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Keeping regulation practical By: WILLIAM ROLLESTON Federated Farmers New Zealand President


T seems farmers are on a continuous treadmill of red tape and ever-increasing compliance just in order to farm. This is a worldwide trend. Just like King Canute could not hold back the tide, Federated Farmers cannot hold back the tide of regulation, but it is our job to ensure any regulation that gets through is sensible, practical and affordable for farmers. It is our job to ensure unnecessary, unworkable and scientifically unjustifiable regulation is stopped in its tracks and we do much of that through our constant advocacy. Pressure for regulation does not just come from within New Zealand but also from abroad. The countries we trade with often add to our compliance costs. The World Trade Organisation was set up to mitigate unfair trade rules and ensure any requirements are based on evidence — that is they need to be sensible, practical and affordable. Some countries try to get around the rule by applying restrictions known as non-tariff barriers. These are far more subtle than a tariff, which is simply a charge at the border to restrict the amount of product coming into the country, or at least make it less competitive than local produce. A non-tariff barrier is a technical rule (often dressed up as science) which has the same effect.


As the deer roar and duck shooting season approaches, many farmers will be keeping an eye out for hunters trespassing on private land. Poaching is a serious issue and should be reported to the police. Any hunting activity that occurs without landowner permission is illegal — it is a trespass offence and potentially subject to significant penalties under the Wild Animal Control Act 1977. Trespass with firearms is dangerous and disruptive to farming operations and is often linked with other criminal activities such as stock theft. For more information on how to deter poachers, see the Factsheet on the Federated Farmers website.

It is Annual Plan season Most councils are or will soon be consulting on their draft annual plans for the coming year. Federated Farmers will be submitting to most councils. This is always a big undertaking but it is important as we are one of the few groups that work across councils to keep the overall rates contained. We encourage councils to focus their spending on core activities and reduce the rates burden on farms by using more equitable rating systems. For example, New Zealand has taken Indonesia to the WTO and won a case relating to restrictive licensing rules for meat and horticultural products. The WTO ruled the measures were simply an attempt to restrict the volume of imports. However, we have seen the Trump administration saying it may ignore WTO rulings. It has also pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership and is threatening to renegotiate other agreements. A step back to isolationism and protectionism is a threat to our ability to trade and may see

unnecessary compliance sheeted back to New Zealand farmers simply to keep the trade doors open. That is why we welcomed the government’s trade strategy and increased investment in our trade negotiating capability, which was announced recently. It is something we have called for, and the government has listened. Regulation is necessary in the right place but we need to be constantly on the lookout for compliance rules which are unnecessary, unworkable and scientifically unjustifiable.



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Trade Agenda launched The Government has launched Trade Agenda 2030, a clear message that despite growing protectionist sentiment New Zealand will continue to be an open, outward-facing country that will seek to get the best trading conditions possible. This includes an ambitious target of 90 per cent of our current goods exports covered by free trade agreements by 2030. Federated Farmers strongly supports the Trade Agenda and it is represented on a Ministerial


Advisory Group by National President William Rolleston.

Farmer confidence improves Federated Farmers’ mid-season Farm Confidence Survey recorded a bounce in confidence compared to mid-2016. For the first time since January 2014 more farmers expected their profitability to improve than worsen, with similar turnarounds on spending and debt. This was mainly a dairy phenomenon on the back of improved commodity prices in the second half of 2016, although arable also improved. However, meat and fibre farmers didn’t see such a commodity price lift. They remained pessimistic and if anything became slightly more so.

Rural roading highlighted Federated Farmers has submitted on the draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport, emphasising the importance of rural roads. We’re concerned lack of funding for rural roads will see them deteriorate, with serious safety and economic implications. The GPS’s emphasis on congestion runs the risk of funding being increasingly directed to urban roads. This needs to change.

Levy rates for services The Government has announced levy rates to fund the new Fire & Emergency NZ from July 1. For residential buildings 10.6c per $100 insured capped at $100,000 and $20,000 for contents; for nonresidential buildings 10.6c per $100,000 insured with no cap; and $8.45 for vehicles under 3.5 tonne. Federated Farmers submitted in November 2016 that the proposed levy increases were not justified and FENZ should be funded by general taxation. The Department of Internal Affairs is now consulting on transitional levy relief and how to apply fire levy on residential, nonresidential and exempt property under the same policy.


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April 2017

National Farming Review




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Hackathon short-circuits farm tech gap By: SIMON EDWARDS

Joseph Calkin from Levno (centre) and Tobin Hall and Alan Stockwell from Massey University try out Gertrude, a prototype remote control gantry that might be used to take various measuring sensors around a paddock.


OOKING A LIKE A cross between a kid’s tricycle and a miniature harness racing buggy, Gertrude had little trouble negotiating mud, ruts and slopes around the paddocks and effluent pond on James Stewart’s farm in the Manawatu. The remote-controlled robot was given the name by farmers and technology experts taking part in the inaugural AgTech Hackathon, which turned out to be one of the highest-profile events of the entire AgriFoods Investment Week in Palmerston North last month. Hackathon enabled farmers to present everyday challenges to ag-techs, who then worked in teams to devise solutions using their hardware, mechatronics and software programming skills. The selected challenges included managing water supply, measuring grass, dairy shed monitoring and beef genetics data systems. James is the ManawatuRangitikei Federated Farmers President and he and Mat Hocken, the province’s dairy chair, were key partners in putting together the hackathon with Microsoft, Building Clever Companies, the Future Institutes, the Central Economic Development Agency and Accelerate 25. Gertrude became a bit of a star when the ag-techs got out in the paddocks on James’ farm. Put together relatively quickly so that there was something active that hackathon participants could view, one of Gertrude’s makers, Massey University mechatronics Masters graduate Tobin Hall, said it was “no one trick pony”. “It’s a remote controlled

Manawatu President James Stewart, below, interfaces with the techies.

gantry that can transport any number of sensors,” Tobin said. James explained that with hundreds of hectares to cover, one of the time-consuming and more boring tasks for farmers was getting out and measuring grass growth. Having data on growth was essential to knowing whether supplementary feed was going to be needed, whether more animals needed to be sent to the works or just how much fertiliser should be added. If a robot could be fitted with sensors and pre-programmed do get out and do that sort of task, it could be of tremendous benefit. From a farmer’s point of view, hackathon got off to a great start when Ranveer Chandra from the United States, the head of Microsoft’s precision agriculture programme, said at the launch event that Kiwi farmers were the most environmentally-aware he had encountered. “We get bagged all the time so

Gertrude became a bit of a star when the ag-techs got out in the paddocks on James’ farm

to have someone who deals with agricultural systems all over the world come in and say ‘you guys are leading edge’, well it was nice to hear,” James said. For the farm visit James and Mat also hosted other experts from the USA, Singapore and the head of Microsoft NZ. “To have the opportunity to connect with people of that calibre was really worthwhile. “The real highlight for me was that it was a whole lot of organisations working together, and Federated Farmers was at

the forefront. I think this event broke down a few silos. “The likes of Massey University have been working on various projects in agriculture. There have been things happening over the years but I think the hackathon shook the tree a bit and got people talking. “That networking is going to keep going.” The winning team presented a range of tools for farmers at the final session, including a gate opener operated from a smart phone that had a range of 15km, a system for remote monitoring of water troughs and the potential to also operate security and farm management cameras. “It was impressive from team members who were from four nationalities and, like most of them, were meeting for the first time at the hackathon launch,” James said. “Talking to other teams too, the cool thing with it was that they intended to stay in touch and continue working on projects.” Another team that also designed a water monitoring solution has a product that is “pretty much ready to go to market”. James and Mat put a lot of time into the event, and it was a shame Mat missed the final night because he was in South America on a Nuffield Scholarship. But the effort was worth it, James said. “There were no negatives at all. Hopefully we’ll get some get agriculture technology out of it in the long run. “And it was cool the Federated Farmers brand was all over it. Everyone knows we do a whole lot of good work on policy fronts but this was showing we take a lead on technology and data use, and helping farmers get stuff done.”

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Bottom lines improving on RMPP pilot farms By: SIMON EDWARDS ■ Improved crop yields by 40 per cent. Sent away 500 lambs before Christmas (rather than 270). ■ Weaned 700 lambs earlier than usual, and increased average lamb weight by 0.9-1kg. Saved $50,000-$60,000 through improved targeting of fertiliser. ■ Increased meat production 9 per cent per hectare. Increased number of lambs ‘off mum’ by 400, 1kg heavier, and achieved a higher schedule price. These are some of the end of year-one results reported by three of the 75 farmers from Whangarei to Bluff involved in the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s pilot Extension Design Project. As the RMPP’s general manager Michael Smith told the Future Farms conference last month, a lot of thought is now being given on how to roll out the same opportunities, and the “outstanding results achieved so far”, across the sector. “We’re working out how we can provide for every single red meat farmer in New Zealand to be involved.” The national programme rollout hasn’t got a name yet but interested farmers can register at tellmemore RMPP is a 7-year, $64.3m primary growth partnership that is 50 per cent funded by government, 30 per cent by Beef + Lamb NZ, and 20 per cent by other partners, including six meat processors and two banks. The Extension Design Project is one of nearly 30 underway and puts the 75 pilot farms into working groups of six to eight.

The project puts 75 pilot farms into working groups of 6-8 to share ideas on improving bottom lines, link in experts and mentor farmers They share ideas on improving bottom lines, link in experts and mentor farmers and also bring to bear a bit of peer pressure to reduce temptation to put the commitments made to the group to try something new on

North Otago farming couple David and Sarah Smith, participants in RMPP’s Extension Design Project, were encouraged to do more soil testing and as a result say they saved $50,000 in fertiliser costs.

the backburner. It’s now nearly 18 months into a three-year programme and Michael said financial and other results from year one were now being analysed. A key finding was that 82 per cent of the pilot farmers had adopted a practice change of one form or another over the course of the first year. Agriculture literature suggests this would normally run at 7-15 per cent. “In fact, we achieved more than 90 per cent but removed 14 per cent where it was indicated the farmers were probably going to do the change anyway. So it’s a very, very good result,” Michael said.

Around 90 per cent said the extension programme had been effective and some 75 per cent said they had connected with experts that would otherwise not have happened if they weren’t in the project. “That’s a little disappointing because those experts are there and available all the time. It’s clear a lot of our farming community are unsure how they can connect with them.” In the evaluations, the words ‘confidence’ and ‘trust’ kept cropping up. Because it was independent experts involved, rather than a supplier representative who perhaps had an eye on selling a service or product, the farmers involved felt more confident to get on and put advice into action. The fact the rest of the group were also keen to see the results added extra impetus. Michael said the uptake of new technology and ideas in the red meat sector was low. “We’re trying to boost that, make it go faster, and improve bottom lines as a result.” Some of the other RMPP initiatives showing good results include: ■ FeedSmart App. Helps farmers validate what they are seeing with their own eyes by using data to calculate how much feed it in a paddock, how much stock it will feed and for how long. ■ Electronic Animal Status Declarations (eASD). Farmers are well aware of the regulatory requirements when moving stock from farm to farm, or to a processor. With OSPRI, the RMPP has developed an electronic version of this, which has been trialled with more than 60 farmers and Silver Fern Farms’ Finegand

plant, Balclutha. ASD is completed on a smartphone or tablet, and the data is automatically sent to Finegand, and to the transport firm to indicate the animals are ready to be picked up. Using NAIT, the TB status of the herd is known, and the address where the herd is located. It can save time for both the farmers, transporters and the meat processors as the information is much more accurate as a lot of the information has already been pre-populated. ■ NZ Farm Assurance Programme. Lowering farmer costs and reducing duplication are key aspects of a new farm audit system being introduced to farmers by many meat processors over the next few months. There are a range of industry audit systems operating currently and the new programme will streamline the process and ensure everyone is working to the same baseline standard. ■ More than 500 women have now been through the Understanding Your Farming Business for Women course, run with the Agri Women’s Development Trust. “There has been some fantastic feedback,” Michael said. Videos are on the RMPP website. Many are quite humorous, but there is an underlying message. “Often the male is coming home and finding his female partner has quite an interest in what’s happening on-farm, and is quite prepared to tell him he’s doing crap, according to the books. It’s developing some good conversations but the males are also saying it’s like a weight has been taken off their shoulders because now there is someone else who understands what is going on in the business.”

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April 2017

National Farming Review




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Taranaki on board with bobby calf best practice By: SIMON EDWARDS

Janet Shultz with one of the Taranaki-design pens that complies with new loading regulations.


ARANAKI FEDERATED Farmers has taken the bobby calf regulations issue by the horns and come up with a template for pens and loading that is particular to the province, but which other parts of New Zealand might also use or adapt. The Taranaki Bobby Calf Action Group, with provincial executive member Janet Schultz at the helm, put together best practice guidelines and a roadshow that was presented at 10 centres around Taranaki. In total, around 500 farmers attended. It was mainly about highlighting to farmers how they might prepare for the final two Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) young calf loading regulations, which kick in on August 1. But Janet says other messages also soon became apparent, including Health and Safety ramifications, and the need to talk to transport operators about what will work best for individual farm situations. Janet owns and runs a local dairy farm. With the help of an assistant farm manager, she milks 270 cows morning and night, doing 100,000kg of milk solids. On top of that she works at the Stratford saleyards doing data entry, and joined the Federated Farmers Taranaki executive in October 2015. A former hairdresser by trade, she describes herself as “very much a people person, and a communicator”. With that background she says she took a special interest in the need to get ready for the new rules and admits to a bit of frustration that initially the

It was apparent from the first road show that there was a lack of understanding around the new rules, which caused levels of frustration. attitude to the looming changes tended to be along the lines “we’re ready for it, no big deal”. She called for action again in October 2016, and Taranaki president Bronwyn Muir backed her. Janet had already organised a meeting involving farmers and representatives of transport and procurement companies, Fonterra and Dairy NZ when more footage of calf handling from one of the pro-

vegan/vegetarian groups hit social media, and a dairy farmer found a covert camera in his milking shed. With 21 men in the room, and Janet as chairwoman, opinions were aired and the draft of the ‘Best Practice Guidelines for Bobby Calves in Holding Pens for Transport’ was formulated. With the help of Feds’ territory manager Craig Sole and administrative manager



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THE FACTS Want to know more about your obligations under the new Animal Welfare (Calves) Regulations? Go to the Policy section on the Federated Farmers website and check out our fact sheet. It covers transport, loading and unloading facilities, shade and shelter, feeding, and euthanasing stock on farm. Make sure your team is aware of the fit for transporter requirements and the eight criteria around bobby calves that must be met before they are put in the holding pen for transport.

Jessie Waite, Janet took the roadshow out during February and March. “It was apparent from the first road show that there was a lack of understanding around the new rules, which caused levels of frustration,” Janet says. “I’ve had people come up and congratulate me for taking this on. But there have been others of the opposite way; they didn’t quite get it that we were only the messengers. This is the law, this is what’s coming, like it or not.” A common reaction was ‘why can’t transporters put in a hydraulic lift at the back of their trucks?’. Janet says not only would the cost be prohibitive, but the trucks used for transporting calves are often in the same day required to take sheep and cattle to the works, then pick up winter cows for grazing. The time factor switching them over would be too great, the companies said. “The guidelines we’ve presented meet the requirements of MPI and offer workable solutions,” Janet says. They’re practical and take also take into account Fonterra and Worksafe regulations when building new holding pens. Janet believes a key for farmers is to talk to the transport companies they use

Continued on P6 ➽



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Robust Import Health Standards are vital for agriculture ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

HALT ON PESTS PHILIPPA RAWLINSON, Federated Farmers’ Arable Industry Adviser, explains why MPI’s Import Health Standards are a vital tool to block pest organisms from crossing our borders


IOSECURITY HAS always been a hot topic for Federated Farmers, but over the last 12 months the plethora of biosecurity issues has brought the subject to the fore. For the most part, biosecurity has tended to sit in the “out of sight, out of mind” area but it deserves to be higher in the collective consciousness given that a strong biosecurity system underpins New Zealand’s primary industries. We only have to look back over the last 12 months to see the impact that failures in any part of the biosecurity system have on New Zealand agriculture. The world’s worst cropping weed, velvetleaf, arrived in contaminated fodder beet seed.

The plant is remarkably successful as a legacy pest as any seeds will last in the soil for up to 50 years. If farmers ignore the problem for any length of time, instead of growing pasture, maize or other crops, they will be growing velvetleaf. Federated Farmers is working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on how we can manage the velvetleaf scourge in the future but without an effective, centrally-led, long-term management programme we will not achieve the goal of eradication. There is some concern that velvetleaf will become another legacy pest for farmers, Federated Farmers, regional councils and levy bodies to deal with, when they are already dealing with a plethora of

Where’s the crop? This is what can happen when velvetleaf gets a hold.

environmental, compliance and market issues. The arrival of pea weevil in contaminated pea seed has resulted in Wairarapa farmers forgoing two years of income from pea production to eradicate the weevil from the region. All current indicators are that we are on track to wipe out the weevil from our shores but anyone planting peas (in urban or rural environments) could put this in jeopardy. MPI’s Import Health Standards (IHSs) underpin the biosecurity system in New Zealand, and state

the requirements which must be met before risk goods can be imported. Federated Farmers regularly submits on any new IHS proposed and any amendments made to existing IHSs. We recently put our views on two IHS. The first was the amendment made to the IHS Seed for Sowing pea seed requirements, where we supported the proposed amendment to require all pea seed to be fumigated (prior to arrival or on arrival) to enhance the elimination of biosecurity risk. The second submission related to the proposed IHS for Phase 3

Mushroom Substrate and a proposed IHS for Processed Animal Manure. While we had some concerns about why this product needed to be imported into New Zealand when companies are successfully producing the material here, we would only object to the new IHS on issues of biosecurity risk — and there were many. We opposed the proposed Mushroom Substrate IHS and Processed Animal Manure IHS on the basis that the measures outlined were not sufficiently robust to address the biosecurity risks associated with such imports. Biosecurity does not stop at the border, there are steps farmers can undertake to increase on-farm biosecurity. To reduce the threat of any incursion from seed contamination, ask for the purity and germination test results on the seed you are purchasing and, though it may cost a bit more, only purchase seed from reputable agents. If you have contractors regularly coming onto and off the property, ask them if they have thoroughly washed down their machinery. This will stop the spread of unwanted weeds.

COMPLIANCE: Taranaki on board with bobby calf best practice Continued from P9 before building or buying any pen. The Taranaki action group was unanimous they didn’t want ramps. Not only is it hard to get animals that are less than 14 days old to walk up ramps, the required 12 degree gradient to get up to an average truck deck level

of 1.1m meant ramps would be something like 7m long. They’ve also recommended a 2m height for a holding pen, otherwise the guys who on any one day might be picking up 600-800 calves will be at risk of back or neck damage with all the bending to avoid cracking their head. “They also wanted to see steps up to the pen, preferably on the

driver’s side of it,” Janet says. “A lot of pens don’t have steps and it’s a Health and Safety issue if the driver has to clamber up or leap into them from the back of the truck.” A safety rail, and chook-mesh on the steps for a non-slip surface, are also recommended. The cost of the Taranaki pen is $3500-$7000 depending on the size required. Two firms in Taranaki

are making them already and by mid-March had around 30 and 10 orders respectively, selling to farmers either as kitsets or put together on site. “There are farmers with old milkrooms that could be used. They’re already at 1.1m high [for truck decks] from when tankers used to come in. They could make a pen in that,” Janet says. Old races can also be used, but

keep in mind the 12 per cent gradient. “And what happens when the front calf walking up the race decides to stop. That sort of hold-up can cause tempers to fray, just what SAFE and FarmWatch jump on.” ■ Want a copy of the Taranaki Bobby Calf Action Group ‘Best Practice’ Guidelines? Email Jessie Waite at

Ph 0800 327 646


April 2017

National Farming Review




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Fish hooks seen with some of the Clear Water proposals By: CATHY BEGLEY, Senior Policy Adviser, Water and Environment


N LATE FEBRUARY, ministers Smith and Guy announced the next round of proposed water reforms for consultation. The ‘Clean Water’ rules will have significant implications for the primary sector. The proposed package has five main elements: 1. A target of 90 per cent of rivers (identified in Appendix 2) and lakes (over 1500m of shoreline) being swimmable by 2040; 2. New regulations on stock exclusion from waterways; 3. Changes to the National Policy Statement — Freshwater Management; 4. Collation and provision of better information and maps; and 5. A call for applications for the Freshwater Clean-up Fund. One of the most significant of the proposed changes is the removal of the requirement for all waterways to be wadeable. That’s replaced with a requirement that 90 per cent of all waterways nationally within a set criteria be swimmable by 2040. To determine whether a waterway is swimmable, a ‘traffic light’ approach has been introduced, which is based on the percentage of time a waterway is below an E.coli threshold. For a waterway to be swimmable it must not exceed the E.coli threshold of 540 E.coli per 100ml for more than 20 percent of the time. Currently 72 per cent of identified waterways are specified as being swimmable. To meet the targets of 80 per cent by 2030 and 90 per cent by 2040, councils will between them determine how this will be achieved on a national basis. Federated Farmers is concerned that this may result in ‘horse trading’, with winners and losers resulting. We agree that waterways valued for swimming should be swimmable during swimming season. A concern is the rivers identified within the Government’s proposals relate to size, and not their appropriateness or value for swimming

meeting the compulsory national or other recreation. bottom line of ecosystems health. In line with a 2014 election Secondly to set maximum promise, Minister Smith is seeking to concentrations of dissolved introduce far reaching regulations to inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and exclude stock from waterways. The dissolved reactive phosphorus proposals, even for dairy farmers (DRP) where a river is being (particularly West Coast farmers), managed for periphyton (slime). could have significant cost The proposal also seeks to implications. While the stock increase the prominence of the exclusion proposal is limited to cattle decision making framework called (beef and dairy), deer and pigs on Te Mana o te Wai within the NPSflatter land initially, it will eventually FWM. But it’s unclear how this apply to all land up to 15 degrees and framework links with the decision to all land if break feeding. making framework already The proposal sets out a timetable, A concern is that the waterways identified within the contained within the NPS-FWM. with deadlines for when various Government’s ‘swimable’ proposals relate to size, and We welcome that applications are stock types on various slopes of land not their appropriateness or value for swimming or open to the $100m Freshwater Cleanmust be excluded from specified other recreation. up Fund but are concerned the waterways (ranging from July 1, 2017 minimum request for this round is to July 1, 2025). Importantly, it is The proposal also seeks to make it for $200,000, which could rule out smaller, stock exclusion, not necessarily fencing, compulsory for regional councils to firstly catchment-based initiatives. Federated that is required. Also, where stock are Farmers is undertaking a detailed analysis use the Macroinvertebrate Community driven across a waterway more than once a Index (MCI) as the monitoring tool for of the proposals and will be seeking week, these crossings must be bridged or determining whether a waterway is feedback from members to guide us. culverted by July 1, 2019. While the package allows farmers to apply to council for an exemption, Federated Farmers is concerned that these stock exclusion proposals have not been costed out fully and there is a lack of clarity around how farmers determine the various slope thresholds. There are also concerns with some of the definitions, in particular wetlands, and that it could capture necessary farm infrastructure such as stockwater dams. The package also proposes many other changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FWM). The NPS-FWM requires councils to either maintain or improve water quality and quantity. The proposal seeks to provide clarification that the maintenance or improvement of water is to be judged within a Freshwater Management Unit (FMU) rather than across a whole region. NPS-FWM changes also seek to ensure regional councils consider the community’s SHEEP CATTLE economic well-being when making water management decisions. Federated Farmers $75 $1200 Sale Value Sale Value is advocating this must extend to considering the wider economic costs on the primary sector, not just the cost to $20 Transport Cost $2 Transport Cost ratepayers of upgrading municipal sewage $0.33 $2 Yard Fee Yard Fee treatment plants.

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National Farming Review April 2017 Ph 0800 327 646



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HE FARMING INDUSTRY’S investment in TB eradication is proving effective, allowing reduced cattle and deer testing requirements in many areas. From March 1, reductions to Disease Control Areas will affect 2.3 million hectares and nearly 7400 herds, resulting in 289,000 fewer TB tests for herds. That’s a lot of time and expense saved. OSPRI (Operational Solutions for Primary Industries) is a nonprofit company established in 2013 when the Animal Health Board and NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) merged. It administers regional disease control areas (DCAs) throughout New Zealand, each with different TB testing requirements and stock movement restrictions depending on the risk of TB being transferred from infected wildlife (mainly possums) to cattle and deer. As OSPRI’s Dr Stu Hutchings told the Future Farms conference last month, significant progress has been made in reducing tuberculosis in livestock. In June 2000 there were nearly 700 infected deer and cattle herds spread around most parts of the country; today there are only 41, with clusters in the South Island and a few infected herds in the North Island. Progress has come more quickly than once anticipated, and this gives confidence the agency’s strategy is realistic: to have all cattle and deer free from TB by 2026; to have TB out of possums by 2040; and biological eradication of the disease by 2055. When tuberculosis is found in a farmer’s cattle or deer herd, the

economic and social impact can be significant, Dr Hutchings said. “They’re put into a quarantine, they can’t trade any more, it impacts directly on their ability to sell livestock to other farms. “In the communities where they live and work, questions are asked along the lines of ‘what’s gone wrong here? What have they done? Often it’s nothing they have done at all. They may have brought in animals with undetected disease, or their farm happens to be in a location where there are possums with TB.” The tuberculosis bacteria that threatens livestock is in the same family as human TB. It can cause significant infection in lungs, lymph nodes and body cavities of any mammal but OSPRI concentrates on deer, cattle and possums. Transmission to farmed animals is from possums; they’re the disease maintenance hosts or vectors. “Often when they’re sick, they stagger out from the bush into

Reduced risk means that in the North Island alone, OSPRI’s refocused operating plan will mean 228,000 fewer tests of deer and cattle will be needed each year.

The focus is on getting rid of the disease from possums, we’re not going to be able to eradicate all the possums — a key point. paddocks. Cattle and deer are really inquisitive and will sniff them [taking in the bacteria]. Deer will actually pick them up and toss them around. The TB is then spread cattle to cattle, deer to deer, on the farm.” Two-thirds of OSPRI’s revenue is spent on possum control, which has major crossover benefits for native birdlife.

If the disease is found on a farm during testing, a quarantine and continual test/slaughter programme is maintained. “We need two clear herd tests at least six months apart before we call that farm clear,” Dr Hutchings said. “We also have movement restrictions in some regions where there is high TB prevalence. Any farms in those areas have to do TB testing prior

BENEFITS OPSRI says the benefits of its operational plan, updated last year, include: ■ Reducing costs for funders to $60 million per year, from $80 million. ■ Reduced TB testing for lowrisk herds. ■ An accelerated timeline so farmers can benefit from reduced risk of disease sooner.

to moving any livestock out of that locality.” The new focus will be grounded in risk. The testing requirements will be based on three things: the farm’s location,

the herds’ TB history, and whether the farm has brought in animals from risk areas. “All this means fewer tests for low risk herds, and postmovement testing for those with the greatest risk of infection,” he said. Future possum control work will be based on proximity to livestock, the extent of possum infection and how difficult it will be to stamp out the disease. “The focus is on getting rid of the disease from possums, we’re not going to be able to eradicate all the possums — a key point. We need to get their numbers down until the TB disappears.” Dr Hutchings said “strong buy-in” was required from farmers to keep NAIT and herd movement records up to date. A lot of work is going into monitoring where there has been infection. “We trace back for any cattle or deer that have come into the herd or gone out again. Movement is one of the biggest factors in transmission of the disease, and [our work is] more around individual animals rather than geographical areas. “It’s important we have good buying decisions, so people understand the risk of buying animals [from disease control areas], not just chasing the cheapest dollar.” Asked how traceability improved returns, Dr Hutchings said NAIT and TB testing was used to work out where the disease had come from, “so we can tailor our efforts to manage and get rid of it in a lot quicker time”. “The whole area of traceability from a farm management, food safety and biosecurity perspective is a much bigger story, one fundamental to us as a country and one where we have a lot more work to do.”

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April 2017

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Ann Thompson notches up a decade in the saddle Farmers are doing more with less, and farming smarter, writes ANN THOMPSON, who recently celebrated her 10th anniversary as Dairy Policy Adviser at Federated Farmers

Change and technology advances have been a constant in the 10 years Ann Thompson has been Dairy Policy Adviser and a highlight of the role has been contact with some wonderful farmers.


pa In id ter m es on t th ly

NE THING I have noticed over my 10 years at Federated Farmers is how far dairy farmers have come. One of my first meetings I attended was the 2007 Science Policy Forum. It came out of the Dairy Industry Strategy for Sustainable Environmental Management and included a field trip to Scott Farm in Newstead. There I saw the use of mitigation tools to reduce nutrient loss to waterways — riparian margins, stand-off pads and effluent systems. The change in science around nutrient management and water quantity has meant farmers are sometimes required to spend money on one system, only to have to spend more money as the science showed this was no good. This is especially true with managing farm dairy effluent, where first it was direct to stream, then putting it through a two-pond system and now it is storage for, in some catchments, 60 days, before putting it back onto pasture. As for water use, Canterbury farmers have gone from border dyke flood irrigation to roto rainers applying 60mm, to pivots applying 10mm and are now down the path of variable rate irrigation. The improvement in cellphones and apps are


helping farmers farm better, though for some cellphones (and internet) access is still not great. Timesheets can be filled in and sent direct to payroll through our strategic partner, Simply Payroll, pasture plate readings can be logged straight away, and soon we’ll have an app that tells farmers if their stock are fit to transport and what time their bobby calves were last fed. Irrigation and effluent system technology enables machine failure to be noticed immediately via a telecommunicated warning system and the machines can be switched off remotely.

Through the Workplace Action Plan we’re able to show how working on a dairy farm is an attractive option

The employment record of dairy farmers is improving too, thanks to the work Federated Farmers and DairyNZ have done. Through the Workplace Action Plan we’re able to show how working on a dairy farm is an attractive option for our young people. In some areas, however, there are not enough suitable New Zealanders and we are still striving with Immigration NZ and the Ministry of Social Development to get better access to migrant workers. We are also working in various parts of the country on getting agriculture into the

school curriculum. This is certainly true in Canterbury, where Federated Farmers was instrumental in flying teachers across the region to show them the diversity of their land and the importance of it to their own community. The contracts and agreements developed by Federated Farmers continue to improve, clarifying areas in which experience has been shown to be unclear. The Variable Order Sharemilking Agreement was updated in 2011, the Herd Owning Sharemilking Agreement has been through a major revamp and a couple of minor ones, and then, horror of horrors, we’ve developed the Contract for Contract Milking. This latter was a big hurdle given some see it as the end of the sharemilking system. Then there’s the Grazing Agreement, developed by both the Dairy and Meat & Fibre industry groups. All of these have been a mission, but I take my hat off to ‘our’ farmers who helped with this — they are keen to get something that is clear and in a language that farmers understand. My constant companion has been the DIRA (or Dairy Industry Restructuring Act), which is again before the industry (see page 23). And at the forefront of it all, I have met some wonderful farmers.

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National Farming Review

April 2017

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Fencing in the quake-ravaged High Country November’s quakes may be receding from the consciousness of many New Zealanders but it’s still front of mind for some Kaikoura and Marlborough back country families fighting to get back on their feet. As JOHN DONNACHIE reports, volunteer recruits are helping them to do that


ENCING IN THE Canterbury High Country is hard graft and not the most attractive occupation but for some it’s a worthwhile opportunity to see the country and help those in a tight spot. Tauranga-based Ian Flavell and wife Prue decided to leave behind home comforts and head to the South Island to assist quake-affected farmers with their recovery effort. Ian is in charge of a fencing team working at the Worthington property just inland from Kekerengu, 20 kilometres north of Kaikoura. Prue looks after the admin and helps on the fence gang when she can. They both wanted to get involved after seeing the devastation of last November’s Kaikoura-Hurunui earthquake. “We wanted to help and we’re lucky to be in a position to do so. I’m sure there are others who would too, but don’t have the circumstances or can’t afford to,” says Ian. The couple had provision for food and fuel courtesy of the Government’s skilled worker initiative programme, which had been set up in January to assist those affected farmers.

It’s tough work for the fencing gang on steeper country of the Worthingtons’ farm, especially when digging is done by hand.

On the first day, one of the guys lifted a post straight onto his shoulder just like Colin ‘Pine Tree’ Meads would do, so I knew from that moment we would be just fine. They were staying on site and hadn’t regretted the decision to come south. “We’ve got a double bed and television in our motorhome, and we’re fortunate to have that luxury compared to others here,” he laughed.

Ian’s team had a particularly strong Gallic presence with two recent recruits from the hospitality industry. Frenchman Benjamin Pierson, who has been in the country for six months, said, “It’s a really

good experience to work in another sector and improve my skills. I like being on the farm, eating with the family, sharing time together and improving my English.” While Ian revealed his hearing was not the best, it had not hampered his interactions with his co-workers. “They are motivated and approach me when there is other work to do. “On the first day, one of the guys lifted a post straight onto his shoulder just like Colin ‘Pine Tree’ Meads would do, so I knew from that moment we would be just fine.” The coming winter will be a

challenge and more experienced fencers were urgently required. “Most fencers are physically fit and you need to be working in this steep terrain,” said Ian. The other challenge was working without a post rammer; this was usually what fencers would use when renewing numerous poles in any one area. “Up here the terrain is too steep and so we have to dig by hand. It’s really tiring work and you can get pretty buggered after doing that all day,” Ian said. ■ If you are a fencer or interested in helping the quake recovery effort in Marlborough and North Canterbury, call 0800 327 646.

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Key to High Country quake recovery


F WE can get through the next the earthquake. Nicknamed “Hotel period we will be stronger for California”, facilities were limited with the challenge. We get to essentials like beds, a table and an invest in our business and our indoor fire for comfort. staff are pulling together,” says High Agstaff volunteers were generally Country farmer Hamish Murray. He is from non-farming backgrounds and bullish as he outlines his future vision included university students and for the quake-affected Bluff Station. disillusioned urbanites seeking a new This sprawling High Country station challenge and lifestyle. They are spans 13,800 hectares, including 135 rotated on a two to three-day basis. subdivided paddocks. The damage from “Some of the helpers aren’t last November’s earthquake is clearly particularly skilled but we can appoint visible to anyone viewing the paddocks a skilled supervisor to work with them and hills behind the homestead. who knows how our system works. So if Then there’s the damaged staff we can get everyone even 50 per cent house where online images went viral more efficient then that’s great,” around the world, depicting the Hamish said. intensity and sheer rage of seismic Keeping the production cycle ticking activity which descended on the house, shunting it off its foundation by several metres. The other staff homes were so badly damaged they also need to be rebuilt. Inland, the extent of damage is keeping five regular staff and a fencing team from Agstaff busy. Being a large expanse, it could take years to repair all the fencing and reopen access tracks. One staff house on Bluff Station was shifted metres off its In the aftermath foundations by the intensity of the November earthquake. of the quake, Hamish looked internally for resolve and support while employing the usual stoic outlook which High Country farmers are renowned for. “We didn’t have any great expectations around someone coming to help us. Anything we have received we are especially grateful for,” he said. He contacted Auckland based Corene Walker, a leadership mentor, and followed up with sessions with staff around team morale and building resilience. “Team culture is something we wanted to promote and build and over was foremost now. Any drop in Corene is helping us with that. This performance would impact on the period coming up is risky in terms of business and have consequences in how people are coping and dealing with terms of the rebuild timeframe. things, and we need to keep positive,” Ten per cent fewer lambs, for he said. example, would have implications. Hamish’s father Chid said, “We are “It takes time to recover to find a so lucky to have staff who are resilient, system that works, knowing what positive and working together. Morale resources are available. How you cois good. They are quite frankly amazing ordinate those means we can start after what they’ve come through and planning more efficiently. I’m sure dealing with now.” when we look back good things will At the moment staff had taken up have come from this situation,” said residence in an old shed that withstood Hamish.

QUAKE DAMAGE: Demand for workers is still high There remains significant demand for fencers and other skilled farm labour as quakeaffected High Country farmers start to prepare for the onset of winter. Throughout the affected zone stretching from Hurunui in North Canterbury to southern Marlborough the recovery is entering a crucial phase. Around 200 affected farmers have turned to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) skilled labour initiative, which matches workers and farms with Ashburton-based Agstaff. Federated Farmers manages the programme. Agstaff’s Vaughan Beazer oversees around a dozen workers deployed at various locations north of Kaikoura. He said the recovery project was progressing with more knowledge and co-ordination at hand. The skillset of workers was varied and needed to be carefully managed on a daily basis to suit the farms involved in the initiative. “This is a different type of response to the initial situation after the quake. Obviously the approach was more reactive to what was unfolding and that worked at that time.” MPI introduced the $600,000 funded worker initiative in late January to complement the Federated Farmers’ 0800 helpline, which had

We are so lucky to have staff who are resilient, positive and working together.

been operating since the event last November. “Our recruitment system is qualified and vetted. We select people who meet the desired criteria. That way, if something happens we have done everything in our power to avoid accidents or bad workmanship and have someone to sign off on that. “Recently we had a guy who looked at a job with his digger and admitted the job was bigger than he expected and he didn’t have the experience. I really appreciate that, it’s about not taking unnecessary risks,” Vaughan said. In the High Country workers are isolated by distance and remoteness, so help can be hour or two away. Not having the best qualified personnel on location can be logistically challenging and hazardous. Farmers were used to driving on corrugations and shingle roads without antilock braking systems (ABS). Those not familiar with driving on that surface might struggle, especially when using ABS, and be prone to accidents. ■ If you are a fencer or can offer any type of farm labour, please call 0800 327 646 (select option 2).

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April 2017

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National Farming Review

April 2017

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System includes solutions tailored for rural sector

EDERATED FARMER Dairy Industry Chairman Andrew Hoggard says back in the day his farm’s timesheets and payroll were paper-based, and he’d spent at least two hours a fortnight sorting it all out. Later, he started subscriptions to two different payroll and compliance systems and managed to cut the workload to half an hour. Now he’s using Simply Payroll and the task is a breeze — just a few minutes to review the information and approve it. “It’s peace of mind that you’re compliant with all the legislation and IRD requirements. And it’s the most costeffective option out there,” Andrew says. As its name suggests, Simply Payroll offers a streamlined, digitised and easyto-use payroll service that will help you stay compliant with regulations, and onside with your employees. Instead of losing hours and hours chasing up and handling paper timesheets and working out all the

calculations, your staff can use the Simply smart phone or web app to enter their start and finish times for you to review, edit and approve. Spreadsheet payroll is timeconsuming and prone to error. Simply Payroll handles the wages, PAYE, leave accruals, allowances and deductions for $5 per pay run, plus $1.25 per employee, excluding GST. Set up, training and support is free of charge and all Feds members get a $50 credit upon sign-on. The system also automates filing to IRD, including receiving and actioning deduction letters for things like child support and fines. It’s the only New Zealand payroll system that tracks hours for salaried staff, and automatically compares against the minimum wage level. If a top-up is required, it’s calculated automatically and you’ll be prompted to apply it. That’s an aspect Andrew Hoggard appreciates.

Ambreed Phil Beatson CRV Ambreed Head Geneticist

PAYE, KiwiSaver, minimum wage rules, holiday pay…it’s all done for you. You review it, and double click that it’s okay to go. “Other systems I’ve seen don’t take into account that farming is variable in its hours. Simply Payroll is as near as bullet-proof as possible. “PAYE, KiwiSaver, minimum wage rules, holiday pay…it’s all done for you. You review it, and double click that it’s okay to go.” From Simply Payroll’s perspective, chief executive Asantha Wijeyeratne says they wanted a strong partner in the primary sector. “Federated Farmers was a natural choice. “We have a lot of empathy for farmers and businesses in the agricultural sector because what they do is fundamentally important to New Zealand, and yet they have to work extremely hard while also coping with challenges from every quarter — including social, health, environmental and legislative pressures.” For example, farmers have been targeted for breaches of the minimum wage regulations. “This is despite the fact that the nature of the work is far more complex than can be covered by simple regulations written for a broad spread of business sectors. Farm staff are seasonally driven in terms of activity levels, and they work all hours as well. You also have things like use of farm housing that many staff enjoy, whereas few other industries house their staff as well,” Asantha says.

With Simply Payroll, your staff can enter their time worked details by smartphone and you can tick it all off on your own device.

Simply Payroll developed a calculator that alerts the person doing the payroll when minimum wage regulations are at risk of being breached. It’s part of the company’s mission to make life easier for small and medium business owners. “Our staff have bought into that mission, so when a customer calls with a question or a need or a problem, the Simply Payroll team member will focus on finding a solution until completion — to the exclusion of all else,” Asantha says. “The payback is word-of-mouth from happy customers, and also innovation because customer problems and needs inspire design innovations.” ■ For more information on benefits for members, visit

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April 2017

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said, “Nelson College is a highperforming boys’ school with traditions. Boys show a strong sense of belonging and pride. They achieve very well in their learning and in sporting and cultural activities. Teachers take many innovative approaches, providing responsive learning opportunities that engage boys well in their learning. Strong, visionary professional leadership provides a highly inclusive environment for the increasingly diverse range of students.” The College is also pleased to announce that the refurbishment and modernisation of Barnicoat House has recently been completed and invite prospective parents to come and see the difference that boarding at Nelson College can offer.

Affordable excellence Nelson College for Girls offers high quality education for young women in a very supportive environment. Our Boarding Hostel, Clarice Johnstone House, is a very important part of this. It offers excellent accommodation for up to 150 students, from New Zealand and overseas. Our boarders enjoy academic success, make lifelong friendships and enjoy strong connections within the school and its community. Enrolments are still being accepted for 2017 and are now open for 2018. ■ For more information please contact Jo Purcell on 03 548 1332 Email: or visit our website boarding

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Re-booting the Regions author gives a stark warning

EMOGRAPHIC changes coming down the line spell real challenges for all New Zealand but are “writ large for rural communities”. Professor Paul Spoonley told the Future Farms conference in Palmerston North last month that some regions will have to work very hard to find ways to attract and retain younger and skilled people, or their services — and then towns — will “evaporate”. Prof Spoonley, who has written or edited 27 books on demography topics, the latest of which is Re-booting the Regions, said a ‘new’ New Zealand was emerging, and changes were accelerating this decade. New Zealand’s population is becoming more urban, more Asian, a lot older and, perhaps most significantly for agriculture and other sectors, the shortages of skilled workers that are already apparent are likely to worsen, he said. “Up until the GFC [global financial crisis, 2007] we had the highest level of skill shortages of any country in the OECD. We’re now number 4, but tracking upwards again. “I don’t want to leave you with a doom and gloom scenario,” Prof Spoonley told conference delegates, “but when I talk to regional councils and communities about this, there is denial.” TVNZ is about to screen a series about people fleeing from Auckland because of traffic congestion, house prices and the pace of life, but the reality is far more people are moving to the City of Sails. Auckland is already home to about a third of the nation’s people; within a decade that is predicted to be 40 per cent. And that’s where the lion’s share of

jobs and migrants will go as well. This is highly unusual. Paris and London have 18-20 per cent of their country’s populations. No other city in the world other than Dublin has anything like a third of their country’s population, let alone 40 per cent of it. “There is nothing much that is going to stop Auckland’s growth, unless a volcano blows,” he said. Two-thirds of our regions are experiencing population stagnation, or decline. Current population growth — one of the highest in the OECD at just over 2 per cent — is largely coming from nett migration gains. Our birth rates are barely enough to replace deaths; we are likely to dip below sub-fertility soon. Australia is well below subfertility now, and the likes of Japan and Germany have been there for some time “and are having very significant issues”. Chancellor Angela Merkel allowing more than a million

Professor Paul Spoonley at the conference: “When I talk to regional councils and communities about [provincial population decline], there is denial.”

We’re going to have to anticipate [and plan for] future labour supply. We’re very bad at this. migrants across Germany’s borders in recent years might have had a humanitarian aspect as well “but it was also about having enough workers for Germany’s factories”. Taranaki is our first region to have more people over 65 than aged 0-14, but it won’t be the last. Our baby boomers grew at a time when the over-65s were 8-10 per cent of the population; “regions should now anticipate rates of 25-35 per cent”. Dr Spoonley said when rural areas bleed young people and workers, services start to

dwindle or close. School rolls suffer, GPs can’t be attracted to work there. “We’re going to have to anticipate [and plan for] future labour supply. We’re very bad at this,” he said. Prof Spoonley said he has challenged various sectors — including agriculture — to identify their worker and skill needs 5-10 years out. They struggle to do it five years out, and some can’t even estimate three years ahead. The internet was supposed to be an answer. People don’t have


to be in the cities when they can work via computer, remotely. “It hasn’t happened. [Young people and the skilled] like the boot camps, they like the lattes, they like going down the road to talk to co-workers. That’s an international story, not just a New Zealand one.” However, Prof Spoonley added that good broadband was a crucial factor in rural towns holding on to businesses and workers. There was no shortage of questions from the floor. Can the Overseas Investment Office and other government institutions help maintain investment in the regions? Prof Spoonley answered by saying most countries in Europe and many in other parts of the globe have robust regional development programmes. The NZ government “could, and

should, do more. “You can do things to push [activity out into the regions]. In the UK [for example], vehicle licensing is headquartered in Hull.” Someone else asked how job vacancies in the regions might be filled when the roles are not on the skills shortage list. Prof Spoonley said regions might need to develop their own immigration recruitment and retention policy, and push central government to allow it. “Canterbury has it, with the rebuild. We’ve got to get off our butts and say to the minister ‘our area has skills shortages, we want to see these roles on the skilled shortages list, and by the way, we want a say on the recruitment and approval of immigrants’. “If you take immigration out, all of our positive economic stories almost evaporate. GDP growth, minus he immigration factor, goes back to 0.5 per cent. “Immigration is a really good news story, with a lot of positive economic impacts and I don’t think the Government wants that tap turned off.” Towns such as Gore and Ashburton were in good shape, largely because of immigration. Half of the new dairy workers in Southland last year were Filipino. School classes are bulging with Filipino pupils, a Filipino food store has opened, and three Filipino priests have been brought in. “In some places, if your rely on people who look like me [older, Pakeha] . . . we’re not going to be the workers on your farms or in your processing plants.”


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National Farming Review

April 2017

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Sowing agri ambitions in Kiwi classrooms



T ST HILDA’S COLLEGIATE in Dunedin, pupils in NCEA Level 2 statistics classes test their understanding of calculations and formulae using stock data, such as lamb weights, dates and single and multiple births. Meanwhile, classes in city and rural primary schools/kura start off in Years 5 and 6 learning how plants turn the sun’s energy into nutrition we can use, and by Years 7-8 are studying modules under The Chain in My Lunchbox/He Raupapa Kame Kei Roto i Taku Pouaka Tina, getting to grips with the truth that all animals eat food that started with plants. These two initiatives – the first under the Red Meat Profit Partnership-funded/Young Farmers-delivered schools programme, the second from the agriculture sector-driven Soil, Food and Society resource – are two of a growing number of learning programmes that are opening youngsters’ eyes to the world of primary production. Why target kids? With complaints and concerns about the rural-urban divide and skilled workforce shortages getting ever more strident, the earlier we can sow curiosity and interest in agriculture the better. The pitch to young people on the Growing NZ website, a Primary Industry Capability Alliance project backed by 10 sector groups, is: “Your future could be growing New Zealand”. The website is home to more than a dozen resources, from Teachers’ Day Out and Soils Make Sense to The Epic Challenge, a competition for Year 9 and 10 students to research primary industries careers, select one and develop a campaign to promote it.

Pupils at a Young Farmers NZ-run Get Experience Day in Winton, Southland, identify pests in different regions at the MPI’s display.

Learning about the soil, its nutrients and how we replace them to help make plants grow is essential. Ralph Springett of ReGear Learning, project manager for the Soil, Food and Society resource

launched last October (, says feedback from teachers has been extremely positive. Anders Crofoot, project spokesman, Vice-President of Federated Farmers and Chairman of the Fertiliser Quality Council, says the resource’s exploration of the soil system and of plant life as the source of our food takes science learning right back to basics. “Learning about the soil, its nutrients and how we replace them to help make plants grow is essential to our young students understanding the whole food chain concept. “Teaching science and sciencebased thinking to primary students

also equips them early on with the useful skills of how to present facts and critical thinking,” Mr Crofoot says. The hope now is to enlist 100 or more educators/teachers in a user group who will engage with the project as it is reviewed and refined for a larger and permanent launch in 2018. As a mirror to exactly the kinds of difficult debates going on in wider society, by Years 7 and 8, when students are starting to become independent learners, they’re asked in a final lesson: “What advice would you give to Parliamentarians, your whanau and others on how to balance environmental needs with the

needs of primary producers and how New Zealand earns a living in the world?” Another resource that is already well-used by schools is DairyNZ’s Rosie's Education ( Featuring Rosie the dairy industry Cowbassador, the site has been developed to increase awareness and understanding of the dairy industry. It’s home to curriculumrelated teaching units, digital texts and colourful graphics that use dairying as a context for learning. For example, a nitrogen cycle fact sheet looks at how humans are 3 per cent nitrogen, how nitrogen fixing bacteria are found in soil, water and legumes, and where nitrites and nitrates fit in. Another unit focuses on using creative writing to explore the connection between water and New Zealand identity, and another explores water scarcity and challenges pupils to use future problem solving techniques to think about global solutions. As befits an organisation set up to add value to the agri-sector by supporting rural youth and “people capability development”, Young Farmers NZ is at the forefront of a suite of education and upskilling programmes and activities. At, students can read and view interviews with people working in every spectrum of NZ primary production to find out how they got to where they are. There are also links to the array of scholarships available – the Primary ITO has estimated more than $3m of agricultural scholarships are on offer each year. Tertiary students can tap into the RMPP Young Farmers’ Red Meat Network, which enables them to establish networks with members of the red meat supply chain while still studying.

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Continued from P16 Young Farmers NZ National Business Manager Bronwyn Winchester says with the addition of new branches at Auckland University and Taratahi, the Red Meat Network will this year involve around 200 students at eight hubs. They meet every two months to join in “interactive discussions with high calibre industry speakers” — such as stock managers, international trade envoys, fertiliser company sales and technical staff. There are now about 100 TeenAg Clubs in secondary schools, fostering a love of outdoor-based activities. Under a Leadership Pathway Programme, coaches develop leaders within TeenAg clubs using modules such as planning an event, communicating for success and leading others. Those with a competitive bent can take part in regional and national competitions, and perhaps even aspire to the highprofile FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition when they’re a bit older. Ms Winchester says schools enrolled with the AgriKids programme, for pupils up to Year 8, can use the Young Farmers’ Boots and All resources and activity suggestions. They also have their own competitions, with fun challenges such as hanging a gate, and educational elements such as identifying animals, seeds and plants, first aid and a quiz. The latest addition is a schools programme funded by RMMP and nine other industry partners. It’s designed to engage primary and secondary pupils in farming, and is now accredited so that older students can study modules and gain NCEA credits. The resources were trailed in 10 primary and 16 secondary schools last year and now, with NZQA accreditation, Ms Winchester says the target is to get the programmes into 75 secondary schools and 100 primary schools by the end of 2017

The earlier we can open youngsters’ eyes to the diverse careers in primary production, the better.

and from there springboard into as many schools as possible over the next two or three years. While there are other agriculture learning modules being taught in schools, what makes the RMMP/Young Farmers scheme unique is that it targets English, Maths and Science pupils. “Not students studying agriculture necessarily, but the learning is done within a sheep and beef context.” So, for example, there is an agricultural resource for creative writing for NCEA Level One English, and one on genetics for the NCEA Level Two maths statistics programme. Instead of the data being used having no real New Zealand flavour, the agriculture component is very ‘Kiwi’. “The next lot of resources being developed are in digital technology and business studies,” Ms Winchester says. “So you can see we’re trying to reach as broad a range of students as we can, across a range of subjects and backgrounds — urban and provincial.” The Boots and All programme for Years 7 and 8, looks at stereotypes and aims to debunk the myths and broaden understanding around the many skills modern farmers need. For the 10 primary schools in

last year’s pilot, it ended up with the kids visiting a farm — quite an eye-opener for some of the city pupils. That sort of opportunity has already been open for the last seven or eight years to about 1000 children around New Zealand. Get Ahead Experience Days involve Young Farmers, Beef + Lamb, Dairy NZ, HortNZ, Ballance and half a dozen other partners hosting 15-minute interactive modules that tell the ‘pasture to plate’ story while showcasing potential careers, and the science, innovation, technology, and business aspects of primary industries. “What we’re trying to do is show students that whatever they want to do, they can do it in agriculture. If they want to be an engineer, a food technologist, a marketer, they can do it in one of the primary industries,” Ms Winchester says. Would-be engineers might think of hydro dams, buildings and roading projects. Yet Fonterra employ a large number of engineers. “It’s easy to convince the kids off farms that there’s great work in agriculture and the allied sectors but what about all those other kids who don’t know about the opportunities with MPI, with Horticulture NZ or on farms. “That’s part of our task.”

April 2017

National Farming Review


It’s damn lies and alternative facts The use of the words ‘opinion, damn lies and alternative facts’, generally combined with some fancy report from an organisation that has just jumped on the bandwagon, is wearing thin. It used to be ‘lies, damn lies, and statistics’, now we’re fed irrelevant theories partially linked by academic economists engaged by organisations hardly anyone has heard of. The latest few are around resource exploitation and climate change from two largely irrelevant organisations, the OECD and Globe NZ. I won’t even give the OECD report the time of day, as this is an organisation that has overseen the biggest financial crisis since the great depression and is totally happy with both Europe and the US continuing to print money as a way of getting out of jail. Another irrelevant, hot-air producing organisation. As for Globe NZ, who are these people? I went to Google as the source of all truth and no results. I ended up searching the Pommy economists they hired, with our money, and found out the group involves 35 New Zealand MPs. Trying to find which ones was even harder as I wanted to see if my local MP was part of it. The report they wrote and the recommendations they put was just a dart-chucking exercise wrapped up as the definitive truth. The media releases didn’t have these MPs jockeying for position front of camera so we might see who they are. Imagine trying to sort that group out for the photo op. It would be worse than The Bachelor contestants scrapping for a single date. What do they want? They want the end of the cow. Make no bones about it: the call is for culling cow numbers by 50 per cent by 2050. They don’t want the end of the car, or population growth or jets polluting the atmosphere with CO2, which if you think about it is like throwing fert straight into


OFFAL PIT These ill-informed pot shots masquerading as scientific analysis are dumbed down even further to be quoted as the absolute truth on the TV news. a waterway. These ill-informed pot shots masquerading as scientific analysis are dumbed down even further to be quoted as the absolute truth on the TV news. Add in a few local experts and a couple more economists and suddenly these reports are taken as gospel, and are continually requoted by non-independent academics as the way forward. So team we have missed the boat here. We don’t need good news stories, we need a couple of dodgy economists, a few alternative facts and a sensational media release and we’ll be fine. And if you find out that your local MP is part of Globe NZ give them an uppercut for being disloyal.

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Farmers must ask questions about fertiliser By Anders Crofoot Too many farmers and growers are still not asking their fertiliser suppliers if the products they are buying have been independently audited and approved by the Fertmark scheme. This means that fertiliser users who don’t use reputable suppliers are leaving themselves wide open to being sold

products that have not been verified as containing what they say they contain. Launched nearly 25 years ago (after the government withdrew from fertiliser auditing), the Fertmark scheme provides quality assurance that what’s on the product is what’s in the product. It was set up by farmers for farmers who were concerned that, left unchecked, the fertiliser industry would pose serious

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threat to farming practice, production, pasture care, animal welfare and the environment. To ensure that no fertiliser user is applying a product that isn’t true to label, the FQC is urging all farmers to look for the Fertmark logo when buying. Or, if ordering bulk over the phone, to ask if a Fertmark tick is in place. Farmers are also encouraged to look out for the Spreadmark logo when choosing a spreading company. Spreadmark is a fertiliser placement quality assurance programme. It has as its objective the placement of fertilisers in locations where they can be of the most agricultural benefit and the least environmental harm. The proper placement of fertiliser is of considerable agronomic benefit to farmers and growers. Importantly, Spreadmark accredited companies have undergone driver training, spreader

vehicle testing and a company audit to ensure that the farmer’s needs are being best met. Farmers who use a Fertmark registered fertiliser product together with a Spreadmark accredited company can be assured of the best agricultural, environmental and economic returns. ■ Anders Crofoot is Chairman, Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC)

Innovations clean up water for many uses FORSI Innovations based in Matamata is a progressive company at the forefront of innovation for the dairy, industrial and municipal industries. It has innovations such as the Aquafier IM advanced fully automated water filtration system specifically designed for use on dairy farms, water purification and installation of potable water plants, screening solutions for dairy shed and municipal waste. The Aquafier IM water filtration systems are designed to filter out all contaminants to bring the water back to a high standard. “We are market leaders in the innovation of farm water filtration. Not many filtration companies can offer the technology, quality and expertise we can,” says Operations and Marketing manager Craig Hawes. It has been shown in studies that if dairy cows drink quality water their milk production will increase. Dairy cows are extremely sensitive to the taste of iron and/or manganese in the water supply, more so than humans. Increased water

quantity and quality equates to increased profit on the farm. In 2015 FORSI launched The Forsi Effluent Recycling System, taking dairy shed waste water and filtering it to a clean, clear state ready to reuse how and when the farmers wants. This technology is creating a lot of interest both here in New Zealand and overseas. The latest addition to the FORSI’s products is an automated filtration unit for recycling 100 per cent of carwash water. With this latest technology 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 spotfree 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 and you want to save on discharge and compliance regulation costs, then you need to talk to FORSI Innovations about how they can help.

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Gypsum can reduce agricultural emissions 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.

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

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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 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 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.

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. It 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 (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 in assisting the leaching of sodium, benefiting soil structure particularly where there is dispersive clay.

The benefits of gypsum in soil treatment are well known, but its value goes well beyond this: •

Helps mitigate the flow of nitrates and phosphorus in New Zealand waterways

Can be used to address the issue of sodium from applied effluent

Reduces surface run-off and drainage loss, reduces preferential flow of water run-off in soil

Can be applied by a number of different means to target risk zones

Assists with addressing high soil potassium levels

for more about Natural Gypsum and soil stabilisation visit Rates vary per farm and soil type. Applications can last for up to three years and can be used as a base layer in standoff (loafing) pads.


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April 2017

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April 2017

National Farming Review




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Plea not to overlook Work & Income client potential By: SIMON EDWARDS


OW WAS IT that an intimidating-looking ex-gang member disqualified from driving ended up being a Bay of Plenty dairy farmer’s best worker? Ski Wisnesky launched into his presentation to the Federated Farmers Dairy and Sharemilkers’ Council meeting in February with the story of one farmer willing to give a guy from the dole queue a try. With a full-faced tattoo, a pile of fines to pay off but some farming experience, the man put only one stipulation to Work and Income about a work placement: “I’ll take any job so long as I can have my two dogs with me.” Ski said the farmer saw potential. “He said ‘my cows don’t worry about tattoos, and he doesn’t need a licence to drive my tractor’.” A year later, he’s still on the farm as a highly valued staff member. “In a lot of cases, it’s about the right attitude. He just wanted to find work, and there are a lot of people around like that.” Ski is general manager employer services with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). An ex-Navy electrical engineer who also breeds Herefords on his 300-acre lifestyle block, Ski oversees a nationwide team that looks to match out-of-work Kiwis with employers who need to plug a workforce gap. Their strike rate in the dairy sector isn’t flash. Last year Work and Income listed 1502 dairy positions available and referred to those employers 922 clients — admittedly by no

means all of them with farm experience. Just 75 got a job. Nearly 500 of the dairy roles listed were employers who were really only fulfilling Immigration NZ requirements to first show they had tried to fill the vacancy with a New Zealander. Ski’s message to dairy farmers was to try to be more open to taking on someone from Work and Income. “It can cost $8000 to bring someone from overseas, but a lot less to bring someone from as far as Kaitaia or Bluff.” MSD work brokers can help smooth the path to get a hired client on-farm. That includes the cost of the client hiring a furniture trailer or removal van, a ferry crossing ticket, “even petrol for a car if it assists them to get that job”, Ski says. Yes, there can be problems. As provincial representatives from Southland and the West Coast told Ski at the council meeting in Wellington, they’d taken on Work and Income clients who turned out to have problems with drinking and violence, or just didn’t show up.


Ski Wisnesky of the Ministry of Social Development addresses the Federated Farmers Dairy and Sharemilkers’ Council.

I’d love your industry to tell me, ‘Ski, this is the kind of training we need’ . . . maybe it’s more technical stuff, maybe it’s on animal husbandry. “But don’t tar all the thousands of clients we try to help find work with the same brush,” was Ski’s plea. MSD has around $12 million a year to invest in programmes to upskill Work and Income clients for industries with vacancies, from construction through to

hospitality. At this moment the ministry has clients on farming training programmes run by Ngai Tahu and in Opotiki and the Waikato. “I’m happy to commit and spend money but the ideal is if agriculture walks alongside us on this,” Ski told National

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Farming Review after the council meeting. “I’d love your industry to tell me, ‘Ski, this is the kind of training we need’ . . . maybe it’s more technical stuff, maybe it’s on animal husbandry.” It works best if there is a group of eight or more employers in a district who have a defined need — say for assistant herd managers. The farmers or MSD could come up with someone to do the training, the farmers might provide the curriculum, “and I’d come up with some dollars as well”. A pastoral care package can be put in place, to the extent there is someone to liaise with the new workers to help deal with any problems that crop up that might threaten their continued employment, even ringing each morning for the

While dairy farmer delegates agreed there was work to do to get more Kiwi staff up to speed for farm roles, it was also acknowledged at the Dairy and Sharemilkers’ Council that frustrations around migrant worker bureaucracy need addressing. Graeme McKenzie from Southland said experienced migrant dairy workers were being lost to Australia and Canada because of the time it takes over paperwork and approvals when there is a change in the worker’s role. Steve Crawford from Otago echoed this sentiment, saying it’s costly for the employer and employee when the work visa is limited to 12 months, “and we’re going down the same path in a year’s time”. Steve McGill, Immigration NZ general manager of settlement, said immigration was a touchy topic for politicians, especially in an election year. A case needed to be built that in certain dairy occupations in certain districts, an operational exemption was warranted because the skills shortage was such that it was only going to be filled in the shortmedium term by migrant workers.

first week or two to ensure they’re up and ready to work. “We need to work on it. Even if we just doubled the number of client placements in dairy this year to 150 — that would be great,” Ski said.

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National Farming Review

April 2017

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Taratahi’s message to students: ‘Do the right thing’

By: ARTHUR GRAVES, Taratahi Agriculture Training Centre chief executive


ED TAPE IS SOMETHING businesses see as a cost, a burden and often plain dumb. While over-regulation is not healthy for society or business, Taratahi’s underpinning message to our students is that compliance is about “Doing the right thing”. We want them to learn that good, well-informed management covers off compliance and it doesn’t become seen as an extra burden. Taratahi is signing up to the Welfarm system which centres around an on-line dashboard that allows farmers to input a host of on farm data, and benchmark it with data from other farms from around the country. Under Welfarm, animal welfare is measured by body condition scores — tail scoring, lameness, antibiotic, antiinflammatory and painkiller use as well as in-calf rates, cow mortality, heifers reared and cows culled. Taratahi believes the high tech dashboard is not only a great way to measure welfare of our animals but it ends up being a very good tool to understand what issues can impact on production, cost and most importantly profit. We are also looking to trial it on our sheep and beef farms. It is a no-brainer that a healthy contented animal is going to provide better returns. It is good management in its essence. That is the beauty of the Welfarm system — it provides data about animal welfare, which in turn helps us improve farm profitability.

Building this important, leading edge software package into the learning our students engage with will let them see the benefits of good animal husbandry. Every day in the media there is a discussion or story on water use. It has become one of the big issues New Zealand is grappling with. Again, the importance of good data to be able to make wellinformed decisions is essential for good management and to avoid compliance being an added extra. Taratahi is of course required to comply with a range of environmental standards like everyone else. While setting yourself up for databased management takes a big effort up

Students quickly begin to understand that a farm is part of one wide ecosystem front it is worth it in the results. We view our environmental compliance the same way as our animal welfare compliance. It provides us with a benchmark for good environmental performance on the one hand with the compliance being part of business as usual. In turn it is increasingly part of the story we can give to our markets. Even more importantly, it allows us to educate our students about good environmental management being good for the


A cornerstone of training at the Taratahi Agriculture Training Centre is not to cut corners when it comes to safety, welfare or compliance.

business. Along with this, we teach them the concepts of care and stewardship of the land that we need to apply to our physical environment. Students quickly begin to understand that a farm is part of one wide ecosystem and a big benefit from looking after the


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land is profitability. Taratahi, like all other businesses, must comply with the new Health and Safety Act. We have worked hard to make these changes and make them a business as usual part of the work of farming. Again, we see

having good data at the centre of what we do. We have invested in a software package that allows staff and students to log observations, near misses and accidents with ease. This is not an imposition — good health and safety is good business practice. Accidents cost money, damage people’s lives and undermine performance. In other words, they do not help farms to be profitable. Our students will learn by using the Farm IQ system on the farm. A simple compliance tool that can be accessed on a smart phone provides students with an easy way to log risks and hazards and importantly — good practice on the farm. Health and Safety becomes part of their DNA and is viewed positively and as a routine behaviour. Our students, through our programmes, are being exposed to not only the obligations of compliance but also the benefits that can be gained from harvesting data. As we weave the reasons and benefits of health and safety, environmental monitoring and animal welfare into our programmes at Taratahi students soon understand and embrace the philosophy that compliance is about “doing the right thing”. They get to understand the good compliance is part of good management and making the farm more profitable. Our aim is for them to take that attitude with them when they graduate, helping a positive shift in how compliance is viewed.

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April 2017

National Farming Review




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Are you a dairy farmer? DIRA is open, yet again By: ANN THOMPSON, Dairy Policy Advisor

the DIRA gives and decide which provide more hindrance than protection. Is there some other way of keeping the good bits of the DIRA without setting it in law? A good example of protection would be differentials, as discussed above. If DIRA goes, then the differentials could be used more widely. Federated Farmers believes the time to discuss that is now, not once the law has gone.


HE BILL AMENDING the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment (the DIRA) is ready to go before the House for its first reading. This Bill is required to prevent a number of pro-competitive measures contained in the DIRA expiring in May 2018 due to Fonterra’s market share falling below 80 per cent in the South Island in 2015. While there is still a lot of water to go under the bridge before the proposed amendments become law, it’s important for farmers to understand how they will be affected by the proposals.


New conversions The Bill is proposing to allow Fonterra to have discretion to say no to a prospective supplier if the milk is to come from a new dairy conversion. A new conversion is described in the Bill as being a new milk collection point where more than 50 per cent of that land hasn’t been used for milk production in the past. However, anyone who converts land use to dairying after the law has been changed and supplies an independent processor and then wants to switch to Fonterra would not be considered as a new conversion under these changes. Even if you are a current Fonterra supplier, think about how this will affect your plans. Do you agree?

OPEN ENTRY PROVISIONS With the DIRA before Parliament again, we are aware that some in the industry want further

changes to be made and want Fonterra to be given the option to refuse to accept milk from any new supplier. This will essentially wipe the ‘open entry’ clause in the Act. As all dairy farmers know, Fonterra is currently required to accept all milk offered, with limited exceptions to do with minimum volume and transport costs (refer below). So, how do you define a ‘new’ supplier? The Act defines a new supplier as a business entity that was not a shareholding supplier of Fonterra in the previous season. This includes farms that have been supplying another processor, or a new owner of a farm currently supplying Fonterra. The new supplier definition also applies to family succession. The important thing to remember is that the ‘new’ supply refers to the farmer not just the farm.

Federated Farmers is concerned that the full definition of ‘new’ supply is not widely understood. The big question is whether there is a view among farmers that Fonterra should be given the option to refuse supply from all new suppliers as defined in the Act, or just some of them, or just new conversions, or should the rule remain as it stands. We are eager to hear your feedback. There are some further clauses in the DIRA which should interest dairy farmers.

TRANSPORT EXCEPTION Currently the DIRA states that Fonterra may reject a dairy farmer’s request to join the co-op ‘if the cost of transporting the milk of the new entrant exceeds the highest cost of transporting another shareholding farmer’s

milk’. If Fonterra does chose to accept them, they are entitled to charge a ‘differential’ to cover the increased costs associated with transporting milk the extra distance.

ONE-THIRD CONTRACTING RULE This rule requires that a third of the contracts within a 160km area have to expire annually. This is designed to stop Fonterra from ‘locking up’ an area through longterm supply contracts, preventing shareholders from switching to another processor.

POST DIRA We encourage all dairy farmers to think about a post DIRA era, as the next review, due in 2020, could lead to it falling away completely. Farmers need to fully understand all the ‘protections’

Federated Farmers wants all Fonterra suppliers to discuss these issues now with their Fonterra Shareholders’ Councillor, Fonterra Board members and also with those who farmed before 2001 when Fonterra was formed. These experienced farmers will have some idea of what the free market looks like, because they lived it before. Except, for some, there was competition down the next valley and so they could more easily switch supply.

OTHER THINGS IN THE BILL The Bill also deals with the New Zealand Dairy Core Database, reflecting the changes in responsibility for the management of this important tool. ■ The Bill can be found on the Parliamentary website government/2017/0242/latest/ DLM7120814.html). Supporting material can be found on the Ministry for Primary Industries website: primary-production/dairyindustry-restructuring-act/. Federated Farmers will be making a submission on this Bill.



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The National Farming Review April 2017  
The National Farming Review April 2017