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April 2016

National Farming Review

INSIDER

APRIL 2016

THE GM QUESTION Are we ready to debate?

New Zealand agriculture faces some big decisions on the horizon. As new technologies become available and global competition intensifies we will have to decide on whether genetic technologies have a place in our future farming sector. We can no longer avoid this issue it’s time for communities and the wider primary industries to park aside their ideological differences and emotion. “There is no doubt we are moving into a world where genetically modified plants and animals will become an integral part of the global food chain,” writes KPMG’s Ian Proudfoot —Read more page 10

Velvetleaf incursion unwelcome start to autumn The seemingly unstoppable spread of Velvetleaf is testing farmers’ patience throughout the country, with positive identifications now in advance of 170 properties with Canterbury accounting for more than half the confirmed cases. The Ministry, MPI, and regional councils have concluded through their investigations that the weed has resulted from planting of Kyros or Bangor fodder beet seed. Since the outbreak MPI have made changes to seed import rules, including placing an immediate ban on importation of Kyros and Bangor fodder beet seed. Also, before any fodder beet can be released at the border, it has to be verified and signed-off by one of MPI’s two chief technical officers. Meanwhile, all pelleted seed imports (not just fodder beet) are subject to further lab tests in New Zealand for the presence of contaminants. Federated Farmers has joined MPI, DairyNZ, FAR, AgResearch and PGG Wrightson in developing a farm management plan to restrict contamination of crops. — Read more page 8

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National Farming Review April 2016

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PERSPECTIVE

Reflections from Brussels

APRIL 2016

By DR WILLIAM ROLLESTON Federated Farmers National President

The Elephant in the room KPMG’s Ian Proudfoot talks GM

P10

NATIONAL POLICY Budget 2016 What can farmers expect?

P6

Bumpy ride Councils need frank discussion on roads

P7

COUNTERPOINT Iwi and Freshwater

P12

LOCAL GOVERNMENT Missed opportunity Feds disappointed with RMA proposals

P21

ANIMAL WELFARE Legislation What you need to know

Editor: John Donnachie Ph: 04 470-2162 jdonnachie@fedfarm.org.nz Memberships: April van Dam Ph: 0800 327-646 avandam@fedfarm.org.nz Advertising: Linda Friedrich Ph: 021 225-4610 linda.friedrich@apn.co.nz ■ ISSN 1179-4526

P18-19

During my recent visit to the Belgian capital I presented to 1800 farming leaders, regulators, NGOs and industry participants at the Forum for the Future of Agriculture. My message — to achieve a sustainable future, farmers around the world need more access to trade and technology. As it happens the media spotlight was on the ghastly terrorist attacks which shook us all to the core. As a result, I hastily had to change my travel plans due to a substantially damaged airport. My daughter meanwhile, a world away, sent a text — saying we are keeping the

current flag. Both inside and outside the Square Meeting Centre in the heart of Brussels, where we were confined during the forum for our security, were

reminders of the different perspectives and realities between New Zealand and Europe. Inside the European solution to sustainability was more regulation, more direction to farmers, more restrictions and more payments. My fellow speaker Jose´ Graziano de Silva, head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, had a more worldly and practical perspective. We need a second green revolution, he said, and the technology exists to implement it. I agree. Outside was a reminder that the evil which is born of fundamentalism and expressed in radicalisation is so much closer in Europe — the streets almost deserted save for emergency vehicles rushing hither and thither, sirens blaring.

The sense I got from the Belgians was that they feel violated. They are angry at the pointlessness and waste of it all but their response was one of determination that the values they hold dear will not be eroded. It certainly put the petty politics of the flag referendum as well as the shallow point scoring in the water debate into perspective. The last two days has strengthened my resolve that in our discussions on agriculture and the environment we must work together to reduce any sense of marginalisation by understanding our differences, accepting that we have them and where possible resolving them. We need more freedom, not less, if we want a future which is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Time for mature discussion By GRAHAM SMITH Federated Farmers Chief Executive Last month, I had to attend the Auckland High Court as part of the sentencing of the 1080 blackmailer Jeremy Kerr. On behalf of Federated Farmers I read out a victim impact statement before the Court. It was particularly pleasing to bring closure to this hideous crime which threatened the very fabric of New Zealand society, given what it would have done to young children and their families. The damage to our reputation as a reliable primary sector producer would also have been immediate and long-lasting. The impact on Federated Farmers’ members alone would have been considerable and likely to have run into billions of dollars, while lucrative global markets would have shunned our country’s much

revered produce and stopped trading. Essentially, the 1080 blackmail threat had the potential to seriously effect the economic, health and well-being of all aspects of New Zealand society. Operation Concord and the

subsequent investigation was very thorough and we congratulate the New Zealand Police, the Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) and everyone else closely involved for their efforts. Although we would have preferred not to be targeted, the case did once again highlight Federated Farmers prominence as an influential primary sector organisation. In this edition of The National Farming Review we discuss recent changes to farming sector employment and animal welfare. These are important steps the industry is taking and as with on-farm health and safety, all farmers need to effectively manage these important aspects of their business. A favourite of NFR readers is our guest columnists and this time round we have major industry players sharing their thoughts and wisdom.

Professor Jacqueline Rowarth always brings a cutting edge to the topical issues and she gives her take on the dairy industry downturn and possible solutions. Agricultural Special Trade Envoy Mike Petersen discusses the situation with our global export markets while Ian Proudfoot talks GMOs and asks the question about moving the debate forward for the sake of scientific progress while keeping our farmers ahead of the growing list of global competitors. As Ian eloquently points out “the elephant in the room” can no longer be ignored and the time is ripe for a mature discussion, leaving all preconceived notions aside. Finally, I wish all farmers a kind autumn. In spite of the challenges the industry has been facing summer rainfall in most areas appears to have exceeded expectations, which is one bit of good news!

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April 2016

National Farming Review

3

WATER REFORM

FRESHWATER ROUTE

On the road to nowhere By JAMIE FALLOON Federated Farmers’ Wairarapa Provincial President The Ministry for the Environment has released part two of its freshwater reforms, essentially beefing up the National Policy Statement for Freshwater (NPS). This, combined with the RMA reforms, will have a seismic shift in management of freshwater. From my reading and attendance at the Wairarapa meeting regarding these reforms, there might be some benefit for water quality, but it will have a massive negative effect on water users, landowners and farming operations. Reports back from Federated Farmers’ provinces where plans were rolled out include stories of the minister not fronting and presentations being contradictory to what the Government were initially proposing. Farming was painted as the main polluter with no real acknowledgement of the $2 billion farmers have spent on environmental improvements. Generally, the examples of why things need

FARMING IS PAINTED AS THE WORST OFFENDER.

— JAMIE FALLOON

to be done painted farming as the worst offender. At an Auckland meeting questions about iwi co governance were initially allowed and then not permitted. At another

venue it was revealed that some of the allocated $100 million cleanup fund could be paid to community environmental organisations to allow them to fight against big Ag and the industry associations. This wasn’t outlined in the discussion document, and appears like policy being made on the wing. It contrasts with an earlier Government statement that the $100 million will only be paid to projects where there are clear limits on water quality in place. One theme which dominated the Government presentations was stock access. However, there was no indication of the potential costs to farmers or no plan as to how it could be done! It appears that the Government is moving to weaken democratic processes around management and control of freshwater. This is currently the case in Canterbury, and it would be hard to find any Cantabrians who were happy with that process or lack of, where the Government basically took away their democratic rights. The Government has had a couple of gos at testing the

appetite for the iwi allocation for freshwater. They first tested this with the Land and Water Forum (LAWF). LAWF quite rightly said that this is a process between Government and iwi. In response, the Government has effectively amended the RMA and changed the NPS to facilitate iwi co- governance and management through a council by council basis, with minimal checks and balances in place, and in some cases loss of any appeal rights to the Environment Court. Councils will now have an open cheque book to charge for water management. They can’t charge for the water per se but they can charge users for pipes, science, monitoring and whatever other fees are required in management of water. This will mean consent holders will be paying the full cost for science, monitoring, compliance and prosecutions. Imagine that you are being prosecuted and you will be paying for the lawyers on both sides of the table! The changes bring in new rules around collaborative processes.

These will now be the template that all regional plan and policy statements are dealt with. Great idea in principle, but have you ever been involved in one of these? Forget about having a social life and make sure your business can accommodate you being away on unpaid voluntary leave. These collaborative changes also remove appeal rights, and if councils’ believe that progress isn’t being made they can take over the process and write up the rules they want, and if the Minister isn’t happy then he can change the rules as well. We all acknowledge that there is a journey to change water quality and management. But like all successful journeys it pays to not rush your fences. The speed of Government changes, the loss of democracy and the impacts smack of trying to create a legacy rather than charting a clear path through a minefield of challenges. This farmer is not behind them, and once the rest understand the implications they’ll find it hard supporting a Government that tried to ram them through.

No need to panic over health and safety rules By NICK HANSON Federated Farmers Senior Policy Advisor This month brought the commencement of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and with it some panic about how complying with the law might change businesses’ traditional practices. Although there are plenty of examples from within farming, the most public of recent weeks has been the move by some school principals to ban kids from climbing trees in case they are held

personally liable under the new Act. While it is possible now for senior management or those on governance to be held liable, WorkSafe NZ and even the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Woodhouse have been quick to reassure schools that banning kids from climbing trees is an over-reaction. Basically all they need to do is what they practicably can to address the risks the children face in these sorts of activities. It’s the same for farming, and every farming business is required to have a health and

safety system that manages the things and processes that present risk to the health and safety of farmers, farm workers, contractors and work related visitors. A key part of that is a risk register that identifies the major risks on farm and imposes controls on those risks to either get rid of them or to minimise them if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate. You are not required to identify every risk on a farm. That’s not practical, but you are required to do something about the major risks. For most farms a good place

to start would be to look at any work relating to vehicles or machinery, handling stock and the use and storage of hazardous substances. Once these risks are identified, just like for school principals, the next question is what are the practicable things that can be done to eliminate the risk, or alleviate it to the standards required by the regulator? There a number of resources to assist uncertain farmers. The Safer Farms website, www.saferfarms.org.nz, has a number of guidance documents which explain WorkSafe’s ap-

proach to the law and how they interpret the more general duties. That website should be the first port of call for any farmer unsure of how to practicably discharge their duties for health and safety. Not all activities are covered in the guidance documents and some of the guidance will not be practicable for all farmers. Where gaps exist Federated Farmers wants to hear about them so we can work with WorkSafe NZ to develop workable solutions and help farmers to better health and safety outcomes.

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INDUSTRY OPINION After another difficult season for the farming sector and a media frenzy predicting the dairy industry “armageddon”. The National Farming Review invited renowned and respected industry spokespeople JACQUELINE ROWARTH and MIKE PETERSEN to share their thoughts on the current situation and a way forward for the sector to recover and prosper in the future.

A strategy rethink for dairy farming needed

By JACQUELINE ROWARTH Professor of Agribusiness, The University of Waikato The winds of change are so changeable that trying to pick direction is beyond mortal ability. Nobody predicted the Russian Embargo nor the success of fracking and cheap oil. Although it was known that quota restrictions on milk production were being lifted, the fact that some subsidies remained was not clear — and nor did anybody predict more bail out support from the European Commission in response to complaints by cashstrapped farmers. Crystal ball gazing is not going to provide an answer to anything but birth, death and taxes (and you don’t need to be psychic to give a response). For the dairy industry the future must be in what we do best — pasture-fed, free-range, high animal and human welfare, high environmental care. Anything else means competing with huge and often privately-owned companies that are pouring money into research and development whilst farmers who supply them are supported by their governments in one way or another. We can’t do it successfully. There are already challenges within New Zealand in response to increased dairy cow numbers. There are already challenges in overseas countries because of costs and with practices that damage the NZ reputation for pasture fed, free-range, high human and animal welfare, and high environmental care. Fonterra financials show some of the costs; a search on Google reveals the problems. What is needed urgently, is a rethink of the dairy strategy within New Zealand and within Fonterra. New Zealand’s dairy industry operates within the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), designed to prevent a monopoly situation, which might decrease milk price to dairy farmers and increase prices to dairy consumers. DIRA allows competition by mandating supply from Fonterra at the farm-gate milk price until the start-up companies have ‘at least 30 million litres from their own suppliers three years running’. The result of this regulation is an increasing number of dairy companies operating in New Zealand. These give options for dairy farmers, but have no effect on the price of dairy products to domestic consumers because the new companies are focussed on supplying export markets. The proof

WHAT IS NEEDED URGENTLY, IS A RETHINK OF THE DAIRY STRATEGY WITHIN NEW ZEALAND AND WITHIN FONTERRA . — JACQUELINE ROWARTH

— milk in the supermarket is cheaper than it has ever been. DIRA also mandates that Fonterra must pick up and process milk for anybody who wants to milk cows. This means that it must also have enough processing capacity to cope with peak milk flow. A report by Coriolis in 2010 showed New Zealand operating plants at 52 per cent capacity in comparison with over 90 per cent in northern Europe where year-round production and animal housing is common (and milk production is subsidised by society through taxes). The Commerce Commission has reviewed the state of competition in the New Zealand dairy industry, and concluded that there is insufficient to warrant removal of the DIRA. If Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy accepts the Commerce Commission’s recommendations, Fonterra is doomed to further inefficiencies through no fault of its own. What the company can do is reconsider its own strategy. The current Governance Review appears to have a starting point of becoming a 30 billion litre company with milk pools around the world, despite the fact that these activities are taking time, energy and profitability from the New Zealand shareholders. In fact, the very nature of being a cooperative is evaporating in a corporate structure and consequent costs. Murray Goulburn, Australia’s largest dairy co-

operative, has 53 per cent more revenue than Fonterra Australia and a third of the administration costs…. For A$2.87 billion revenue it has one person paid over a million dollars. Fonterra has NZ$18.8 billion and 22 people paid over a million. Of most concern is that Fonterra appears to think that the downturn is simply part of a

commodity cycle. The definition of a commodity is that it cannot be distinguished by country of origin; New Zealand’s milk and meat can be distinguished because pasturefed animals result in higher omega threes in the product than achieved with ‘grain-fed’ animals. Consumer trend analysis indicates that the discerning purchaser wants exactly what New

Zealand does: pasture-fed, freerange, ‘A’ rating for animal welfare (one of only four countries), third lowest use of antibiotics on farm, no use of growth hormones, best practice for nitrogen use and greenhouse gas production. Premium markets are on the horizon, but won’t be achieved by divine intervention — a change in strategy is required to catch the fair wind.


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April 2016

National Farming Review

5

INDUSTRY OPINION

Kiwi farmers up for challenge By MIKE PETERSEN New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy With only a quarter of the calendar year behind us, it is increasingly clear that 2016 will be another memorable year on many fronts for the farming community. The El Nino drought has thankfully not been as widespread as forecast, however the year has already provided us with a roller coaster of highs and lows that will be told for many years to come. It is an unfortunate reality that the media or news always seems to focus on the negatives aspects of our day-to-day lives. The primary sector is no different, and while the headlines have been on dairy, I would like to broaden the discussion to other sectors that are prospering even in tough global economic times. The horticultural sector has exploded into life on the back of hard work to build a reputation for producing quality, safe and sustainably produced food. The resurgence in the kiwifruit sector alone is staggering, when many commentators were predicting total demise of this sector following the crippling PSA disease only five years ago. The pipfruit sector is another where we have seen an extraordinary turnaround from a sector once in steep decline. In the past four years the pipfruit sector has doubled its export earnings and will this year exceed $700 million. There are plenty of other success stories across the primary sector. The deer industry has roared back into life, with velvet prices at levels that are providing returns equal to dairy at their peak. Venison producers are enjoying strong returns on the back of consumer demand for healthy grass fed protein. In the sheep and beef sector, beef returns continue to ride high. Lamb returns are solid rather than spectacular with recent forecasts for a season aver-

THE RESURGENCE IN THE KIWIFRUIT SECTOR ALONE IS STAGGERING, WHEN MANY COMMENTATORS WERE PREDICTING DEMISE. — MIKE PETERSEN

age of $95 for an 18kg lamb at odds with the doom and gloom from some commentators. The wool industry is riding a wave of optimism on the back of strong prices in a market short of the quality product of the type that New Zealand can supply. The wine industry is continuing its spectacular growth trajectory, surging through $1.4 billion of exports and is continuing to grow its reputation in the world of wine. Overall, New Zealand appears to be weathering the economic storm hitting global markets. The one challenging sector is dairy, and given its proportion of the New Zealand economy and influence on rural communities this remains an area of concern. The positive news for dairy is that the slump in dairy demand and pricing is due to the convergence of a number of challenges, and not a structural change as some commentators have been suggesting. New Zealand farmers are some of the most adaptive, innovative and efficient farmers

in the world. Unlike farmers in other countries, when times are tough they do not run to the Government for assistance. Instead, our farmers do what they know best, and roll up their sleeves and make their farms work. Our farmers are up for this challenge, and the changes being made now will set them up for the opportunities that lie ahead. The old saying of “never waste a good crisis” is equally important for the wider dairy sector footprint and export strategy as well. Lower prices are delivering an economic reason for slowing the rate of conversions and farming intensity, which will be in the

best interests of the dairy sector and New Zealand in the long term. Perhaps the most important outcome of this current dairy downturn may be the reinforcement for producers and exporters about the need for investment to increase value. This is not just a dairy industry issue, and numerous historic barriers to trade in added value products still exist today. However, the world is changing as discerning consumers seek quality safe food produced in our pure and natural environment. As the opportunity continues to swing in our favour, the importance of improving access to the world’s discerning markets

becomes even more important. The need to ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership, (TPP), is crucial as we look to reset the framework for market access in the Asia-Pacific region. When we look back on 2016, there will be many highs and also some lows. This is the nature of farming and the world of food today. The achievements of New Zealand primary producers over the past 30 years in a protectionist world have been astounding. I remain convinced that New Zealand farmers will rise to the challenges before them today, and again take a giant leap forward ahead of others in the world of food.

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National Farming Review April 2016

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ECONOMY

Budget: what’s in it for farmers? By NICK CLARK Federated Farmers General Policy Manager Next month Bill English will deliver his eighth Budget as Minister of Finance, but what can we expect from him this year? Budgets these days are not the shock and awe events of the 1980s and into the 1990s. Back then governments directly controlled much of the economy and towards the end of that period were in a rush to extricate themselves from it! Budgets were their opportunity to make changes from the sweeping to the minutiae. Gone are those winter nights when people would sit up late glued to their radios listening to Rob Muldoon so they could rush out when he was finished to beat midnight price hikes of petrol, booze and smokes. Nowadays Budgets are daytime affairs and they are much more sedate. In an open economy governments can’t exercise the command and control they once did. These days, Budgets are focused on spending, taxation or policy changes which are signalled well in advance and once confirmed in the Budget they rarely take effect immediately. Although less exciting, no surprises are a good thing. Since the 1990s New Zealand has led the way for fiscal accountability and transparency and successive governments have respected and built on this tradition. Last year the Government achieved an operating surplus for the first time since 2008, quite an achievement after huge deficits and a large build up of debt in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes. The Government’s main fiscal priorities are to maintain and hopefully grow its surpluses and to reduce net government debt. These would be envy of most of the developed world which remains mired in deficits and mounting debt. After delivering ACC levy cuts over the past two years the

BUDGET INITIATIVES NEED TO BE ACHIEVED WITHIN PRETTY TIGHT LIMITS FOR OPERATING AND CAPITAL SPENDING. — NICK CLARK

Government wants to have its books in a good enough state to cut income tax rates, probably in 2017, and it wants to use any additional headroom to reduce net debt faster. There is no argument from Federated Farmers on these goals. When looking at specific budget initiatives, these need to be achieved within pretty tight limits for both operating spending and capital spending. Any tax cuts need to be funded from out of the operating spending allowance. Budget 2016’s operating allowance will be $1 billion, rising to $2.5 billion in 2017, and $1.5 billion in 2018 and 2019. It is perhaps no surprise that 2017’s allowance is higher considering it will be an election year! Federated Farmers has long said that growth in operating spending should be contained so it falls below 30 percent of GDP. It has taken a while but fiscal discipline over several years means it is now close to being achieved (30.6 percent in 2015/16)

and should fall further. In terms of government spending, Federated Farmers wants it prioritised on value for money and investment to boost productivity and competitiveness. From our perspective investment includes more spending on key rural and provincial infrastructure, like roading, broadband, energy and water, as well as on research and science, on education and training and on stronger biosecurity to protect our export base. We also want the Budget to signal a renewed commitment to regulatory reform that makes it easier to do business rather than harder. Meaningful reform of the

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RMA would be a good start but over the past 15 or so years under successive government there has been a creeping re-regulation of the economy and farmers continually tell us they are sick of ever increasing costs of regulation and compliance. Initiatives to improve the economy’s competitiveness and productivity will also help the Reserve Bank as it seeks to maintain price stability and financial stability in a very challenging environment where New Zealand is buffeted by offshore forces. The Reserve Bank has been expected to do most of the heavy lifting and it can only do so much.

Many farmers are doing it tough and it’s not going to get any easier any time soon. Although we do not want subsidies or special treatment, Federated Farmers would like to see more resources for rural mental health and for rural support trusts so people who need help can get it. We would also like a stronger commitment to regional development, including more infrastructure spending in the regions to help boost local economies that have been hit by lower farm spending. Most importantly Budget 2016 needs to continue to build the foundations for a continuation of solid, sustainable growth.

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April 2016

National Farming Review

7

NATIONAL

Rural roads need council help By DAVID COOPER Federated Farmers Senior Policy Advisor Farmers and rural residents concerned about the quality of their local roads should look to their council to explain frustrations. Federated Farmers is often contacted by members who consider the size of the potholes leading towards their productive farms are exceeded only by the size of the rates bills they are paying In a recent Fed-o-meter survey of 1186 respondents more than 58 per cent of farmers said they weren’t satisfied with the state of provincial roads. Those farmers concerned about rural roads take issue with both the amount of money they are paying for roading and the quality of the roads they have to traverse on a daily basis.In the past five years, the acid has been on addressing these issues primarily at the national level. The practice for maintaining local roads was addressed by the Road Maintenance Taskforce. This review kicked off in 2011, concluding there was indeed room for improvement in the way councils managed the responsibility of road maintenance. Road funding has also been dragged through the wringer at a national level through the NZTA review of funding assistance rates or FAR. New Zealand roads are broadly divided into two categories, with each funded differently. The first category is the State Highway network, wholly funded by central government’s road use revenue, including road user charges, fuel taxes and fees. The second category of roading is known as the ‘local roading network’, or those roads not designated as State Highways. Central government also provides funding for roughly half of the cost of local roads, with the other half met by local councils primarily through the annual rates bill.

THE NEW NATIONAL CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM PROVIDES COUNCILS WITH MORE DIRECTION ON THE LEVEL OF SERVICE THEY SHOULD BE PROVIDING BASED ON ROAD USAGE. — DAVID COOPER

The impact of the FAR review will depend on where you live, with some councils receiving greater funding, requiring less of a rates contribution. Other councils will receive less central government funding, meaning a higher rates contribution for the same level of roading. On top of this, a new national roading classification system, the One Network Road Classification (ONRC), categorises roads based on the functions they perform as part of the national roading network. Previously councils had the power to decide the level of service each road should receive. The new national classification system provides councils with more direction on the level of service they should be providing based on road usage. These national discussions, for better or for worse, have

UNHAPPY: In a recent Fed-o-meter survey of 1186 respondents more than 58 per cent of farmers said they weren’t satisfied with the state of provincial roads. PHOTO/FILE

largely come to a conclusion. Now the focus is on how councils implement these new approaches. As a consequence, councils now need to have an honest and frank discussion with their rural communities around the local implications. For councils receiving more money for their roads, where there is likely to be additional spending in rural areas, this conversation may be relatively easy.

For other councils, the conversation around increasing rates bills and lower levels of service for rural roads will be a tough pill for farmers to swallow. The complicated discussions will require councils assessing how much farmers pay in rates, both for roading and other activities, against the levels of service they will be receiving for roads. In this discussion, farmers may rightly look to what they are paying not only for roading, but also for other council activi-

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ties as an answer to addressing any imbalance. Councils also need to have an honest and open discussion on their approach to roading maintenance. This may mean asking farmers whether they would be happier with a better maintained gravel road than a poorly maintained paved road, and then putting some annual customer satisfaction measures in place to provide confidence promises will be delivered on.


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National Farming Review April 2016

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BIOSECURITY

Nightmare weed casts a spell By GUY WIGLEY Federated Farmers Arable Industry Chair Looking back, last winter was largely an uneventful period for me spent settling into my new role as arable chairperson. No one was aware of the growing problem, as lines of imported fodder beet Kyros and Bangor contaminated with the serious weed pest Velvetleaf were being planted throughout the country. Velvetleaf is a serious arable weed pest internationally, competing with crops for nutrients, space and water. It is an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act and entry into New Zealand is prohibited. In February a biosecurity incursion response was launched after Velvetleaf was found in a fodder beet crop in North Canterbury and has subsequently been identified in fodder beet crops throughout New Zealand. At time of publication the pest was confirmed on over 170 properties throughout New Zealand with Canterbury having the greatest number of cases. While the Kyros and Bangor lines have been implicated, other varieties may also be involved and MPI is continuing to investigate this. Federated Farmers continues to urge all farmers to check their fodder beet crops for the presence of Velvetleaf. The weed should be easy to spot amongst this season’s fodder beet plantings as it stands well above the growing beet and has very distinctive yellow flowers which appear over summer and autumn. If you think you have Velvetleaf we urge you to take the following actions: ■ Do not pull the plant out; ■ If possible, take a photo of the plant/s and mark the location so it is easy to find again; ■ Contact MPI on the Pests and Diseases hotline 0800 80 99 66 and

THE PEST WAS CONFIRMED ON over 170 PROPERTIES, WITH CANTERBURY HAVING THE MOST CASES. — GUY WIGLEY

your call will be referred to the response team who will make arrangements for collecting the plant/s; ■ If seed heads are present on the plant, you can help by carefully placing a large bag (fertiliser bag, sack or similar) over the seed capsules and flowers on the plant and tie the bag tightly around the stem. Make sure all the seed heads are contained in the bag. The plant can then be bent in half to make sure the seeds cannot escape out the neck of the bag. Though it might be tempting to pull the Velvetleaf out of your fodder beet crops and throw it down the dead hole, this will only make the situation worse. Velvetleaf seeds will live in the soil for up to 60 years and we do not want to be dealing with paddocks similar to the photo because farmers did not call the 0800 number. ■ The photo illustrates what a serious infestation of Velvetleaf looks like, somewhere in there is a fodder

WEED WOE: Velvetleaf is fast becoming a nightmare for farmers throughout the country.

beet crop. Impacts on yield go without saying. For farmers who do have Velvetleaf, MPI’s response team will soon visit and advise on management measures to prevent the spread of the pest

around the farm and out the farm gate. Federated Farmers is working with MPI, regional councils, AsureQuality and other industry stakeholders as the response unfolds.

We are working together to get the best outcomes for farmers. The time will come when we have to question how the contaminated seed came into New Zealand and the ongoing liabilities around this.

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April 2016

National Farming Review

9

ENVIRONMENT

Carbon costs on the rise By NICK CLARK Federated Farmers General Policy Manager The Government is making changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme that will result in a higher cost of carbon and higher prices for fuel and electricity. Speaking to an energy conference last month, Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett said the ETS was “not working well” and “it is abundantly clear that if the ETS is going to work, carbon must cost more than it does right now”. In order to help achieve this ambition the Minister announced the scrapping of the so-called ‘one-for-two’ measure. The measure, which was introduced in 2010 when the ETS was brought in, means that businesses and consumers face 50 percent of the cost of carbon rather than the full cost. It was justified as being a way to smooth the economic impact of the ETS. It was always intended to be a transitional, temporary measure.

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Removing the one-for-two will have an impact on the price of carbon faced by businesses and consumers, including farmers who are large users of electricity and fuel. On average farmers annually use around 21,700 kilowatt hours of electricity, 1400 litres of petrol and 3400 litres of diesel. These are all significantly more than the average household or small business. Carbon prices are currently pretty low so the price impact is unlikely to be crippling in the immediate term, less than a cent per kilowatt hour of electricity and one or two cents per litre of petrol and diesel. However, in the current economic climate for farming any increase is unwelcome, and should the international price of carbon rise as it is widely expected to, it could have a much bigger impact. As well as impacting on farms’ input costs there is also the impact that will be felt on farmgate prices from increased energy and transport costs faced by primary processors which

MORE COSTS: Minister Paula Bennett says the current ETS is not working and is proposing an increase in carbon costs.

will be passed back to farmers through lower prices for their milk and meat. For example, Fonterra has

estimated that an increase in the carbon price from $4 to $10 per tonne would cost it — and by extension its suppliers — around

one cent per kg MS. Obviously in the current economic climate increased energy costs are not favourable, and it will do nothing to help farmers facing constrained incomes or do anything to stimulate rural and regional economies. Much will depend on how scrapping the one-for-two is implemented. If it is to proceed, then it should be phased in gradually over time and the other transitional measure, the $25 per tonne maximum price, should be retained. The one bright spot, and an important one, is the Government’s re-stated commitment to continue to exclude agricultural biological emissions from the ETS. This is a sensible and pragmatic course of action considering there are no economically viable and practical technologies available to reduce these emissions, and that our trading partners are not including them in their climate change policy responses.

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GM OPINION

The GM technology and its future in the farming sector in New Zealand is starting to take centre stage. Federated Farmers is calling for more discussion about the pros and cons, and believes that kiwi farmers should have the right to choose. The National Farming Review invited Agribusiness consultant IAN PROUDFOOT to discuss his viewpoint and why GM can no longer be ignored when the primary sector considers its future as a sustainable and profitable entity.

Meet the elephant in the room By IAN PROUDFOOT KPMG Global Head of Agribusiness We’ve all been there. We have explicit instructions from our boss, partner or friend not to raise the elephant in the room when we meet somebody, only to bring it up almost immediately in conversation. For Basil Fawlty, his elephant was the war when he ‘welcomed’ some German visitors to Fawlty Towers. Despite clear direction not to mention the war he ended up goose-stepping around the dining room. For the primary sector in New Zealand, its current elephant is the issue of genetic modification. An issue exporters would prefer their customers don’t hearing us talking about in case it scares them away, but one that seems to be getting raised in almost every forum I have attended this year. The fact people are more prepared to talk openly about the opportunities and challenges surrounding genetic technologies is an important first step in getting to a position where the benefits available for New Zealand in a GM accepting world are maximised. There is little doubt we are moving into a world were genetically modified plants and animals will become an integral part of the global food chain. More than 18 million farmers around the world grow over 180 million hectares of genetically modified crops. Approvals of GM products for direct human consumption are increasing and some vehement opponents of GM have come out in favour of some technologies, given the contri-

GENETICALLY MODIFIED PLANTS AND ANIMALS WILL BECOME PART OF THE GLOBAL FOOD CHAIN. — IAN PROUDFOOT

bution they can make to correcting the failings of the global agri-food system, in particular feeding the 800 million malnourished people on the planet. The challenge for New Zealand is to work out what the optimal policy settings are for our environment, for our economy and ultimately for our community. To do this we cannot avoid talking about this issue. One of the biggest constraints on a constructive conversation is the lack of understanding about GM technologies. Over time they have evolved to incorporate diverse techniques, many of which accelerate natural breeding programmes without

changing the genetic building blocks of a species, as well as the more controversial technologies, like transgenics. It is time to face up to this issue and initiate a mature conversation about what is right for our country. Having the opportunity to discuss the topic with many people in the industry has highlighted the ideological differences that surround this issue. I have no clear view on what the right course of action is, mainly because it is difficult to ascertain what is fact verses emotion when considering the arguments promoted by both sides. A robust conversation that reduces the emotion associated with this issue needs to be built on a platform of robust analysis, be

that the data surrounding the safety of the science, the environmental risks and benefits, consumer buyer behaviour or market acceptance. It is important our starting point for this conversation aligns with practical interpretations around world. Given the time since we last had this debate, we classify some technologies as GM that the rest of the world does not, particularly some assisted breeding technologies. These technologies offer huge opportunities to achieve productivity and environmental improvements in years rather than decades. The rest of the world is benefiting from these technologies while we confine ourselves. The first step in any discussion must be to clearly

define what GM technologies are and unleash our scientists to use technologies the rest of the world is comfortable with. In the end, New Zealand’s policy on use of true genetic technologies must be one that our community is at ease with. It must also be acceptable to our consumers. When we reach this point, we will likely to be able to maximise the value we can capture in a GMaccepting world, either through the increased yields we grow or through the price premium GMfree products command in markets around the world. There is no downside to talking about genetic technologies. We need to face this elephant for a more prosperous New Zealand.


Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz

April 2016

National Farming Review

11

GM OPINION

Let’s keep all our options open By WILL FOLEY Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay Provincial President Federated Farmers’ policy on GM is designed to be neutral, recognising that we have members with a diversity of opinions on the subject. We do not advocate unrestricted use, especially in relation to allowing foreign DNA into organisms. At the same time, we want to avoid a moratorium on new biotechnologies. Fundamentally, the Federation’s policy asserts farmers’ right to use technologies that are approved as safe and supports responsible farming systems. Federated Farmers position on the current GM debate is all about preserving the farmer’s ability to access modern technology, which genetic modification falls into. This isn’t about a free-for-all or sudden release of the technology. It’s more about supporting the current practice of a national body to assess and control any release of such organisms, should they be deemed suitable to the economic and environmental well-being of the end user. In New Zealand, GM are regulated by the Hazardous Substances & New Organisms Act 1996. The Act is administered by the Environmental Protection Authority, which evaluates applications to use geneticallymodified organisms on a case-bycase basis. Back in 2000, a Royal Commission on genetic modification was established by government to look into issues about genetic modification in New Zealand. The Royal Commission found that the current regulatory system was robust. They recommended that New Zealand should keep its options open with GM, but proceed with caution. New Zealand has one of the most conservative regulatory systems in the world for GM. While GM have been used for decades as research tools and food ingredients, GM crops or animals are not part of New

NEW ZEALAND HAS ONE OF THE MOST CONSERVATIVE REGULATORY SYSTEMS FOR . — WILL FOLEY

Zealand agriculture. For example, gene editing techniques means foreign DNA does not have to be introduced into a cell, and many countries are now assessing whether gene editing techniques should be classified as GM or not. New Zealand also needs to determine, through public consultation, how it defines these new technologies. GM is both an international and national issue. In the past, Northland Regional Council and Hastings District Council both considered regulating GM in their respective plans and policies. Our concern in these cases was not so much about GM issues as about the principle of duplication, being regulated at national level (through the HSNO Act, administered by the Environmental Protection Authority), We do not support having another layer of regulation at the local level. Duplication of regulation in our experience tends to be messy, inefficient and often

impossible to implement. There is also the risk that duplication of regulation will spread to other issues, which would ultimately be bad for farmers. This is why the Federation has resisted attempts by councils to introduce regulation of GM in their plans. Our recent appeal to the Hastings District Council plan though, is around where the decision should be made regarding regulating the use of GM. We believe it should sit solely with central government. Why should any local government assert outright authority? And how could a district council?. Also, where does the cost of

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enforcement lie with? Border protection wouldn’t be cheap even if it was feasible. Future technology will manifest itself in many guises. Perhaps instead of using 1080 poison, scientists may come up with a way to release GM possums that actually causes their existence to cease within a short matter of time. That would have huge benefits to removing the significant cost towards trapping and poisoning and also benefit the natural biodiversity of our forests, removing the TB threat to our cattle and deer herds. This would benefit all and sundry. Yet assuming this hap-

pened and GM possums were released, how would a GMrestrictive zone like Hastings district be able to prevent the possums from entering their district and why would they want to? GM technology definitely has a place in our future. It just has to be used wisely and where there is considerable benefit over conventional practice. Let’s at least have the option to use it, so we can consider it on a case-by-case basis. ■ For more information on GM regulation in New Zealand visit the Environmental Protection Authority’s website epa.govt.nz


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Ph 0800 327 646

NA WTAI T OE NRA L

Consulting with iwi could create freshwater gridlock By CHRIS LEWIS, Federated Farmers Waikato President The Government has just completed a programme of 20 public meetings and hui around the country to give Kiwis an opportunity to have their say on freshwater reforms. They’ve also recently closed submissions on proposed RMA reforms. Both topics are critical to farmers. Most of us need access to water to keep our farms viable and there ain’t much we can do without tip-toeing through the RMA. Both sets of reforms have plenty of overlap, and one key issue that pops up on both is iwi consultation. It goes without saying this is important — we certainly see it that way — but what this means for council processes (and other stakeholders) needs to be made clear. With the water reforms we’re still struggling to get our heads around it — even after those recent meetings. We believe it is right for Government proposals to address iwi consultation, just as they should consult with other interested parties, but we’re concerned about how the proposed reforms might be interpreted by councils — specifically that some local governments may pre-empt negotiations between iwi and central

THE GOVERNMENT COULD CREATE MORE HEADROOM IN WATER SUPPLY BY SUPPORTING AND CONTRIBUTING TO WATER INFRASTRUCTURE. — CHRIS LEWIS

government by unreasonably locking up water and creating a gridlock on its management. The Government has the opportunity here to create more headroom in terms of water supply by supporting and contributing to water storage and other infrastructure projects. This would create a potential win for iwi, farmers and other

water users. It would also be a win for the environment. And I think we all want that. Within the RMA reforms there is a proposal for consultation with iwi taking place prior to council plans or policy statements being notified to be extended. Federated Farmers is comfortable with the present arrangements, but at the same time we believe the same rights should be extended to anyone who stands to be directly affec-

ted by what the council is proposing. There is also a concern that what is proposed in terms of iwi participation in RMA processes could move New Zealand towards a requirement for cogovernance between iwi and local authorities. That’s something that has to be considered very, very carefully — and an issue that will make the select committee phases of these reforms one to watch.

As I mentioned, both water and the RMA are important issues for farmers who are looking to Feds to make sure the Government gets these reforms right. Federated Farmers recognises the importance of iwi being heard, just like any other sector, but what this means for council processes needs to be made clear and the outcomes need to be practical for all water users.

Cleaner water needs input from all By TE URUROA FLAVELL and MARAMA FOX Maori Party co-leaders Waima¯ori or freshwater is recognised in the Ma¯ori world as being a marker of identity and a source of life. Our tribal identity and sense of belonging is also entwined with the tallest mountain, the largest water source and unique geographical features of a region. Traditional resource management practices based on the principle of kaitiakitanga allowed hapu ¯ and iwi the rights to manage resources within its tribal boundaries. Article Two of both the English and Ma¯ori version of Te Tiriti o Waitangi affirm the right of Ma¯ori to control their taonga/ property. In more recent years, the Waitangi Tribunal recognises that hapu ¯ and iwi do have proprietary rights to control access to, and the use of, local waterways. While there is recognition of the relationship that Ma¯ori have with the natural environment including mountains and fresh-

Te Ururoa Flavell, left, and Marama Fox.

water bodies, their role as kaitiaki is often limited to their values reflected in decisions about the management of natural resources — food gathering (mahinga kai), cultivation (mahi ma¯ra) and sacred water where ritual ceremonies are performed (wai tapu). There is little recognition or acknowledgment that Ma¯ori have rights to natural resources like water. The recently released Next Steps for Water Consultation Document proposes to improve management of freshwater in Aotearoa but makes scant reference to how the Government will deal with hapu ¯ and iwi claims to water allocation. The allocation of water is

governed by the Resource Management Act (1991), although most existing water allocation pre-dates its enactment. In 1999, 77 per cent of allocated water was for irrigation 7 per cent for industrial use, and 16 per cent for industrial water supply. This includes surface water and groundwater. Over-allocation is normally addressed by reviewing consents and while metering is not universal yet, water takes of more than five litres per second must have a water meter installed by November 2016. Water was allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis but there was little regard or thought for Ma¯ori rights to water or Ma¯ori management practices. Currently local councils grant 35-year water use rights to others often with review at five to 15 year intervals. We’re not talking about Ma¯ori rights — we’re talking about commercial rights to farmers, wine growers and companies that bottle water for sale. There are negligible requirements for those water license-holders to look after water sources or to contri-

Te Mana o Te Wai The three elements of Te Mana o Te Wai are: ■ Te hauora o te wai — the health and mauri (quality and vitality) of water ■ Te hauora o te taiao — the health and mauri of the environment and ■ Te hauora o te tangata — the health and mauri of the people.

bute back to the sources they extract from. While the Government says that no one owns the water, what the public does not understand is that these water use rights amount to ownership, or at least that is how those who have these rights currently view them. How is it that companies profit from the use of free water and yet Ma¯ori rights and interests are ignored?

Making a process for water allocation or re-allocation work is not straightforward. Constructing a water allocation system that maximises economic and social outcomes while achieving environmental requirements will be difficult but it must be done if Ma¯ori are to be treated fairly. One significant contribution the Ma¯ori Party and Iwi Leaders have made to the national discussion on fresh water over the years has been including Te Mana o Te Wai (the health and well-being of water) as a guiding principle in the National Policy Statement. The growing Ma¯ori economy depends on primary industries such as farming, fisheries and forestry so we have dual interests in both using natural resources and ensuring the environment is looked after for future generations. We would like to see specific allocation water rights set aside for Ma¯ori, but our overarching goal is to see a greater commitment by the Government and all New Zealanders to lifting the quality and vitality of freshwater.


Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz

April 2016

National Farming Review

13

RURAL SECURITY

Uniting forces to tackle crime By RICK POWDRELL Federated Farmers Board Member Whether you live in an urban or rural environment, a crime committed against yourself or your property is both infuriating and a real inconvenience. Dealing with the police in my Federated Farmers’ rural security role, I’ve had to examine in detail the expectations of the police and public. It very quickly became apparent the two do not always align to achieve the outcomes that both parties desire. The factors that have been highlighted in the rural environment to address crime would apply equally to any urban environment also. The leading factor in the rural scenario was the lack of reporting of crime and suspicious behaviour. Much of this was based on the assumption that police did not have the resource to respond. Still, there will never be the resources to respond if the crime is not reported as police will not

EFFECTIVE NEIGHBOURHOOD SUPPORT GROUPS CAN EASILY BE LINKED TO THE POLICE NETWORK. — RICK POWDRELL

be aware of the size of the problem. The other misconception is the police aren’t interested, and that could not be further from the

truth, they do want to know. It is also important that individuals put in place the security measures that are practical for their own property or business. Too often the basic steps are not adopted creating easy targets for criminals. It has been proven in both the urban and rural that where effective neighbourhood support groups operate levels of crime is significantly lower. Knowing your local community, watching out for each other and discussing issues that affect you all can only lead to a stronger, safer community. One spinoff from effective neighbourhood support groups is they can easily be linked into the police network. In urban areas these networks have led to the formation of community patrol groups to assist police monitor activities in local communities. In some regions of New Zealand this has seen both night owls and day patrols assisting police with additional personal monitoring of crime hotspots in the community. In light of recent stock thefts, it is important everybody is

vigilant and registering behaviour or activities that look out of place. Remember, if it looks dodgy, often it will be, so don’t hesitate to report it immediately. One outcome from a recent North Island rural security workshop was that the police would rather decide if a 111 call required an instant response instead of the person dialling in. Nationally in the rural scene there is a combined drive from Federated Farmers and New Zealand Police to strengthen the relationship between rural dwellers and police. Police and communities standing together can reduce crime, whether it is urban or rural. ■ Online Rural Security Checklist — this checklist has been developed to help you consider the security of your farm or rural property. The intention is to reduce the possibility of you becoming a victim of crime. ■ “Nail em” — a Crimestoppers campaign in conjunction with NZXAgri and stock agents to nail stock theft.

■ Stop Stock Theft — an interactive website set up by AgriHQ aimed at raising awareness of livestock theft and attempting to help Police track down offenders. ■ FarmPrint — a new service delivered by Dunedin-based company Oritain, as a stock theft countermeasure to deter wouldbe criminals and provide evidence in court for prosecution. ■ Serial Number Action Partnership (SNAP) — a current Police initiative aimed at preventing burglary and making it harder for criminals to sell stolen goods. ■ Rural Address Property Identification (RAPID) — a nationwide system for giving every rural property with a dwelling an address so it is easier to locate. ■ It’s OK to Ask for Help — an awareness campaign by Rural Women New Zealand in support of the Family Violence: Its Not OK campaign. ■ Call your local police station.

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National Farming Review

April 2016 www.fedfarm.org.nz

Ph 0800 327 646

EMPLOYMENT

Employing migrant workers By ANN THOMPSON Dairy Policy Advisor If you employ migrants on your dairy farm, read on, as there have been some changes to the rules that may affect you.

HERD MANAGERS and ASSISTANT HERD MANAGERS

From June 1 this year, farmers wanting to employ a Herd Manager or an Assistant Herd Manager will need to go through their local Work and Income (WINZ) office first. This is because these occupations will no longer be on the Immediate Skills Shortage List (ISSL) as a consequence of the review carried out by Immigration NZ during 2015. The ISSL exists for those jobs where labour at a particular skill level is considered to be in short supply. Despite Federated Farmers’ insistence that these positions be reviewed in two years time rather than abolishing them, Immigration NZ has removed them completely on the basis that the skill level was not high enough to be included on the ISSL. Its only concession was to delay it for six months. So, from June dairy farmers will need to approach their local WINZ office and list their vacancy with them and also advertise the position. WINZ will advise them at the beginning of the process if they have anyone on their books who would be suitable for the position. These job seekers will then need to be assessed by the farmer. If none available or none are found to be suitable, WINZ will support a work visa application via a Skills Match Report.

SKILLS MATCH REPORT This report states that no suitable New Zealander has been found to fill the vacancy. It is sent to the farmer (and/or their representative) and to Immigration

FROM JUNE DAIRY FARMERS WILL NEED TO LIST THEIR VACANCY WITH WINZ AND ADVERTISE IT . — ANN THOMPSON

New Zealand, supporting the farmer bringing in a migrant worker. It’s valid for 90 days from the date of issue. That means if there is another vacancy on farm for the same job within 90 days the same Skills Match Report to support a work visa application can be used. In areas where unemployment is low, this is expected to be a very quick process. We have been given assurance that any application made before May 31 will be done under the old rules.

WORKER CHANGES: Migrant dairy farm workers will find it harder to gain employment on New Zealand farms.

FARM MANAGERS and ASSISTANT FARM MANAGERS

These continue to remain on the ISSL, but there are two changes to the criteria of the Assistant Farm Manager. From June 1, they will need to have a minimum of NZQA Level 4 qualifications (up from Level 3); and the work experience for this position has been reduced to two years, down from three. Regardless of whether an oc-

cupation is on a shortage list employers can support a migrant under Essential Skills work visa policy where they have advertised and been unsuccessful in attracting a suitable New

Zealand citizen or resident. ■ Further information can be found on the Immigration New Zealand website www.immigration.govt.nz and

on the Work and Income website http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/business/recruit-staff/ thinking-of-hiring-a-migrantworker.html

Save lives by checking smoke alarm WORKING SMOKE ALARMS ARE YOUR ONLY VOICE — THEY’RE NO GOOD IF THE BATTERIES ARE DEAD.

By MATT PATERSON New Zealand Fire Service The Fire Service is urging rural New Zealanders to check they have working smoke alarms following the death of a 19-year old farm worker in a house fire near Whakata¯ne recently. No smoke alarms could be located in the farmhouse Zac Woodroofe was living in, although two had been installed by the landlord some time earlier. He was the sole occupant of the house. “Unfortunately the lack of any working smoke alarms has cost this young man his life,” said Todd O’Donoghue, National Advisor Fire Risk Management. “It appears this fire developed very rapidly. A house fire can kill you in less than five minutes, so every second counts.

— MATT PATERSON

FARM TRAGEDY: The recent death of a young farm worker in Whakatane highlights the need to have fire alarms which are properly installed and working.

“Working smoke alarms are your only voice — they’re no good if yours is sitting in the kitchen drawer or the batteries

are dead.” Mr O’Donoghue said smoke alarms should be tested regularly and the batteries changed if they

are over a year old — unless they are a long life battery. Mr Woodroofe’s mother Paula says the death of her son just days before his 20th birthday has completely changed her attitude about working smoke alarms. “I never really dwelled on it. I didn’t even have them in my own house, but that changed yesterday. There’s no price you can put

on a life, not even the small amount it costs to buy a smoke alarm.” Mr O’Donoghue also recommends people order takeaways if they’ve had a bit to drink. “Cooking after you’ve been drinking is extremely dangerous. Alcohol is involved in about half of all fatal house fires, and most of these are caused by people falling asleep after they’ve started cooking.” The Fire Service recommends photo electric smoke alarms with a built-in long-life battery. They are particularly useful for rental properties as they last for up to 10 years and the battery can’t be removed. ‘‘Long-life alarms are cheaper and easier, because you never need to change the battery. It also means you can’t swap them out for your alarm clock,” he said.


Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz

April 2016

National Farming Review

15

BIOSECURITY

Autumn is the best time to revisit your biosecurity By DR LISA HARPER Federated Farmers’ Regional Policy Advisor With the maize harvest starting and weeds setting seed, autumn is a good time to check your farmgate biosecurity systems. Pests and diseases (especially those new to the country) are a constant threat to our industry. Controlling weeds is a particularly significant and on-going cost for farmers. There are the usual suspects, such as thistles, blackberry and gorse. These alone cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage every year, through costs of control and lost production. But they are familiar foes. Of perhaps greater concern are the new kids on the block. Velvetleaf is one example of a new incursion. Recently spotted in fodder beet crops, this weed has a fearsome reputation overseas. Farmers are urged to be extra vigilant and report it immediately if seen. By practicing good on-farm biosecurity, every landowner can help prevent the entry and spread of pests and diseases on their properties. At harvest time, one useful tool is Keep it Clean, a hygiene guide and logbook for farm machinery. At least 80 pest species can be transferred by farm machinery, if not properly disinfected between jobs. The website agpest.co.nz is a free and easy-to-use guide on the identification, impact and control of weeds and insects. It includes alerts on latest incursions and how to report them, as well as information on how to tackle common pests. At Federated Farmers, we do our bit for biosecurity at both local and national levels. We are

BY PRACTICING GOOD ON-FARM BIOSECURITY, EVERY LANDOWNER CAN HELP PREVENT THE ENTRY AND SPREAD OF PESTS AND DISEASES ON THEIR PROPERTIES.

— LISA HARPER

involved in working groups on response, surveillance, border control and pest management.

Our role involves leading some of these processes, providing input into biosecurity policy

development, linking farmers with other key groups and working towards on-going

improvements to the biosecurity system. We also provide input into pest management plans around the country. These describe pests and weeds in the local area that warrant intervention by councils, along with the level and type of response needed. Given the potential effects of disease outbreaks and crop failures on our industry, doing what we can to prevent them is worth the effort.


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National Farming Review

April 2016 www.fedfarm.org.nz

Ph 0800 327 646

WATER

Fairer hearing for irrigation IrrigationNZ and Federated Farmers join forces for improved scientific integrity IrrigationNZ and Federated Farmers say greater scrutiny of claims irrigation causes increased ‘rumbly-gut’ is needed. This follows recent assertions by a high-profile agribusiness consultant which are not scientifically sound. The industry bodies joined forces to ask for improved scientific integrity when making claims in the media as “the validity of the argument around increased pathogen losses resulting from irrigation or water storage are not sound” said IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis. “Our understanding is pathogen contamination of a water supply generally occurs through a direct pathway — a point source contamination. Neither irrigation nor water storage create pathogen issues, except through natural means. There is increased birdlife around a water storage lake for example. The main causes of pathogen con-

tamination are poor water treatment from domestic discharges or inadequately protected wellheads,” said Mr Curtis. Federated Farmers also takes exception with the focus on dairy farming. “Dairy farmers are too often used as an easy target when the reality is this in an industry that takes environmental performance very seriously,” Water Spokesperson Chris Allen said. “Dairy farmers have invested $1 billion in the past five years on environmental initiatives such as stock exclusion, riparian planting land and developing wetlands. Farmers are custodians of the environment and they will continue to invest in actions that make a difference to managing their farms’ environmental impact.” Lincoln University has established a series of monitoring wells at three locations across the Lincoln University Dairy Farm. These wells enable moni-

THE REALITY IS THAT THIS IN AN INDUSTRY THAT TAKES ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE VERY SERIOUSLY. — CHRIS ALLEN

toring of the shallow aquifer (6-12 metres below ground) as the groundwater moves underneath

the farm. While there are as yet no published results available, Ron Pellow, Executive Director — South Island Dairying Development Centre says initial comparisons of changes from the upper to lower wells confirm the soil in an irrigated, well-managed dairy farm is an effective filter of material that may have been deposited on the surface from grazing animals or transient bird life. Issues from pathogens generally arise through several pathways, such as septic tanks that have failed that are located up gradient of a domestic water supply. Septic tanks need to be regularly maintained. When they fail, domestic waste water can directly leak into groundwater. For older properties it is common for a shallow well to provide the domestic water supply. If a failing septic tank is located up gradient of this well there is an increased chance of contamination. Another issue is livestock effluent that is injected into an irrigation system without backflow prevention. If the water supply used for effluent irrigation (from a well or surface water take) is not protected through a

backflow prevention system (a backflow prevention system stops any water taken returning to the aquifer or surface water body and is standard for all new irrigation systems) it is possible for contaminated water to ‘backflow’ into the source. With ‘well-head’ protection, it is possible for water to move down the side of a well case, or if left open, directly into it. This provides a direct pathway for contaminants to enter into an aquifer. Sealing the well-head (both the bore itself and around it) solves this issue. Concreting (sealing) around the top of wells is now a requirement in Canterbury. Keeping livestock away from well-heads is also advisable. “A good example of this issue is the Dunsandel domestic water supply,” Mr Curtis said. “For a number of years high levels of e.coli were frequently detected in the drinking water and irrigation was blamed for this. However, post the district council sealing the water supply well-head and alterations to a few local irrigation systems, the issue seems to have largely disappeared. “This points to a point-source discharge being the issue, not irrigation.”

Getting it right for farmers on appeal By KIM REILLY Federated Farmers’ South Island Regional Policy Manager From an outside perspective, Canterbury can look a bit of a basketcase when it comes to resource management processes. Certainly when it comes to media about the number of regional council plans under appeal, Canterbury is a little ‘different’. When plan decisions aren’t workable or sensible, Federated Farmers generally leads the way for the primary sector in lodging appeals to the High Court to sort them out

So what’s the appeal of appealing and why is this set to continue? Federated Farmers’ appeal points themselves are varied, but generally involve matters such as nutrient allocation, the structure of plan rules or policies and the workability of stock exclusion rules. In the past 18 months Federated Farmers has appealed to the High Court decisions on the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan, on the Selwyn Waihora variation (Plan Change 1) and most recently the Hinds/Hekeao Plains variation (Plan Change 2). In each process resolved to date, we’ve achieved better outcomes for our farmers.

So why is this need to appeal happening? In Canterbury, planning processes are a bit different to elsewhere in New Zealand due to Environment Court appeals not currently being allowed. The only means to challenge final plan decisions in Canterbury is through the High Court on points of law. Taking away the right to clear matters up through the Environment Court means that front-end planning processes need to get it right. To ‘get it right’ those affected by the plan must have the opportunity to have a sufficient say in how the plan looks, before it

becomes publicly notified. In Canterbury, collaboration is taken in the form of Zone Committee processes. This makes plan changes all the more resourcehungry and time-consuming, particularly for farmers who have their ‘day jobs’ to see to. Being involved in the development of a new resource management plan from start to finish takes a lot of commitment, both in terms of time and resources. But there are positives to this approach. We now have farmers working together across Canterbury, deeply immersed in the planning processes that ultimately affect them.

It’s great to have farmers around the table on such processes, having a say, influencing change and upskilling their own understanding and knowledge, and putting a farming face to the development of solutions. This is the age of collaboration, and the latest indications from central government’s proposed RMA reform are that these front-loaded processes are set to continue. If the Canterbury approach is going to be anything like the way forward, we do have a long way to go before we ‘get it right’ when it comes to efficiency and effectiveness. But right now, it’s a start.

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April 2016

National Farming Review

17

WEATHER

What’s in store for autumn By GEORGINA GRIFFITHS, MetService Meteorologist

SUMMER 2016

As expected, the super strong El Nin ˜ o of 2015/16 peaked in the tropical Pacific Ocean and has shown a steady decline during the first quarter of 2016. From a New Zealand point of view, local weather patterns were in control through much of the first quarter of 2016. In the period January through March, weather in New Zealand was dominated by a recurrent blocking high to the east of the country The persistence of northerly winds dragged down unusually warm air and extremely warm seas, from the El Nino basin located to the north of New Zealand. The blocking high worked in tandem with El Nin ˜o warmth to produce an unusually warm start to the year. New Zealand suffered through an exceptionally hot February, with many regions running more than 2°C above the norm. Temperatures in the lower North Island and upper South Island surpassed even the brutal heat of February 1998 (which occurred during the previous super El Nin ˜ o). It was the warmest month on record (of any month) for Taupo, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Paraparaumu, Wellington and Nelson. Tauranga equalled its warmest February, and Dunedin observed a record hot February, too. Many other locations, such as Hamilton, Masterton, Napier, Blenheim, Christchurch and Invercargill, experienced their second warmest February. The northerlies also meant regions ‘open to the north’ saw several incursions of humid, subtropical air — and some extremely heavy rain. For example, heavy rain was seen in Nelson and Marlborough on 18 January and again on 17 February. Whitianga was cut off by flooding on 17 March with a slow-moving line of thunderstorms associated with a soggy

WARMER THAN USUAL SEAS AROUND THE NORTH ISLAND AND WEST COAST WILL PLAY THEIR PART. — GEORGINA GRIFFITHS

northeasterly. The West Coast received exceptional rainfall on 19/20 March, with Milford Sound receiving almost 400mm! Many regions in the northeast of both Islands experienced heavy northerly rain again late March.

WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON: AUTUMN OUTLOOK

The Tropical Pacific Ocean should be back in neutral gear by June. Beyond that, climate models slightly favour neutral conditions over La Nina as we head through spring, but it is early days as yet. The warmer than usual seas now in place around the North Island and along the West Coast will play their part in the coming months. All indications are for a mild autumn, with the exception of Southland and Otago, where temperatures should run closer to normal. Of course, autumn is the time

CORNY VIEW: Autumn in Hawke’s Bay. The Met service is predicting a mild autumn for most though Otago and Southland can expect normal, cooler conditions.

of year when temperatures swing most, and it should be fairly obvious that the overall forecast of above average temperatures doesn’t rule out cold snaps and frosty mornings! Those warm seas will also add fuel to the fire to any rain-bearing systems, providing abundant moisture. The persistence of blocking highs lying to the east of the country should continue into April. But as we move further into autumn, we should see a

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return of a more typical westerly regime. At that point, the highs will favour northern New Zealand, and we should a change to a somewhat drier phase there. It pays to remember that in the short-term (weeks to months), various local weather patterns such as blocking highs, lows over the Tasman Sea or to the north of the country and the southern ocean storms generally ‘take turns’ influencing what rain ends up on the farm.

■ You can follow our regular commentary on what’s important and what’s not, via the MetService monthly outlook at www.metservice.com/rural/ monthly-outlook. This includes rainfall and temperature predictions for your region. MetService meteorologists are also happy to answer farming questions on Twitter and Facebook. You can find us at MetService New Zealand on Facebook and @metservice on Twitter.


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National Farming Review

April 2016 www.fedfarm.org.nz

Ph 0800 327 646

ANIMAL WELFARE

Greater scrutiny on farmers to improve animals’ welfare By SARAH CROFOOT Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre Policy Advisor and ANN THOMPSON Federated Farmers Dairy Policy Advisor Most farmers should be aware that the Animal Welfare Act is being revamped. This new legislation introduces additional tools to help make the Act and codes of welfare more enforceable. A number of new regulations are set down, which will be written in consultation with industry and the wider public. The current minimum stand-

RELYING ON GOOD MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AND THE CODES OF WELFARE TO GUIDE FARMERS AND ALL THOSE IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN TO CARE FOR THEIR ANIMALS. — SARAH CROFOOT

ards found in the codes of welfare provide the starting point for these. The regulations will cover areas including care and conduct towards animals, surgical and painful procedures, bobby calves and live export of animals. Federated Farmers has already been involved in stakeholder discussion on the overall framework of the regulations — which includes what might be included in regulation and what might stay outside of regulation in the form of good practice guidelines or minimum standards in the codes. A number of farmers across the country have also been involved in this consultation process, along with vets, the SPCA, transport operators, industry good bodies, processors, animal advocacy groups and interested members of the public. At the time of writing we don’t know the outcomes of these discussions but public consultation on the regulations is

CALF CARE: New legislation around animal welfare includes focus on improving bobby calf welfare.

expected to begin shortly. Topics under consideration that are likely to generate the most discussion include tail docking and length in both sheep and cattle, disbudding and the use of pain relief in cattle, prodding and handling and ram riding. There are a number of different factors to be considered and it is not one-size-fits-all for different species. It is important that rules are practical and backed by science and robust cost benefit analysis. A workshop early this year concentrated on the care of bobby calves, in part driven by the December media coverage of appalling care of bobby calves.

Discussion on this included: ■ whether the minimum age a calf can be transported should remain at four days or whether this should be changed. ■ what ‘fit for transport’ looks like. ■ how to get bobbies from the pen and into the truck. ■ what sort required.

of

shelter

is

■ whether ‘feeding within two hours of transport’ is practical. ■ managing the time of pick-up by the transporter.

■ managing bobbies from the farm gate to slaughter. As you would expect, balancing between what is practical for farmers, transporters and the meat processors and the costs involved with changing practices needs to be backed by scientific evidence, not by public perception. We’re pleased that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investing in getting research done on this. Federated Farmers would like to keep as much as possible out of regulation, relying on good management practices and the codes of welfare to guide farmers and all those in

the supply chain to care for their animals. We consider the Act on the whole has enough teeth with which to prosecute those being cruel to animals or not caring for them in a responsible manner. It is important that rules, especially those imbedded in regulation, are clear and practical, that the cost benefit stacks up and they deliver improved animal welfare outcomes for New Zealand animals. Keep your eye out for the public consultation which started in April. Federated Farmers will be submitting, but you may also wish to make a submission as individuals.


Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz

April 2016

National Farming Review

19

ANIMAL WELFARE

Industry must get tougher for top animal husbandry By ANDREW HOGGARD Federated Farmers Industry Dairy Chair Even in the midst of a downturn we need to maintain standards. And I’m not talking dress standards here. I’m talking farmer well-being and animal welfare. These often go hand in hand.

SHADE and SHELTER Something that often goes under the radar but is likely to gain traction in the future on being good caretakers of our stock is shade and shelter. It’s something we can all do, especially as the weather turns autumnal and the soil gets easier to dig after the summer baking the land has had. Planting trees doesn’t have to be costly. I have established a number of shelter belts of poplars just by cutting branches off grown poplar trees, planting them in a hole and waiting. This year I’m going to use cuttings from our fruit and nut trees around the house, and see how that goes. Our almond trees in particular provide quite a nice little hedge row. I figure this type of deciduous tree (and any other fruit tree) could be used along the laneways and fence line where they could provide the family with fruit and the stock shade. I know that in some areas tussock is used for shelter during lambing.

ANIMAL WELFARE Next one on the list is obvious neglect of animals, where the animals are in very poor condition. Having been in the media managing this over the past couple of years in my role first as the local (Manawatu/Rangitikei) Dairy Chair, Provincial President and now Chair of the national Federated Farmers Dairy, I am very aware we must get this right. If you see animals in obvious need of care, call on the owner, talk to the neighbour, see if there is some underlying reason

THERE IS HELP , WITH RURAL SUPPORT TRUSTS, MPI, DAIRYNZ, AND THE LOCAL FEDERATED FARMERS.

— ANDREW HOGGARD

for this. I know that most farmers in their right mind do not forget the basic care their animals need. There is help out there, with the Rural Support Trusts, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), DairyNZ, the dairy processors and the local Federated Farmers president all able to support farmers. The risk of not acting is that animals being treated poorly soon becomes front page news, not only here in New Zealand but also across the world, especially if it’s to do with dairying. And that affects our markets, both here and abroad. The even scarier risk is that an affected farmer can see only one way out of their particular hole.

EMPATHY GOES ONLY SO FAR Farmers have asked me if they think that the dairy downturn means they can be a bit more relaxed around some of the rules and regulations.

If you see animals in obvious need of care, talk with the owner or neighbour to see if there are underlying reasons.

My answer is an emphatic no. While the general public are empathetic to the plight of the dairy farmer and also to the rural communities that are now struggling, it doesn’t give farmers a license to pollute the waterways, have stock standing knee deep in mud and so

forth. Our primary duty as farmers is to always look after the environment and our stock. And the general public are very quick to bring back the old slogans and the blaming brush. I suggest we all stick to the basics of looking after the animals and the environment,

to produce the best quality primary products we can. ■ Contacts: Federated Farmers (0800 327 646), Rural Support Trust (0800 787 254), Depression Help line (0800 111 757), DairyNZ (0800 4 324 7969), MPI (0800 00 83 33)

Future options for dairy farmers Federated Farmers has welcomed the recent announcement that the Financial Markets Authority and Reserve Bank have formally approved NZX’s milk price futures and options contracts. Expected to launch in May 2016, these are designed to address growing demand from both producers and purchasers of milk to manage risk around price fluctuations.

VOLATILITY WITHIN A SEASON IS DIFFICULT BECAUSE PRODUCTION IS BASED ON A BIOLOGICAL SYSTEM.

— ANDREW HOGGARD

“It won’t be for everyone, but this will give New Zealand dairy farmers a risk management tool that makes their business less susceptible to significant price fluctuations, and in doing so puts us on a more level playing field with most of our international competitors who already have this sort of tool available to them,” said Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Chair Andrew Hoggard.

“Price volatility within a season is extremely difficult to address because production is based on a biological system, so having certainty about the price you will receive at the end of the season will remove a lot of pressure for dairy farmers.” Mr Hoggard urged dairy farmers who were interested in the NZX milk price and futures options contracts to get profes-

sional advice. “While it will provide farmers with certainty around price there’s always someone on the downside when futures are traded. It will be important for farmers to get sound independent advice so that they’re aware of how this approach changes their risk profile and what this might look like for them at the end of the season,” he said.


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National Farming Review

April 2016 www.fedfarm.org.nz

Ph 0800 327 646

DAIRY

The dairy industry grew and prospered on those basic principles of guile and innovation and wouldn’t be what it is today without those values, says Craig Littin.

Tide will turn eventually for dairy farmers

By CRAIG LITTIN Federated Farmers’ Waikato vice Dairy Chair and Treasurer Elect It’s certainly a challenge being a sharemilker at present. Many of us have been here before and those who haven’t will experience it at some stage in the future. We can’t control what our dairy companies do, and the respective directors are answerable to their shareholders, who’ll have ample opportunity to express their views on performance throughout the season. As sharemilkers and farm owners we need to front foot our situations on farm, and even more importantly in our offices. Talking to many bankers recently the consensus is that many farm businesses fail to provide an up-to-date budget and cashflow. Yet when DairyNZ runs events to educate farmers on this basic skill, they struggle to get good attendance. How can we bemoan the banks when farmers don’t actually know their current cash position or likely season end result, no matter how good or bad it maybe? When dealing with banks be honest, open and assertive. It’s always better to be proactive and approach them first rather them coming to you. The bank manager will certainly advise you on where you need to cut back on costs but the farmer can make a start by considering where they can reduce costs. Perhaps you could also look to make extra income from doing another job out with the farm. After all it wasn’t uncommon for our parents ‘back in the good old days’ to have another income stream. It could be the difference from earning another $30,000 a year. Sometimes you have to make those tough decisions, like downgrading from that recently purchased ute to something which is more manageable, when payout is so low. Besides, when prices recover, you can always upgrade again. On-farm review your cropping and pasture management and see how you can further optimise its performance. Thoroughly research the products you need and quote for the best deal. Tally up costs and remember that any changes in your budget or spending could have a detrimental impact on production and ultimately affect the viability of your business. As a sharemilker, the biggest factor in getting through though is communication. Be frank with farm owners and partners and lay

WHEN DEALING WITH BANKS BE HONEST, OPEN AND ASSERTIVE. BE PROACTIVE, APPROACH FIRST .

— CRAIG LITTIN

all cards on the table. There are plenty of website resources available, otherwise there are always financial management and seminars going on. The point is you always have to be looking to progress in this industry and identify new ways of doing things better on and offfarm. The dairy industry grew and prospered on those basic principles of guile and innovation and wouldn’t be what it is today without those values. A good sharemilking relationship is vital for the whole farm

business, and working together is better than against each other. A smart farm owner will understand a sharemilker is an asset to his farm and future success. A smart owner also understands it is pointless and unfair to pass costs to the sharemilker just to improve your bottom line. Both parties should honour their contracts because integrity is critical. And if you bail on feed contracts you might struggle to gain trust back later. I wish all sharemilkers the best. Pasture is good and the tide will ultimately turn.


Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz

April 2016

National Farming Review

21

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Bill a missed opportunity By KIM REILLY Federated Farmers’ South Island Regional Policy Manager Federated Farmers believes an opportunity is being missed to make real and meaningful changes to the way New Zealand approaches the sustainable management of its resources. The Federation has analysed the recent Government RMA bill from cover to cover. We’ve reached the conclusion that while some of the Bill’s proposals should be supported, overall it is unlikely to achieve many of the outcomes sought or needed. It’s quite evident from the contents of the Bill that the key driver for change was the Auckland housing crisis. Unfortunately, the remainder of issues experienced by Resource Management Act practitioners, plan users and industry groups across New Zealand are largely left wanting. Both case law and experience has shown that the existing principles in Part 2 of the Act are inadequate, and have at times resulted in questionable decisions. Yet, no meaningful changes have been proposed in this area. Similarly, while provision is provided for mandatory iwi consultation at all stages of plan preparations, there is no equiva-

THE KEY DRIVER FOR CHANGE WAS THE AUCKLAND HOUSING CRISIS. — KIM REILLY

lent acknowledgement of the need to consult with the land owners directly affected by proposed plan changes. Collaborative planning processes are another area in which our experience is at best mixed. Some collaborative processes have been very effective, yet for others the process has appeared a check box exercise delivering pre-determined outcomes. This has been particularly frustrating for those involved in

The Auckland housing crisis seems to be the key tothe Government’s RMA bill.

these collaborative processes given the significant time and resource required. It is also concerning when collaborative processes have been brought to a premature end because of indiscriminate deadlines or council planning budgets. In our view, the col-

laborative process provisions proposed in the Bill need a rethink, to ensure resource users continue to have a reason to be involved, and to ensure processes can provide for good outcomes for everyone at the table. The Bill has also proposed some increased power in the

ability for government to intervene in resource management issues. Indeed it would be surprising if many people, outside the Minister’s office anyway, did not feel their hackles rising over the significant increase in ministerial discretion provided for. Overall, we consider that the outcome of the Bill as proposed could be a reduction in the opportunity for public input into resource management processes, reduced opportunity for local decision making, and an increase in process costs. Federated Farmers has submitted to the Select Committee on the Bill on all our areas of concern. In hindsight, perhaps a better approach for Government might be to address the Auckland housing crisis issue directly through the existing Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas legislation, and leave the important job of improving the RMA for another day. The Government recently introduced the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill to Parliament, public submissions closed mid-March. The Bill is significant in size and scope, running to 235 clauses over 180 pages. It proposes changes to a number of Acts, including the Resource Management Act and the Public Works Act.

Councils closing urban-rural divide By JOHN DONNACHIE Dairy farmer Hamish Anderson knows a thing or two about tackling tricky resource consents and the often laborious process to attaining them. Mr Anderson has been a Clutha district councillor for 15 years and his passion for the workings of the local community and its governance can be attributed to his ancestors who settled in Otago ‘before the first migrant ships’. While destined to play a role in local governance like previous generations of the Anderson clan, it still took some cajoling from local farmers and rural professionals to actually get him to throw his hat in the ring. “It was obviously great to get that positive endorsement and to think that those people believed I could add value to how the council operates. But my initial reaction was you must be joking,” he recalled. Previously he was with the Livestock Improvement Corporation where he went on to chair the council. That role got him familiar with the governance process, while submitting on DIRA select committee prepared him for the council submissions process. Since joining Clutha District Council, Mr Anderson has held several pivotal roles, including deputy mayor and chairperson

on the district’s RMA hearing panel. He said the role of councillor is not for everyone and it probably suits those who are unemployed or self-employed. The council processes were time-consuming and slow for those used to making decisions and implementing over a few days, it’s not always for them. “Quite frankly, it’s a significant responsibility when you’re making decisions not with your money but with someone else’s,” he said. Aspiring councillors aiming to sit on hearing panels and committees should be ready to do their homework beforehand, and there’s plenty of reading involved. “Over the past 15 years council and how it operates has changed. There’s more emphasis on consultation nowadays and planning like with the long term plans. When I started out, I did a one day course and that effectively put me on an RMA committee. “Now you have to undertake some genuine training and you should expect to be tested with assignments around legislation and practicalities. To be fair, it probably takes three years to get a handle on how things are done.” Mr Anderson said this shouldn’t deter farmers from getting involved in their local council. There was help available through agencies like Local Gov-

ernment NZ and the Directors Institute of NZ. Otherwise, those who were good listeners and possessed financial acumen or governance skills should flourish. “If you want to influence the movers and shakers you have to be on the inside and not on the outside screaming. It’s all about taking a sound argument and taking people with you,” he said. While around half of his council were farmers the reality is society was becoming more urban dominated and focused so farmers needed to step up to have their voices heard. Like other provinces water reform and roading were major issues for Clutha district which is effectively the third largest roading authority in the country. Mr Anderson said farmers should be prepared to meet the growing obligations in regional and district plans. It wasn’t necessarily about appeasing bureaucracy more about a farm’s future sustainability and perhaps, succession planning. There was the social license aspect too. The discerning middle class Chinese consumer didn’t just want our produce they also wanted to know it was from an environmentally sound source, any shortfalls here could impact on market access. It was pointless having free trade agreements if environmental concerns shut market access. “The internet and social media makes farmers and their activi-

HOW COUNCIL OPERATES HAS CHANGED — HAMISH ANDERSON

ties more visible and to a wider audience. Banks too are closely watching environmental outcomes and whether some properties are higher risk than others. This can dictate the interest rates you are playing,” he said. Still, a well thought-out district plan can make navigating those troublesome points of difference more bearable and cost effective. Mr Anderson said Clutha District

Council had worked hard at mapping out a fair and equitable system. For him though, addressing the apparent urban-rural divide is priority for the future farmer maintaining sustainability and social license. “There’s definitely a lack of understanding out there amongst the majority of New Zealanders. We are the minority now so as farmers we have to be united telling our good story. “I appreciate Auckland is the hub of our country’s economic activity, but by the same token, it is the rural communities that provide the revenue for that to happen from the produce we make, so we have to dispel that mentality of them and us,” he said.


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National Farming Review

April 2016 www.fedfarm.org.nz

Ph 0800 327 646

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How to make the most of spreading By Ann Thompson, Executive Director of the Fertiliser Quality Council Difficult times often bring out the resourcefulness in us all. Financial necessity forces us to scrutinize our outgoings and look for the best value product or service at the best price. And top dressing is no exception. With drought and dairy prices dominating the agricultural landscape, we’re hearing from many farmers keen to know how they can get the best results from ground spreading. In short, the answer lies in the quality of the product purchased followed by the application of it. We advise that farmers first check what they are buying and that the label on the bag not only lists all the product components but

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equates to increased profit on the farm. In 2015 FORSI launched The Forsi Effluent Recycling System, which takes dairy shed waste water and filters it to a clean, clear state ready to reuse how and when the farmers wants. This technology is creating a lot of interest both in New Zealand and overseas. The latest addition to the assortment offered by FORSI is an automated filtration unit for recycling 100 per cent of carwash water. A highly contaminated waste stream can be recycled back to a clean state ready for use. In the carwash system all the water is recycled and this is then reused to wash the next lot of cars with a spot-free finish. This system is saving the owner of the carwash facility thousands of dollars a year in waste discharge and compliance costs. If you need clean water for your farm and want to save money, or you have waste water that needs managing and you want to save on discharge and compliance regulation costs, you need to talk to FORSI Innovations about how they can help.


Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz

April 2016

National Farming Review

23

Drought/Sustainability Supplement AGVERTORIAL

Preventing nutrient loss into water Agricultural systems are leaky and losses of phosphorus, nitrogen, organic matter and suspended solids can impact on water quality. While direct contamination of surface water can be prevented by avoiding livestock access and effluent discharge, it is less straightforward to prevent losses over and through soil that can eventually reach waterways. These less direct losses are affected by complex hydrological and chemical factors. Gypsum has long been used as a soil conditioner and fertiliser but it is only recently that gypsum’s potential for reducing agricultural emissions to waterways has been researched. Gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O) can improve soil aggregation through calcium induced flocculation of particles and sulfate induced leaching of excess sodium. Such effects can reduce surface runoff volume by improving water infiltration into soil.

"Gypsum application has been reported to at least halve phosphorus losses in some conditions but results have varied between experiments. " Improved stability of aggregates reduces the potential loss of soil particles to waterways both over and

through soil. The calcium ions can also increase precipitation of phosphate ions either directly as calcium phosphate or indirectly by increasing availability of aluminium ions. Increased ionic strength of soil solutions due to dissolution of gypsum may also increase adsorption of phosphate ions and organic matter to soil particles. These multiple modes of action can thus partially address both hydrological and chemical factors influencing nutrient losses. Gypsum application has been reported to at least halve phosphorus losses in some conditions but results have varied between experiments. Variability may be partly due to experimental design (insufficient time for gypsum to take effect in the soil, or high simulated rainfall conditions) but could also be related to soil type and existing exchangeable calcium level in the soil. An

Fight the Causes of Erosion With 100% Natural Gypsum Gypsum not only reverses the damaging effects of high sodium and potasium levels it is essential to effective water management.

understanding of the causes of variability will assist in the choice of target areas for optimal economic use of gypsum to reduce phosphorus losses. Surface runoff of nitrogen, organic matter and soil particulates, as well as drainage losses of of nutrients in organic form can also be reduced with gypsum. The reduction in losses of organic forms of nutrients may be particularly important for mitigating effluent application losses.

ACTIONS FOR GYPSUM REDUCING NUTRIENT LOSS

Gypsum is calcium sulfate (CaSO4.2H2O) and provides a readily available source of calcium and sulfate ions due to its partial solubility. Gypsum has been used for decades as a soil conditioner and fertiliser (Shainberg et al., 1989) but

it is in comparatively recent years that gypsum’s ability to reduce nutrient losses has been researched. Soil structural improvement resulting from gypsum application can include reduced surface crusting and sealing, improved water infiltration (thus reducing potential for runoff), soil aggregation, drainage and aeration with subsequent benefits for plant growth. Benefits to plant growth, including root condition, may also result from the calcium and sulphur nutrition provided by gypsum. In the case of sodium build up which can result from some effluent types (dairy factory effluent in particular), there is a clear benefit of gypsum in assisting the leaching of sodium, further benefiting soil structure particularly where there is dispersive clay present. Abstract Tim A. Jenkins, Vesna Jenkins

Good farming is about sustainability, in keeping critical nutrients in your soil and out of New Zealand waterways. “Water and land management remains one of New Zealand’s greatest environmental challenges. In particular, there is potential to look more closely at the relationship between sedimentation of waterways and soil losses from land use. The loss of elite soils is also of particular interest.” - Exparliamentary report Gypsum aerates, conditions and improves soil structure promoting an optimum environment for pasture growth, reduced pugging, enhanced flocculation and helps mitigate the flow of nitrates and phosphorus to rivers and lakes. for more about Natural Gypsum and soil stabilisation visit www.gypsum.co.nz


Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz

April 2016

National Farming Review

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National Farming Review

April 2016 www.fedfarm.org.nz

Ph 0800 327 646

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Permanent, fixed-term and casual contract available. All now cover social media to protect both you and the industry. To learn about the risks of social media read our story on page 7.

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Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz

April 2016

National Farming Review

27

INSIDER

Parliament

GIZZY COUPLE ‘TOP OF THE HILLS’

Bills in the House

As at March 24, a number of Bills relevant to farming were before Parliament, at various stages. For example: ■ Civil Defence Emergency Management Amendment Bill, Government Administration Committee ■ Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Amendment Bill, Primary Production Committee. ■ Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months Paid Leave and Work Contract Hours) Amendment Bill, Government Administration Committee ■ Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, Local Government & Environment Committee ■ Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill, Transport & Industrial Relations Committee ■ Regulatory Standards Bill, Second Reading ■ Building (Earthquake Prone Buildings) Amendment Bill, Committee Stage ■ New Zealand Business Number Bill, Committee Stage ■ Environment Canterbury (Transitional Governance Arrangements) Bill, Committee Stage ■ Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill, Social Services Committee

News Shortcuts

■ OCR Cut: The Reserve Bank cut the OCR to 2.25 per cent at its March review following renewed concern about the global economy and its impact on commodity prices and a stubbornly high NZ Dollar. A drop in inflationary expectations sealed the decision to cut the OCR and we expect further cuts in the coming months. ■ Minimum Wage Increase: From April 1 the Minimum Wage has been increased by 50 cents per hour from $14.75 to $15.25 per hour — up 3.4 per cent. Federated Farmers is concerned about continued above-inflation increases to a statutory minimum which is already among the most generous in the OECD, relative to the average wage. ■ Annual Plan Season: Councils have begun consulting on spending and rates for the coming year. This year is different from past years following a 2014 law change giving councils much more latitude on whether to consult and what to consult on. Although this is resulting in more uncertainty, Federated Farmers will continue to push councils to keep their rates down. ■ Employment Standards Legislation Bill: On April 1 five Acts that were split from the Employment Standards Legislation Bill took effect. The amendment legislation increases paid parental leave from 16 to 18 weeks, expands the eligibility for paid and extended parental leave to more workers as well as outlawing ‘Zero-Hour’ contracts and strengthening the powers of the labour inspectorate. Federated Farmers is generally supportive of the legislation, although it will be watching for any unintended effect on casual and seasonal employment re-

From left are Ben, 10, Andrew, Lucy, 14, Amanda and Josh, 12.

PARIKANAPA Station manager Andrew Solomann and wife Amanda are winners of the 2016 Gisborne-Wairoa Federated Farmers Hill Country Farmer of the Year competition. In an interview with the Gisborne Herald Mr Solomann

lationships. ■ Health and Safety at Work Act 2015: After several years of consultation including a royal commission, a task force on workplace health and safety and a slow process through the house, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 came into force April 4. The Act represents a completely new legislative framework for workplace health and safety as it will also repeal the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. With this legislation, which is wide reaching, implementation will be as important as the legislation itself, and Federated Farmers will continue to work with Worksafe New Zealand to ensure a workable implementation for farmers.

Feds people

Fitness fanatic Nikki recently joined the policy team. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise to resource management and environmental issues. Hamilton-based Nikki has also worked as an employment solicitor and served the Treasury as an economic and financial analyst. A seasoned triathlete,

paid tribute to his wife, acknowledging her support had enabled him to work weekends and put the extra 10 per cent into the property. “You get a big return on investment for that bit of extra work,” he said.

Nikki has completed five NZ Ironman events. She is looking forward to getting involved in ‘issues that really matter’ and the opportunity to work further in resource management.

Book giveaway

Congratulations to Sarah Manders from Tokoroa who entered last month’s NFR book giveaway competition. Sarah is the recipient of the High Country Stations of the Mackenzie. This month we are giving away Kiwi Tractors — A Humble National Icon. Author Steve Hale elicits some wonderful stories about kiwi farmers and their beloved tractors. This publication is a must for all those tractor enthusiasts with profiles on the very old right through to the latest models. To win a copy, email your name, address and phone number to competitions @fedfarm.org.nz.

Winston speaks at Waikato AGM

NIKKI EDWARDS: Federated Farmers’ Bay of Plenty Senior Policy Advisor

Federated Farmers Waikato AGM Friday, May 27. Hamilton Airport Hotel and Conference Centre Airport Road, Hamilton. Guest speaker is MP Winston Peters. For further information contact Gaylene Bamford 07 858 0820 or 0800 327 646.

The family head over to NapierTaupo next, where Andrew will take up the role of farm manager for Lochinver Station. The Solomanns receive a prize package valued at about $12,000.

THE OFFAL PIT The offal truth about big brother Farmers are the latest targets of the Government’s increasing reliance on citizen surveillance and data collecting. There’s a whisper around that big brother is starting to use data collected by government for catching more than fine and student loan dodgers at the border. It’s not about them unmasking the “offal pit”, though soon it will need to have a GPS location recorded with the council. This is about working out a way to tax farmers on their nutrient production using data that farmers supply and other water quality stuff we pay to collect. Governments collect all sorts of data, some legal, and some like the yanks and GCSB pretty questionable. I am a firm believer that if you have nothing to hide who cares if you read my emails, listen to my calls and spy on me. It is pretty boring reading the politics of Federated Farmers being litigated through emails. Still, hearing that this data gathering, matching and surveillance is being stretched to farmer activity and water quality raises the hackles and is a step to far. The next thing we’ll be asking the yanks to “borrow” the satellites to check out the offal pits. So back to the data matching idea. Why has this suddenly become the way to do things?

Where has actually getting out there on the ground gone to see what is really happening? The main issue with this data matching project is that some government departments responsible for this area have shown to be economical with actual results, and that privacy might have been some sort of concern but who really cares as it is all for the greater good. One questionable example is the latest Aotearoa Water Quality report. How come a month after it was released to great fanfare and laying the boot into agriculture and dairy farming in particular, there was a correction article published that maybe some licence had been taken with what water quality in farmed catchments was really like. Surprise surprise, it wasn’t that water quality was really good but actually the media releases found it really bad, in direct contradiction to the actual data in the report! So should we trust the Government — bugger I sound like an anti TPP protester. Farming is a hard enough job to keep the head above water, and the last thing we need is another poorly thought out nutrient taxing project that will make it tougher. We’ve already got the Emissions Trading Scheme, which will be bad enough. ■ The Offal Pit is a contributed

column and does not reflect the views or policies of Federated Farmers.


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April 2016

National Farming Review

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National Farming Review April 2016  

National Farming Review April 2016  

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