further comment was this had led to a change in their thinking, with a realisation we are actually quite important to them, and not just people out to make money at the expense of the environment or animals. That shift in thinking is on the back of honest and open dialogue about how we as farmers are striving for basically the same things as urban NZ when it comes to water quality, animal welfare, the environment, our kids’ education, health and wellbeing, all tied in with a satisfying, invigorating lifestyle — although for some struggling with a wet spring and biosecurity stresses a lifestyle slightly less invigorating would be good right now! One of the things that attracted me to

Federated Farmers years ago — and was a motivating factor to putting my hand up to be your National President — was the collective power of our voluntary membership. With our grassroots base, and ability to interact with the government, councils and myriad agencies at national level, we can do great things when we pull together and act with purpose. I encourage vigorous debate but it’s important that as much as is possible the Federation speaks with one voice and that we promote sensible, practical and affordable (to steal Chris Allen’s mantra) policies and solutions. In the words of William Rolleston ‘we need to



LEIGH CATLEY Ph: 04 470 2162 nfr@fedfarm.org.nz

APRIL VAN DAM Ph: 0800 327 646 avandam@fedfarm.org.nz

be both credible and visible’. We’ve certainly been able to use our clout as a respected voice for New Zealand farmers — not to mention the expertise of our policy team — in the last few weeks. We’ve played a leadership role in getting the sector groups together over the mycoplasma bovis outbreak (see page 5); our staff have been busy in coordination and response actions in the wake of the storms and flooding in Canterbury, Otago (and earlier BOP), with our Adverse Events and feedline 0800 number once again proving its worth, and the political parties have clearly regarded us as a major player as they have formulated and espoused their policies on topics such as immigration, the environment and charging for water. We certainly can’t let up on that advocacy role on political fronts whatever hue of government takes the reins after September 23. I — and the members of the Board and the national staff — are committed to providing your province, and you as a Federated Farmers member, with professional and timely support. Policy responsibilities (portfolios) for National Board members were recently allocated, matching the organisation’s policy priorities for 2017/18, which were reaffirmed by the survey feedback provided by the National Council in February. Given the current situation in South Canterbury it is fitting that biosecurity is in the top three priorities identified! Lastly I would like to thank William, Anders and Rick for all their efforts during their time as board members. There is nothing better to encourage someone into taking up a leadership role than having inspiring leaders to work with and learn from along the way. I have had that privilege in working with you all.

Mr G murals highlight rural HeART On an occasion captured in Puta¯ruru’s biggest selfie, hundreds of locals turned up last month to check out a mural by Mr G on the outside of the town’s Farmland’s Co-operative store. (See page 1). Kiwi artist Graham Hoete, known as Mr G, last year made international headlines with his massive murals of Prince, in the singer’s hometown of Chanhassen, Minnesota, and Kiwi NBA superstar Steven Adams, in downtown Oklahoma City. With the aim of bringing the rural community together through art, Farmlands commissioned him to carry out HeART of the Community, which involves painting murals inspired by local history on the walls of 15 of the co-operative’s 82 stores up and down the country. Paeroa was first. The mural included Clydesdale horses, an echo of the 1800s when up to 400 horses and carts a day would go through Paeroa, transporting goods all around the North Island. The mural on the Invercargill Farmlands store was a tribute to motorcycling legend Burt Munro, aka The World’s Fastest Indian. And now Puta¯ruru, with a mural that captures a forestry scene and the piercing eyes of a ruru/owl. The photo on our cover page shows Mr G talking to local farmer and Farmlands shareholder Alex Graham. “To the Puta¯ruru locals, much love man,” Mr G told the local newspaper. “I have been feeling the love all week except for the weather which was really challenging.” Three stores down . . . 12 to go.

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August 2017 National Farming Review




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Rating, not salary, is sticking point for farmers In some areas, few — if any — Kiwis apply for dairy roles. By: CHRIS LEWIS Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Chairman


HE GOVERNMENT recently relaxed the ‘midskilled’ migrant salary threshold to avoid tough new restrictions down to $41,000. So why are farmers still unhappy? They’re unhappy because in the dairy sector, salary threshold is not the problem. In submissions to the Government the dairy industry did not object to the original threshold of $49,000. The fact is, unless the migrant worker is a farm manager or earns over $73,000, they’re deemed ‘low-skilled’ and booted out of the country after three years. Hardly an incentive to even apply in the first place, and disruptive and expensive for the farmer, who has to look for someone else to plug the gap. The average entry level dairy worker salary is $40,960, or about $20 an hour for a 40-hour working week. After a year or two, opportunities to move into higher positions on other farms or within the same business means the average salary increases to $52,215. While it’s true that average weekly hours on farms are high compared with other entry level positions, which means the per hour rate might be lower, these are not bottom-of-the-rung wages.

The reality is, until we can find/train sufficient New Zealanders to meet the growing number of dairy jobs, in a number of regions we need continued access to migrant workers to keep this vital sector strong. What we wanted from the Government was access to the ‘mid-skilled’ threshold. This is where it gets complicated, which is probably why there has been a degree of confusion in the media since the recent announcements. The Government’s new skills categories have two components: how an occupation is classified under ANZSCO (Australia New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations) and a remuneration component. Only occupations classified as Level 1, 2 or 3 on ANZSCO can be categorised as “mid-skilled”, regardless of the level of remuneration received. Apart from Farm Managers, who are classified at Level 1 —

the highest level — on ANZSCO, all farm workers are classified as Level 5. So they could lower the threshold to $1 per hour and we’d still not be able to access the midskilled level of the policy framework and escape the tough new restrictions. A worker classified as either Level 4 or 5 must be paid $73,299 to be considered highly skilled and to access less stringent visa conditions. So far in 2016/2017 there have been three times as many temporary Essential Skills Visas granted to dairy workers at skill level 5 than skill level 1. After three years of effort by the employee and farmer to build up their skills, integrate them into

the industry, and get them to the threshold of moving into management, these level 1 staff will now strike the stand-down rule and must leave New Zealand for a year. If there was a prospect in three years’ time that a whole lot of New Zealanders would spring forth to take the jobs, that might be okay. But the labour shortages in rural areas are much deeper than that. Increasing urbanisation and difficulties attracting people to often remote rural areas mean it will take a massive step change to address this shortage. Meanwhile, under the blunt tool that is ANZSCO ratings as they apply to the dairy sector,

without access to a mid-skilled classification, most migrant dairy workers are caught up in tough restrictions: ■ Maximum of three years in NZ before a 12-month stand-down. ■ Inability to bring children unless prepared to pay many thousands of dollars in international school fees. ■ Inability to bring partner unless they can qualify for their own visa. It’s not as if the dairy sector, a major export earner, is overrun with non-New Zealanders. Around 8 per cent of the 40,000 people employed in the industry are migrants. We are training Kiwis to work in dairy. A proposed new Federated Farmers dairy apprenticeship scheme aims to take in 500 trainees every year. In some areas, such as in the bottom half of the South Island, few — if any — Kiwis apply for dairy roles. I farm in the Waikato and recently advertised a $55,000 pa farm assistant position. All but two of the 50 or so applicants were migrants. The two New Zealanders who applied were snapped up by other farms before I got to them. The reality is, until we can find/train sufficient New Zealanders to meet the growing number of dairy jobs, in a number of regions we need continued access to migrant workers to keep this vital sector strong. ■ This article was originally written for, and published, by The Dominion Post on its Opinion page.

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National Farming Review August 2017


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Setting new benchmark on dairy training



new Federated Farmers Dairy Apprentice Scheme is intended to set the industry benchmark for entry level training in the sector. The ambitious goal is to cater for 500 trainees, with an initial focus on Northland, Waikato, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Otago and Southland. Federated Farmers operated an apprenticeship scheme, called the Farm Cadet, in 1970s until the early 1990s. Feds Dairy Group chairman Chris Lewis says the proposed new model is an enhanced and modernised programme that takes into account new practices and future needs. “We have to be proactive in this space,” Chris told national conference delegates in June. “The best staff going forward will involve employing New Zealanders; getting them up to speed to be farm assistants, then managers, on through the sharemilking system and then to buying our farms. “All of us as employers have dropped the ball a bit; we haven’t got that wave of herd managers coming through the system. We need to front foot it, and attract our best and brightest into dairy farming.” As Chris and former Meat & Fibre sector chairman Rick Powdrell worked with the Primary ITO putting together details of the new scheme, “a consistent message from government agencies was that we cannot forever rely on hiring employees from overseas”, Chris says. “Our economy could slow down a lot and more New Zealanders might need work, or there could be a change of government. NZ First wants to cut net immigration by 50,000 to around 10,000 per year.” GM policy Gavin Forrest says Federated Farmers would continue to advocate for workable

immigration policies targeted at skills shortages based on regional needs until there are suitable New Zealanders ready to fill vacancies. “This Dairy Apprentice Scheme aims to reduce the need to source employees from offshore.” As this edition of NFR went to print, confirmation of funding applications was awaited. But Primary ITO chief executive Dr Linda Sissons was confident of success, telling the June conference the proposed programme is aligned to funding streams that already exist. The scheme would dovetail with initiatives such as schools-based Trades Academies and Gateway programmes, as well as funding available from the Ministry of Social Development for helping New Zealand’s 70,000+ NEET youths (not in employment, education or training). Linda said there were three streams of potential candidates: ■ The ones who are going to be highly capable, potential future leaders; the “cream of the crop” who would come to farms with the right attitude, the right basic skills and understanding; ■ People who are practical, with demonstrated willingness to work and be trained. Could include career changers. They’re going to need quite a bit of training but they have a can-do attitude. ■ Those not currently in employment, and who perhaps “had a bad run in the education system”. They’re going to require a lot of investment and wrap-around care as they get themselves ready for the farm gate. New entrants would start with a 16-week course. The first four weeks would get them up to speed on basic work ethics and habits, Health and Safety, etc. This would be followed by 12 weeks on-farm, upskilling on handling stock, basic pasture management, motorcycle/quad use and safety, etc. Trainees would earn level 1 and 2 credits on the NZQA framework. Primary ITO general manager

The best staff going forward will involve employing New Zealanders; getting them up to speed to be farm assistants, then managers, on through the sharemilking system and then to buying our farms. customer services Alister Shennan says the next stage, apprenticeships, would take two to three years to complete “depending on the learner”. They’ll come out with a

level 3/4 Certificate in Dairy, “and there’s a pathway beyond that” towards herd and farm management. The ambition is to make

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completion of a Federated Farmers apprenticeship “a badge of honour”, Alister says. “We want young people who have shown an interest in dairy farming to know they’re going to be with a great farmer — someone who is going to invest time and effort to help them succeed, not just treat them as a labour unit. “And there will be a whole bunch of supporting programmes and training available to the farmers as well. We’re taking quite an holistic approach.” Employers will be required to be Federated Farmers members, to use Federation employment agreements and compliant payroll software. Not every person will get through the apprentice screening process, “and not every farmer is going to be able to employ one”, Chris says. He says when he was on the old farm cadet scheme, selection processes and standards were such that by the end of it, graduates could pretty much pick their bosses. “You came out the end as employee of choice as herd manager.” With the proposed new apprenticeships, “We’ll also have some drafting gates for employers. They’ll have to show that they’re up for it; that they’ll give days off for training, they’ll do on-farms tasks with their staff, have a great roster, meet in the staffroom and go through their homework, and so on. “It’s not going to be for everyone.” Asked about the cost of an apprentice to the farmer, Alister Shennan says “in dollars, not much at all”. The ITO covered training delivery and most pastoral care costs. “The important aspect is the time you put in getting alongside the apprentice,” he says. The ITO is already putting the call out for suitable apprentice candidates and, pending funding approval, registrations from interested dairy farms will open soon. The scheme would launch by the end of this year.

Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz


August 2017 National Farming Review




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Urgent but calm approach on cow disease


EDERATED FARMERS has proven to be a useful partner in a deliberate “calm and collected approach” adopted by ‘Team Ag’ following the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in late July. Feds general manager of policy and advocacy Gavin Forrest said the challenge right from the start was to “achieve the right degree of urgency without giving rise to any panic. “Just keep in mind we’re thought to be the only country in the world with significant beef and dairy cattle herds that hasn’t got mycoplasma. “We realise this is a serious disease that we need to control — and it’s still on the books to get rid of, if we can.” First public messages emphasised there was no food safety risk, no trade risk, no risk to humans. Underlining that has been very successful; there has been media interest but once it was realised this was essentially an issue, albeit a serious one, for the primary sector, the public reaction has been calm and considered. Gavin says to some extent the Mycoplasma bovis response has been run like a GIA (Government Industry Agreement) biosecurity process. “MPI has been very good at involving industry representatives in a governance group for high-level decision making, as well as the technical working group. “So Federated Farmers has been working alongside the likes of MPI, NZVA, DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, Massey and DCANZ.” While MPI got seriously busy with containment and investigation activity, within 24 hours of notification of the disease Federated Farmers gathered a wide range of industry representatives and participants in our Wellington boardroom and by teleconference to make sure everyone was on the same page in

■ For further information on Mycoplasma bovis, including the fact sheets Practice Good Biosecurity and Farmer Guide to Protection on Your Farm, visit mpi.govt.nz and search ‘bovis’.

terms of actions and communication. Crucially, we were able to bring in early an expert from Australia to join the conference call. The executive team at Federated Farmers Dairy has over the years met up with their dairy farming counterparts on the other side of the Tasman. They have spent these meetings talking over common issues and helped each other out on some of the more difficult ones. We knew that Australia is one of the many countries that has been living with and managing this disease, so we capitalised on those connections and called for help when we were informed of the detection of Mycoplasma bovis on a South Canterbury farm. Dairy Australia linked us

with a professor at Sydney University, John House, who had carried out research on the organism and the disease for some years, and they sent us a number of fact sheets prepared by Dairy Australia for their farmers. “No criticism at all of MPI, but in that first day or two as they concentrated on the site of the outbreak and immediate neighbours, farmers in the wider district — and indeed around New Zealand — were in a bit of a vacuum,” Gavin says. “Naturally enough, farmers were wondering ‘what does this mean for me?’. “That’s where we felt we could be most useful, using our contacts and delivering that information. John House isn’t just a clinical expert but someone



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who has dealt with the disease on the ground. He understands farmers and worked with farmers across the Tasman on controlling the disease.” Gavin says Professor House became “the calming voice of reason” as he carefully but firmly worked through the disease implications, and lessons we might learn from the Australia experience. He proved so useful that New Zealand brought him across for four or five days, and much of his advice was later included in guidance sheets to farmers issued by MPI. “We established early on that mycoplasma is not one of those diseases that can be spread by blowing in the wind. It requires close animal to animal contact, so establishing setbacks on farm boundaries was one of the practical precautions we advised.” Since the outbreak Federated Farmers has been involved in daily teleconferences with the MPI working group, and our board member and biosecurity spokesman Guy Wigley has been in contact with the affected farmers and others in the district, giving support and advocacy assistance. The Feds also had representatives at the two community meetings MPI organised in South Canterbury and we continue to share information with members as we get it. On the deadline for this issue of NFR, MPI was carrying out extensive and thorough testing to establish where the disease is present. Ministry director of response

Geoff Gwyn said this was being done in a planned manner, based on prioritising risks and ensuring rigorous sampling and testing protocols were followed. Thirteen days into the process, the MPI’s lab had already processed around 1200 samples. Testing continues on 16 Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG) farms. Two of those farms had tested positive as at August 7. There are 62 properties bordering the VLDG farms, and MPI will be testing all that have cattle on them. Confirmed results for nine of the bordering farms were available by August 7, all being negative for Mycoplasma bovis. “This is good news, but further testing on these farms will be required before they can be declared free of the disease and we expect testing to take several months. “The disease doesn't always present symptoms so we need to take two sets of samples one month apart, and possibly a third depending on those results,” Geoff said. “I realise that farmers are keen to get answers as soon as possible. Our labs teams are working quickly and thoroughly seven days a week, and we have increased staff numbers to carry out the work. On average, the process takes up to seven days from taking the sample on-farm, to getting back to the farmer with the results.” It’s also important to find out if the disease is already occurring in other parts of the country. To do this MPI is working with regional veterinary laboratories, Massey University and animal industry bodies to collect and analyse samples, including milk from cows that have mastitis, discard milk and routine bulk milk samples. The first samples from the regional laboratories were to arrive at MPI’s Animal Health Laboratory last week.



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National Farming Review August 2017


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Chasing hard data on irrigation effects By: SIMON EDWARDS


ASED on their on-farm experience and observations, lots of farmers believe irrigation can boost soil carbon and soil water holding capacity. Former South Canterbury Federated Farmers president Ivon Hurst is chairman of a research project that over the next three years will look to nail those understandings down with hard science and peerreviewed data. “Anecdotal evidence is not enough,” Ivon says. “It has to be scientifically validated and that’s the way forward for all future land management practices.” Project research will be led by Landcare Research’s Dr Sam Carrick, and a range of extension activities led by Katherine McCusker, of the AgriBusiness Group. It will support improvements in the management of soils to reduce environmental impacts and enable more accurate estimation of nutrient loss. Through field measurements and samples involving 48 farms in Canterbury the project will quantify whether, under medium to long-term irrigation, soil water holding capacity increases compared with the same soil, in the same farm system, but under dryland conditions. Effects of soil type and the number of years soil has been irrigated will also be studied. Better knowledge around irrigation scheduling and modelling of nutrient leaching is crucial not just for Canterbury but irrigated areas around the rest of New Zealand, Ivon says. MPI, the guardians of the Sustainable Farming Fund purse strings, agree. Earlier this year they granted the research project just under $300,000, which will be backed by contributions in cash

Better knowledge around irrigation scheduling and modelling of nutrient leaching is crucial not just for Canterbury but irrigated areas around the rest of New Zealand.

and kind from Federated Farmers, Environment Canterbury, Beef + Lamb, Irrigation NZ, Dairy NZ, Landcare Research, irrigation companies and others. Ivon says initial conversations about the project stretch back several years, including Ian Mackenzie (former Federated Farmers National Board member), Dr Lionel Hume (Federated Farmers senior policy adviser) and Trevor Webb, a leading scientist with Landcare Research. There appeared to be a knowledge gap on the relationship between soil water holding capacity and length of time under irrigation. During this time, Trevor became involved in soil studies on Omarama Station, owned by 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Award winners Richard and Annabelle Subtil, who wanted to find out more about nutrient discharge on their land. “Their alluvial flats had been under irrigation for 30 or 40 years,

With nutrient discharge and water quality rules, the most glaring thing about it is that we are dealing with imperfect or unscientific assumptions all the time. mostly with border dyke but more recently under centre pivot. The general assumption from Overseer was that those soils would leak nutrients like a sieve, but Richard wanted to know for sure,” Ivon says. Results from samples taken at Omarama were “significantly

different from what was expected”. They showed an increase in water holding capacity of 47 per cent in the top 15cm of soil. That piqued the interest of others, including Feds policy advisers Lionel Hume and Kevin Geddes, and former South Canterbury Arable chairman Colin Hurst. The upshot was that, with a deadline for applications to the Sustainable Farming Fund looming, they put together a proposal for research trials on 15-20 Mid-Canterbury properties to see if the positive results from Omarama and other sampling in the Upper Waitaki Basin could be confirmed on a wider scale. Through no fault of its proponents, it was turned down, Ivon says. “You can’t rush a project through the SFF; it’s government money and every ‘i’ has to be dotted and ‘t’ crossed. “They want to know it’s going to have an outstanding effect,

and the information is actually going to be used where it’s aimed — in our case the farming community.” The idea might well have died right there. Those original proponents were soon busy with other tasks. But it just happened Ivon had to make regular trips south to deal with Plan Change issues around the Waitaki River. “You talk about a lot of subjects when there are three or four farmers in a car, and it’s one hour there and one hour back.” In short, they resolved that a more comprehensive irrigation/ soil project brief deserved to be put to the SFF. Ivon remembers saying “this sounds far too good to let go”. Following development of the project and a substantial rewrite of the application by Lionel Hume, Sam Carrick and Katherine McCusker, Ivon found himself project chairman, with Sam as project manager. The first task, already under way, is to gather what written material and data is already available for categorising and entering on a computer database. A recent Lincoln University masters graduate, Veronica Penny, has been contracted at Landcare Research to work on the project. One of Veronica’s first tasks will be to support Katherine’s extension side of the project by going through every scrap of paper in Landcare offices which make any reference to irrigation. Papers from past research stations such as Winchmore, and scientific journals will also be trawled through. “There’s a huge amount of good stuff that has never seen the light of day since written,” says Katherine. She is really

Continued on P7 ➽

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August 2017 National Farming Review



Chasing hard data on irrigation Cont from P6

keen to “dust it off and get the knowledge into the hands of our innovative farmers and irrigation industry specialists”. The resulting resource will be freely available to others, including irrigation companies, for future reference — “an added plus of the project”, Ivon says. Thanks to Federated Farmers’ membership database, The Agribusiness group and their network of contacts, and Landcare Research’s use of GIS mapping, the project team has plenty of names of farmers to approach for the sampling phase. Some 48 farms with irrigated land, and control (non-irrigated) land of the same soil type and land use, are needed. Ivon says when the project is wound up in June 2020, it will probably give rise to a series of other questions and research topics — including on nutrient leaching and nitrous oxide emissions. This project is essentially confined to water holding capacity — the quantity of water available to plants that is held between field capacity and permanent wilting point. “It gives you an indication of whatever else is sitting in the soil and once you start complicating things you can get pulled in too many directions at once. This is research that should have been done 30 years ago to be honest,” Ivon says. “What I suspect — it’s only a personal view but I know others are thinking about it — is that this could start a series of collaborative exercises that Federated Farmers and Landcare Research can do over a number of years, in terms of establishing effects of water on soil, and other farming practices on soils. “With nutrient discharge and water quality rules and so on, the most glaring thing about it is that we are dealing with imperfect or unscientific assumptions all the time. We do not have enough hard science to come out and be able to say ‘x’ will lead to ‘y’.” There are good reasons for doing the initial research in Canterbury, home to about 80 per cent of New Zealand’s irrigation. “It’s the cutting edge of irrigation so we might as well start where it’s being utilised in the greatest amounts.” Ivon believes it’s likely that at the end of the three-year project, “the same thing will need to be replicated in other areas, particularly the east coast of both islands”.


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Otago Regional Policy Statement — The review of the Otago Regional Policy Statement (RPS) is coming to an end after two years of submissions, further submissions, appeals and Environment Court mediation. Federated Farmers and other appellants now have to decide which, if any, of the provisions to take to Environment Court. The RPS gives direction to regional council policies and rules, as well as district plans. This in turn dictates what you can do on your property, what you need a consent for, and the hoops you have to jump through to get a consent. Dunedin District Plan — Hearings have concluded for this plan review, and we await decisions. A key component of farmers’ concerns related to indigenous vegetation clearance, which were particularly stringent in the proposed plan. After submissions from Feds and other parties, council planners are recommending less restrictive rules. We are also seeking additional support for farmers protecting indigenous biodiversity on-farm through council’s funding programmes. Otago Water Quantity — Federated Farmers is involved in Otago’s water allocation processes at a high level, ensuring the planning approaches used are appropriate and considerate of the impacts on farmers. Recently we’ve focused on making sure the council is clear around what will be considered as a part of any individual or group consent application, including residual flows. In addition, we’ve been involved in the Lindis Minimum Flow Process, submitted to Consultation 2 of the Manuherekia Minimum Flow Process, and had early engagement with ORC and stakeholders on the Arrow Catchment and Wakatipu Basin Aquifer Plan Change. — David Cooper

Rotorua Federated Farmers has been heavily involved in the Lake Rotorua Nutrient Management Plan Change 10. The plan change was heard between March and May by a panel of independent commissioners. Their recommendations to council were to have been considered by councillors on August 2 and then made public. Meantime, council is progressing a review of the water quality science. We consider that a robust and comprehensive



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concepts and supporting detail are further refined. — Coralee Matena

Healthy Rivers

GWRC Natural Resource Plan

More than 1000 submissions were received on Healthy Rivers Plan Change 1. Federated Farmers anticipates that Plan Change 1A (the Hauraki part of the catchment) will be notified in September 2017. The further submissions process for this and Plan Change 1 are likely to be merged and occur in October or November. We are working on a comprehensive alternative framework that will better provide for rural sectors while achieving environmental outcomes. We intend running a series of meetings about the submission and hearing process in September. In the meantime, the rules came into effect when Plan Change 1 was notified and remain in effect unless changed at the council hearing or by the Environment Court.

Tyre stockpiles

The Ministry for the Environment has consulted on a National Environmental Standard for Outdoor Storage of Tyres. In this proposal, up to 200m3 of tyres is permitted (approximately 2500-3800 tyres) and volumes greater than this will require discretionary resource consent. District councils can set more stringent limits. Following input from Federated Farmers members, we submitted that we support measures that prohibit tyres dumps and seek a realistic permitted limit which does not inadvertently capture reasonable agricultural practices. This should be applied across all councils. — Kerry Thomas

Hawke’s Bay

The Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay Province and Wairoa Branch of the Gisborne-Wairoa Province recently submitted on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) Pest Management Plan — Discussion Document. This consultation pre-empts the formal plan development and consultation process, and allows us an early opportunity to provide feedback. We reminded HBRC about the importance of pest management to Federated Farmers, given the impact it poses to members’ social and economic viability. We made specific comments on a number of pests and said we wanted to work closely with council as the plan

Hearings on Greater Wellington’s proposed Natural Resources Plan are under way — most recently the proposed rules around stock access and riparian setbacks. Federated Farmers broadly support prioritising heavier stock classes in the lowlands for progressive stock exclusion. But we have been clear that stock exclusion is not the panacea for all waterways or all values. Ditto for crude setback prescriptions. A growing body of work confirms the importance of understanding local context, against the risk of spending a lot of money in areas ill-targeted to deliver the results. Feds support “pruning the rules and beefing up the partnerships”, building forward from the existing successful catchment programmes. — Liz McGruddy

New Plymouth

In our submission on New Plymouth’s District’s Waste Management & Minimisation Plan we explained that waste management poses unique challenges for farmers, including long distances to refuse stations, with associated costs of time and travel. While much recycling happens on farm, there are also frustrations with disposal of inorganic waste. A key concern was any impact of proposed changes on rates; we don’t want farmers paying for waste management services they cannot access. We provided possible options for inorganic waste issues and asked council to support specialist rural recycling initiatives such as AgRecovery and Plasback. — Lisa Harper


We expressed concern that restricting farming of goats would not help against feral goat problems. Goat farming is already subject to strict containment duties and all the proposed new restrictions will do is limit the benefits and future potential from goat farming. Similar deer farmers have commercial and other incentives to ensure that their stock is contained just like any other farmer of livestock; goat farmers should not be put to unnecessary or onerous restrictions.


National Farming Review August 2017


Ph 0800 327 646




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It’s time to the review the VOSM

By: ANN THOMPSON Federated Farmers Dairy Policy Adviser


S IT TIME for an upgrade of sharemilking agreements? Dave Miller from AgFirst NZ seems to think so, and his opinion is based on research into the industry which AgFirst carried out over the last season. This discovered the number of Herd Owning Sharemilking arrangements was dropping, and more Variable Order Sharemilkers were turning to Contract Milking arrangements. The reason appears to be because of milk price volatility. This finding was discussed at the recent joint annual meeting of the Federated Farmers Sharemilkers’ Section and Sharemilker Farm Owners’ Section, where two options were presented. The first was a Contract Milking/Variable Order Sharemilking hybrid, the second a Flexi Herd Owning Sharemilking hybrid. There will be others out in the countryside too, as farmers and milkers have struggled with milk price volatility over the last seasons. I will not be discussing either of these options here, apart from saying they are complicated, have their merits and will suit some business arrangements.

SHAREMILKING: It’s a complicated business but nevertheless the Variable Order Sharemilking Agreement needs to be more flexible. Dave’s presentation did, however, spark discussion about the current Variable Order Sharemilking Agreement (VOSM), which was last reviewed across 2009-2011, and which prompted a new Order In Council (which is what the VOSM lies under) to be written. Federated Farmers prides itself on the contracts and agreements it develops, and those for the sharemilking and contract milking business arrangements are looked on as industry standards. It was therefore agreed at the meeting that, yes, it was time to review the VOSM. Enough has happened over the

Don’t think for one moment this revision will be a quick fix.

last seven years and there is an appetite to make something that is more flexible which may help the sharemilker in low payout years and give a fairer return to the owner at higher milk prices. The VOSM is an excellent business arrangement, where the farm owner owns the cows and the sharemilker runs the business, shares the profits with the farm owner and also the milk price highs (and lows). It is backed by law — the Sharemilking Agreements Act 1937 and its Order. The Contract Milker on the other hand, is paid to run the farm owners’ business on a payment per kg milk solids produced. They are not affected by milk price fluctuations. This relationship, however, sits on a fine line between being an employee and an independent contractor, which comes down to

what the intention is. Get it wrong and the farm owner could find themselves paying ACC, annual leave and such like for their ‘contract milker’, especially if they interfere too much with the running of the farm. Our two other dairy farming contracts (the Herd Owning Agreement and Contract for Contract Milking) were updated recently and are clearer with regard to where the costs and obligations fall, giving greater certainty for both parties. These could be transferred over to the VOSM, while updating the legal requirements in regards to animal welfare and health and safety is important. We will also be taking a hard look at what is commonly called the ‘under 300 cow rule’, where sharemilkers milking fewer than 300 cows must share at least 22 per cent of the profit if they aren’t

getting any of a processor’s dividend — and most won’t be. Those who do, must share at least 21 per cent. This minimum cow number was set to protect inexperienced sharemilkers as fewer cows used to mean earning too little to live on. However, genetics and smart farming may have made this uneconomic for the farm owner, driving more to use a Contract Milking arrangement. We will also consider if we should offer flexibility to help both parties during what seems to have become the norm — milk price volatility. What this could look like is unknown, but it may include a combination of profit share and payment per kg milk solids produced, smoothing the bottom line. This is likely to remain an option only, with parties choosing to opt in. Some consider this smoothing does not allow seasoned sharemilkers to trim costs and adapt procedures to become very efficient when the milk price is low, while using the highs and putting money to good use, which may lead to longer term goals of farm ownership or similar. Don’t think for one moment this revision will be a quick fix — this process will involve going out to dairy farmers, working with both the Federated Farmers Sharemilkers’ Section and the Sharemilker Farm Owners’ Section, the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment and Parliament. It will also need to be signed off by the Governor-General. One thing you can be sure of: both the Sharemilkers’ Section and the Sharemilker Farm Owners’ Section are keen to see more pathways for progression, from sharemilker and contract milker through to herd ownership and then on to buying that first farm. Updating the VOSM is one way, but until it is updated, the current agreement is very much still fit for purpose and the business model a tried and true one.

Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz


August 2017 National Farming Review



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Feds leader keen to ‘open minds’ to new solutions


T FIRST Katie Milne was bemused by the huge media interest in her becoming the first female president of Federated Farmers since its origins as the NZ Farmers’ Union in 1899. Hailed as a woman “breaking through the glass ceiling” — or the “grass ceiling” as some quipped — “I was surprised how much attention the gender factor attracted,” she says. “But when I had time to reflect, I totally get it. I understand it’s a point of interest and a milestone that agriculture was seen in the wider public as being progressive. It shows that no matter what your gender, if you have the skillset and you’re the right person for the job, you’ll get voted through.” It also underlines what’s been happening on farms for years, Katie says. “We all know as farmers that often the key part of the business is the fact it’s a partnership of a man and a woman on the land. It might be that the woman is good with the stock and grass management, and the male is good with machinery and animal husbandry — there’s all sorts of interesting combinations. “It’s good that more women are now taking their skills off the farm, like the men, and having input into leadership and the direction of agriculture in general.” For anyone who has read Katie’s CV, it would be no surprise she has gained the Feds’ top job. From early work experience as diverse as slaughter floor carcass grader then lab technician in a West Coast freezing works, through to grain farming during two years of OE in Alberta Canada, once Katie and her partner Ian Whitmore bought a 100 hectare (effective) dairy farm by Lake Brunner, near Hokitika, in 1992 she was soon moving into leadership roles. Just a sample: 1992-1995 meat inspector MAF Phoenix Meat Company; 2003-2010 West Coast TB free committee; 2002-2008 West Coast Dairy chair Federated Farmers, then its president; 2006-2009 West Coast Focus Farm founding board member; 2013, National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee; 2014 deputy chair Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa; 2017 director of Westland Milk Products. In 2015 she was named Dairy Woman of the Year and Women of Influence (Rural) Award winner. Her mum was also a person who threw herself into life and “maybe through osmosis” Katie picked up that can-do attitude too. Katie’s family have been sheep and beef farmers in south Westland way back in the 1800s, “since the first of them were thrown off at Gillespie’s Beach to go and find some land and survive”. When Katie and her siblings got home from school “mum would have us out on the farm on lambing beat, driving the tractor to feed out, or whatever else was needed. She was one of the first, if not the first, woman to go to Flock House [agriculture school] in Bulls. She was also a West Coast provincial president.” Another motivation was the RMA, which threw up situations where people who often knew little about agriculture were telling farmers what they could and couldn’t do. “We’d just bought the farm and I needed to understand how that piece of legislation worked,” Katie says.

Having different points of view and opening up other’s minds to it, that’s a good thing.

In a district where the annual rainfall, can vary from 3.5 metres to 6.5, and with a river that “makes or breaks us quite regularly, we needed to know we could still go out and dig a drain without needing a resource consent”. As she started attending various meetings, she found a preponderance of older men. “They were great for experience, and I learned a lot from them, but I didn’t necessarily agree with the things they were thinking of saying [in submissions]. They would draw pretty staunch lines in the sand, with traditional thinking. “It hit home to me early — these people who were about to retire had a lot to say about how the future of farming should be and they’re not going to be a part of it. So I felt I needed to be in at the front and early.” The RMA stuff showed her another aspect that today is at the forefront of the Federated Farmers’ position on water quality. “For example, there were ideas that were relevant to a dry environment but they were going to try to put them on us in a wet environment. It brought home to me there are regional differences and they’re important. “Now we’re taking that a step further and arguing for a catchment by catchment focus. Problems, and solutions, can be dramatically different from one area to the next within a district.” Do women bring a different way of thinking to board meetings? “Yes, to a point,” Katie says. “I don’t know how men’s brains work but I know women often come at things from a different angle. “Time and again you see it. A solution will be proposed and I notice quite regularly with the fellas that they’ve made up their minds. [Women] might go through a whole different process, thinking of different ramifications down the line and asking ‘what if . . . ?’. “Having different points of view and opening up other’s minds to it, that’s a good thing, I think.” Katie says she’s probably happier in a pair of gumboots than getting dressed up for a meeting. “I never know what to wear, especially in Wellington where it tends to be ‘code black’. My natural fit is on the land, doing things. “But that’s what makes this [president] role really interesting. You go into all sorts of situations, rub shoulders with people, work on that urban-rural disconnect, explain to them in my fashion and help them understand farmers a bit better so we can all have better outcomes. “That’s exciting and important, just as getting home to the farm reinvigorates me. Because of what I’ve got at home, that’s why I’ve got to go back, to try and punch above my weight for all farmers.”

TURNING HEADS: Katie has generated heaps of media attention since her election at the national conference.

KATIE MILNE: “Getting home to the farm reinvigorates me. Because of what I’ve got at home, that’s why I’ve got to go back, to try and punch above my weight for all farmers.”

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National Farming Review

August 2017

www.fedfarm.org.nz Ph 0800 327 646




We ask four political parties four topical questions What are your party’s key immigration policies as they affect farming and provincial NZ?


What is your party’s policy on charging for water (bottling, irrigation, hydro, commercial uses)?


What does your manifesto have to say about driving quality of water in our streams, rivers and lakes?


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Co-leaders: Metiria Turei and James Shaw

Leader: Jacinda Ardern


Labour will have a regional approach which will see local councils, unions and businesses working together to determine where shortages exist and will require that skilled immigrants work in the region that their visa is issued for. This will prevent skills shortages in one region being used to justify work visas in another, while also making it easier for regions with specific needs to have those skills shortages met. Currently, few skill shortages are regionalised. This makes it hard for a region with a skills shortage in a specific occupation to get on the list if the shortage is not nationwide. Importantly it means that work visas are issued for jobs in regions where there is not actually a shortage. This ends up putting unnecessary pressures on housing and transport infrastructure there.


Labour believes cleaning up our rivers so they are clean enough to swim in is the most important freshwater issue for this election, but that it is also fair that a royalty should be charged where public water is used in large quantities for private gain. Labour will introduce a royalty on water bottlers and other large commercial water users, and set the royalty at a fair and affordable level. We will also look to boost the Sustainable Farming Fund to support local and community projects to make farming more sustainable.


Labour will ensure that our rivers and lakes are genuinely swimmable. National’s attempt to impose a wadeable standard was wrong. We think New Zealanders should be able to swim in their local rivers in summer without falling ill or getting out covered in slime. Waterways should also be clean enough for fish and invertebrates to thrive. We will introduce a new national policy statement based on the Judge Sheppard

Should farm land be sold to overseas entities and under what circumstances? If sold on the basis of ‘advantages to NZ’ how will that be monitored/enforced?

version previously rejected by National. This will require increases in the intensity of livestock farming (eg, conversion to dairy or beef lots) to get a resource consent. Fresh water quality standards will properly address nutrient, effluent and sediment pollution as well as macro invertebrate health. Fences with appropriate setbacks will be required on all intensively farmed land next to waterways.


Labour will ensure a substantial reduction of the sale of rural land to foreign buyers by limiting the discretion of the minister to approve sales. To protect the economic interests of New Zealanders, we will significantly narrow the type of investment in rural land that will be acceptable in two ways: ■ First, to require that foreign investment would need to deliver benefits that would be substantially over and above what a New Zealand investor would produce. ■ Secondly, to ensure that substantial job creation (eg, through the introduction of new technology or new products) and increases in exports are the most important factors to be considered. Labour believes ministers must hold the OIO to account and demand they ensure investors meets promises made in the application process.

Labour will introduce a royalty on water bottlers and other large commercial water users


Migrants are good for New Zealand. Horticulture, dairying, and other primary sectors are big employers of migrant workers and any changes to immigration rules would need to take account of their needs. People working on temporary visas in farming and horticulture should have the same workplace protections as any other working person in New Zealand, to ensure that schemes like the RSE deliver for all involved. The Green Party believes the Government needs to consult widely with a range of people, including employers and unions, to ensure that immigration settings (like the skills shortage list) are effective, responsive to demand, and provide a guarantee of good working conditions for everyone.


All New Zealanders should have a say in how water is priced. We will put a 10 cent/litre levy on the sale and export of drinking water/bottled water, as an interim measure, with revenue going to local authorities, and iwi and hapu in recognition of their rights under Article 2 of te Tiriti o Waitangi. For the long-term, we will establish a working group to facilitate a nationwide series of meetings and hui so that all New Zealanders get a chance to influence a fair price for water for all commercial users. We are open to different prices for different types of use. We will focus on core principles such as protecting aquifers, rivers, lakes and wetlands, honouring te Tiriti, to set a fair price.


Nutrient and faecal pollution have had a devastating impact on our waterways, and put New Zealand’s clean green brand at risk. Everyone has to do their bit to fix this but according to the OECD and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the

impacts of intensive farming needs to be addressed now to stop further degradation. It is better economically and environmentally to aim for value, not volume. More diverse land uses which cause less water and climate pollution can help do this. Landcorp CEO Steve Carden sees a future in which there are fewer hooves on our farms. New dairy conversions need to go on hold. We’ve got to get serious about moving to more sustainable, more profitable, and less debt-heavy forms of farming.


We must keep it Kiwi. The Greens will restrict the ability to sell land to overseas investors. New Zealand’s weak laws around overseas ownership of land, including farmland, mean there is a real risk that too much of our productive land and value chain is being sold to offshore interests. Decisions about the future of work and the primary industry sector in New Zealand should be made by New Zealanders, not international companies. We need to protect the things that generate income for New Zealanders, like our productive base. And we need revenue generated to circulate locally rather than having profits and dividends leak offshore.

Nutrient and faecal pollution . . . put New Zealand’s clean green brand at risk.

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August 2017 National Farming Review




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Leader: Bill English


The total amount of export bottled water is about 9 million litres per year. Total water takes are 10 trillion litres a year. This is a small percentage of the 500 trillion litres of new water coming into New Zealand’s system each year. When discussing pricing and allocation, all water users must be included. Each resource needs to be carefully managed and considered. Last year the Government set up a technical advisory group on both the allocation and pricing of water. The issue of bottled water exports is one of the specific issues on which the Government has asked for advice on how it might proceed with reform. They are due to report back later this year.



Overseas investment helps create jobs and grow incomes for New Zealanders.


Farming struggles under a one-shoe-fits-all ANZSCO definition for “Farm Worker”. Set at Level 5 (unskilled), even veterinarians who wish to come here as farm workers are treated as unskilled. NZ First will ensure appropriate qualifications and not the job title defines the skill level. It should be noted that when NZ First was last in government we introduced the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. NZ First has strong form developing common sense solutions for farming and horticulture. In terms of wider immigration, we could grant visas to every doctor, scientist, nurse and IT expert and not even reach 9000 work visas per annum. The issue becomes getting and keeping the right skilled migrants in the right regions so a verifiable five-year stay will be required. As blood is thicker than water, we genuinely need to get underemployed Kiwis workplace-ready. NZ First will ensure there is work for the dole and will introduce a wage subsidy for jobseekers.


New Zealand First views water taxes and related resource rentals as coming from the loony-left ideas bin. This bureaucratic separatist meddling will drive up the cost of everything from tinned tomatoes to sliced bread. New Zealand will not remain a first world country by bankrupting agribusiness. NZ First’s Royalties for the Regions policy will seriously help the regions. One-quarter of the royalty from minerals and exported drinking water will go back to the region it was extracted from. That said, the biggest threat farming faces comes from a liberal urban National government and its Klingons selling farmers down the river. National put Mana Whakahono a Rohe: Iwi Participation Arrangements into the RMA and is to legislate for “market-based regimes for resource allocation” stemming from recently signed race-entitlement based Deeds of Settlement.

Be under no doubt that National is introducing commercial water charges by stealth, effectively deciding issues of ownership by race.


With ‘virtual fencing’ on the way, NZ First supports physical fencing and stock exclusion where practicable. New Zealand First knows our waterways must improve, and most farmers would agree, but they cannot be expected to fix urban water pollution as well. That is why the unemployed will be used in fencing as well as riparian planting and maintenance. NZ First will order reviews of regional plans using panels of real farmers, genuine residents and truly independent experts. We will invest in Overseer and only allow its use in regional plans when fully calibrated. There will also be 100 per cent depreciation for farm environmental works while supporting farmers to take on job seekers. R&D will be boosted to 2 per cent of GDP over 10 years with a focus on real-world land and water solutions. Nitrogen leaching pest plants and animals will be targeted and we will close the rural-urban divide some politicians have exploited.


NZ First supports skilled farmers migrating here and being able to buy once they have been awarded the privilege of New Zealand Permanent Residency. The extended time difference between coming into the country as a resident, and before being granted permanent residency, can be viewed as mutual due diligence. The so-called ‘benefits tests’ developed by the National-led government in 2010 are now a joke. Proof comes in the current privatisation of Landcorp’s Jericho Station to Chinese interests, over and above the head of a New Zealander, who was prepared to pay well above market valuation. NZ First intends to substantially rewrite the Overseas Investment Act with an eye to not just farms but primary production assets too.

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Investment is critical to New Zealand’s economy, and overseas investment helps create jobs and grow incomes for New Zealanders. We have robust and thorough processes in place to ensure foreign investment of sensitive New Zealand land will be of substantial benefit to New Zealanders. The sale is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval. To get OIO approval overseas investors have to demonstrate benefits to New Zealand from the investment over and above what a New Zealand buyer would bring or it cannot be approved. In making a final decision, ministers look at factors such as job creation, additional investment, export increases and environmental improvements.





The Government has a target of 90 per cent of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers meeting swimmable water quality standards by 2040. This will

mean an extra 10,000km of swimmable rivers and lakes over the next 23 years, or 400km a year. This ambitious target will make us a world leader in water quality standards for swimming, which is important for New Zealanders and our growing tourism industry. People want to feel confident they can enjoy water-based activities without getting a nasty bug. With this in mind we are working hard to return our rivers and lakes to a standard not seen in 50 years.



The Government is committed to ensuring our immigration settings best support the economy and the labour market. We want industries like farming to be able to grow, which is why employers will continue to be able to hire migrant labour if they can prove there are no New Zealanders available to do the job. But we also want to ensure that the conditions under which migrants are coming to New Zealand are clear. We’ve already made changes to immigration policies which benefit the regions and the agriculture industry, including tripling the bonus points for skilled migrants with job offers outside Auckland and a new pathway to residence policy for 4000 long-term temporary migrants and their families in the South Island.

Leader: Winston Peters

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National Farming Review

August 2017

www.fedfarm.org.nz Ph 0800 327 646



Fire restrictions burn up $100,000 By: GUY WIGLEY Federated Farmers Arable Chairman The recent Federated Farmers Arable Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) was one of the best attended in recent years as members had the opportunity to have a say on issues affecting the arable sector and socialise with fellow farmers passionate about the industry. Rural Fire, biosecurity, Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5 and a review of the Plant Variety Rights Act have been hot topics among members in 2017 and these issues were debated at length at the conference. For many, the new rules in place for crop residue burning and uncertainty surrounding permitting under Fire Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) have been a particular bone of contention. The well-intended fire restrictions earlier in 2017 could not have occurred at a worse time for arable farmers who needed to clear crop residue and prepare paddocks for the next crop. Without the ability to

burn, some farmers estimate they may have lost up to $100,000 — a difficult pill to swallow given the plethora of compliance costs and variable arable commodity prices throughout the year. At the conclusion of the conference, the industry group held its AGM and I was elected chairman of the group for another year. Colin Hurst (vicechairman seeds) and Brian Leadley (vice-chairman grains) were both re-elected. Hew Dalrymple (vice-chairman maize/forage) stepped down after 10 years on the executive and has been replaced as the vice-chairman maize/forage by North Canterbury farmer Reuben Carter. Manuwatu farmer David Lee-Jones was coopted onto the executive as a North Island representative. Two big issues for the remainder of the year will be forthcoming review of the Plant Variety Rights Act and understanding the new permitting arrangements under FENZ and what it means for crop residue burning. I encourage you to get involved at a provincial level and attend any scheduled arable meetings over the next couple of months.

Hew Dalrymple has stepped down after 10 years on the executive.

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years of overseeing fertiliser regulations

By ANDERS CROFOOT Chairman of the Fertiliser Quality Council Twenty-five years ago the government withdrew from fertiliser auditing. This meant there was potential for the fertiliser industry to be left open to malpractice. Without any independent checking or fertiliser product verification, New Zealand was on the verge of voluntarily allowing companies to manufacture and import fertiliser without any guarantee that what was on the product description matched what was in the product itself. At the time farmers were concerned that their farm businesses (not to mention the nation’s economy), would be under threat if rogue products hit the market. They were worried about the impact on their pasture growth and, consequently, on-farm production. The sentiment was so strong that,

fortunately, it acted as a catalyst to Federated Farmers establishing The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) — which now oversees the Fertmark and Spreadmark accreditation schemes. The Fertmark scheme independently tests fertiliser products to ensure the ingredients are true to label. It then awards the Fertmark tick to verified products. This tick of approval tells farmers, growers and other fertiliser users that what they are spreading on the land is genuine product. The Spreadmark certification scheme, originated by the NZ Groundspread Fertiliser Association, has been developed by the FQC. It is a quality assurance programme for the accurate distribution of fertiliser, including aerial, by trained operators who use certified spreading machinery and a management system that puts economic and environmental farmer/grower outcomes first.

Colin’s passion, experience will be missed The Federated Farmers Arable Council consists of Provincial Arable Chairpersons from throughout New Zealand. The Provincial AGM season has brought two new faces to the Arable Council table: Chris Dillon was elected in Southland, replacing Steve Wilkins and David Blennerhassett replaces the long-serving Colin Mackinnon in the Bay of Plenty. Typically, most Provincial Sector Chairpersons serve a three-year term, but Colin Mackinnon has been Bay of Plenty Arable Chairperson for 21 years. Few words will accurately describe and do justice to Colin’s contribution to the Federation throughout this time. A prominent maize grower


and a passionately fierce campaigner on all matters biosecurity, the trip to Malaysia to investigate PKE facilities is already becoming the stuff of legend. The trip eventually resulted in changes to the Import Health Standard and a strengthening of New Zealand’s borders to ensure threats posed by this material are minimised. Federated Farmers Arable has been extremely fortunate to have passionate farmers such as Hew and Colin involved with the group. We need passionate arable farmers to get involved first at a provincial and then on the Arable Executive to ensure their good work continues into the future to get the policy outcomes that are beneficial to arable farmers.

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National Farming Review

August 2017

www.fedfarm.org.nz Ph 0800 327 646




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Biting back at synthetic meats, milk

One commentator has said synthetic food products have real potential to turn New Zealand into the Detroit of agriculture, “a rustbelt left behind after production has moved elsewhere”. In an absorbing presentation to the Feds’ national conference in June, meat & fibre policy adviser Sarah Crofoot agreed that the rise of lab-grown or plant-extruded foods is exponential, but her prognosis for the future of NZ farming is much less pessimistic — if we play it clever


ORE and more Americans are chomping into burger patties that look, taste, smell and even ‘bleed’ red juice like the traditional meat version – but they’re made from plants. Sarah Crofoot grew up on a farm just outside New York before her family moved to the Wairarapa, and on a return visit to the Big Apple earlier this year, she tried one of Impossible Foods’ burgers. Despite being in over-analysis mode, hopeful that it would taste something like mung beanflavoured cardboard, her verdict: “I hate to say it — it was pretty good”. Mates at the table hoed in and said they couldn’t tell any real difference between Impossible’s pattie (coconut oil, spinach, wheat, soy, potato protein, heme) and the sort of meat pattie they were used to. Heme comes from the root nodules of legumes and provides the iron/meaty flavour, and also the blood colour. “The ingredients are broken down and reassembled to provide the meat-like texture,” Sarah told Feds conference delegates. The heme is currently being recreated with a GE yeast “but they’ll find a natural solution for that, knowing the money they can get, and their proven ability to scale up quickly”. This time last year the Impossible Burger was selling in four restaurants in the United States, now they are in 22 outlets across four states and counting. They recently opened a new factory to boost their production capacity by 250 times, and can now pump out 4 million patties a month. One of many other players is Beyond Meat, which started out with chicken strips made from

HARD TO STOMACH: Many consumers overseas are uneasy that farm animals might be kept indoors or on vast feed-pads all their lives. Sarah Crofoot believes if New Zealand producers don’t differentiate themselves from that form of farming, “there’s every chance we’ll be dragged down with them”. GETTY IMAGES

soy proteins as their signature product. Their first Burger pattie was mediocre but the next iteration, the Beyond Burger, made from yellow peas, bamboo fibre, potato starch, coconut and canola oils and a bit of beetroot for colour, is going down well with consumers and was recently rolled out in the mainstream Safeway supermarkets. These sorts of products are not sold in some ‘alternative’ aisle in the supermarket. Shoppers find it right alongside our own real meat products in the

chilled meat cabinet. There’s quite a bit of science behind binding the fat to protein (an extrusion process with heat and pressure) but Beyond is working on the ability to interchange the protein used to suit the availability of base product — and tastes — in the target markets. Kiwi farmers shouldn’t think they’ll be able to compete on price, Sarah warned. The Impossible Burger sells in restaurants for USD$15, about the same as premium meat burgers,



TARANAKI-KING COUNTRY A Proud Supporter of Rural & Provincial New Zealand. E Barbara.Kuriger@national.org.nz W barbarakuriger.co.nz facebook.com/BarbaraKurigerMP

Authorised by B Kuriger, 80 Rata St, Inglewood.

and with greater scale the synthburger price will drop. The Beyond Burger retails for USD$5.99 for two patties, the equivalent of $NZ26 a kilo. Silicon Valley money is often backing these growing number of ventures, with the likes of Bill Gates and Google Ventures involved. “These are people with very, very deep pockets.” Another route being taken is cultured, cellular, or synthetic meat. Cells are harvested using biopsy, incubated and replicated,

with a scaffolding provided to help form muscle fibre. For now, they’re relying on bovine serum “but it’s not a story they’ll want to rely on, and they’ll soon have a replacement for that as well”. In an effort to meet consumers’ apparent desire for ‘natural’ and local, one company is focusing on meat generating appliances for use in restaurants, supermarkets and eventually even in home kitchens. You’ll be sold a meat

Continued on P15 ➽


Authorised by Ian McKelvie, 47 Manchester Street, Feilding

Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz


August 2017 National Farming Review


There are lots of opportunities ahead. The amazing improvements that have got us where we are today are the same ones we need to get us to where we want to be in the future. — SARAH CROFOOT Cont from P14 cells kit to pop into your appliance and, however many hours later, out will come the ‘grown’ meat product. Dairy farmers, you are not off the hook. Between 2012 and 2016, the growth in alternative ‘milks’ was 140 per cent, excluding soy. Extractions from everything from quinoa to oats, macadamia to cashew nuts, is being packaged and sold in supermarkets as milk. US company Perfect Day pitches their product as real cow milk without having to use cows. Sarah said in a process similar to craft brewing, they use a standard yeast and 3D printing to place DNA from a cow into the mix. It’s grown on a mix of plant-based sugars, fats and minerals, the yeast ferments and the sugars create milk proteins. As with the lab-created and plant-based meats, these producers heavily push their environmental credentials — MEET: America’s Impossible Burger . . . warning: less greenhouse gas emissions, contains no meat. vastly less water and energy consumption, less land usage, “zero and back it up. We can’t afford to let that animal suffering”. happen again.” Sarah said all of these overseas Part of the fight back will revolve companies play on a dislike of around protecting the use of the terms conventional agriculture and factory ‘meat’ and ‘milk’. Federated Farmers farming — and that’s the crux of it for us. former dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard We are not conventional agriculture as told the conference the EU Court of people in the US, Europe and many other Justice had ruled substitute products nations perceive it. were not allowed to be called milk in “If we don’t differentiate ourselves Union countries. Similar moves were from their form of farming, there’s every happening in the US. chance we’ll be dragged down by the anti“We need to get that happening in animal narrative with them,” Sarah said. other parts of the world,” Andrew said. United States consumers are used to “There’s a very clear definition: milk has the idea that farm animals might be kept to be from a mammal. With meat, we need indoors or on vast feed-pads all their lives. to do (name protection) now, otherwise They resent that 30 per cent of land area is it’s too late.” taken up with crops grown to feed Answering a question about synthetic animals. They’re used to endless square meat’s shelf life, and whether the faux kilometres of flat or rolling land devoted milk was full of preservatives, Sarah had to the same crops, not our “huge no comforting words for local farmers. biodiversity” and mixed geography, with The products have a long shelf life and steep hill country really only suitable for some are being frozen as well. growing grass. Preservatives aren’t involved. New Zealand has a positive ‘story’ to Outgoing president William Rolleston tell about natural products, animals free said because the ‘meat’ products were to roam and treated well, grass fed. We vegetable based “they don’t have to deal can use it to appeal to the premium end of with guts when processing; the exposure the market. “We’ve got to back that story to all the bacteria is going to be much up with systems and science, to be more controlled”. authentic about what we say — and also to Sarah saw other paths we could take. be really transparent.” The world “sees New Zealand as just a big Referring to the EU “food miles” film set. So why don’t we give them that argument, Sarah said we had on-farm experience, utilising virtual and “demonstrated ability on these sorts of augmented reality? There are also niche things. But if we think this isn’t reality, products. They can recreate the meat, but and we don’t come together on it, it’s a can they recreate bone?” pretty scary future. The tomahawk steak (a cut of beef “Our [synthetic, plant] competitors ribeye that has five or more inches of have nothing to lose at the moment, some extra rib bone for presentation purposes) don’t even have a product yet but the is a high end cut in New York that goes for power of their story to the consumer is NZ$50 a kilo. streets ahead of ours.” “There are lots of opportunities ahead. The way synthetic products have The amazing improvements that have got overtaken the wool carpet industry shows us where we are today won’t be the same just having a great natural product isn’t ones we need to get us to where we need to enough. “We have to position ourselves be in the future.”


‘Outstanding’ for Feds A farmer hailed as “expert in championing farmers’ issues” is the winner of the 2017 Federated Farmers Outstanding Contribution Award. Whanganui sheep and beef farmer Tim Matthews, who has been on the federation’s local branch executive for 28 years and its meat and fibre chairman or vice-president for nearly as long, was presented with the award at the conference. Acknowledged as an expert in championing farmers’ issues at district and regional council level, one of his nominators, Ruapehu president Lyn Neeson, said Tim had an “unequalled knowledge of local body rates

and a drive to make sure they are fairly charged”. “He often has more understanding of the rating system of a particular council and local government than many of the councillors he speaks to.” Wanganui Federated Farmers dairy chairman Brian Doughty said in the last 15 to 20 years Tim had appeared at dozens of council hearings and other forums in Wanganui, South Taranaki, Ruapehu and Rangitikei. “It is here Tim can be seen at his best, bringing an air of reasonableness to an area that normally smacks of a them-andus confrontation,” Brian said.

Job Vacancy - North Island

TERRITORY MANAGER Federated Farmers is the highly influential national voice of rural New Zealand, representing farmers who help generate over 50% of New Zealand’s exports, worth around $25 billion a year. Federated Farmers role is invaluable to the rural sector, wider community and to our economy. We are looking for a self-motivated sales person to join our team covering the following areas in the Manawatu/Rangitikei, Wairarapa and Tararua areas. Your primary focus will be increasing provincial sales and memberships. You will also act as the organisation’s key liaison point with farmers, current members, the regional policy team and our local provincial executive in your chosen region. Door to door canvassing for new members, as well as account management of current members will be the key indicators of your success in the role. In return for your top sales skills we offer a wide range of perks including a company car and mobile phone, a competitive base salary and the potential to earn substantial bonuses. To be successful in this role you will need superb sales, communication, organisation and self management skills with the ability to build and sustain long term business relationships. You will be results orientated with a strong and proven sales record. Support and training will be provided but the ability to work independently and manage your own time is essential. A qualification in Agribusiness or equivalent practical experience, together with a solid understanding of the business of farming would be an advantage. A full driver’s license is required. You must be eligible to work permanently in New Zealand.

HOW TO APPLY: To receive a copy of the job description please contact Gillian Bright 07 858 0812. Applications should be sent to gbright@ fedfarm.org.nz

Closing date 14 August 2017



327 FARM 646 .ORG.NZ



National Farming Review

August 2017

www.fedfarm.org.nz Ph 0800 327 646


IN BRIEF Wildings in sights

Wilding pines control work has nearly reached its first year target of a million hectares. “Twenty per cent of New Zealand will be covered in unwanted wilding conifers within 20 years if their spread isn’t stopped. They already cover more than 1.8 million hectares and until now have been spreading at about 5 per cent a year,” Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said. Last year the Government committed an additional $16 million to wilding control over the next four years, on top of the existing $11m annual budget. The programme this year covers 14 initial priority areas, including extensive areas of conservation land and farmland in Central North Island, Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

The Resilient Farmer

The Resilient Farmer author Doug Avery is taking his messages about how to

get life back on a national tour in August. With candour and wisdom, he tells his story of turning desperation into determination, embracing risk, navigating change and, on top of everything, enduring monumental earthquakes. He’ll be in Invercargill (August 14), Gore (Aug 15), Winton (Aug 16), Oamaru (Aug 17), Ashburton (Aug 18), Oxford (Aug 21), Cromwell (Aug 22), Alexandra (Aug 23), Timaru (Aug 24), Hokitika (Aug 25), Masterton (Aug 28), Palmerston North (Aug 29), Waipawa (Aug 30), Morrinsville (Aug 31) and Te Awamutu (September 1). See penguin.co.nz/events for full details.



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Tourism co-funding

Councils can now apply for co-funding from the new $100 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund. Budget 2017 invests $100m over four years for the development of visitor-related public infrastructure such as carparks, freedom camping facilities and sewerage and water works. This should relieve rural and small town ratepayers from some of the burden. Applications for the fund will be accepted until September 4 from local councils and community groups with council support.

Job Vacancy - South Island

TERRITORY MANAGER Federated Farmers is the highly influential national voice of rural New Zealand, representing farmers who help generate over 50% of New Zealand’s exports, worth around $25 billion a year. Federated Farmers role is invaluable to the rural sector, wider community and to our economy. We are looking for a self-motivated sales person to join our team covering the following areas in the Mid and North Canterbury areas. Your primary focus will be increasing provincial sales and memberships. You will also act as the organisation’s key liaison point with farmers, current members, the regional policy team and our local provincial executive in your chosen region. Door to door canvassing for new members, as well as account management of current members will be the key indicators of your success in the role. In return for your top sales skills we offer a wide range of perks including a company car & mobile phone, a competitive base salary and the potential to earn substantial bonuses. To be successful in this role you will need superb sales, communication, organisation and self-management skills with the ability to build and sustain long term business relationships. You will be results orientated with a strong and proven sales record. Support and training will be provided but the ability to work independently and manage your own time is essential. A qualification in Agribusiness or equivalent practical experience, together with a solid understanding of the business of farming would be an advantage. A full driver’s license is required. You must be eligible to work permanently in New Zealand.

HOW TO APPLY: To receive a copy of the job description please contact Gillian Bright 07 858 0812. Applications should be sent to gbright@fedfarm.org.nz Closing date 19th August 2017



327 FARM 646 .ORG.NZ

Farm airspace is not your own Make the most of aerial technology on your farm and stick to the ground rules, writes GREG BAUM


HETHER IT’S checking for stock on the loose, seeing if there’s enough water in the troughs or looking at how the crops are doing, there’s no doubt that Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) are proving to be an incredibly useful extra set of eyes for farm managers and staff. Not to mention the time saved not having to walk or hop on a quad bike. RPAS technology is becoming much more affordable and easier to use. We know some farmers are getting their kids to operate these drones while others preprogramme their machines for particular flights to check fences, water troughs and stock. It saves time — and it’s fun. However, as enjoyable as flying an RPAS is, they are aircraft and the rules for flying them are there to keep other aircraft safe. Regardless of the fact that you’re flying an RPAS over your own farm, the airspace above it is public and open to other traffic so you need to fly within the rules. You must be able to see the aircraft with your own eyes, ie. not through binoculars, a monitor, or a smartphone. As the operator it’s your responsibility to avoid other aircraft and you can only do that if you can see the area your RPAS is operating in. The most serious risk posed by RPAS flying beyond the visual line of sight is that, for some unknown reason, the machine could start operating on its own and get in the way of other aircraft, eg. tourist, private or agricultural aircraft flying overhead. This creates real potential for an accident. RPAS operators need to take responsibility at all times when operating these aircraft and retain some form of control. Unfortunately, that’s not always made clear when people buy an RPAS. As well as flying your RPAS within the line of visual sight, there are some other basic safety rules including the need to get consent if you’re going to fly over other people, other properties or public roads. This ensures that you are aware of potential risks such as scaring other people’s livestock. There is also a requirement that you fly below 400 feet or 120 metres from the ground. This rule is intended to separate RPAS from other aircraft which typically fly at 500 feet or above. However, in rural areas you need to be aware of agricultural aircraft in particular which may fly lower

You must be able to see the aircraft with your own eyes — not through binoculars, a monitor, or a smartphone. than this for operations such as aerial spraying. You can fly at night but only in a shielded operation where your aircraft is within 100m of an object such as a building or forest of trees, capable of stopping it. If you’re not sure about what a shielded operation is, get some advice by emailing info@caa.govt.nz. If the maximum weight of your RPAS at take-off, ie. the aircraft plus any additional gear such as a camera, is less than 15kg, you don’t have to do anything other than fly within the basic safety rules. If your aircraft weighs between 15-25kg at take-off it must have been constructed, or inspected and approved, then operated under the authority of a person or association approved by the director of Civil Aviation. Any aircraft weighing more than 25kg will require a certificate under Civil Aviation Rule Part 102. You will also need to apply for a Part 102 certificate if you want to fly your aircraft outside any of the other basic Civil Aviation Part 101 rules. If, for example, you want to fly beyond the line of visual sight you will need to present a strong safety case in your application demonstrating, for example, how you would provide separation from other aircraft and how risks to people, property and terrain would be mitigated. The Civil Aviation Authority is keen to support your use of aerial technology on your farm and make sure it’s safe. See our website www.caa.govt.nz/rpas for more information. ■ Greg Baum is the Civil Aviation Authority’s manager special flight operations and recreational aviation


Boarding with a big difference

Are you looking for something different in Year 12/13 next year?

Cromwell College, set in the heart of Central Otago, offers an educational opportunity that will ensure an memorable end to your secondary schooling. Gain your NCEA while experience an exciting outdoor programme and developing valuable life skills. Our outdoor Pursuits Academy covers tramping, mountain biking, rock climbing, adventure racing and of course snowboarding and skiing all with skilled qualified instructors. Students live in the Cromwell College Apartments and are part of our Life Skills Programme. This offers independent living for up to twenty Year 12 and 13 students and provides an ideal stepping stone to further study or employment. Make 2018 a school year to remember! Application packs are available through our website www.cromwell.school.nz or for more information contact The Principal 03 445 1121

Affordable excellence Nelson College for Girls offers high quality education for young women in a very supportive environment. Our boarding hostel offers excellent accommodation for up to 150 students, from New Zealand and overseas. Our Year 9-12 students live in Clarice Johnstone House while our Year 13 students are in the Levels building. This modern accommodation provides them with a more independent living experience, while still ensuring our most senior students play a pivotal role in creating the family atmosphere of the boarding community. Our boarders enjoy academic success, make lifelong friendships and enjoy strong connections within the school and its community. ■ For more information please contact Vanessa White on 03 548 1332, email vanessa.white@ncg.school.nz, or visit our website www.ncg.school.nz/ boarding.html

CONFIDENCE: The college’s boarding house offers an independent living experience within a family atmosphere.

Nelson College for Girls Have you considered BOARDING AT NCG? Our boarders enjoy academic success, make lifelong friendships and build strong connections within the school and its community. • Affordable excellence • Independence • Family values • Nurturing

For more information visit

www.ncg.school.nz/boarding.html | vanessa.white@ncg.school.nz | 03 548 1332

SPRING 2017 - Advertorial


Entries open for NZ’s largest A&P Show Organisers of the 2017 Canterbury A&P Show are calling on showing enthusiasts from throughout New Zealand to send in their entries to compete in the country’s largest and most prestigious A&P Show. With 100,000 show visitors and over 3000 animals on site, the show continues its 155-year legacy by attracting New Zealand’s best animals and talented competitors. In addition to showing success, exhibitors will be competing for more than $100,000 in prizemoney. The Canterbury A&P Show is also very proud to be hosting a Royal A&P Dairy Cattle Event in 2017, which is sure to attract dairy exhibitors hoping to win prestigious royal medals and ribbons. To encourage exhibitors from further afield, travel and entry fee discounts are available to competitors travelling more than 400km to compete at the show. More information and schedules available at www.theshow.co.nz.

Be part of New Zealand’s largest A&P Show, with over 3000 animals on-site an e nd the chance to win your share of $100,000 in prizes. Discounts are available for exhibitors travelling more than 400km to compete e. The Canterbury A&P Association is proud to host a Royal A&P Dairy Cattle Event in 2017. Don’t miss the opportunity to win Royal prizes in the South Island! LIVESTOCK ENTRIES CLOSE FRIDAY 22 SEPTEMBER EQUESTRIAN ENTRIES CLOSE FRIDAY 15 SEPTEMBER

Canterbury Agricultural Park, www.theshow.co.nz P 03 343 3033, E entry@theshow.co.nz

SPRING 2017 - Advertorial

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Pines displace livestock emissions The ability of trees to lock up carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere has been known for a long time but only now is it assuming significance in New Zealand’s effort to reduce the level of greenhouse gases which cause climate change. The huge volume of carbon made into wood in our forests should come as no surprise, but the ratio of carbon/trees to the livestock which produce half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gases is not well appreciated. It doesn’t take many trees to mop up what a lot of stock produce. Doing the sums, you can see that a single 20-year-old pine will hold within its timber the same amount of carbon that a single sheep has breathed and

farted during its entire life. The same sums will give you three trees for every year of a dairy cow’s emissions. At a farm level, take the average drystock farm with a mix of sheep, beef and deer. You would only need to plant out 2.6ha of trees every year to be livestock carbon neutral. It would take a very long time indeed before that would significantly reduce stock numbers. Forestry can be a great investment as well. The main expense is roading to get the trees out. Short or easy access can make forestry a very viable proposition, not just a carbon offset that will be necessary for the day when the government really turns the screw on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

0800 000 945 ultimate broadband.co.nz *Broadband Services not available in all areas, Ultimate Broadband Standard Terms & conditions apply.

SPRING 2017 - Advertorial


ASTURE palatability and production are directly affected by the availability of key macronutrients in soils. Soils are complex mixtures of macro and micro nutrients, water, air, organic matter and countless soil organisms that combine to provide a medium that supports plant growth. However, plant growth and, more importantly, palatability will be reduced if any of these elements are below or above optimal levels. The picture (right) illustrates the differences in pasture production and palatability when key macronutrients are below optimal levels in the soil. The paddock in the foreground received a base fertiliser containing a mix of lime,

magnesium, boron and zinc. The square of yellow, stalky, rank pasture is unproductive and was not drilled with fertiliser. This unproductive pasture is surrounded by dark green highperforming pasture that was drilled with fertiliser. The stalky square in the photo is because the farmer ran out of Viafos K-PluS fertiliser while drilling. K-PluS is Viafos’ proven drilling fertiliser. K-PluS is a blend of Potassium (K), Phosphate (P) and Sulphur (S) in a non-acidic granule that does not harm, the all-important, soil biology. The differences in pasture production seen in the picture, are due to; firstly, the availability of potassium (foremost), phosphorous and sulphur; and secondly because of the thriving soil biology. Potassium is the macro-nutrient critical for setting up the nutrient transport system in a plant, which is vital for quick seedling establishment and plant development. In the photo, the highly productive pasture, that surrounds the stalky pasture, has higher available potassium which has improved the plants’ ability to absorb nutrients. When soil biology is thriving, nutrient uptake increases, meaning pasture palatably and production are improved. It is widely known that drilling with acidic fertilisers can burn seeds, but acidic fertilisers also create a low pH environment surrounding seeds and seedlings. At a low pH soils become biologically inactive and nutrient uptake is reduced, resulting in poor seed establishment and crop yields. Furthermore, with thriving soil biology there is less reliance on N fertilisers. Soil biology has a central role in the nitrogen-cycle where it converts nitrogen from the atmosphere into plant available nitrogen. Nitrogen enters the soil profile as N2 gas, NH3 in synthetic fertilisers or proteins in organic matter. Before any of this nitrogen is available for plant uptake it must go through mineralisation and nitrification: two processes that

rely entirely on biological activity. Worms, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes and all microbes are involved in the breakdown (mineralisation) of organic matter that makes organic nitrogen available to plants. Whereas nitrifying bacteria convert inorganic (synthetic) nitrogen compounds to plant available nitrogen through nitrification. Logically, increasing the rate of mineralisation and nitrification increases the amount of nitrogen that is plant available which in turn improves plant growth. As synthetic fertilisers have low pHs they reduce the efficiency of the nitrogen conversion processes because they harm soil biology. K-PluS, like all Viafos products, is a non-acidic, natural product that provides key nutrients for plant growth and the development of soil biology. The pea and barley crop, in the photo with Amy Duckworth, from Soil Matters — Soil Consultants, was drilled with K-PluS with no applied N. This proves that the application of N is not always necessary to grow bumper crops. Viafos fertilisers decrease the reliance on synthetic N, increases the performance and palatability of your pasture and crop while reducing leaching and run-off. Use Viafos’ K-PluS for better results.

Ask about our full range of fertilizers including our NEW K-PluS 3-in-1 blend.


To find your local supplier call 0800 842 367

or visit www.viafos.co.nz

THRIVING: A pea and barley crop that was grown without nitrogen.

PASTURE IMPERFECT: Spot the yellow, stalky square that was not drilled with fertiliser.

Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz


August 2017 National Farming Review




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IoT, LPWA spur next wave of agri-sensors


HE acronyms IoT and LPWA may be unfamiliar to many farmers but it won’t be long before both technologies are integral to smart agriculture, two top Vodafone experts told the Federated Farmers National Conference. Scott Pollard, manager of The Internet of Things (IoT) and Steve Rieger, its wholesale director, said IoT and Lower-Power Wide-Access (LPWA) networks would become central to gains in production, efficiency and compliance. IoT involves connecting devices to the internet, enabling them to ‘talk’ to each other and to people, such as moisture sensors on farms, power meters and even household appliances. IoT technology is already available in New Zealand, as in remotely managed irrigation and weather stations that make it easier for farmers to monitor water trough levels, dry matter pasture, soil moisture, milk vat temperature and feed levels. Other examples include cellular enabled surveillance for security and tracking of vehicles, etc. For these sorts of things, and other tasks, expect to hear more about the fast evolving LPWA network technology, Scott said. “These are enabled for small packets of data travelling great

distances. They’re well-suited to agribusiness and farming. They cross our networks but they do some things that we haven’t been able to do before.” One of the benefits is a vastly extended battery life. “The problem now is that you install these monitors and then you have to go back in two weeks or a month and change the battery. But when you’re talking about a

JOINING THE BLACK SPOTS As the ‘Rural Connectivity Group’ Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees have put in a joint bid for the $150 million available under Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) and Mobile Black Spot Fund. It’s expected that first contracts will be announced by the Government in August. Steve Rieger told the June conference that the Rural Connectivity Group is proposing up to 520 new cell-sites, which would boost mobile, 111 and IoT coverage in New Zealand by 20 per cent. It would enable 36,850 more connected households, 1,236km of new state highway coverage and

67 per cent of mobile blackspots covered. Answering questions from two Otago delegates who said there was poor connectivity in their districts, Steve said the mantra for those areas is to use the Telecommunications Development Levy wisely and “maximise the coverage footprint’’. “RBI 2 will have a different tower build – these don’t have to be the big cell towers like the ones constructed in RBI1. In some cases it’s just a matter of a strong wooden pole and guy ropes - a cheaper and more efficient construction.’’

10-year battery life, then they’re things that can be remotely deployed — extending the footprint of our network and also getting to some hard to reach places.” The hallmarks of LPWA are 10+ years battery life, deep penetration, mass deployment, low bandwidth and cost-effective device cost. “We can deploy hundreds of thousands, or millions of these things across our networks.” Scott said as of last year, there is an agreed global standard for the sensors in these devices and manufacturers are scaling up production, “and that brings the cost down”. Recent research commissioned by the NZ IoT Alliance suggests over $2 billion of potential economic benefits could flow from application of IoT across key sectors of the New Zealand economy. Scott said if you think of the ag innovations that are already here, “IoT enables it to happen on a far faster scale”. Farmers have been used to make observation-based

decisions but agriculture processes and production will increasingly move to more datadriven decisions. “This is the equivalent of having millions of pairs of eyes looking at similar levels of data and forming decisions around how you can do things differently.” Vodafone sees opportunities for using such technology to “prove and represent ourselves” to overseas markets. Rising middle classes in China, India and other parts of the world want dairy, meat and the like but to secure those markets Kiwi producers and exporters need to be able to prove they are good stewards of the environment, “green, organic, or whatever else it us that makes us authentic, sustainable and worth the premium prices”. “On top of that we have challenges around managing the natural resources of the planet. With figures such as 70 per cent of fresh water utilisation going into food production, and demand likely to double by 2050, we need to do things better. These technologies will help.”

Feds Vice-President Andrew Hoggard said he was into technology like this but found it frustrating that various devices and sensors would only talk to the same brands. “Will Agrigate [dairy on-line tool] be able to talk to this stuff?” Scott said businesses try to hold on to what makes them different but there is movement towards compatibility standards. “It’s an absolutely valid observation you make, and there are a bunch of competing network technologies that makes it even more difficult, but even the providers of these devices are starting to want change over time.” Vodafone’s network will be based on the Narrowband-IoT standard, supported by more than 40 of the world’s largest mobile operators plus many more suppliers and innovators that serve most of the global IoT market. ■ More at www.vodafone.co.nz/ broadband/rural/

Leaders. When it comes to connecting people with property and achieving great outcomes for our clients, being New Zealand’s leading rural real estate company really does matter. Many can make all sorts of claims to being No.1. We think being the leaders – in experience, expertise, and knowledge – is what really matters. And we get that by being part of New Zealand’s leading agri-business company – we’re not just a real estate agency. We really understand your business, because we’re connected to rural New Zealand in every way, every day. That’s why so many rural property owners in New Zealand trust and choose PGG Wrightson Real Estate.

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Helping grow the Country


National Farming Review

August 2017

www.fedfarm.org.nz Ph 0800 327 646




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Federation considers joining biosecurity response GIA By: DAVID BURT

Federated Farmers Senior Industry Adviser


N EFFECTIVE and efficient biosecurity system is crucial to the sustainability of farming and other primary sector businesses. The risks of a biosecurity incursion to New Zealand are increasingly significant as the volumes of mail, parcels, sea and air passengers and freight are expected to continue to steadily rise as they have over the last decade. The biosecurity framework in New Zealand is undergoing a fundamental change and one of the cornerstones of the new system is the Government Industry Agreements for Biosecurity Readiness and Response (GIA). GIA is a partnership-based approach to biosecurity that offers

participating industries joint decision-making in biosecurity preparedness and incursion response activities and so achieves better biosecurity outcomes. In exchange for this increased involvement industry will need to pay a share of the costs. New Zealand still has a robust biosecurity system but, as a number of high-profile border breaches over the past year and the recent detection of Mycoplasma bovis have shown, there is always room for improvement. An important question is how can the farming sector contribute to a better system? A potential answer that farmers will be asked to consider is can this be done through the GIA process? It is widely acknowledged that farmers are already on the frontline of biosecurity by virtue of working with animals and crops on-farm daily. The sooner a pest or diseases can be detected the lower the costs of control and the greater

the opportunities to eradicate — farmers play a key role in early detection and have also invested significant amounts of money offfarm in biosecurity in areas such as bovine tuberculosis and the NAIT system. Historically the government, through the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), has been the custodian of the border, and primary funder of biosecurity incursion responses. Just as importantly, while consulting stakeholders, including farmers in many instances, MPI has also been the sole arbiter about what preparedness work is undertaken and what and how incursions are responded to — or not. In late 2011, Federated Farmers was part of an initiative in which government and industry agreed in principle to working in partnership under a Government Industry Agreement framework to achieve better biosecurity outcomes. A number of sectors have

already joined the GIA — it’s called becoming GIA Signatories and they sign up to a GIA Deed that outlines the principles and processes of working in partnership under the GIA. After a sector joins the GIA the next steep is to develop Operational Agreements for specific pests or diseases. In addition to MPI, industry organisations, primarily from the horticultural sector but including forest owners and Pork NZ, have joined GIA and three operational agreements have been signed, including for the management of fruit fly and Psa. The inclusion of farming would significantly expand the scope and value of GIA and both the livestock sector organisations and the arable sector organisations have been actively engaged with MPI about the benefits and implications of joining GIA. A key part of the GIA framework is that all organisations that seek to join must undertake a robust consultation process and

must demonstrate to the government that they have the support of their members. Livestock sector organisations (Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, Deer Industry NZ, Dairy Companies Association of NZ and Meat Industry Association) have been meeting regularly to develop the framework under which they would operate and the relative proportions industry and government would commit to prepare for and respond to a biosecurity incursion such as foot and mouth disease. Under GIA, both industry and government makes minimum commitments about what each party will contribute. Central government will pay for a minimum of 50 per cent of the readiness and response costs over and above these minimum commitments. Farmers will be provided with the opportunity to say if they support their sectors joining GIA.


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August 2017 National Farming Review




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Everyday tasks keep hurting Ag workers By: AL McCONE WorkSafe Agriculture Sector Lead


If you are taking a risk each time you do something, it is likely the odds will catch up with you eventually.

UGUST IS A MONTH in which farm injuries tend to spike — a reflection on how busy farmers are, and also of how winter conditions can make day to day work riskier. Given the time of year and the fact that in the last few months there have been two clusters of workplace fatalities, it’s timely to think about why this is happening and how important it is for farmers to think about safety when planning the tasks they do. In terms of agriculture sector fatalities so far this year, eight workers have died. What’s so sad about these deaths is that they have been caused by the same types of issues that have been killing and injuring New Zealand workers for years — specifically vehicles and machinery. Handling animals and falls also feature every year in farm injury statistics. It’s often the mature and experienced people doing jobs they would have done many times before who are being injured and killed. There is a belief that the more you do something, the safer you are because of experience. But if you are taking a risk each time you do something, it is likely the odds will catch up with you eventually. That’s why it’s crucial that farmers pay

attention to the things that cause death or serious injury — the critical risks. Take the time to do an in-depth audit of your farm in terms of its risk profile. This will inform you of what the critical risks are, and the many other risks that fall out of these. There may not be many critical risks, but by their nature, they demand concentrated attention. Once all the risks are identified, you must make good risk management and following safe practices the norm. Here’s a sample of likely critical farm risks on your farm and ways to mitigate them. Safety around vehicles is imperative on the farm. The state of the vehicle could be a matter of life and death in the event of an incident so it needs to be well-maintained, including tyres and brakes. We know of several fatalities where brakes have failed after the driver has got off to open a gate or do another task, and the victim has been crushed. Users must also be proficient drivers who understand the vehicle’s limitations, especially on slopes or near waterways. Using the right vehicle for the job and terrain is also important, as is ensuring operators wear a helmet or seatbelt as recommended by the manufacturer. Most quad fatalities involve the vehicle rolling over, which indicates the driver has either

taken the vehicle somewhere inappropriate, or that their attention wasn’t completely on the driving. Many tractor fatalities could be prevented by the driver wearing the provided seatbelt, and the same applies to using side-by-sides. At this time of year with calving in full swing, there is a high risk of kick injuries. Cattle should only be handled by experienced people who know the hazards and how to avoid them. Training and supervision of people new to calving tasks is important. Taking a few minutes to point animal behaviour risks out can save having to do without an injured person for a time. In damp winter months, slips, trips and falls feature prominently in statistics. Keep sheds — especially milking sheds — clean to prevent algae, mould and other slippery substances building up on the floor. Check paths as well. Fill in unexpected holes or reset slabs that have shifted because tired people carrying loads in low light are more prone to tripping and damaging knees, arms and shoulders. It pays to be tidy as well. Tools or hoses left lying on the floor are tripping hazards. Milking shed stairs and steps also need regular cleaning as dairy farmers are also more likely to suffer an ankle sprain from falling or tripping on them. Last but not least, for all of the above to

work and for a reduction in agriculture’s current injury and fatality statistics, it is vital to involve workers in analysis of onfarm hazards. They are the ones who can most often identify these risks before they cause a serious injury or death. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, all business operators have to have meaningful engagement with their staff so they can participate meaningfully in health and safety planning and decisionmaking. It is important that you work to eliminate risk, rather than just say that it exists and then carry on doing the same thing you have always done. Talking with staff and people who have experience on other farms can help give you new ideas about managing the risk. Regular conversations about health and safety risks around handling large animals, vehicles and large machinery will make a difference in practice on the farm. The risks associated with these tasks need to be continually re-assessed and addressed. It’s not hard when it’s a matter of course and what everybody expects, and ultimately results in a smoother business operation. ■ For more on-farm health and safety information go to saferfarms.org.nz

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August 2017 National Farming Review




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Harnessing the power of the ensemble

By: GEORGINA GRIFFITHS, MetService Meteorologist


KNOW some smart people. Young, educated farmers, and some not-so-young, very experienced sailors. All of them know a thing or two about the weather. However, very few of these friends use ensemble data — one of the most powerful tools in a meteorologist’s arsenal. Seeing as how, in my mind, ensembles are the way of the future, let’s talk about what ensembles are, and how you can access them. “Let’s be honest — using only a single weather forecast model is like relying on a 1990s computer.”

Wisdom of the crowd

At a county fair in Plymouth, England, in 1906, several hundred fair-goers entered a contest to guess the weight of an ox. The average guess was extremely close to the true weight of the beast — even though some of the individual estimates were wildly off the mark. In addition, the average guess was closer to the true weight than the separate estimates made by cattle experts. A statistician of the time, Sir Francis Galton, noted that the

‘wisdom of the crowd’ was more powerful than any individual member within it.


Weather forecasting today also employs this technique, by using a group (or ensemble) of weather models to predict the state of the atmosphere out beyond the usual six or seven days. The average outcome of the ensemble group often pays dividends (validates well), even when run out for three or four weeks. This is especially true for temperature forecasts, and for very ‘strong’ climate signals (eg. big highs or deep lows, very dry or very wet conditions). MetService employs an ensemble of 51 members, as well as three individual (deterministic) weather models, and uses them in its rural products, as well as in bespoke information prepared for clients.

Capturing extremes well

A good example of the value of

ensemble information was seen earlier this winter. When others were signalling a warmer than usual winter, the ensembles were picking a short but very intense colder than usual spell. This extremely cold period was forecast to occur at the bottom of the annual temperature cycle — eg. early to mid July (Figure 1) — meaning that farmers needed to know about it! The ensemble temperature information issued two weeks in advance of the cold snap in early

July is shown in Figure 2. While there was no information around which particular days were likely to be unusually cold, or the actual temperatures likely on any given day, this type of weekly information can prove very useful from an on-farm planning and risk management point of view. MetService also offer weekly ensemble rainfall forecasts, which can be very useful to identify extremely wet periods, and extended dry runs. Early in

2016, the ensembles were used extensively to assess when the blocking high that lay to the east of New Zealand would move off — and finally allow some rain makers in. In other words, the ensembles are very handy when picking when drought will break. ■ Did you know you can receive these sorts of forecast maps directly to your email inbox? You can subscribe for free to the MetService Rural Outlook at www.metservice.com/emails.

Pollies would have our youth on pot, with free money Oh no — there are still another 50-odd days until the election. There goes watching the news. Maybe I will have to make conversation with the family. It’s got to be better than watching coverage of increasingly desperate politicians dream up new bribes to get my vote. It is almost as if the media have gone too early. Pushed out and broken from the pack way too far out from the finish. Peoples’ attention spans with this sort of stuff aren’t that long unless they’re political junkies. So far in this four-way fight for power we’ve been dangled prospects such as a minor-party prime minister, cash bribes to do nothing (why would you bother working?) and Winnie as the likely king-maker (again). We’ve had an admission of fraud/lying but apparently that’s OK “because the system made me do it!”. A lesson in fiscal responsibility and balancing the books would be useful for some political parties. Maybe even some experience actually running a business and hiring people — but no, politics doesn’t really attract those sort of people. Gone is the ‘work hard,



OFFAL PIT make money, pay tax’ mantra. So for those of you who have given up on the whole thing, let’s look at some of the policies that will make a difference to farming. Mmmm, no surprises here — there are none that are positive. However, in the interests of finishing this column, we’d better

look at the crazy ones. The biggest joke policy has to be the idea of handing out of $200 a week to all 18 to 23 year olds as some sort of civilisation dividend payment, or some other bovine excrement definition. It is $200 a week to do nothing, a government bursary to hang out at the beach.

If it ever came about, how would I get my current layabout children out of the house? Hopefully Gareth will give parents a chance to deduct board and lodgings at source. Add to this Labour’s unspecified $10 billion of election campaign bribes. This is for when the polls go bad and all those extra bribes still won’t be enough to get Labour up in the polls. Then there’s the legalise pot policies. In tandem with the $200 a week thing, parents like me will despair for our kids. The main effect of this policy will be that they won’t care about working. Life will be about a haze of doing nothing, lying on the beach and then suddenly at 23 it will be ‘oh hell mum and dad, can you help us out?”. We’ll be stuck with them for life, hopefully without too much brain damage. Contrast these policies with the tax-cut bribes. At least with a tax cut you need to have made some money and paid some tax to get it, not sit around on your arse doing nothing. Don’t stuff around with the country, Gareth. The time for grand social experiments is not

A lesson in fiscal responsibility and balancing the books would be useful for some political parties. now, especially when it could do irreversible damage to our youth. I can’t believe he thinks there is a money tree out there — typical theoretical economist. Free money and dope without consequences is not a good mixture. I’ve been there and was lucky to get out! ■ The Offal Pit is a contributed column and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Federated Farmers

Profile for NZME.

The National Farming Review August 2017  

The National Farming Review August 2017  


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