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National Farming Review June 2017

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GREEN CREDENTIALS

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IN BRIEF Biosecurity GIA investigated

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Anti-farming hype is wearing thin By WILLIAM ROLLESTON Federated Farmers New Zealand President

Among the guests hosted by Federated Farmers President William Rolleston (right) at the inaugural ‘Fieldays Comes to Wellington’ cocktail party was National Fieldays President Peter Carr.

I

T IS ELECTION YEAR and it seems that for the environmental groups the gloves are off. We have seen Greenpeace run a series of fundraising ads vilifying dairy farmers and Forest and Bird pull out of the Land and Water Forum. No surprise that both these organisations are headed by exGreen politicians. Scuttlebutt is that Forest and Bird will re-join the Land and Water Forum after the election. Greenpeace has yet again been accused of misleading the public. The truth is that farmers are fully engaged in meeting their environmental responsibilities. Up and down the country I have seen catchment groups working to reduce their impact on water quality and address issues of water allocation. Dairy farmers have spent more than $1 billion on fencing, riparian planting and effluent management upgrades while their dryland cousins have been the main contributors in signing on to QEII Trust covenants worth an estimated 1.2 billion dollars, including the economic opportunity which has been foregone. But there is a lot more going on. Farmers, through their levies to Beef and Lamb and DairyNZ, are

WELCOME

Livestock sector and arable sector organisations including Federated Farmers have been looking into the possibility of their sectors becoming GIA (Government Industry Agreement) partners with MPI. The GIA partnership provides the opportunity for greater primary sector involvement in biosecurity readiness and response decisions. While increased sector funding is likely to be required, most funding will, at a minimum, be matched by Crown funding. A livestock industry forum, the interim Foot and Mouth Disease Council, is in the process of negotiating with MPI the bottom lines that would apply should the livestock sector organisations become GIA signatories and the Federation’s arable industry group is consulting with other arable sector organisations about how the sector should look to join GIA. Farmers will be consulted on whether they support their sector organisations becoming GIA signatories.

Fieldays comes to Wellington contributing to science research to reduce the production of greenhouse gases as well as spending tens of millions of dollars per year on Tb control, which also helps in the fight to save our birds through possum and predator control. Farmers care about their land and it shows. Recent reports from Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, and from the Ministry for the Environment, show that farmers are just one part of the water puzzle and while it will take years, even decades, to reach the quality targets we are on that journey. What is more the penny is finally starting to drop for the media and

they have started to articulate the farmer’s side of the story. Perhaps the super-hype from those who want to paint farmers as the villain is just wearing a little thin. Perhaps the tourism industry, with its claim of number one export slot, is a new tall poppy to cut down. Federated Farmers has pushed for the science to back up our actions and that is starting to emerge. We’ve insisted that if you want change you need to engage farmers, not enrage them. Farmers hate been told what to do but give them a problem and they want to fix it. They see the problem and they are fixing it. The rest of New Zealand now needs to get behind them.

EDITORIAL

MEMBERSHIP

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

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

With the 49th Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek fast approaching, the Feds decided to bring a taste of what it’s all about to downtown Wellington. On May 24, the Federated Farmers’ office in Featherston St hosted more than 100 guests for Fieldays comes to Wellington, a celebration of what Fieldays means for Kiwis and how it contributes to and influences both the agricultural and wider New Zealand community. Members of The Improvisers dressed as a dog and bush-shirt wearing shepherds herded suit and

ADVERTISING LINDA FRIEDRICH Ph: 021 225 4610 linda.friedrich@nzme.co.nz

frock-wearing guests into the elevators for a cocktail function upstairs. (See our photos, page 1) Speakers included David Bennett, the Minister for Food Safety and MP for Hamilton East, the CEO of Fieldays Peter Nation, and Vodafone NZ director of wholesale, Steve Rieger. Catch our feature on the 2017 National Fieldays on pages 8 and 9.

Enhancement Fund honours Stephensons A new fund to help QEII Trust covenantors has been named after Gordon and Celia Stephenson. Gordon is the former Federated Farmers dairy chair whose tireless advocacy 40 years ago got the whole movement going. (See our feature on QEII covenants, pages 6-7). The Stephenson Fund for Covenant Enhancement aims to support covenantors with strategically important enhancement projects they have planned for their covenants. It can also be used to help covenantors with recovery plans for their covenants after being hit by extreme natural events, or if they are facing other challenges such as large financial burdens or health issues. Successful applicants may receive up to 50 per cent of the total costs of their projects up to a maximum of $20,000. The fund will not be available to support normal management activity that is a requirement of the covenant deed, or any activities that are part of a consent process or other legal obligations. About $150,000 a year will be set aside. The National Trust will be seeking donations and sponsorship to replenish and grow it.

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June 2017 National Farming Review

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BUDGET 2017

SPENDING PROMISES

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Budget fires election opening salvoes headroom to reduce debt.

By NICK CLARK, Federated Farmers Industry Group Manager

S

TEVEN JOYCE’S FIRST BUDGET fires the first shot in an election year spend up. On Budget day, May 25, the new Minister of Finance dropped hints he was keeping some ammunition in reserve, and no doubt his political rivals will pepper voters with their own barrage of spending promises in the coming months. Solid economic growth and fiscal discipline has turned around a ‘decade of deficits’ forecast in 2008 to surpluses, which are projected to strengthen over the coming years. The forecast surplus for the current 2016/17 year is $1.6 billion, rising to $2.9 billion for 2017/18 and then growing steadily to $7.2 billion in 2020/21.

The Government has four fiscal priorities: ■ Maintaining rising operating surpluses; ■ Reducing net debt to around 10-15 percent of GDP by 2025; ■ If economic and fiscal conditions allow, beginning to reduce income taxes; ■ Using any further fiscal

These four priorities are consistent with Federated Farmers’ fiscal policy position. In addition, we believe that Government spending should be contained so it reduces to below 30 percent of GDP (now achieved at around 29 per cent) and it should be focused on things that will improve productivity and competitiveness and provide strong value for money. In terms of ‘new initiatives’ the Budget is providing, over the next four years there will be an additional net $8.6 billion in operating spending initiatives and a net $4.0 billion in capital spending initiatives. Operating spending will grow steadily over the next four years, from $77.5 billion in 2016/17 to $89.2 billion in 2020/21. This is almost the same rate of growth as nominal GDP. It’s hard to quibble with the Budget’s focus on spending on public services, social investment, and infrastructure. It’s also hard to take exception to tax and spending initiatives targeted at lower and middle income families. However, Federated Farmers is disappointed there was no movement in the threshold of the top rate of personal income tax. Too many taxpayers will continue suffering the effect of several years of fiscal drag. We would also have liked to have seen a reduction in the company tax rate although this is less important to us than personal income tax. Included is a welcome boost of $18.4 million of operating funding over four years to further strengthen the biosecurity system and protect our borders. Part of the new funding will be used to manage biosecurity risk off-shore so fewer pests and diseases make it to New Zealand. Import Health Standards (IHS) will be reviewed to ensure the rules around importing goods are

It’s hard to quibble with the Budget’s focus on spending on public services, social investment and infrastructure.

A biosecurity officer checks shrubs and trees for Myrtle Rust. Biosecurity and border protection won extra funding in Steven Joyce’s first Budget as the new Minister of Finance. strong and up to date. The money will also be used to accelerate the development and uptake of new tools to detect and eradicate pests, including sonar

scanning of vessel hulls and automatic acoustic traps for use in pest surveillance and eradication. As well as the money for

biosecurity, there is additional spending for irrigation and trade facilitation. These are all important priorities for farmers. We welcome an increase in science and innovation spending but would have preferred more emphasis on building our science capability across the country, particularly in biological and environmental sciences, rather than going to companies for commercialisation. MFAT gets more funding for trade negotiations and international presence, and there is also more funding for tourism infrastructure, transport and police, all of which are welcomed. Looking ahead, surpluses are forecast to grow. As was the experience from 2005 to 2008 the temptation to spend more will grow in tandem. Whoever wins the September election will inherit a healthy set of books but they could easily be squandered if there is a spending spree followed by a shock (as happened in 2008). The temptation to spend up needs to be guarded against. Better perhaps for the Government to have moved more on taxes so reducing the headroom for even more lavish spending promises!

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National Farming Review June 2017

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ELECTIONS 2017

FARMERS’ MANIFESTO

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Our call on the next government’s priorities

EDERATED FARMERs has released its 2017 manifesto for the election in September. Parties and would-be MPs are challenged to dive into S.P.A. – not the hot-tub variety but the Sensible, Practical and Affordable approach farmers require of regulators. The Federated Farmers 2017 Manifesto says this approach is particularly important when it comes to achieving sustainable economic growth within environmental limits. The manifesto outlines the top priorities our farmer members have identified to be considered by political parties and candidates. The full document can be viewed on our website, but on these two pages we give a taster of our messages to those vying to form our next Government.

F

TARGETED CATCHMENT APPROACH REQUIRED FOR FRESHWATER Farmers have a strong interest in achieving both improved water quality and economic growth. We all have a role to play in achieving these twin goals as all sectors of society have contributed to the problem. Much of the water quality debate is dominated by emotive slogans and assumptions based on skinny data and highly speculative modelling. This leads to problem definitions that do not accurately reflect on-the-ground reality. There is an assumption that there are only two approaches to addressing water quality: regulatory and non-regulatory. A third way is a targeted flagship catchment approach. Prioritisation of hotspot catchments is required to focus

efforts where they are needed most. Fine-grained base data and targeted investment are essential. Plugging the knowledge gaps and accurately defining the problem is essential. This approach establishes a framework for catchment partnerships that coordinate community, council and scientific efforts. All of this requires additional and coordinated contributions of time and money from business owners, households, taxpayers and ratepayers.

OUR MESSAGE: Federated Farmers encourages all political parties to support a targeted flagship catchment approach that delivers targeted investment based on sound data so that improved water quality can be achieved alongside economic growth. A range of taxpayer and regionwide rates based funding should be considered to assist with the achievement of the most cost effective improvement in water quality for regional economies.

BETTER BALANCE BETWEEN ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT Farmers recognise the need to continue to reduce their environmental footprint. Farmers have made, and continue to make, significant improvements to the way they manage their land. Dairy farmers alone have invested over $1 billion in the last five years in environmental improvements. Farmers acknowledge further work is required. Sir Peter Gluckman’s recent report reaffirms the premise that all New Zealanders have a role to play in improving water quality as all sectors of society have contributed to the problem. The National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management is the primary policy measure for

improving water quality. It sets out national expectations but implementation rests with regional councils. There are numerous examples of regional councils picking one option to improve water quality and then blindly pursuing it through the planning process. It has led to lengthy and costly legal challenges; and uncertain, often unwieldy, impacts. Every catchment presents its own peculiarities - why the water body is in the state it is and the best options to improve its water quality. Better community involvement in council consultation and decisionmaking processes is a critical first step to implementing changes that are sensible, practical and affordable.

OUR MESSAGE: We urge all political parties to support changes to the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management to require the robust quantification and taking into account of both the economic effects and environmental benefits of options to improve water quality.

A MORE ROBUST BIOSECURITY SYSTEM As an island nation, we’ve remained free of many diseases, pests and weeds that have decimated other countries. If New Zealand suffered a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak, such as that which struck Europe in 2001, it was estimated it would cost us over $16 billion. A robust biosecurity system is essential to ensuring the benefits that arise from our geographic isolation are maintained. The risks of a serious biosecurity incursion to New Zealand are increasing. Between 2003 and 2014 the volume of mail parcels entering New Zealand has grown by 216%, sea containers are up 37% and air passenger

arrivals 47%. Added to this is the near doubling of cruise ship passengers since 2010. These people and freight are coming from a broader range of countries. It is crucial New Zealand has strong science-based and risk-based biosecurity rules and that they are strictly enforced and subject to strong penalties.

OUR MESSAGE: All political parties should commit to ensuring that Government allocates the resources needed to develop, maintain and enforce a world class biosecurity system.

BETTER RESPONSES TO BIOSECURITY INCURSIONS Every year our biosecurity system stops many potential incursions but occasionally a disease, weed or pest gets through. The Government Industry Agreement (GIA) framework is a useful mechanism for government and industry to work together to better prepare for incursions and respond more effectively when they occur. If the response is slow or inadequate, the ongoing cost to the nation can be significantly higher than it should have been. Velvetleaf, is an incredibly invasive weed with seeds that can survive in the soil for over 50 years. In the first months of the 2016 Velvetleaf incursion, inspection and disposal costs to this country are said to have exceeded $1 million, costs that will continue to increase over the expected dormancy of Velvetleaf seeds. The Ministry for Primary Industries needs the resources to promptly respond to fresh incursions. Swift eradication,

while costly in the short to medium term, avoids the substantial costs of long term pest management. Experience with recent incursions strongly suggests more resources are required.

OUR MESSAGE: Federated Farmers encourages all political parties to commit to supporting increased resources to respond to biosecurity incursions, and to support Federated Farmers membership of the GIA partnership.

COMBAT ESTABLISHED PLANT AND ANIMAL PESTS Major consequences arise for farmers, conservation and biodiversity when harmful exotic species get in and become established. Royal Society research in 2014 identified the economic cost to NZ from vertebrate pests to be about 2% of GDP every year. For pastoral weeds, lost production and control costs total $1.2 billion per annum. Most of the 32 mammal species that have become established are now pests. Work done by the Department of Conservation forecasts that 20% of NZ will be taken over by wilding conifer forests within 20 years. Wilding conifers spread relentlessly over the hill country and the government committed $27 million in 2016 for control efforts. Progress has been encouraging, but more resources are needed. Rapid growth in rabbit populations has had a devastating effect on crops and pastures. A strain of rabbit-

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June 2017 National Farming Review

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ELECTIONS 2017

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OUR MESSAGE: We urge all political parties to support initiatives to reduce the impacts of established plant and animal pests, ensure these initiatives have sufficient resources and the full range of tools to achieve reduced impacts.

SUBSTANTIVE REFORMS NEEDED OF RMA FUNDAMENTALS

Increasing demands being placed on farmers by central and local government and local communities is making it increasingly difficult to farm. Many of these demands centre on the protection of resources on private land, and impact on the economic and social prosperity of rural communities. The implementation of the RMA is a major brake on regional economic development. Farmers support the need to manage the environmental effects of their activities, but a better balance and common sense is required. A fundamental review of the effectiveness of the Purpose and Principles (Part 2) of the RMA is needed. Explicit references to economic outcomes, property rights and the protection of the rural production resource need to be factored into reviews to improve the RMA by including these as matters of National Importance.

OUR MESSAGE: Federated Farmers urges all political parties to support fundamental reform of the Resource Management Act 1991 so the Act more effectively delivers on all four (environmental, social, cultural and economic) aspects of sustainability and prosperity.

COMMIT TO BETTER AND LESS REGULATION

Regulations cover a range of issues that impact the daily lives of farmers and other rural businesses. Resource management, health and safety, employment, immigration and animal welfare have been big regulatory issues for farmers over recent times. Some regulatory agencies, such as IRD, are to be congratulated for successfully reducing

compliance costs. A growing culture of risk aversion in society, media and all levels of government increasingly makes regulation the default option. Poor quality regulations in recent years have added significant costs to the productive sector for dubious benefits and are often based on a knee-jerk reaction rather than sound analysis. Successive farmer confidence surveys show that reducing the burden of regulation and compliance costs is among the highest priorities farmers want from government. A Regulatory Standards Bill has continued to languish in Parliament when its passage would put in place principles for good quality regulation.

OUR MESSAGE: We encourage political parties to commit to better quality and less regulation, and to implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on local government regulation and regulatory institutions and practices.

REALISE FREE TRADE BENEFITS We have natural advantages when it comes to the production of food and fibre. In 2015/16, over 75% of merchandise exports came from the primary sectors. In some key global economies there is clamour for a retreat towards economic nationalism and protectionism. This threatens New Zealand’s access to key markets and the mechanisms available to bring parties to justice who are not fulfilling their international trade commitments. It is more important than ever that New Zealand remains committed to realising the benefits of free trade and promoting and pursuing trade liberalisation. Multilateral agreements, like the WTO, provide a level-playing field between trading partners and allows New Zealand to wield more influence than a country our size ought. Bilateral agreements provide better targeted improvements to market access. Annual exports to China have quadrupled since 2006 under the China Free Trade Agreement.

OUR MESSAGE: All political parties should stand united in the pursuit of free trade and to encourage other

countries to fulfil the commitments they have made.

SCIENCE INVESTMENT Science and innovation has contributed immensely to the success of the primary sector. Farm productivity continues to improve by around 1% every year. New and better crops enhance the range and value of products we produce. Science and innovation also have important roles in resolving the environmental challenges. Good engagement by the science community with the primary sector is vital to identify priorities for work and to ensure that outcomes are useful to farmers. Engagement between the science community and industry must be early and meaningful, and not just a box ticking exercise to fulfil funding criteria. Existing and future research programmes (such as National Science challenges) must be carefully monitored.

OUR MESSAGE: We seek support for improved government investment in science that better enable the primary sector to deliver on economic aspirations and environmental goals.

IMPROVE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES Equitable access to essential services is essential for rural New Zealand. Equity of access to education is important to farming families and helps with attracting and retaining farm employees with children. The location of farms in the more remote corners of New Zealand mean the nearest secondary school is often too far away for pupils to attend on a daily basis and distance schooling, via computer, is neither ideal nor realistic due to inadequate rural internet services. Boarding is often the only practical solution. Two types of boarding allowance are available – the Access Barrier allowance due to isolation and the Multiple Barriers allowance due to such factors as behavioural issues. The Multiple Barriers allowance has been increased steadily over the last decade and

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sits at $7,500 per annum. The Access Barrier allowance is less than half that at $3,200 per annum, and has not been increased for over 10 years. The Ministry of Education budget for boarding allowances was underspent by more than $3 million in 2015, so increasing the Access Barrier Boarding Allowance to the same level as the Multiple Barriers Boarding Allowance can be easily achieved within the existing budget.

OUR MESSAGE:

Federated Farmers encourages all political parties to support the Access Barrier boarding allowance being immediately raised to the same level as the Multiple Barriers boarding allowance and then adjusting both allowances annually for inflation.

of respondents had livestock or equipment stolen in the last two years. Of concern is that 60% of those respondents did not report the thefts to the Police with a common reason being that “Police don’t have the resources to respond”.

OUR MESSAGE:

Federated Farmers encourages all political parties to support further increases in resourcing for police in rural areas to reduce the vulnerability of rural communities.

STRONGER DETERRENTS FOR LIVESTOCK THEFT

Tourist numbers are expected to reach 4.5 million by 2025. The government collected $2.6b in GST from tourist-related activity in 2016. We need to have the infrastructure to cope with this growth and so the visitor experience is not compromised. Local government is a provider of important infrastructure for tourists, from big ticket items like roads, water and wastewater, to smaller facilities like public toilets, parking areas and freedom camping spots. Local Government NZ puts the cost of meeting increasing tourism demand at around $1.38 billion per annum. Government have made available $102 million over four years. While this is welcome, there remains a shortfall that will be borne by ratepayers, and with our property value rates system a big proportion of the burden falls on farmers, many of whose annual rates bills already exceed $30,000.

Nationally, farmed livestock are worth over $20 billion. Livestock rustling has become increasingly prevalent in rural areas and the cost is put at over $120 million each year. Livestock theft also creates serious risks as firearms and other weapons are often involved. A private member’s bill, the Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill, currently in the ballot, would go a long way towards providing a stronger deterrent. The bill proposes to add the theft of livestock to the array of aggravating factors in the Sentencing Act that must be considered at sentencing. Federated Farmers see this bill as an important first step. Further steps should be considered including making theft of livestock a specific criminal offence to enable powers of seizure provisions similar to those in section 207 of the Fisheries Act 1996. Given the highly organised nature of livestock theft, seizing vehicles and other property used in rustling should provide both a deterrent for offending and inhibit reoffending.

OUR MESSAGE:

OUR MESSAGE:

TOURISM-RELATED INFRASTRUCTURE

We encourage all political parties to support passing the Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill with additional amendments that provide powers of seizure.

All political parties should commit increased and ongoing central government funding for local tourism-related infrastructure.

BETTER RURAL POLICING

Many rural communities are isolated, often with less reliable telecommunications and exposure to a greater range of threats such as visitors with firearms and dogs. Federated Farmers’ 2016 rural security survey showed that 35%

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National Farming Review June 2017

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ENVIRONMENT

FOREVER PROTECTED

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ARMERS’ ENVIRONMENTAL CREDENTIALS have been under attack of late, but new research has highlighted just one way those who work the land also strive to look after it. Federated Farmers welcomed a study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research that details the impact and costs of land placed under covenant via the QEII National Trust. Gordon Stephenson, a Federated Farmers Dairy section national chairman in the 1970s, instigated the Trust and was the first to put a covenant over part of his land. “Farmers have been front and centre in the activities of the QEII National Trust right from the start. We congratulate them on their

Farmers lead way on covenants

40th anniversary, and for commissioning this study,” Feds environment and water spokesman Chris Allen said. When Gordon and Celia Stephenson put a four hectare stand of native bush on their farm near Putaruru under QEII covenant for permanent protection, they were not to know that over the next 40 years, more than 4300 property owners would follow suit. The Institute for Business Research found that covenanting land owners, the majority of whom are farmers, are together spending an estimated $25 million of their own money every year to protect native species, forests, wetlands and other special areas in their QEII covenants. In total, the land owners have made a financial commitment of between $1.1 and $1.3

OTHER FINDINGS ■ loss of potential income from other alternative uses of land under covenant is estimated to be $443-$638 million since 1977.

new covenants.

■ Nearly half of the protected land is on sheep and beef farms and that makes up about 60% of

■ Some 11% of covenants are on dairy farms, mostly protecting wetland areas.

billion in direct or lost opportunity costs establishing and maintaining land under covenant since the QE II Trust that Gordon Stephenson lobbied for was set up in 1977. “The survey showed land surrounding 69 per cent of survey respondents’ covenanted sites is used for

■ About 20% of farmers have a covenant, and typically it covers 4-5% of their farm.

grazing. While not all of the covenanted land would be suitable for farming, it’s no surprise to us that thousands of farmers have voluntarily opted to permanently protect important wetland, bush and landscape sites, and to forgo revenue from it,” Chris said. “These special sites have even more protection than

It’s no surprise to us that 1000s of farmers have voluntarily opted to permanently protect important wetland, bush and landscape sites — CHRIS ALLEN

national parks. The QEII covenants cannot be revoked by subsequent land owners.”

Numbers speak for themselves By SIMON EDWARDS

QEII National Trust board member and former Feds president Bruce Wills: “Looking after the environment needs to be part and parcel of farming these days.”

As a former banker, Bruce Wills knows about numbers. And for him, the numbers around the QEII National Trust speak for themselves. In its 40th anniversary year, the trust can look back on 180,000ha of wetlands, bush and other natural areas protected in perpetuity under some 4400 covenants around the nation. “That’s about one per cent of New Zealand’s privately-owned land and we’re adding another 130 to 140 covenants each year,” Bruce says. “We wouldn’t have those extraordinary numbers if it wasn’t for farmers recognising the worth of it, and committing.”

The former Federated Farmers president and his family have certainly committed. Long an advocate of farmers “stepping up and doing good things for the environment” when Bruce returned to the family’s Hawke’s Bay farm, Trelinnoe, 12 years ago after working 20 years in the banking sector he recognised the operation could do more to protect biodiversity, waterways and provide shelter for stock. “I made the call straight up to lock up 15 per cent of the entire farm under QEII covenant.” A number of the steeper gorges had already been fenced off but another 161ha was protected under a series of QEII covenants, bringing the total of fenced off natural areas to some

300ha — about a third of the farm. Some 50km of seven-wire post and batten fences were put up over a five-year period, with Trelinnoe paying a third of the cost, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council a third and the QEII Trust the final third. “It works a bit differently around the country, depending what regional council you’re under, but that cost sharing is a reasonably common method used,” says Bruce, who for the last three years has been the Minister of Conservation’s appointment on the QEII National Trust board, to represent farmer interests. He’s

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ENVIRONMENT

Earthquake wrecks years of hard work By SIMON EDWARDS After 10 years of fencing work and other improvements, sucking up every bit of spare money they had, Rebekah and Dave Kelly were ready to “kick on and farm without doing too much more”. They’d done their bit as stewards of the land, protecting biodiversity by putting into a QEII Trust covenant a 43ha natural gully bursting with regenerating bush, large beech trees and some rarer species they were looking forward to further investigating and cataloguing. Then just after midnight on November 14 last year, all that was turned on its head. The 7.8 Kaikoura-Hurunui earthquake wreaked havoc, taking out large chunks of fencing completely and leaving a good portion of the rest out of alignment or with posts uprooted. Deep rents and chasms zig-zag across the farm “and whole hillsides have just disappeared down into the gullies,” Rebekah says. “It’s chaos, just unbelievable.” The 2000ha hill country beef and sheep farm has been in Rebekah’s family’s hands for nearly 100 years and she and husband Dave came back to work it 12 years ago.

Rebecca Kelly and her daughter Victoria. A neighbour had a covenant on one of their boundaries and Rebecca’s dad’s cousin, Miles Giller, is an “amazing botanist” and the QEII National Trust’s North Canterbury representative. The Kellys, who are members of Federated Farmers, had been mulling over a covenant and after their enthusiasm was fired up at a Ballance Farm Awards event, Miles agreed to survey the area of the farm they had in mind. “All the stars were in alignment, I guess,” Rebekah says. A decade-long process of redeveloping the farm to how they wanted it was capped three or four

years ago with fencing off the natural gully. It’s steep country and the work had to be done by a fencing contractor, but the Kellys pitched in, including laying out the fencing line with the bulldozer. Rebekah says the fact the QEII Trust met nearly half the cost of the fencing was a big help. The Hurunui council’s identification of Significant Natural Areas across the district’s farmland and insistence such sites be protected had kicked off some resentment, and even court action, when the council said there was no money available to help property owners with the job. The QEII Trust backed its desire for protecting significant landscapes with practical help and some funding, Rebekah says. Post-earthquake, the Kellys are just taking each day as it comes. “Most of the stuff causing us the major headaches was uninsurable infrastructure. Not only do we have to think how we’re going to farm but think up a plan how we’re going to get the cash. “We’d spent the last 10 years using every bit of spare money we had. It will take another cycle of good years of farming like that, and time, before we can get all the fences and other stuff back to where it was.”

The earthquakes have torn up Rebekah and Dave Kelly’s Waiau property but they’re determined to get the farm and covenant area back in shape.

Looking after the environment part and parcel of farming Cont from P6 up for reappointment, and he’s such an enthusiastic and practical advocate of the covenant process, Maggie Barry would be mad not to leave him in the role. Bruce says there are so many trees on Trelinnoe he’s out with a chainsaw more often than a team of dogs. It was all kicked off by his father, a mad-keen botanist and gardener. At the heart of the property is a 13ha park based on an English landscape design and featuring up to 20,000 trees and shrubs from around the world. Internationally recognised and open to the public seven days a

week, some 140,000 visitors have wandered the environs and six lakes. “We mow 10 acres of lawn a week, and there are 2km of hedges to clip.” Another 15,000 poplars, willows and other trees dot the 800ha still in grazing. Bruce says there have been pluses for the farming operation from covenanting large parcels of steeper land and gorges. Years back he and his brother Scott, the stock manager, would wait on the spur of a ridge for 20 minutes while a team of predominantly huntaway dogs would flush out stock from the bush. Now they only need heading dogs because all mustering is within fencelines.

“It’s made running the farm much easier. This was land that was difficult to farm. When it was all open we used to lose stock over bluffs and cliffs. “Even though we’d locked out a third of the land the total stock units we’re running only came down a fraction.” But the most significant thing was “it was the right thing to do”. “Looking after the environment needs to be part and parcel of farming these days.” Without sheep and cattle pushing at the bush fringes, there has been vigorous growth of kanuka, manuka and broad-leaf natives. Waterways at the bottom of gullies run clear. Best of all are the birds – “clouds of them,” Bruce says. “As

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soon as the areas were fenced off we saw a really exciting rebound in plant and bird life. They took off, and the more we did with QEII, the more we could see the difference and it was the driver to push on.” A downside is that pest and weed control takes time and money, and fences have to be maintained when there is damage from slips and storms. “A weird irony is that when farmers do the right thing by protecting bush, wetlands and with riparian planting, they’re creating extra habitat for both the good and the bad.” Trelinnoe has 300 bait stations, and there are always possums, goats, deer, stoats and rabbits to cull.

“But I can say without a doubt, the positives outweigh the negatives,” Bruce says. When a regional council gets a new crop of councillors or an impetus to do more in the environment space, wait lists for QEII Trust covenants can develop – as has happened in Taranaki. Bruce says that’s his biggest frustration. “When we have farmers who care, who want to get on with protection work, the last thing we need is for the QEII Trust not to have the resources to keep up. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen too often.” Bruce is looking forward to the next 40 years of the Trust’s operation, “and hopefully a doubling or more of the area under covenant”.

IT’S JUST GOOD BUSINESS “It was great keeping the livestock on our property until the end buyer was found at a price we were both happy with!” Allan Baird

Southland Provincial President

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National Farming Review June 2017

www.fedfarm.org.nz Ph 0800 327 646

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MYSTERY CREEK FIELDAYS

FARMING IN A BRAVE NEW WORLD

By: ANDREW MCGIVEN, President Waikato Federated Farmers It’s coming up to that time of the year when the National Fieldays are

again hosted at Mystery Creek. The Fieldays provide an opportunity for farmers to meet up with friends, field reps and to see what is new in terms of innovation, machinery and plant specials, and of course to be able to interact with some of the movers and shakers whose policies will determine how we live and work in our agribusinesses today and in the future.

Compact

With that in mind Federated Farmers will again have a stand to meet up with members, speak to farmers and to guide and assist agribusiness. Our theme is Farming in a Brave New World. That platform gives wide scope to discuss topics of interest for upcoming generations of the farming community. There has been much discussion lately from farmers around Plan Change 1 (PC1)

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and what the implications will be for them. While the outcome of submissions is yet to be determined, Federated Farmers has commissioned a ground-truthing study, an evaluation plan and financially assisted a hill country farmers’ economic analysis as well as constantly monitoring and refining the science that PC1 has been based on. I would challenge those farmers who have been critical of our effort to read and compare the Federated Farmers’ submission on PC1 and then to come along to our stand at the Fieldays to discuss your thoughts and opinions with myself and policy staff. Policy is member-driven and members’ views are canvassed by staff and elected representatives who formulate submissions to help local and central government decision making — and indeed we canvassed extensively before completing our PC1 submission. There is still a lot of conjecture and misinformation out there in the regions despite Past President Chris Lewis and other elected members’ attempts to keep everyone informed. The Fieldays will provide all farmers a great opportunity to ask questions on a one-on-one basis with Federated Farmers staff. Our site is PB46. I challenge all those farmers who want to know more to come talk to us and get an opportunity for some great giveaways, prizes, and product specials.

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If your health is badly compromised, then pretty much everything else is going to take a back seat. The major new feature at Mystery Creek in 2017 is the Fieldays Health Hub. “We’ve hosted health agencies in the past but they’ve exhibited under their own steam and in their own areas,” National Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation says. “It’s such a crucial aspect these days, we wanted to make it more prominent. “If we want 50,000 new people into agriculture by 2025, whether they’re single or they have families they need confidence there will be health support in the rural areas, whether that’s GPs, mobile or virtual services, high-speed broadband so they can research stuff themselves.” The Health Hub is an interactive and nonthreatening space designed to educate and inform visitors about health issues affecting rural communities. Lee Picken, National Fieldays head of events, says farmers don’t always have the opportunity to get off the farm for health checks. “It’s really important to have this at Fieldays — it’s a great platform for health professionals to start that conversation.” Mobile Health is a key partner in the Health Hub, and its mobile surgical bus will be a cornerstone of the site. For 10 months of the year the bus travels from Kaikohe to Balclutha, performing scheduled day surgeries in small towns and rural centres. Fieldays visitors will be able to watch a mock surgery. Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) CEO Michelle Thompson said rural people are losing out when it comes to health. “Of the scant data that exists, we know that the health outcomes for rural people are poorer than for urban people,” she says. “It makes good economic sense for the Government to focus on the people supporting the rural economy.” Cancer affects the rural community at a higher rate than the national average. Fieldays will have a giant inflatable bowel from Bowel Cancer New Zealand for people to walk through. The Health Hub will also host expert speakers doing free ‘MED Talks’ — 10-minute health presentations. There will be displays on heart health, cholesterol, diabetes with opportunities for check-ups. The aim is to keep it fun, nonthreatening but educational, says Mark Eager, general manager of Mobile Health. We want to make it funky and interactive.”


Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz

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June 2017 National Farming Review

9

MYSTERY CREEK FIELDAYS

FIELDAYS RETURN

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

O

NE OF THE REASONS the National Fieldays is celebrating its 49th year is the way the event has through the decades promoted innovation and new technology by providing a platform for discussion and demonstration. “For an organisation that is as much politically neutral as it can be, we’ve nevertheless wanted to lead change,” Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation says. “Leading Change” is the theme for the 2017 event, which runs 14-17 June at Mystery Creek in Hamilton. With more than 120,000 people expected this year, and 1546 sites to view, National Fieldays is the biggest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere, and in the top 10 in the world. “This year 20 countries are coming to put on exhibitions or do trade missions, which is quite exciting. It’s truly an international event when you’ve got that happening,” Peter says. Rural health is a highly topical issue and to keep in step with the Leading Change theme, the Fieldays this month will feature a new Health Hub (see page 8). Peter says the Careers and Education Hub will be “bigger, brighter, better”. “Last year was a toe in the water to see how it would go. It worked really well, so it’s back. “We’ve spent quite a bit of time, effort and money ensuring it’s more interactive. The young people who come in think differently to their parents. They like interaction and on-line stuff and we’ve built that in, with screens and an app they can download.” The Primary Industry Capability Alliance is involved, as are a number of organisations promoting courses and scholarships. Recognising that the young people we need to attract into agri-businesses can feel a bit alienated when they perceive it’s older people “telling them what to

Showcasing the best of rural NZ

FAVOURITES BACK All the other favourites are back as well: ■ STIHL Festival of Logging ■ NZ National Fencing Championship ■ Excavator Competition ■ Ag Art Wear ■ Tractor Pull Competition.

An independent audit showed that last year’s Fieldays put $430 million of investment into the New Zealand PHOTO: COURTESY NATIONAL FIELDAYS GDP system.

The young people who come in think differently to their parents. do”, the volunteer hosts at the Careers and Education Hub will include young people — a mix of senior college pupils, university students and Young Farmers Club members who can make them feel welcome, talk their language and show them around. Fieldays has long had a mission of bringing urban and rural folk together, and with that in mind what has been known as

National Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation: “It’s exciting to think that an invention presented this year may well be a thing that changes agriculture in the future.” the Rural Living Project has been amalgamated in one area with the Kiwi’s Best Kitchens feature and other stalls for families, with everything from housing companies to fishing rods and spa pools.

Find out more at: www.farmiq.co.nz Fieldays – Pavilion site PB53

Instead of having food stalls dotted around Mystery Creek, in a new innovation they’ve been grouped in four Food Courts. As well as all sorts of taste treats, the Food Courts will feature charge spots for people’s smartphones, fresh water and tables and chairs for family groups to rest and refresh. Innovation is a founding pillar of the event, and Peter says the Fieldays Innovation Centre has grown in size and focus. “Our surveys consistently show it’s one of the go-to areas. “We’ve got support from IP specialists, financiers, angel investors … A lot of the people [who enter] have just come up with their invention and they’re not quite sure how to get it to market. With sponsorship and support, we’ve wrapped these specialists around them to give them some guidance.

Innovations in the fields of dairy to drystock farming, horticulture, information and communication technology, cloud and mobile-based software, animal health and genetics, water and waste management, environment and clean-tech, animal and farm management are involved. “Last year we had 70 entries. It’s exciting to think that an invention presented this year may well be a thing that changes agriculture in the future.” Several international companies are bringing inventions to the Innovation Centre in 2017. Next year will be the 50th annual National Fieldays and Peter says an organising committee started work six months ago framing up different opportunities for a year of activities. Already confirmed is a professionally authored, 15-chapter, 500-page coffee tablestandard book looking at the history of Fieldays and all the stories that go with it. “We’ve had an independent survey done on the economic impact of Fieldays. Last year it put $430 million of investment into the New Zealand GDP system. It’s an event that boxes well above its weight.”


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National Farming Review

June 2017 www.fedfarm.org.nz

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MEMBERSHIP

Feds reach out to Young Farmers ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

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EDERATED FARMERS IS bringing in a special membership deal for members of New Zealand Young Farmers, with a strong belief that it will bring benefits for both sides. “The long and the short of it is that a Federated Farmers membership allows Young Farmers to have input in an organisation that has real sway on the rules, policies and grand promises that council and government politicians make – the very things they’re going to have to live with as a future farm owner,” Feds membership manager Lyndel Stone says. Usually this would cost Young Farmer members the $460 price tag paid by farm workers, managers, rural professionals and small farm contract milkers. But in a new deal to be launched at the National Fieldays in Mystery Creek, NZ Young Farmer members will be able to sign on with the Feds for $150. “Federated Farmers has a huge network of farmers and rural leaders. The opportunities to network within your

NEW BLOOD

RISE OF A NEW GENERATION OF FARMING LEADERS: Even before a new membership deal comes in, some provinces are getting an infusion of Young Farmer members. Among those elected at the Feds’ Taranaki AGM in April are, from left, Matthew Herbert (Sharemilker’s vice-chairman and Taranaki District Young Farmers chairman), James Lawn (Sharemilker’s chairman and FMG Young Farmer of the Year finalist) and Nick Brown (Meat and Fibre chairman and Central Taranaki Young Farmers Club chairman), with Jessie Waite (Taranaki office manager and Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Young Farmers secretary). One of two new vicepresidents elected at the ManawatuRangitikei AGM is Paul Olsen, NZ Young Farmers past chairman. industry at local and national levels is a huge benefit for Young Farmer individuals and clubs,” Lyndel says. Individuals get access to a network of farmers to expand their career options through word of mouth opportunities, referrals and Federated Farmer meetings and social events. At club level there are opportunities to promote the stack covering, hay collecting and other

fundraisers to a variety of farm business owners who previously wouldn’t have had a connection to the local Young Farmers club. “By being a member now and in the future, you build up to being able to stand for leadership positions at the provincial level as chair or vice chairperson for sharemilkers, dairy, and drystock industry groups, and to apply for positions within the national council. These positions allow you to become a spokesperson for your industry, influencing change and having the voice of the next farm generation heard,” Lyndel says. Heavily-discounted governance training and leadership courses are available to members, and they can start young farmers along the pathway to more governance opportunities outside of Federated Farmers, from the school board to the board room of Fonterra. “Membership comes with the right to call to our legal hotline team – ‘phone a friend’ ability if you feel like something isn’t quite right legally with your employment contract or to discuss a clause that you aren’t quite sure on in your milking contract. “You have unlimited access to your local industry chairpeople and policy advisers regionally and nationally. You also have access to the remuneration survey, to check out what you are earning against the average, and the members only section of the website which includes policy factsheets and a new Health & Safety forum that will facilitate farmer-led discussion on H&S issues.” The special deal recognises there are also benefits for Federated Farmers with an influx of new blood from NZ Young Farmers. Latest data from Statistics NZ shows the average age of farmers increased 2.6 years to 51.4 between the 2006 and 2013 censuses (beef farmers average age 56.1; deer 55.8; dairy 41.7; mixed cropping farmers 49.1). The agri-business sector – and Federated Farmers – welcomes talented younger farmers. As Federated Farmers chief executive Graham Smith told the Taranaki AGM in April, a longer term challenge of the organisation is that 20 per cent of current members have been with us for 20 years of more, “and it's fair to say that many of those members won't be in the industry in 10 years’ time.

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National Farming Review

June 2017 www.fedfarm.org.nz

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FEDS ELECTIONS

MEET THE PRESIDENTS

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Four new leaders at provincial helm

The provincial AGM season is over again for another year. While the presidents in 20 provinces were re-elected for 2017/18, we have new leaders in Taranaki, the Waikato, Tararua and Manawatu-Rangitikei. Here’s a quick introduction:

ANDREW MCGIVEN Waikato

NEIL FILER Tararua

Te Aroha dairy farmer Andrew McGiven has stepped up from vicepresident of Waikato Federated Farmers to the top role. He takes over from Chris Lewis, who decided not to seek re-election. Andrew headed off a challenge for the presidency from Huntly’s Don Colesat, with a contest for the leadership being a healthy sign of the talent on the Feds executive in the Waikato. Andrew started as a dairy assistant in 1994, working his way up through sharemilking, leasing and then to farm ownership. He has a diploma in agribusiness from AgITO and a Master of Business Administration from Waikato University. He served as chairman on a local board of trustees and has been involved in several other governance positions over the years. That farmers were being subjected to “a growing sense of inequality from government and councils as well as having to justify our way of life [and] contribution to New Zealand's standard of living” is what motivated him to join the Feds a decade ago. It was a battle farmers were still fighting. Ructions over the Health Rivers plan are continuing. "We farmers need to promote good practice, innovative solutions, and sound policy regardless of the emotion and the political games around us," Andrew said.

Neil Filer, Tararua’s new president, says he loves dairy farming and the lifestyle it provides for he and his wife Veronica and their two children. “And I don’t like to sit back while its reputation is put at risk by outfits that are either misguided or stand to benefit from its demise.” Neil says his main goal for the coming year is to assist local farmers to get some sort of certainty around environmental regulations in the wake of the court challenge to the Horizons council’s One Plan by Fish and Game “and their EDS mates”. “I also want to build support by local farmers for the Feds and all the work they do behind the scenes. I have been lucky enough to witness this in my different roles and it is sometimes boring tedious work, the sort of stuff farmers don’t like to do, but I have no doubt about the value it brings to not only my business but all the farmers in the region.” Twenty five years ago Neil started on

In his final report, Chris Lewis hit back at environmental and vegan advocates pushing for dairy and red meat farming to be replaced by cropping. "Never mind that quite a bit of NZ terrain is not suitable for crops, that crops also need a lot of fertiliser that needs work to stop it getting into groundwater and waterways, that our export markets and earnings will be crippled, that meat and dairy is a critical protein source for many peoples diets and that tens of millions of people enjoy eating meat and dairy."

a dairy access course straight out of school at age 16. He worked his way up to purchasing a 100ha dairy farm near Dannevirke and also sharemilks on another 700 cow farm further down the road from his own farm. Neil has held a number of previous elected roles within Tararua Feds.

DONALD MCINTYRE Taranaki Taranaki’s dairy section chair since 2015, Donald McIntyre was elected president at the province’s AGM last month. He replaces outgoing president Bronwyn Muir, who chose not to stand for re-election. Donald’s links in the region run deep — he was one of four new councillors elected to the Taranaki Regional Council last year. Donald was born in Inglewood on a mixed dairy/sheep/beef farm. After leaving New Plymouth Boys’ High he trained as a fitter/welder, which led to OE in Australia working on a large grain and sheep farm. On the return home, his parents offered Donald and his two brothers the chance to take over the home farm at Waitui, and over the next 14 years the trio converted a rolling contour farm from sheep and beef, to dairy and forestry. Donald and his wife Linda moved to their present farm set around Lake Ratapiko 23 years ago, and currently milk 320 cows. He started out in politics as a Young Farmers club member, moving on to the Farm Cadet board, TB Free, Meat and Wool section, dairy section, the

Richard Morrison, flanked by the new vice-presidents, Fraser Gordon, left, and Paul Olsen.

RICHARD MORRISON, Manawatu/Rangitikei

Inglewood Community Board and Taranaki Regional Council. His philosophy: “We as farmers/ landholders have an impact on our environment but we also do a lot to mitigate that impact and we can keep doing more as knowledge and money allows us.”

Manawatu/Rangitikei’s Meat and Fibre chair has also taken on the presidency for the term ahead. Richard Morrison is a managing director of Morrison Farming, a 1500ha sheep and beef operation on two locations 10km north of Marton. With father John, brother William and second cousin Graham, they’re continuing a farming tradition at their current location that stretches back to 1864. Morrison Farming winters 16,000 stock units with a 50:50 sheep to cattle ratio and hosts New Zealand’s largest recorded Hereford herd. After completing a Bachelor of Ag at Massey University in 1999, Richard and his brother William bought their

grandfather’s share of the farming partnership. While the family has always been loosely involved with Federated Farmers, Richard was introduced into the Meat and Fibre position three years ago by Fraser Gordon. Over the last three years Manawatu / Rangitikei Federated Farmers has focused on positive advocacy, building strong relationships with a multitude of stakeholders, and bridging the rural / urban divide. The local Feds team champions good practice and innovation. Richard believes over the next three years farming in the province will see plenty of opportunities and challenges. He says the Manawatu / Rangitikei team will endeavour to engage with members to make the most of these opportunities and confront the challenges. “We want our members to ask some tough questions of us to help give direction to their organisation,” he says.


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June 2017 National Farming Review

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INNOVATION

SPROUTING TALENT

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Agritech Accelerator hunts for third cohort

HE SPROUT AGRITECH Accelerator is on the hunt for entrepreneurs with embryonic agritech companies or ideas for their third cohort. Registrations opened in March and close August 31. The team is looking for anyone who has an agritech idea, from paddock to plate. This could be in the areas of robotics and automation, sensors, operations, animal or crop health, biotechnology, innovative food and eCommerce, to name a few. All ideas across any sector in the primary industry from on-farm, in orchard, to agribusiness are considered and welcomed. Sprout is New Zealand’s leading agritech accelerator and is run by a specialist start-up company in Palmerston North, BCC. Its vision is helping entrepreneurs grow global agritech businesses from New Zealand.

AgriTrack chief executive officer Andrew Humphries and chief technical officer Tom Rivett. Sprout Agritech has helped their company with their software and hardware products. The accelerator is unique in that it provides $25,000 equity investment into each of up to eight selected companies and puts them through a five-month intensive accelerator. The companies are able to work remotely from their home location and are brought together for four block courses where they

learn, are mentored and engage in peer-to-peer learning to help them grow. Success stories of the accelerator are AgriTrack, a software and hardware vehicle tracking solution for Broadacre farmers in Australia and New Zealand; BuzzTech, hive management software and

products; Ceratech, a company producing fully drawn beehive frames made from 100 per cent beeswax and Knowby, an agribusiness SaaS software product. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of entrants for Sprout in the past two years. It not only highlights how entrepreneurial Kiwis are but also the demand for support to help agritech start-ups grow and lay the foundations for international growth,” says James Bell-Booth, Sprout programme manager. Alongside the funding, the companies will receive worldclass mentoring and training from leaders in technology, research and business growth. Companies will receive unparalleled access to the New Zealand and global farming network to validate and grow their businesses. We are looking to grow our global farming network and

extend an invite to Federated Farmers members and supporters to be part of this community. If you’re interested please email info@sproutagritech.com. At the end of the accelerator, start-ups will have an opportunity to pitch to a handpicked group of investors, corporate partners and potential customers to support the continuation of the rapid progress achieved through the Sprout agritech accelerator. We encourage everyone who is thinking of, or is working on, a solution to a agriculture-related problem to visit the website www.sproutagritech.com, and register. From here the Sprout team will get in touch to find out more about your idea, team and market. Alternatively you can get in touch with business strategy adviser Stu Bradbury directly, stu@sproutagritech.com.

FIBRE AGREEMENT: It’s a win for farmers Federated Farmers secured a significant win for its members when the Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Amendment Act was passed by Parliament in April. Very rarely is there a unanimous vote from MPs from all sides of the House, and in this case it was recognition that the measures in the amendment act were practical and useful. From a farmers’ point of view, the most significant benefit relates to agreement over running fibre optic cable along overhead electricity lines. Federated Farmers helped negotiate a unique provision that provides a quid pro quo to landowners whose land the lines network crosses. In exchange for the right to string highspeed fibre along existing overhead powerlines, the amendment act guarantees fibre connections to farmers whose land is crossed. The high-speed fibre installation will be at no cost to the farmer up to 200 metres, and at a 50 percent subsidy for the costs of the installations beyond 200m — up to a total length of 500m. Using the overhead powerlines is a lower cost approach than trenching fibre cables underground, and the savings will mean providers have more money to spend extending their networks. The original proposal was that third parties would have been able to lay fibre across farmland as of right, without any benefit to the landowner concerned. Many rural properties and communities suffer from frequent outages in landline service, poor internet connectivity and patchy cell phone coverage. The Federated Farmers 2017 Manifesto calls on all political parties to support further government funding to assist investment in fibre along powerlines and other technologies to future-proof rural communities with an urban standard telecommunications network. Communications Minister Simon told the 2017 Rural Connectivity Symposium last month that more than 90 per cent of

Many rural properties suffer from frequent outages in landline service, poor internet connectivity and patchy cellphone coverage. the population outside of Ultra-Fast Broadband areas — over 300,000 rural households and businesses — can access new or improved broadband. “Our target for connectivity is that by 2025, 99 per cent of New Zealanders will be able to access peak download speeds of 50 Megabits per second or better, and the remaining one per cent able to access at least 10 Megabits per second,’’ he said. The next phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative and the Mobile Black Spot Fund focus on improving broadband services in more rural and remote areas, and improving mobile coverage on stretches of State Highway and in tourism locations which do not currently have coverage from any mobile operator. “Achieving the 2025 targets will require both private and public sector input, so I’m especially pleased by the strong engagement and response to the tender process for these programmes. “The process was designed to be as accessible as possible so that respondents both large and small could propose creative solutions, and the bids certainly demonstrate this,” Mr Bridges said. Crown Fibre Holdings is currently reviewing the proposals received and announcements about where deployment will occur will be made once commercial negotiations are completed.

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16

National Farming Review

June 2017 www.fedfarm.org.nz

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NFR:

ENVIRONMENT

RESEARCH RACE

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Clock ticking on greenhouse gas solutions We’ve spent millions of dollars trying to find ways to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, and there have been breakthroughs. But we’re racing time to meet international commitments New Zealand made at the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change. By SIMON EDWARDS

D

R HARRY CLARK’S educated estimate is that around $20 million a year is being spent by the New Zealand Government and agricultural industry bodies to find ways to cut the methane burped by sheep and cattle, and nitrous oxide emitted when animal urine interacts with microbes in soil. My dumbest question of the interview: “Is that enough?” Bemusement radiates down the phone line from the director of the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC) in Palmerston North. Never ask a researcher that question. “Always people would want more. But I think it’s an investment that recognises the size of the problem,” Dr Clark says diplomatically. Hard decisions on ongoing funding are on the horizon. Research funding commitments for the three biggest players — $4.5m pa for the NZAGRC; around $5m from the 50/50 government/ industry funded Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc); and $65m over nine years as NZ’s contribution to the Global Research Alliance (GRA) — “all have an end date” in two or three years. “Whatever government comes into play (in September), decisions will have to be made. We know our Paris Agreement commitments are not going to be easy to achieve,” Dr Clark says. Quick refresher — We’ve pledged to reduce emissions in 2030 by 30 per cent below 2005 emissions (11 per cent below

1990). One of our dilemmas is that 49 per cent of our emission profile is from farming activities, but agricultural exports remain a backbone of the economy. The good news is that efficiency gains (better productivity from fewer stock, smarter fertiliser application, etc) have kept the sector’s emission increases to 15 per cent relative to 1990 when they might otherwise have been 40 per cent higher. In the same period carbon dioxide emissions from transport went up 71 per cent. But we need not just more efficiency gains, but also new mitigation solutions. And we need them soon.

METHANE INHIBITORS

Dr Clark says work identifying compounds that inhibit the activity of microorganisms (‘methanogens’) that produce methane have made rapid steps. “The task now is to refine them so that they work at low concentrations and you can deliver them into animals that are kept in New Zealand conditions.” There are regulatory requirements to meet, not least the rigorous assurances that will be needed that animal health isn’t compromised, and harmful substances don’t end up in products consumed by humans. “It’s a complex, and probably quite a lengthy, road,” he says. “Even if you have a very good idea a compound is safe, you have to get the data to prove it.” Laboratory trials to prove a compound works are one thing. “Then you have to do larger trials

Dr Harry Clark: If scientists could find a vaccine that inhibited methane production, “it offers the tantalising prospect of giving an animal one shot that lasts its lifetime”. in field situations over longer periods of time; you need to know longer term effects as well as short term.” It would be “foolish” to try and put a date on when an inhibitor would be available for NZ farmers to use. A Dutch company, DFM, has worked for years go get a methane inhibitor to the point where it hopes to have a product on the market by 2020. They’d started animal trails back in 2013, “so that gives you an idea of the time frames involved”. Also, this product is designed for cows on a diet of controlled daily supplement feed, not our pastureraised animals.

BREEDING PROGRESS

The PGgRc and NZAGRC have made strong progress on breeding sheep and cows which emit lesser amounts of methane

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says. “If you’re selecting for live weight gain, for profligacy, certain wool characteristics, and then you also want low methane along with those, you put pressure on the other selection traits. Now you want all four, and the other three deliver you profit. Now if something like methane had a price . . . it all depends what incentives are available.” If that sounds like a pitch for including agriculture in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), Dr Clark says it wasn’t meant to be. “That’s just one mechanism by which you can encourage uptake of technologies. It’s not the only one.” Improving efficiency in general is good for greenhouse gases. NZ used to have 70 million

Continued on P17 ➽

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when fed the same things/ amounts as a control flock. Within two years, reliable information on low-emitting stock will be there for the industry to take up, Dr Clark says. “The difference between the high and low emitting flocks is in the region of 10 per cent, which means the difference between the average animal and low emitting animal is roughly half that. “We’re not talking about massive gains but with animal breeding you’re always selecting [the best] and those gains keep going. The estimate is you could up to a difference of about 20 per cent.” More refinement is needed to ensure there isn’t unwanted side effects — that you’ve altered one or more other traits that you need. The work does seem to suggest that doesn’t happen, he

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June 2017 National Farming Review

17

ENVIRONMENT

Cont from P16 sheep in the 1980s but produced less lamb than we do now from a national flock of about 30 million. “The efficiency gain is staggering.” In the dairy sector we’ve tripled the amount of product per animal but also substantially increased the size of the national herd.

DIFFERENT FEED

Feed that leads to stock burping less methane has probably been given the most attention around the world. But for our pasture grazing systems, it’s challenging. “Even with high performing dairy cows, with the exception of a few farms down south, pasture makes up 80 per cent of their diet.” Scientists have found that feeding a cow 90 per cent on fodder beet gives substantial decreases in methane. But there are issues around digestive disorders at these rates, “and if you go below 60-70 per cent beet you don’t get any effect”. A diet of brassicas, such as forage rape, will cut emissions by as much as 30 per cent but other factors come into play. If animals graze brassicas when it’s wet and cold, there can be physical damage to the soil, which increase nitrous oxide emissions — more than offsetting methane decreases in terms of the overall greenhouse gas effect. “Also, if you start ploughing more ground to put in such crops on a large scale, you’ll lose soil carbon. So it’s complicated, you have to look across all the greenhouse gas mechanisms.”

VACCINES

If scientists could find a vaccine that inhibited methane production, “it offers the tantalising prospect of giving an animal one shot that lasts its lifetime. It could be incorporated with the other vaccines already given by farmers. “People are generally happy with vaccine technologies; it’s a universal approach and looks really attractive.” Little wonder the recentlyretired Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, pinned high hopes on vaccine research. Unfortunately, technically “it’s very challenging”, Dr Clark says. The aim is to get the animal to produce antibodies for the methanogens that live in its

Even with high performing dairy cows, pasture makes up 80 per cent of their diet. stomach, and to continually produce those antibodies longterm. Saliva is of great interest to researchers. A dairy cow produces more than 100 litres of saliva a day; it helps keep its rumen at the right chemical balance so it can digest food. If we can get the cow to produce methanogen antibodies that continually live in the saliva, we’re a long way there. Dr Clark says scientists have identified the antigens that stimulate antibody production, and test tube studies show the activity of methanogens is inhibited. “But that’s quite a long way from affecting the bugs in the animal. It has a whole paraphernalia of bugs in its rumen, in a seething mass of semi-digested food, so there are a lot more surfaces to which these antibodies can bind. We have to get them to adhere to the specific thing we’re targeting [the methanogens]. “What’s happening at present is that we can get them to work in a test tube but not yet in the animal. Getting [the antibodies] specific enough, and in sufficient quantities, and then to overcome the barriers in the rumen, is incredibly challenging. “We’ve certainly shown it’s an effective method but we have to make that step to practicality.” Dr Clark says our work on vaccines, as in many of the other fields he has described, is worldleading. “The Government deserves to be congratulated for sticking with it.” Our international obligations on climate change, and the important of agriculture to our economy and way of life, provide strong imperatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “And remember solutions available internationally maY not work for our conditions. “There is a very strong case for the Government to continue its investment in work done here.”

A plot of the Southern Ocean storminess (also known as SAM) for 1 January 2016 — 20 May 2017. Note the extended positive phase of the SAM for the first four months of 2016, versus the sustained negative phase November 2016 — January 2017. The weather maps in the first few months of 2016 were dominated by high pressure over and to the east of NZ (circled in green). Much of the country ran very dry over this period under the blocking high, and it was very hot, due to frequent northerly winds. In absolute contrast, the weather maps in late 2016/early 2017 (circled in purple) were frequented by active fronts and stormy southwesterlies, which produced wet and cold weather for most of NZ.

Odd year weather-wise with a late Cyclone Season to boot. In contrast, high pressure favoured the southern South Island during autumn. Recently, we’ve seen the atmosphere revert to a more normal progression of westerly fronts and mobile highs across the country.

THE SOUTHERN OCEAN

By GEORGINA GRIFFITHS, MetService Meteorologist

T

HE WEATHER so far in 2017 has been unusually volatile — and very wet for most of the country. The year-so-far has been characterised by low pressures over the country overall. January 2017 was particularly stormy across the entire country (excluding Northland), with wet, cold and very windy weather. However, the door to the tropics soon opened once we moved into March and April. Sub-tropical, northerly airstreams produced intermittent but damaging downpours over the north and east of both Islands during autumn,

The Southern Ocean is often the lead influence on our weather maps. The other main drivers are the Tasman Sea, and the tropics. So far in 2017, we’ve seen the Southern Ocean flip-flop with reasonable speed between its northerly and southerly phases — in stark contrast to 2016, when the atmosphere became ‘stuck’ for extended periods in one gear, or the other.

LOOKING AHEAD

The number one influence on early winter weather patterns will be whether the Southern Ocean continues to flip-flop regularly between phases. If it does, farmers can expect changeable, and mobile, weather systems, with the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean both contributing at times. On the farm, expect both

easterly winds and the more usual westerly regimes, rather than an extended period of any one thing. Basically, things look likely to be a real mixed-bag to start winter. Looking further ahead the tropical Pacific remains in the neutral El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) range. Despite equatorial sea surface temperatures warming since the start of 2017, they remain below El Nino thresholds. Around half of the international climate models develop an El Nino event in the second half of the year. From a New Zealand perspective, even if an El Nino were to develop towards spring, it won’t be a major player for us over the winter period. However, it will probably pay to remember one thing: the usual NZ response to moderate or strong El Nino events is a cold spring. ■ You can catch our latest thinking about future New Zealand weather patterns at www.metservice.com/ rural/monthly-outlook, including monthly forecasts of regional rainfall and temperature. MetService meteorologists are also happy to answer farming questions on Twitter (@metservice) and Facebook.

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18

National Farming Review

June 2017 www.fedfarm.org.nz

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DAIRY INDUSTRY AWARDS

DAIRY HIGH-FLYERS

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Filipino couple epitomise immigration benefits

By SIMON EDWARDS

H

E HAD TO BORROW money to buy a bicycle to get to his first relief milking job at Mangakino. Sixteen years later, Carlos Delos Santos and his wife Bernice were named runners-up Share Farmer of the Year at last month’s national Dairy Industry Awards, also picking up the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene merit award. Theirs is a success story built on hard work. Carlos was studying mechanical engineering at university in Manila, the Philippines capital, when his parents decided the family could carve out a better future in New Zealand. Carlos got into farming because he needed work. “I’d never even seen a farm before I came here,” he says. But milking cows came naturally to him. “The hardest part at the time was understanding the lingo, the accent and getting used to country quiet. It was a new culture…everything was different — the climate too. At first I was wearing a hoodie and jacket in the middle of November.” From a farm assistant position, Carlos progressed to herd manager for 1000 cows, and

Runner-up Share Farmers of the Year, Bernice and Carlos Delos Santos. “We walked into their cowshed and couldn’t believe it was over 30 years old; it looked fantastic,” Judges said. then assistant manager on a 750-cow farm. Bernice had worked as a registered nurse in the Philippines before coming to New Zealand in 2007. By 2008 she had married Carlos and now the couple are 50/50 sharemilking a 300-cow herd on the McPherson Family Trust farm at Ngakuru, near Rotorua. Carlos says he is very proud of the way he and Bernice work as partners, and how they’ve persevered through some down times. With another baby born a month ago, they now have three children under seven. “We’ll never give up on any challenges, and we’ve had a few of

them over the years. I remember a time a few years ago when our first two kids were still young. Everything seemed to be going wrong — the weather was pretty crap, we were short of grass, stuff was breaking. “We could easily have said ‘that’s enough’, and stepped away. I think it has made us more resilient people, able to look on the bright side. “Bernice has been very fulltime on the farm, as well as doing the housework and paperwork. When our first son came in June one year, she was rearing cows in July. She has been in the deep end a lot of times.” The couple, both 33, won the

2017 Central Plateau Sharemilker of the Year Award, and have picked up the region’s dairy hygiene award for the last two years, as well as awards for human resources, pasture and business performance in 2017. “We walked into their cowshed and couldn’t believe it was over 30 years old,” judges for the national dairy hygiene award said. “It looked fantastic. They lived and breathed their philosophy that the cowshed was the place where they produce the finest quality milk that goes on to supply food for the rest of the world.” Federated Farmers Dairy Chairman Andrew Hoggard said the Santoses were a shining example of the significant contribution and leadership immigrants can bring to New Zealand. “It is debatable whether the Santoses would have been allowed to stay in this country under the new rules being proposed,” Andrew noted. “I imagine a lot of the Filipino staff on New Zealand farms will take pride in this achievement with them. In these times of antiimmigrant sentiment, Carlos and Bernice exemplify how a country can be so much richer for having people of their calibre in it.” Carlos is proud of his Filipino roots. “Immigration, particularly in the dairy sector, plays a big part

We’ll never give up on any challenges, and we’ve had a few of them . . . keeping the cowsheds going and I guess that’s good for the whole country,” he says. Every person brings a different skill set but he acknowledges the Filipinos’ reputation for hard work. “Friesian cows do a lot of protein, they’re known for it,” he says. “Often when you hear or read the word ‘Filipino’, right next to it is ‘hard work’. “I guess it’s how our parents brought us up. You have to work hard and not take things for granted.” The family is enjoying New Zealand life and their goal is to own a farm by 2030. “When I say home now, I mean New Zealand,” Carlos says. ■ Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley were named the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Hayley Hoogendyk became the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Clay Paton was announced the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.

ELECTION MANIFESTO: Address the skills shortages on farms This is what the Federated Farmers Election Manifesto had to say about training and immigration: There is a current shortage of appropriately skilled and experienced people to work on farms in many regions. The training industry is struggling to

deliver the quantity and quality of skilled farm staff required. Where farmers have been unable to fill needed roles on their farms domestically, they have brought skilled staff in from overseas. This is becoming increasingly difficult as the need for skilled farm staff has increased

and immigration policies have proved cumbersome. Two key pathways are available for addressing the problem of skill shortages on farms. The first is for the government to establish modern farm apprenticeship programmes and provide greater financial support to train industry

entrants so they are both workready and farm-ready. Such programmes should build on industry initiatives like the partnership between the Red Meat Profit Partnership and NZ Young Farmers promoting agriculture as a career in schools. The second is for the

government to allow skilled workers to enter the country and lengthen the number of years they are permitted to work on New Zealand farms. This provides certainty to the overseas worker and farmers’ confidence to invest in the training and development of farm staff.

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June 2017 National Farming Review

19

DAIRY INDUSTRY AWARDS

PROVEN LEADERSHIP

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West Coast couple take wider outlook

By SIMON EDWARDS

leave, if the money is more important to them. The Nicholls like to acknowledge staff successes, for example they held a celebration lunch for a young girl employed over summer when her NCEA grades came in and she went off to Lincoln University. Jon always tries to say ‘thank-you’ to anyone who has worked for them that day, even if it has to be over the radio sometimes rather than face-to-face. “It’s about accumulating goodwill, in a way. That can end up cutting both ways.” But he’s also “hot” on performance issues, documenting problems and improvement plans. “I think sometimes folk are nervous about having those harder conversations but from our experience it’s been a positive. Often they’ve end up addressing issues we’ve had but other times it has made it clear to the person it’s not going to work. They’ve chosen to move on because they’ve recognised they weren’t able, or willing, to improve.”

T

HE WINNERS OF the national Dairy Industry Federated Farmers Leadership Award hugely enjoy the lifestyle that goes with running their business, but they also look beyond their farm for fulfilment. Jon and Vicki Nicholls, who have three young daughters, run nearly 500 cows in a 50/50 partnership on Greenmile Farm near Murchison, where Vicki is the fourth generation to farm on the property since 1911. The couple were named 2017 West Coast/Top of the South Share Farmers of the Year, and also picked up the Dairy NZ Human Resources, Federated Farmers Leadership and Meridian Energy Farm Environment Awards for the region. Judges of the Feds national award that his to say: “Both Jon and Vicki are actively involved in their local community. Jon’s recent promotion within the Murchison volunteer fire brigade shows a huge commitment, with a significant amount of time spent off farm. Jon and Vicki are also allowing access to the river that flows through their farm, for public recreational use. Jon has extensive skills and knowledge within the dairy industry that he is prepared to share unselfishly, to help with the extension of information to other farmers.” Jon joined the volunteer brigade three years ago and because dayshift crews are often short, ends up being officer in charge. Because of the Kaikoura-Hurunui earthquakes’ disruption, SH1 now comes through Murchison, adding to the brigade’s workload. There have been only two fires in the district so far this year but more than 50 call-outs to road crashes. He says he joined to give back to the community “but also to meet people who aren’t farmers. “The reality is farmers tends to socialise with other farmers, and that’s

Jon joined to the local volunteer fire brigade to give back to the community “but also to meet people who aren’t farmers” great. But actually it’s quite neat to also have friends who aren’t farmers, and perhaps there are some good benefits that go both ways in that sort of relationship.” He and Vicki enjoy farming, and the business is profitable. “But Vicki and I don’t have any ambition to be the largest dairy farmers in the country. “We’ve done large scale farming early in our careers and there are aspects of that which we’re not sure we enjoyed enough personally. “In order to keep things going forward and the business growing, it may well be outside dairy farming. That will always be the core but that may spill off into other ventures.” Jon feels it’s important to have a wide network of people to call on for friendship and advice, and vice-versa. For example, one of the couple’s good friends owns a local river rafting business. “He has a very different outlook on life

Jon and Vicki Nicholls. to mine, but it’s a positive knowing someone like that because they challenge the personal beliefs you’ve held over the years.” He has also enjoyed involvement with the Massey University/Fonterra governance training programme. While it’s been tough to find the time for the couple to take on too much industry involvement with the rollercoaster ride in dairy prices in the last 12 months, they have been very committed to the local community. With the extra confidence gained from the Fonterra distance learning, Jon is getting stuck into his role as vice-chair of the local school board, and growing involvement with the South Island Dairy Event (SIDE). Their varied backgrounds mean the couple have a pretty comprehensive skillset. Vicki was raised on the family farm and has taken on a few short term farm assistant roles in Canterbury but her first jobs were in the hospitality sector. A passion for horses led her to polo grooming, and she was an extra in The Lord of the Rings. After gaining a degree in agriculture in the UK, Jon came to New Zealand and worked on dairy farms for three years. He joined FarmWise as a consultant in the Bay of Plenty, rising up the ranks to become National Manager from 2010-2013. The regional Human Resources Award recognises the effort they put in to be good employers. “This is our fourth season on the farm and the young lady who is our full-timer has been with us for three of those,” Jon says. “She actually left after 18 months to try something else but nine months later she was knocking on our door to see if she could have her old job back. “That’s been really positive.” Jon and Vicki believe the best way to motivate staff is to work alongside them, encourage them and ensure they are picking up the new skills they want to pick up. “Equally, it’s about understanding where the gaps are. Sometimes you can’t upskill people into those gaps. Fine, we all have weaknesses. “With our different skills, [the fulltimer] and I complement each other as a team.” Jon says it helps to accommodate the goals staff have outside work, such as being flexible about enabling someone to play netball on Saturday, and to go to the social events that are important to them. Another example of flexibility is that staff are allowed to buy back a week of annual

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June 2017 National Farming Review

21

INNOVATION

WATER STORAGE

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Promising results from aquifer recharge By SIMON EDWARDS

W

E KNOW THE PHRASE “saving for a rainy day”. But in the case of a pilot managed aquifer recharge (MAR) scheme by the Hekeao reach of Hinds River in south Canterbury, it’s more about saving water when we don’t have enough rainy days. MAR is a tool used widely in parts of the USA and Australia and it may help us in some locations in New Zealand. The people behind the trial project in Hinds deliberately picked a part of the catchment that had the highest groundwater nitrogen concentrations and the most depleted stream-flow conditions. They wanted it to be a true ‘test’ of the technique – and initial results are promising. In his report on New Zealand’s fresh waters, the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor Professor Sir Peter Gluckman said solutions to our water quality issues will work best if there is a partnership approach

The two infiltration basins of the Managed Aquifer Recharge pilot at Hinds, in Canterbury. More than 2.4 million cubic metres of high quality water had been recharged in the first 274 days of operation.

PHOTO: GOLDER

ASSOCIATES

The whole system has progressively got out of balance. We’re looking to replenish groundwater in terms of quantity and quality. — ROBERT BOWER

Specialised sonic drilling at the MAR site.

PHOTO: Golder Associates

across sectors of society. The Hinds MAR pilot ticks that box: It’s being driven by a governance group that includes ECan Ashburton Zone Committee members, residents and farmers, iwi and representatives from DoC, Fish & Game and Forest & Bird. They’ve harnessed the technical skills of Golder Associates, including hydrologist and 20-year veteran of MAR initiatives in the USA, Robert Bower – a speaker at the Federated Farmers National Council meeting in Wellington earlier this year. There is very complex science behind effective managed recharge but the concept can be boiled down to thinking of an aquifer as a giant, underground very slow moving river/

reservoir. It can be topped up with water when it is surplus, such as during the agriculture off-season and the big winter river flows, and then tapped again when demand is high. At the pilot site two infiltration basins have been constructed. Fed at 100 litres of water per second (but consented up to 500 l/s), the first is designed to retain natural sediments to lessen clogging. The water then flows into the second and larger infiltration basin and percolates into the underlying shallow aquifer. More than 2.4 million cubic metres of high quality water had been recharged in the first 274 days of operation. There are problems with low aquifer levels and nutrient concentrations because over time ‘accidental’ recharge of the aquifers has declined due to leaky races being piped and more efficient irrigation becoming commonplace. Intensification of agriculture, as well as town and septic tank impacts, has seen a rise in nitrates and other contaminants. “The whole system has progressively got out of balance,” Mr Bower says. “We’re looking to replenish groundwater in terms of quantity and quality.” Mr Bower says when he was first fronting early sessions to explain the pilot to locals, people would be yelling at him, “where’s the water going to come from” and “you’re crazy”. But Ashburton District Council came up with 500 L/s of un-utilised stock water from the Rangitata River and there are other consents for less reliable water sitting in trust and other stock water rights. “The reality is the peak of the

peak events, such as with the recent cyclone, that’s not the kind of water we want to put into the basins because it would just clog them. But two days before, and a couple of weeks after, once that initial slug of rainwater has come through… “I think the water is there,” Mr Bower says. “Some of it’s free and sits in consents because it’s shoulder water, there’s other water initially used for hydro. It’s a political and adaptive process we have to go through.” There are costs, but this needs to be weighed up against the benefits MAR can deliver over time. “How much is it worth not having to build herd homes and feed pads by using MAR quality water, and avoiding the expense of re-drilling wells.” It’s only a year into what is expected to be a five-year trial, and full analysis of year one results won’t be completed until next month, but the governance committee is heartened by preliminary indications. The quality of groundwater within a 3km radius of the MAR basins is on the upswing. At one bore where nitrogen concentrations were 13.2 milligrams per litre of water (significantly above the national drinking water standard of 11.3), readings have been as low as 1.2. In deeper parts of the aquifer, some 30m below ground, readings have dropped from 4.0 mg/L to near zero. Groundwater levels in the catchment are also showing improvement. According to hydrological data in Environment Canterbury’s ‘State of the Water’ report for the year

Continued on P22 ➽


22

National Farming Review

June 2017 www.fedfarm.org.nz

Ph 0800 327 646

NFR:

INNOVATION

POKING FUN

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Smells like uncensored opinion straight off the farm

Considerable effort has been invested in getting an understanding of the geology of the MARS site at Hinds. These are some of the sonic drilling cores. Photo: Golder Associates

Cont from P21 ending December 2016, a well connected to the Hinds MAR project was among the three per cent of those which showed a “very high” improvement in water levels across Canterbury, and the only site in Mid Canterbury. It all bodes well for the potential to roll out MAR techniques across the Canterbury Plains and other parts of New Zealand where water shortages are an issue. Mr Bower says the end goal is managing groundwater on a catchment scale. It’s a technique to use Establishing the impact of managed alongside ongoing aquifer recharge on key environmental improvements to onmarkers is an important aspect of the farm nutrient Hinds pilot. This photo shows Golder management practices Associates personnel installing and irrigation. specialised nitrate groundwater tracking When what Mr Bower PHOTO: GOLDER ASSOCIATES equipment. calls a “sustainable yield Poverty Bay. It’s a deeper aquifer scenario” is achieved, it would ensure that reliable groundwater system there so the recharge will be by injection rather than resources are maintained for irrigation and drinking water as infiltration. well as more consistent and reliable groundwater resources are maintained for irrigation and improved quality base flows to the spring-fed water bodies. From drinking water as well as more consistent and improved quality there, schemes could push for an “additional yield position”, base flows to the spring-fed water bodies. From there, schemes which could help protect both water users and ecological could push for an “additional habitats from erratic weather yield position”, which could help protect both water users and patterns driven by climate change, such as prolonged ecological habitats from erratic weather patterns driven by droughts. Another MAR trial scheme is climate change, such as prolonged droughts. right now getting underway in

O

FFAL PIT MADE IT TO THE BIG TIME. Extracted from among the ads for mail order brides in the back of NFR it was recently reproduced in Granny Herald. Unfortunately, the disclaimer about Offal Pit not being an official Feds’ policy or view had been left out and the Feds’ Comms team was left having to defend the use of alternative facts and fake news around water policy as being a Feds’ position. It must have been a subeditor’s dream. A missive from Feds that wasn’t about turning the other cheek, focusing on science and evidence and engaging in the discussion. Perfect for stoking the fires of the anti-farming sentiment. Now Offal Pit smells about as bad as its namesake and is written from a farmers’ perspective about issues that tickle the writer’s fancy or indulges in a hunt for conspiracy theories. Occasionally there is some humour but that’s easier said than done — although with elections coming up there’s bound to be plenty of material. Censorship is unheard of generally because the column turns up just after deadline and if you follow the choice of language and lack of pronunciation you will see that the Pit is written by someone who didn’t trouble the English teachers, and for that matter the language, much after School C. The Feds Comms bods are usually exasperated by the misquoting, spelling mistakes, missing commas and general haphazard nature of the column and don’t even try to find a way to make corrections, nor add some journalistic experience to the writing, because then it would sound like it came from them. Once I’d heard that Offal Pit made the big time I was starting to get visions of grandeur. Maybe

Why we’re Feds members

OPINION

the

OFFAL PIT Once I’d heard that Offal Pit made the big time I was starting to get visions of grandeur. Maybe a Canon NZ Media Awards nomination? a Canon NZ Media Awards nomination? Although I haven’t seen a category for disobedient hounds and internet trolls. I hear that you also need a long series of

columns slagging off industry to be in with a chance for that award. Somehow the mainstream media didn’t pick it up. No article in the Water Fools series being run by Nanny Radio NZ. Slight oxymoron in that title I would have thought? Lucky, I suppose, just because there was an omission of a disclaimer this story grew legs — which shows how careful you need to be. I bet the Feds Comms team were just waiting for the chance to roll out the line journalists love to use — “I can’t disclose my sources”. So a little bit of satire and poking fun at the odd person blows up into a major drama. Maybe it’s time to not take ourselves so seriously! Note: Offal pit is not from official Feds sources and reflects the comments of a delusional farming member….maybe! ■ The Offal Pit is a contributed column and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Federated Farmers.

Daniel and Emily Woolsey Southland

“We have been dairy farming in Southland for the past 12 years. We initially joined Federated Farmers to utilise their Employment Agreements and continue to do so. Following this we learned a lot more about Federated Farmers involvement in New Zealand agriculture, from community to parliamentary level. Federated Farmers ensures farmers are represented and the farmers voice is heard. We see value in our membership in and out of the farm gate, and encourage others to join.”

Want to know more about becoming a member? Contact us on 0800 327 646 or visit our website www.fedfarm.org.nz

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NFR:

June 2017 National Farming Review

23

ELECTION

RURAL SOAPBOX

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Parties pitch for the rural vote

Labour’s Damian O’Connor answers a question from the floor while, from left, Winston Peters, Eugenie Sage and Barbara Kuriger wait their turn. Politicians chasing the rural vote have traded verbal blows as guest speakers at Federated Farmer provincial AGMs in the last month or two. SIMON EDWARDs listened in at the Manawatu-Rangitikei meeting as the agricultural spokespeople for the Greens (Eugenie Sage) and Labour (Damian O’Connor) matched policy pitches against NZ First leader Winston Peters and National’s Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger.

T

he Manawatu-Rangitikei farmer audience broke into spontaneous applause twice during the province’s Political Forum on May 12. The first time wasn’t a surprise. A local, no doubt smarting from the Environment Court ruling in favour of Fish & Game and the EDS that the local council wasn’t enforcing its One Plan rules correctly, asked the MPs what they’d do about “organisations well outside the region, who don’t have investment here, overturning democratic local decisionmaking”. When the clapping died down, Eugenie Sage said we needed the Environment Court, “with its huge amount of RMA knowledge and expertise” to be a platform for appeal for any side of a resource argument. In a comment that pretty much all the MPs espoused in one form or other, she said what NZ didn’t need was an act that was now nearly 1000 pages long and hideously complicated. “You need consultants to do anything, yet it’s not achieving what’s needed. We should take

the principles of Part 2, which are sound, and start again.” Damian O’Connor was more down to earth. He said, “With all due respect to regional councils, there are lots of idiots in there too — officials and some politicians — just like in central government.” National’s Nick Smith had “set the farming sector up as a target” by first trying to justify “wade-ability” as a suitable measure of waterway quality, and then utterly confusing everyone with the new “swimmable” measures. O’Connor said Overseer wasn’t working properly. “We all have to agree what a swimmable standard is, not dumb it down . . . “We’re getting there but we need to work out how to do the rest and build up the knowledge to do it. “The public and our trading partners want us to be true to our brand, to know that we look after our land, our animal welfare, and we deliver what is exactly on the packet.” The second lot of applause might have been more unexpected. Winston Peters, in typically belligerent form throughout, stomped on the MC’s question that farmers looking to retire should have the right to get the best price by having the option of selling to a foreign company. “If I got on the farm as a young New Zealand farmer, with no foreigners in the picture, why would I expect that my grandson would have to bid against the world for my farm,” Peters bristled. “Be fair.” The NZ First Leader said smart countries understood the difference between foreign investment that “works for your

OUT TAKES WINSTON PETERS

The RMA is totally out of kilter now. You’ll need to negotiate for consents from every iwi around NZ; in the Auckland area you’ve got 19. That’s in the legislation and it’s race-based. Brownmail, that’s what’s in our legislation now.

EUGENIE SAGE

When asked ‘if my organic farm does 30 per cent less production, will the consumer or the world pay that 30 per cent extra?’: At the moment, NZ and Australia provide 1 per cent of global food production; if we aim to feed the

Corporate raids of the type we’re seeing, facilitated by ignorant politicians, just wreaks destruction. — WINSTON PETERS economy and your people”, and “corporate raids from offshore”. Referencing the Chinese owners

world it’s just a cycle of degradation. Our emphasis should be on adding value . . . not volume. People pay a premium for organic milk; Fonterra is starting to recognise that. People are prepared to pay more if they know food is well-produced, healthy and has environmental sustainability at its heart.

BARBARA KURIGER: It’s not just farming . . . we need truck painters, electricians, drivers . . . Employers tell me they just want people who can do the job. I bet there are a whole lot

of Silver Fern Farms and the loss of another 350 jobs from Ashburton’s Fairton plant, and China’s “total control of our infant formula business, our No 1 goldmine when it comes to dairy”, Peters said any political party that allowed such foreign investment/influence “has no heritage”. “Corporate raids of the type we’re seeing, facilitated by ignorant politicians, just wreaks destruction.” Barbara Kuriger, the 2012 Dairy Woman of the Year, said National had strengthened the Overseas Investment Office’s control and supervision. The task was to make sure overseas investment had clear benefits for New Zealand. “We don’t have enough capital here to do everything we want.”

of people in the room who have employed immigrants because they can’t get Kiwis to apply. You get extra points for going to the regions now. Provincial NZ would die without those immigrant workers.

DAMIAN O’CONNOR Why should we let more people come into Auckland, when we don’t have enough houses for them to live in. What the National Government proposed [with immigration] is tokenism, and has the risk of clobbering some good employers out in the regions.

Sage said the Greens had a strong policy for protecting NZ land, and warned against the vertical integration happening with foreign owners buy both land and processing facilities. “China doesn’t allow land to be sold off to foreign investors.” O’Connor was just as staunch. “It’s a privilege to invest here, and it should only be accorded if you add real, substantial benefit to the New Zealand economy.” He said 47 per cent of NZ’s private sector economy is now foreign owned. It increased 10 per cent between 2015 and 2016 alone. “People who own that rightfully deserve a return, and that is money leaking from our economy. If we have a vision of seeing young New Zealanders getting into agriculture, we have to give them a fair chance.”


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Andrew Darke CMK’s strategist.

CMK Chartered Accountants 46 Victoria Street HAWERA 4610 Phone: 06 278 3907 Email: cmk@cmk.co.nz Web address: www.cmk.co.nz


FEDERATED FARMERS WELCOMES YOU TO FIELDAYS 2017 We have long been strong supporters of this international event. Come along and talk to us at our stand (PB46) about why you should be a member of Feds. We can also talk about: ƒ Our new deal for Young Farmers ƒ Our amazing offers for contracts and agreements ƒ The work we are doing in Waikato (and beyond) on water issues, and many others.

Photo courtesy of NZ National Fieldays Society

Our strategic partners

Contact us 0800

FED

327 FARM 646 .ORG.NZ

The National Farming Review June 2017