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Dairy Focus MAY 2018

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Dairy Focus

EDITORIAL COMMENT

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A decision on whether MPI will continue with its programme of trying to eradicate mycoplasma bovis is only days away and most farmers I’ve spoken to recently seem to think officials are now wasting time and money with that approach. The prevailing opinion seems to be the horse has bolted, every other country in the world lives with the disease, so maybe we should learn to as well. Although in an ideal world getting rid of the disease from New Zealand would have been the best option, I think the time has come for us to accept that it is here to stay, at least for now, so we might as well learn to live with it. In this month’s issue of Dairy Focus I talk to an Australian dairy farmer and her vet who managed their way through an outbreak on a Tasmanian farm in 2010. In a nutshell their message is if you’re unfortunate enough to experience an outbreak of M. bovis on your farm, you can get through it. Sure there’s a lot of time and effort involved but it is possible. Also in this month’s issue I speak with Cheyenne Wilson, a finalist in the 2018 Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award.

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You don’t often see young Maori women wanting to take on leadership roles in the dairy industry but I’m quite confident Wilson – and hopefully others like her – will change that in the future. The industry will be in good hands in coming years as long as people like Wilson are involved. Gypsy Day is only just around the corner and this year it will be a very different occasion, thanks to M. bovis. Many herds that used to walk will instead travel by truck, while those farmers who provide winter grazing for more than one herd on the same property will have to think carefully about how they are going to manage that to keep the herds apart. Changing farms will require extra precautions this moving day. Make sure you take them. See the story on page 29 if you need to find out more.

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M. bovis: an Australian experience As debate over whether it’s still practical to try and eradicate mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand, eyes are increasingly turning to how the disease is managed overseas. An Australian farmer and her vet have been through an outbreak and come out the other side.

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It was 2010 when Philippa and James Langley discovered they had M. bovis on their Tasmanian dairy farm. They had been away on holiday and when they came back they noticed one of their cows lying on the ground with heavily swollen hooves. After treating the animal for pain relief and giving it an antibiotic they saw that its udder had blown up to much larger than its usual size. They noticed that a few other cows were suffering from the same symptoms and their initial thoughts were that there was mastitis in the herd. Initially the Langleys thought they hadn’t dried the cows off properly but they soon realised it was something more than that. “We soon realised that there was something very wrong,” Philippa said. “Some of the cows couldn’t get out of the paddock.” It was about 10 days later when they had an inkling that it was actually M. bovis. The disease had arrived from Victoria, shipped across Bass Strait by an unsuspecting

Colin Williscroft

RURAL REPORTER

neighbour who was building up his herd. “There was a chap along the road who had moved into beef from dairying but then a few years later decided to go back into dairying,” she said. “He brought a herd down from Shepparton. “One of his cows jumped the fence and ended up in our herd. She looked healthy and we milked it for a few days.” And that was the beginning of the Langleys’ problems. They were calving when M. bovis really started to take off in their then 800-cow herd. Realising that whatever was affecting their cows, it was not like normal mastitis, sothey took samples and sent them off for testing in Launceston. continued over page


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from page 3 Some of their cows had no sign of mastitis but their tests came back positive. They were the “shedders” and they will pass the disease on. After talking to their vet, Sue van Es, the Langleys decided that they would fight the disease. It was the start of a lot of hard work that, in the end paid off. “We sat down with our vet and put a programme in place. We decided that we were going to fight it, we were going to get through. “It was horrible to go through but we got there,” she said. They were testing clear within about a year, and they’ve never seen a sign of it on their farm since. “We worked extremely hard, but it was worth it,” Philippa said. Every cow that tested positive was sent away to the works and they lost about 60. Prior to the outbreak the Langleys thought they ran a pretty clean operation but that was stepped up. “We got very strict about hygiene and about educating our staff of the importance of cleanliness in the dairy (shed).

“We became super, super hygienic.” They also learnt as much as they could about the disease. “It actually taught us a hell of a lot.” They contacted a professor in Wisconsin who was around when there was a major outbreak of M. bovis there in the 1960s, and spoke to her at length about what they should be doing to manage their way

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through their own outbreak. “We learnt that if it’s managed properly and you’ve got a good vet and a good team on your farm you can beat M. bovis. However, it wasn’t cheap, and the Langleys had to wear the expense of constant testing themselves, rather than the tab being picked up by the government. Philippa, who was recently

on holiday in New Zealand, is unimpressed about the response to the outbreak in New Zealand. “It’s just unreal what’s happening (in New Zealand). “You don’t have to get rid of all the cows in a herd just because you’ve had some positive tests.” She said although it would probably be easier to stay quiet, there’s too much at

stake for New Zealand farmers for her to do that. “I just feel sorry for farmers who are being hit so hard. It’s their life and business. I want to tell them that there is hope. “Farmers need to band together and stand up to the Ministry for Primary Industries and say ‘no’. You’ve got to stop this nonsense. “I’m sure MPI are being very diligent but I don’t think it’s been handled well.” Back in Tasmania, van Es, the Langley’s vet, backed Philippa’s stance that it was entirely possible for farmers to manage their way through an M. bovis outbreak on their farm. She remembers the hard work the couple put in well. “They got mastitis manifesting during the dry period and the big concern was it was coming back during calving. “Every cow that calved was screened and anything that was positive, well away she went.” One of the issues they were particularly mindful of was the spread of the disease to calves from milk, so when cows calved they were milked into buckets. They didn’t pool the colostrum. Instead that milk only went

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to a couple of calves, rather than a whole day’s worth of calving, which reduced the risk of the number of calves being fed infected milk. Every calf was also prophylactically treated with an antibiotic. Wearing gloves during milking was essential and they were changed at the end of every row. They were changed for every cow with mastitis. “They also kept every cow with mastitis separate from the rest of the herd.” Van Es said testing of the cows was constant, something that while time consuming would be easier today due to advances in technology. These days, PCR test results are available in a couple of days, but when she was helping the Langleys with their battle, that technology wasn’t available back then, test results took up to 10 days to come back from the lab. “If we’d had that (PCR test) then, results would have been so much more immediate, which would have made things easier. “Once we got through it, there were no issues,”

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DECISION DUE SOON A decision on the Ministry for Primary Industries future approach to M. bovis – whether to continue trying to eradicate it or instead concentrate on helping farmers manage the disease – is due by the end of the month. At the time Dairy Focus went to press there were 39 farms confirmed as infected across the country, the latest of which is in Waikato, while the number of farms under a restricted place notice was 66.

van Es said. “It shows it is possible to manage your way through it. “You can get on top of it, it’s just a lot of hard work. “If you’ve got it, you’ve got to take it very seriously,” she said. “You’ve got to get all those (infected) cows to the works. And you can get those sub-clinical carriers. “But it can be beaten.

Everyone just has to be prepared to put the hard yards in. “I would say though, that if I had to pick my clients for something like that, it would be them (the Langleys). “They were ready to throw everything they had at it and they lasted.” One critical thing you don’t want, van Es said,

was people being scared to report any concerns that they might have M. bovis. “You’ve got to be extremely careful that you don’t stop people reporting (potential) cases. That’s when everything will get out of control. “If you’ve got people afraid to report, that’s when you really do have a problem.”

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor recently admitted that the scope of the infection is much wider than the original modelling suggested, adding that the situation was worse than expected. Given farms under a restricted place notice are strongly suspected of having the disease the current number of infected farms could easily double.

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Award finalist passionate about indu There’s not a lot of young Maori women occupying leadership roles in the dairy industry but Hinds Young Farmers chair Cheyenne Wilson is hoping to do her bit to change that. Wilson, an assistant manager for Nathan and Erin Christian on Lochan Mor farm near Ashburton Forks, is one of three finalists in the 2018 Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award for dairy. The 25-year-old has spent all her life on farms but has only been dairying for the past five years, before that working in shearing sheds and as a cook. She freely admits dairying wasn’t something she set out to do, falling into it by chance, but since her first taste she knew it felt right for her. “I was juggling about four jobs in Southland when a local farmer there asked me if I could help his wife with some calf rearing,” she said. Wilson took to it so quickly that it wasn’t long before she was offered a full-time job. “I’ve always enjoyed working in the outdoors

Colin Williscroft

RURAL REPORTER

and with animals,” she said. “But it’s the people that are the most important part of a farming business - and (in dairying) they’re the best.” The clear pathway within the industry also appealed. After three years on the Southland farm Wilson took the plunge and moved to Canterbury, something that on the surface was quite daunting as she didn’t know anyone in the area. “I was completely out of my comfort zone.” However, on her second night in the province Wilson headed along to a meeting of the local Young Farmers Club and immediately felt welcomed. “Getting involved (with the club) was a quick way for me

to meet people and develop friendships,” she said. Before she knew it Wilson was voted in as secretary of the club, which she has gone on to chair since July last year, while she also serves on the Aorangi Young Farmers regional executive. Wilson is a firm believer in putting something back into the industry and these days she is also a regional leader for the Dairy Women’s Network in Mid Canterbury, a role she finds very rewarding. Last year’s runner-up in the Canterbury/North Otago section of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards for trainee of the year, Wilson finds entering awards is a good way of increasing her knowledge, while at the same time as enhancing her career prospects. She said the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer competition a good way of strengthening her skills and building on her leadership ambitions. “I’d definitely like to see more young women in leadership roles (in the dairy

industry). I want to encourage more young Maori women to get into farming.” It’s her second attempt at the Ahuwhenua award. “I entered two years ago but I’d only been in the industry for three years so I was pretty fresh. I’d only worked for one farmer so I only really knew

one way of farming.” The process of entering is pretty easy, she said. “You’ve just got to fill in a form online and have the backing of your employer, who has to write a reference. “The four judges don’t grill you at all. You tell them what you want to achieve and how

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ANOTHER FINALIST ALSO FROM CANTERBURY One of the other Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award finalists is also from Canterbury. Mathew Pooley, 25, manages one of Ngai Tahu’s dairy farms, Maungatere, near Oxford.

Cheyenne Wilson says the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer competition a good way of strengthening her skills and building on her leadership ambitions. PHOTO SUPPLIED

you plan to do that.” Wilson gave the judges a Powerpoint presentation, which included details about the farm she worked on and what her role was. She thinks her attitude was a key reason for being named a finalist. “I’m pretty passionate about what I do and how I do it.” Her Maori values show through, Wilson said, despite the fact that being born in Southland but with her marae being in the Bay of Plenty, she feels urbanised and hasn’t had the opportunities to engage in te ao Maori and tikanga Maori to the extent that she would like to - something she plans to change. One of those values concerns the stewardship of the land, and making sure farming practices will look after resources for future generations, while another involves a more social aspect - making sure everyone feels welcome. As well as her work and focus on upskilling through awards, Wilson is currently completing a level 5 production management course through Primary ITO. “Any training you can do has got to be good. The biggest thing for me is that it provides the theory behind the practical things you do on-farm.” Being named a finalist had advantages all round, she said, including acknowledging all the people who have supported and mentored her in her career so far. “And the networking opportunities are huge. It’s an opportunity to showcase what you’re doing and can do in the industry in the future.” The winner of the 2018 Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award will be announced at a function in Christchurch on May 25 - but no matter how she does, there’s already a new challenge on the horizon for Wilson. Next month she’s moving to Culverden to manage a 600 cow farm for Emlyn Francis.

He began his career in the dairy industry by working on the Kerr brothers’ farm near Lincoln, before spending two years working on a long line fishing boat based out of the Cook Islands. Pooley then returned to the Kerrs, before moving

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to a dairy farm near Burnham. Following that he took up a position with Ngai Tahu Farms. His current role involves managing three staff, along with two extras during calving, on a 900 cow farm.


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Preparing for calving An initiative aimed at getting women fit for the calving season is stepping up a gear this year. Fit for Calving is a sixweek programme of exercises aimed at preparing women’s bodies for the physical demands of calving season. It was started last year by Canterbury dairy farm contractor Nicole Jackson and Methven dairy farmer Alice Liljeback as a result of conversations Jackson had onfarm with calf rearers. Jackson said the target audience was people with lower levels of fitness and the goal was accident and injury prevention. “It’s not about body transformation or weight loss, and you’re not going to run a marathon, it’s about helping to get joints limbered up, getting bodies thinking about physical work.” Although last year there was just the two women involved, this year they have enlisted the aid of four personal trainers from around the country, all of whom have a close association with the rural

Colin Williscroft

RURAL REPORTER

scene. Julia Johns and Carey Buchanan from Southland, and Colleen Vickers and Jess Rule from the Central North Island have joined the Fit for Calving team to share their expertise to help women get in shape for the calving season. Jackson said that meant the sessions, which are accessed online, which will be longer than the five or 10 minute ones that were offered last year. “This year we will have 20-minute body conditioning sessions that will include a warm-up, three sets of exercises and a stretch at the end.” Participants won’t need any special gear to take part. Instead, they can use things found around the home,

Jackson said, such as the back of a chair to balance, or tins of food or full water bottles for weights. The main problem they faced last year involved the online nature of the programme. “Definitely our biggest hurdle was the internet,” she said, with uploading and downloading videos in some rural areas quite a challenge. “Facebook was not really the best place to be putting up some of the longer-length videos,” she said. She hopes that problem will be solved by putting the videos on YouTube. Although

Helping run the Fit for Calving programme this year are (from left) Alice Liljeback, Carey Buchanan and Julia Johns, Colleen Vickers (pictured with Bella), Jess Rule and Nicole Jackson. 

the first point of contact for women wanting to take part will still be the group’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ FitForCalving, there will be a link there to their YouTube videos. Farm Strong, an initiative designed to give farmers the skills and resources to live well, farm well and get the most out of life, has also come

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on board. It has a video library of six exercises that will be used as part of the Fit for Calving programme. The Fit for Calving programme starts on June 4 and videos will be posted Monday to Friday for six weeks. Go to the Fit for Calving Facebook page for more information.

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Workshops focus on climate change DairyNZ has announced a three-week climate change roadshow with eight workshops for dairy farmers in regional centres around New Zealand. Three of the workshops are in the South Island: in the Dunsandel Community Hall on June 11; at the Temuka Alpine Energy Stadium lounge on June 12; and at the Winton Salvation Army Centre on June 13. All three South Island workshops run from 10.30am to 2.30pm. “Tackling climate change presents an opportunity for New Zealand to become global leaders in climate conscious agribusiness. We want our farmers and our broader industry to be world leading in climate change mitigation and adaptation,” DairyNZ’s senior climate change adviser Milena Scott said. The workshops are a commitment under the Dairy Action for Climate Change, an 18-month long plan to build awareness among the dairy sector of the science behind climate change. This includes the reasons we need to take

DairyNZ’s climate change roadshow aims to provide farmers with a better understanding of climate change in order to recognise why they need to address their emissions on-farm.

action to address our sector’s greenhouse gas emissions and the current mitigations options available to farmers. “The first step is education. Farmers need to have a good understanding of climate change in order to recognise why they need to address their emissions alongside other New Zealand businesses and

households,” Scott said. “We want farmers to come out of these workshops understanding how their farm contributes to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas profile, and how specific environmental initiatives can improve their farm’s broader environmental footprint. “Farmers need to feel

comfortable that adopting new environmental initiatives will help lead to farm businesses that are both profitable and sustainable. “Agricultural emissions are a challenge that the global food sector is dealing with, and we have an opportunity to show the world that it is possible to produce milk in a sustainable way and do our part to transition New Zealand to a low emissions and climate resilient nation.” The workshops will also include guest speakers from the Ministry for the Environment, who will discuss the proposed Zero Carbon Bill. The consultation period for the legislation opens on May 31 and it’s hoped that early engagement by farmers will ensure the best outcome for the dairy sector within the final legislation. The workshops are being held with support from AgResearch and the Ministry for the Environment.

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To find out about DairyNZ’s climate change ambassadors, see story on page 16

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Industry needs traceability The clearest indication for me that the government is about to change tack on its response to mycoplasma bovis came not from the horrifying map projecting the forward trace of the disease, but from Damien O’Connor’s scathing indictment of farmers in the media and how well his comments played with the public. The disease and attempts to eradicate it were, he admitted, a disaster. On top of the 38 infected farms there are about 70 more that are likely to be affected, 300-odd that are under investigation and another 1700 that are of interest. About 70 per cent of farmers were not tracing cattle properly through Nait, he said, and a black market trade in livestock was also hampering efforts to trace animal movements. The reaction on social media was immediate: the bloody farmers had brought this upon themselves and why should the taxpayer be in the gun for $1b to help bail them out? This gives the government a position from which they can impose a higher share of the costs than agreed to previously

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and the ability to back away from an eradication programme. The fact of course is 100 per cent Nait compliance wouldn’t have halted the spread of the disease, but it would have given us a clearer picture much sooner. MPI now believe M. bovis has been in the country since 2015 and perhaps even earlier, and the bulk of the farms being inspected received animals well before the disease was even known to be in New Zealand. A bull calf born in 2015 may well have gone to a calf rearer disease-free, but if that rearer had bought milk from an infected herd then all bets are off. That newly infected calf could well have been used to mate heifers in 2016 and then again to tail off a different dairy

herd in 2017 before heading off to the works undiagnosed, leaving a trail of infected animals in its wake. We need to develop a quick and effective test for M. bovis and I predict we’ll then move to a system much like we use to control Tb: test, contain and control. Michelle Edge, chief executive of Nait, recently defended the Nait as being “philosophically well designed”. By this she meant the system has got four things right; you need to tag animals, register animals, register properties and register movements. Where it falls down though is when people actually have to interact with it: a recent survey by a rural publication found more than 80 per cent of farmers hate Nait with the burning intensity of a thousand suns. The M. bovis genie is well and truly out of the bottle and I can only hope we, as an industry, have learned our lesson about the importance of traceability. The system we have may be a clunker, but we’ve got to make the effort to ensure it works as best it can.

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12

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Clarity on farm water use needed The Office of the Auditor General recently released a report into how water meters were being used to monitor water use for irrigation. The report focused on their implementation across the six regions which account for 90 per cent of irrigation consents. It showed that meters are now widely used to monitor water use, with 99 per cent of high-water use permit holders (>20 l/s) having water meters installed and most low-water use users (<20 l/s) also have meters operating. The pre-election period last year resulted in a number of debates about water use on farms, with some exaggerated claims made about how much water is being used by irrigators. The lack of transparent information meant commentators found it difficult to be accurate about water use, and there was a range of assumptions put forward of how much water an ‘average’ dairy farm would use as a result. Unfortunately some of the examples cited were well-off the mark.

m

Andrew Curtis

WATER WORKS

IrrigationNZ would like to see the data collected from water meters on farms made more accessible to the public and irrigators to provide clarity about what’s really going on. Farmers and growers using irrigation have been required to collect data from water meters since 2012, however six years on there is still no national dataset around water use! There has been a considerable amount of money and time invested in installing and monitoring water meters and associated software to comply with regulations. Farmers use this data to monitor and improve their water efficiency. With many regions requiring farm environment plans there

Modern irrigation systems like centre pivots are in widespread use in New Zealand.

is an increasing volume of information now available. We would like to see the government take the lead on establishing a consistent national data management framework and reporting system for monitoring water use. This would enable the public to have a clearer picture of how water is being used on farms. That way if we are going to have a debate about whether farms are using too much water, at least we can have an informed discussion. The Agricultural Production Census was also released recently and it shows New Zealand has some of

the most modern irrigation systems in the world. More than 90 per cent of New Zealand’s irrigated land area uses spray or drip irrigation, which is the most efficient form of irrigation. The census showed there had been a significant drop in the amount of surface irrigation used, which reduced by more than 50 per cent from 2012 to 2017. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, worldwide 86 per cent of irrigated land uses surface irrigation which is the least efficient form of irrigation and only 14 per cent

PHOTO SUPPLIED

of land uses spray or drip irrigation. More modern irrigation systems are also good for the environment as they help reduce nutrient losses into groundwater and waterways. As an organisation, we have now trained more than 3000 irrigators and irrigation service professionals. This demonstrates the real commitment irrigators have to becoming more efficient and to investing in upskilling their knowledge. Andrew Curtis is chief executive officer of IrrigationNZ

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14

Dairy Focus

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Shaky start, but a strong finish The 2018/19 dairy season is expected to “hit a six”, with a shaky start possible, but a strong finish anticipated, resulting in a third season with a “milk price starting with a six”, according to a new industry report. In its recently-released dairy seasonal update “A hit for six in 2018/19 – New Zealand dairy farmers face a triple treat”, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says New Zealand dairy farmers have enjoyed a period of profitability with milk prices above break even – and the upcoming season will see this run continue. Rabobank forecasts a farmgate milk price of NZD 6.40/kgMS for the 2018/19 season. Report author, dairy analyst Emma Higgins, said the 2018/19 season should be profitable for most New Zealand dairy farmers, despite greater uncertainty surrounding the operating environment than would usually be the case. One of the global risks looming in the near term is the peak period of milk production in the northern hemisphere. “The northern hemisphere flush will be an influential pressure point for commodity prices at the start of the 2018/19 season and we anticipate that supply will outstrip global demand in the coming months,” Higgins said. “However, as the second half of the 2018/19 season develops, Rabobank anticipates commodity prices will improve as production growth from key exporting regions decreases and a robust import programme by Chinese buyers supports commodity prices across this period.”

production growth. Higgins said other feeds will need to fill the gap, particularly in the shoulders of the season or if, similar to the 2017/18 season, adverse weather devastates pastures in some areas. “For the most part, farmers have prepared and adjusted their feed systems to meet the new requirements and will enter the new season in a position to cope with the changes. For those less prepared, it may take some time to switch feeds and adjust to the new requirements, resulting in higher feed costs,” she said.

After farmgate

Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins says the upcoming dairy season should be a profitable one PHOTO SUPPLIED for most farmers, despite greater uncertainty in the operating environment.

Positive margins expected, but pressure points linger Ample supply in key fertiliser markets continued to drive low global benchmark fertiliser prices, the report said, which favoured New Zealand farmers and supported strong farmer margins in the lead-up to spring. However, Higgins said, while farmers should budget for affordable fertiliser prices over the application period, there is risk of some inflationary retail pressure. “Rabobank anticipates rising ocean freight costs, combined with a weakening NZ dollar over the next 12 months

will result in some upward pressure on fertiliser prices,” she said. According to the report, another factor which may affect farmer margins in the 2018/19 season is upward pressure on interest rates. Although the official cash rate is expected to remain steady over the coming 12 months, the report said there is likely to be some upward pressure on commercial lending rates over the course of 2018 and farmers should plan accordingly.

Modest milk production growth Assuming normal weather conditions, the report forecast modest milk production

growth of around 2 per cent for the 2018/19 season. Higgins said while milk production is expected to reboot after consecutive years of flat growth, a combination of environmental regulation, changes in PKE use, political uncertainty and increasing social pressures on farming practices will take the edge off exceptional milk growth in the new season. “This forecast reflects the new era for New Zealand dairy, featuring greater utilisation of pasture and lower stocking rates.” The report said while local feed is plentiful heading into winter, Fonterra’s new limits on palm kernel extract (PKE) use by suppliers will be a factor behind modest

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A ‘big year’ is predicted for Fonterra, with the world’s largest dairy co-operative having some significant challenges ahead, including bedding down the new strategic partnership with a2 Milk Company and pressure to turn the Beingmate investment into a profitable partnership. The report noted that these challenges come at a time when dairy processors continue to compete for milk to retain and grow supply share, with new processing capacity coming on board ensuring stiff competition, particularly in parts of Waikato, and providing further options and opportunity for select farmers. “At the same time, Fonterra needs to maintain the strong momentum in Australia to capitalise on the industry reset and to continue as its bright spot offshore. And while the search is ongoing, a new leader will be appointed to the helm to steer the co-operative through this turbulence,” Higgins said.


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16

Dairy Focus

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Ambassadors leading by example Five South Island farmers are among the 15 people chosen as part of the dairy sector’s plan to create a culture of climate-conscious agribusiness amongst farmers and the broader dairy industry. DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said those chosen as climate change ambassadors, who include Devon Slee and Theona Blom from Canterbury, Dean Alexander and Kevin Hall from Southland, and Golden Bay’s Wayne Langford, represent best environmental farming practice for their farm system. “They run their farms profitably and sustainably and are serious about reducing on farm greenhouse gas emissions,” Mackle said. “Many farmers are already leading with environmental practices, but these fifteen people have taken it a step further. They have not only been ahead of the game, but have undertaken to share their knowledge and learning with others. “New Zealand has an opportunity under the Labour-led government to set the global standard for climate conscious agribusiness. Rather than focusing on cow numbers, we want to focus on how we can continue to improve the sustainability of New Zealand’s agricultural sector. The first step is ensuring everyone understands the opportunities that lie ahead. “The climate change ambassadors are an important part of helping dairy farmers and our farming communities understand how they can make environmental improvements on their farms - the kinds of improvements that increase economic sustainability and help future-proof their farming business.” Identified through

Dairy industry climate change ambassadors include (from left) Dean Alexander, Kevin Hall, Theona Blom, Devon Slee and Wayne PHOTOS SUPPLIED Langford.

DairyNZ’s Dairy Environment Leaders programme, the climate change ambassadors are already involved in a range of initiatives, including improving water quality, reviewing their farm system to reduce its environmental footprint, and working at a grass-roots level with their community to achieve better outcomes for the environment and farming. “From today they will work with the rural community to help other farmers understand the challenge of climate change and what options they have right now to reduce biological emissions on their farm,” Mackle said. “Emission reduction is a challenge facing the entire food sector worldwide, and New Zealand’s is well placed to take on opportunity to

showcase sustainable dairy to the world. “New Zealand is already one of the lowest emission producers of dairy in the world. But for New Zealand to achieve its 2030 target, we must look at ways to reduce all gases across all sectors. “This isn’t just about dairy – all sectors need to scrutinise the way they operate. Only together can we help New Zealand transition to a low carbon economy.” Blom, who farms between Hororata and Rakaia with her husband Johan, is excited to be a climate change ambassador. “I want to make a difference in the community and share with other dairy farmers that it is possible to balance the social, ecological and financial aspects of dairy farming,” she said. Slee, who farms near

Ashburton with her husband Mark said dairy farming can remain profitable when environmental initiatives are adopted to protect the environment. “We have made extensive investments into native planting, irrigation infrastructure and technologies that promote both water and nutrient use. “Efficient use of resources drives environmental sustainability on our farm and we keep up to date with environmental developments in the sector.” Alexander and his wife have made a number of on-farm improvements in the past 12 months designed to lower their Winton property’s environmental impact. “We made a conscious decision that we want to be ahead of the game,” Alexander said. “We’ve seen the farm environment change very quickly

in the past eight years – it’s much more science based and is no longer driven by just production and profitability. We need to prove we can farm sustainably. “There are a lot of decisions under way that will impact how we farm into the future. I hope by being a climate change ambassador I can be involved in those decisions and help fellow farmers understand how it impacts them.” Hall and his wife Debbie, from Edendale, believe in pulling the community together to share ideas and advice about farming practice and to see what else is happening in the area. “As a climate change ambassador, I hope to help stimulate conversations in my region about climate change and the role dairy farmers have in lowering emissions.”

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18

Dairy Focus

MAINTENANCE AND SERVICE FEATURE

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Tips on maintaining your tractor Tractors are an important tool on farms and not one that comes cheaply, so it’s important that they are looked after and well maintained. There’s a wide variety of tractors on the market and some specific maintenance tasks will vary between manufacturers, makes and models. Your first port of call when making sure your tractor is well maintained is the owners’ manual. That will not only provide you with a maintenance schedule, it will also give specifications that apply to your particular machine. That said, there are a few general steps that can be taken to ensure you get the best and longest life out of your tractor. Firstly, it’s important to remember that tractor use is measured in hours rather than kilometres. That means you will need to check things with a different timeframe in mind compared to some of the other vehicles on-farm, such as the truck, ute or farm bike.

However, just as is the case with those other vehicles, it’s essential to keep a regular watch on the fluids – be that engine or hydraulic oil, radiator coolant or transmission fluid. Don’t forget to check the battery and battery cables and while you’re at it, have a look at the tractor’s filters. Farms can be dusty places, especially during the dry summer months, so it’s important to check the air

filter regularly. Clean the regularly, either by vacuum or compressed air, not by washing them. Fuel filters should also be checked, particularly for accumulated water. As with any piece of machinery involving a large number of moving parts, lubrication is important. There’s far more of those moving parts on a tractor than there is in your average car, so there’s more to do.

In general, it’s not hard to find grease fittings near those moving parts and it doesn’t take much to get a grease gun in there and make sure things are properly lubricated. When it comes to areas of the tractor like hydraulic systems and gear-boxes, make sure you use the right lubricant. Failure to do that can be a very expensive mistake. Just like your car, or truck, it’s also important to keep an

eye on belts and hoses. If they start to look worn or cracked don’t hesitate to replace them. It’s far easier to do that when you spot something in the shed than when something fails out in the paddock. Similarly, keep an eye on the tyres, particularly their pressure, which is not always obvious at a glance. Of course one of the best ways to keep on top of your tractor’s maintenance is to have it serviced regularly. It’s something you can either have done professionally or do yourself. Either way, it’s a great way of keeping on top of things and heading any potential problems off before they get more serious. Another simple way of getting the most out of your tractor investment is, particularly when, like now, we’re heading into winter, is to protect it as much as you can from the elements. That means, when you’ve finished using it for the day, park it in the shed, rather than the yard.

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www.guardianonline.co.nz

MAINTENANCE AND SERVICE FEATURE

19

Maintain your greatest asset You service and maintain your farm machinery, but what about your body? The nature of farming has changed. Not so long ago, farmers had to walk, run and climb to get through their working day. But trail bikes, quad bikes and all manner of machinery have gradually eroded this daily workout. Even the once-physical job of milking cows has become semi (and in some cases fully) automated – and uses only a fraction of the muscles it used to. Alongside the outdoor job is an increasingly sophisticated indoor job that requires farmers to spend more time planning and managing their business from a computer workstation. A recent health check of nearly 3000 farmers shows how the changing shape of farming has impacted farmers’ fitness: • About one in three were carrying too much weight • A third had cholesterol levels that needed medical attention

More than half had high or moderately high blood pressure • Many were at significant risk of heart disease • A third complained that pain interfered with their work The obvious out-take of this research is that farmers need to inject physical movement back into their working day. As well as helping to prevent and address health issues, regular exercise ensures match-fitness for important annual events like calving and lambing, which still require physical strength and cardio endurance.

Make sure you get away Getting away from the farm – for a few days or just a few hours – helps you to get the work-life balance right. Let’s face it, when you live where you work, getting time off can be a challenge. Even when you decide to do nothing, jobs are always staring you in the face. Or you

Right – Getting away from the farm sometimes is important for your wellbeing.

gravitate to the computer to check out commodity prices, new legislation and farming technology. To maintain your health and sanity, you need to regularly put farming aside – and that means escaping from the farm. Even if you can only manage a few days at a time, the benefits can be massive. In fact, even a few hours away for lunch in town or perhaps a round of golf can make a big difference. When you return, you’ll have a fresh perspective and a more positive mind-set.

Nearly half of all farmers want advice about how to achieve better work-life balance. More than a third wanted to know about managing energy levels, tiredness and fatigue.

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Generally, farmers are great at looking after equipment and livestock, but not as good when it comes to their own wellbeing. Recent research shows that:

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20

Dairy Focus

MAINTENANCE AND SERVICE FEATURE

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Experts fail to look at big picture A great deal of respect is given to people who have accumulated letters after their name after spending time at a university. Research institutes utilise these taught skills and soak up our research budget studying specific problems in specific areas. I see some limitations in our farming research where socalled advances in one area are creating problems in another area. An example of this is where recently a scientist I met had two PhDs in nutrition but knew nothing about soil. Most vets have vast knowledge of animal disease, diagnosis and treatment but have not been trained in soil science. This is not a criticism but an observation. Recently I spent time in Denmark with a senior vet and nutritionist focused on finding the reason for animal diseases particularly in Europe. This is part of a treatment plan for farmers who can lose cows very quickly from clostridia and similar diseases like botulism. Dr John Erri’s research has led him to the soil for answers. Unbalanced soil nutrients is leading to unbalanced feed which is leading to the inability for cows to naturally fight diseases without the aid of vaccines and medicines to keep them healthy. A so-called advance in nutrition, which is a trend beginning in NZ, is the use of increasing rumen bypass feeds to produce milk. In Europe this trend is well developed and although this practise produces milk, Dr Erri commented that it is at the expense of animal health. Cows are barely completing two lactations under this system. He said that nutritionists are treating a cow like a machine and by bypassing the rumen are not respecting the full nutrition that the bugs in the rumen need to complete their job to maintain a healthy cow and her immune system. The conditions in a cow’s rumen also dictate the bugs which carry on out into our effluent ponds which farmers are then encouraged to apply to the soil as fertiliser. Good effluent containing healthy biology can then contribute to a healthy soil. Another so-called advancement in science is the heavy use of chlorine use in our cowsheds. In the past two years there has been a massive increase in its use and although scientists are denying it, this chlorine

A good balanced soil which allows balanced nutrients to feed grass and legumes will also feed the microbes which then move through the system to beneficially effect the feed grown and the rumen in the cow

is doing massive damage to our effluent ponds. The chlorine in alkaline, chloride of lime and liquid chlorine all produce residuals which upon entering the pond wipe out the benificial biology which are there trying to make effluent a good fertiliser for the soil. This is not a theory. I am seeing it regularly as I am called to fix farmers’ effluent. Although it is obviously the go-to product to keep a farmer grade free there has been no respect from educated experts on the effects outside their narrow vision. The next step is the sterilisation of our effluent and eventually sterilisation of our soil. Furthermore a soil with compromised beneficial bacteria will create an abundance of pathogenic

bacteria which will eventually get to the feed which has grown in that soil. It is now clear to me that every part of the farming system plays an important role for the whole farming enterprise to function correctly, economically and sustainably yet few farmers and qualified experts have connected all the dots. In my work specialising in effluent, it amazes me that farmers and most qualified experts have no idea how effluent ticks. What I have learned and discovered in the past four years is new science. Nobody else has taught it, even in universities. This again is because of a specialised focus taken on people with little educated connecting thought to the big picture.

I have developed a concept I call the BioCircle which shows the important interaction of all activities on the farm showing not only the success which can be achieved but also the damage which can occur if any particular area of the BioCircle is not performing to its best. It is interesting to note that the effluent pond which is generally used as a dumping ground will show the biggest visual picture of what the whole BioCircle is doing. Many people think that the problems associated with effluent start in the effluent pond which leads to a whole industry of machines to process it. In fact the effluent pond and its associated problems is the result of all the parts of the BioCircle which come before the pond. These include: chemicals used in the cowshed; cow health and her ability to digest feed efficiently; feed quality including fullness of nutrition with trace elements, soil quality including the level of nutrients and trace minerals to grow quality feed for the cow. A good balanced soil which allows balanced nutrients

to feed grass and legumes will also feed the microbes which then move through the system to beneficially affect the feed grown and the rumen in the cow, creating the best conditions to digest the feed eaten. The more feed digested by these quality conditions created by a perfectly balanced soil means not only higher production, but also a resulting effluent pond naturally free of crust. After all a crust on an effluent pond is merely undigested feed which all begins in the soil. The soil is so important to the system that I believe farmers should learn some good quality basics about the effectiveness of correct ways to balance soil. Don’t rely on your fertiliser representative who is only interested in your money. Don’t leave your most important asset to someone who can deceive you. A phrase which I have learned to respect is: If you feed your soil you will grow your business. David Law; DipAg CEO Forward Farming Consultancy.


Biological Soil Fertility Course

with Albrecht consultant, Neal Kinsey Tuesday 26th – Thursday 28th June The Albrecht concept of biological soil fertility is simple: Tests carried out on soils that consistently grew the highest quality crop yields revealed that all these soils had a similar chemistry: Calcium levels between 60-70% , Magnesium between 10-15%, Potassium at 5%, Sodium at 1.5% and definite levels for Nitrogen, Phosphate, Sulphur and trace elements. Agricultural crops and high production pastures grow best within this range of soil chemistry. HEAR NEAL KINSEY AT THIS UNIQUE 3-DAY SOIL FERTILITY COURSE Today, Neal Kinsey is the leading consultant and advocate for this Albrecht biological system. For over 40 years in over 70 countries, Neal has proven that this balanced approach to soil chemistry is the key to successful plant growth and animal health. He has demonstrated, scientifically and practically, that when this nutrient balance occurs, soil pH, aeration, drainage, structure and beneficial soil biology inevitably improve. THIS 3-DAY COURSE IS WILL COVER THE MAIN MINERALS: Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium as well as Phosphate, Sulphur and Nitrogen. The importance of trace elements will also feature.

Neal Kinsey has been called a ‘consultant’s consultant.’ His undersatnding of micro and macro nutrients in the soil is hard to match.

GOLDEN BAY DOLOMITE, KIWI FERTILISER AND TOP SOILS INVITE YOU TO ATTEND Whether your business is orchards, vineyards, cropping or pastoral farming, we invite you to take this opportunity to participate in this seminar to hear Neal Kinsey speak about the most important issue facing our industries today – soil health. FOR ENQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT EITHER: • • • •

Ross Wright 027 2462114 ross@sollys.co.nz Ron McLean 0800 549433 ron@goldenbaydolomite.co.nz Don Hart 0274320187 skyfarm@rural.net.co.nz Or visit www.goldenbaydolomite.co.nz

COST OF REGISTRATION: Full Course Single: $750 + GST Full Course Couples: $1200 + GST Single Day $300 + GST

Prices include all lunches, morning and afternoon teas + course manuals. It is essential to book prior to the 1st of June 2018

VENUE: The Function Center Brancott Winery Main Road South, Blenheim


22

DESIGN, SUPPLY, INSTALLATION & ONGOING MAINTENANCE

Dairy Focus

Maintenance tasks for effluent ponds and storage A regular maintenance regime will help to ensure the accurate and reliable performance of an effluent system. Maintenance tasks should be part of day-to-day management, rather than something done on an occasional basis.

Daily ENJOY OUR VALUED CUSTOMER WINTER SERVICING OFFERS Take advantage of our servicing specials for piece of mind assurance and to avoid delays in time and production before the start of next season.

PIVOT IRRIGATION SERVICE Suggested annually or every 2,000hrs

ONLY Corner Arm - 19 Point Checklist Includes: $205 * • Replace drive oil.

• Checking lubrication seals and lubricate as required. • Checking tower structure, drive units, tower box, and alignment.

ONLY Spans - 21 Point Checklist Includes: $140 * • Replacing drive oil.

• Lubricate infeed pipe, ball joints & ball assemblies. • Check central tower, operation functions of switch gear, tower couplings, tranmissions, drive unit, wheels & tyres.

MAINTENANCE AND SERVICE FEATURE

• Before and after milking, check that the storm water diversion is in the correct position • Prevent rubbish entering the system – provide enough rubbish bins in the farm dairy and yards • Clean grates over drains

Weekly to monthly • Check that the pond walls are stable, and that there is no seepage (visible wetness or pasture that is growing exceptionally well are indicators of seepage problems) • Control weeds in and around ponds • Check that the fencing remains child- and stock-proof • Make sure that stock do not have access to the pond wall embankments

• Check levels on storage ponds, and that float switches are clear and working • Ensure guide wires that secure pumps, stirrers, and pontoons are correctly aligned so that the pump stays level • Make sure guide wires are not rubbing on any pond lining surface

Six-monthly to annually • Remove trees and other woody vegetation growing near the pond. There should be no large trees within 40 metres of a pond bank • Remove solids from the weeping wall (if you have one) • Assess whether the pond requires desludging • Maintain drains around the storage facility so that rainwater doesn’t enter the pond It is good practice to keep records of maintenance tasks, including any breakages and repairs, for compliance purposes. Information kindly supplied by DairyNZ

On-Site Mobile Hose Repair and Hydraulic Service 24/7

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pump to help prevent stoppages, help ensure compliance, and a well maintained chemical dosing and stockwater system. • • • • • •

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MAINTENANCE AND SERVICE FEATURE

23

Solutions for most farming woes The Bossman Excluder is the latest product to be introduced by Bossman Manufacturing. A simple solution to an expensive and frustrating problem for farmers. Stones and foreign objects stopping grain from flowing through a grain crusher, and causing damage to milling machines has been an expensive headache for farmers for years. The excluder was designed to be ‘bullet-proof ’ and exceptionally reliable. With no moving parts, and strength through simplicity of design, the Bossman team are confident they have achieved their design brief. The Excluder is easily fitted on top of the mill after the infeed auger and removes any foreign objects that can damage the mill, extending the productive life of the mill and maximising grain utilisation. The Beetbucket manufactured by Bossman for beetbucket.co.nz is a product that fits well in our product range. Simple, fit for purpose and strong. Comparative

trials have shown that the Beetbucket is the best value, easiest to operate, and picks ups less soil with the Beet than any other bucket on the market. Unsolicited feedback from farmers for this product is fantastic, they love how easy it is to operate and how clean the beet is. Pivot tracks are dangerous and expensive. Driving through a deep pivot track has been a life altering experience for many operators, causing expensive damage to

machinery and excessive wear to the pivots themselves. Once the tracks get deep they are expensive to repair. The key is regular maintenance, to repair tracks before they get deep to minimise the material that is needed. The Pivot Boss pivot track filler is a strong reliable machine. The Pivot Boss drops material in to the track then levels it off to leave a flat level paddock behind. When not in use as a pivot track filler the bin can be removed

through the use of twist locks and a flat deck or tip deck can be attached to utilise the heavy duty chassis year round. Hampton Engineering & Bossman manufacturing are a rural based company providing great valve for money general engineering, servicing and manufacturing. Our strong customer focus and understanding of the agricultural industry with its demands of fit for purpose reliability and time constraints, set us above the

rest. Hampton Engineering offers services that include on-site repairs, maintenance and installation in both the agricultural sector and the production factory sector. We have been involved with multiple high volume short run projects of fabrication and assembly. Roller Mill design, development, manufacture, install and maintenance is all carried out from our Southbridge branch, New Zealand made! We also offer full feed system support, supply and install to complement our Roller Mills. Bossman Manufacturing is dedicated to making a name for ourselves as being the go to manufacturer where great design meets simplicity, reliability and reasonable cost, along with great support. Often not one design solution meets the needs of every customer, Bossman has the flexibility to offer customised design alterations at the fabrication stage, this offers a great value and cost-effective solution for our clients.

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The Pivot Boss drops material in to the track then levels it off to leave a flat level paddock behind.

90 High Street Southbridge • Phone: 0800 77 4447 or 03 324 2800 • bossman.nz • hamptoneng.nz


24

Dairy Focus

Power when you need it

Dixon Machinery and Dieseltech is a long established machinery sales and service business based in Methven. They saw a market opportunity for dairy back-up generators some 13 years ago and since that time have sold well over 200 units. Quality has taken a quantum leap over the years and today’s units are first rate with specifications equal to anything on the market. All generators have a modern digital control panel giving all generator and engine functions at the push of a button. A battery charger is fitted so that batteries are kept fully charged when the generator is not in use. Their most popular seller is a 100kW unit which has enough output to power all shed functions including

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MAINTENANCE AND SERVICE FEATURE

chiller and effluent pump. Currently these retail for $18,000 plus GST. They are very cost effective and an essential item for every dairy operation. Dixon’s service everything they sell and pride themselves in being able to respond immediately to any problems should they arise. Whether power is lost through storm or other outage having a generator means that milking can continue without having to wait until the power comes on again. Whilst the main focus has been dairy shed back-up Dixon’s also supply generators for a multitude of other uses including household supply. Take a visit to their website www. dixonmachinery.co.nz

Engineering covered With a large modern workshop and fully equipped service truck all your general engineering and fabrication jobs are covered including an on-call service for onsite repairs. Humm Engineering has grown steadily in the past two years with a strong demand in the area for general engineering enabling investment in machinery and equipment to undertake the big fabrication and repair work as well as increasing the team to make sure day-to-day general repairs are possible. With a hard working team of four full time experienced engineers offering AS/NZS 2980 Certified welding based at 55 Line Road, Methven. Guyon Humm (owner/operator) brings 20+ years in general agricultural engineering with some years spent operating and managing in agricultural contracting his knowledge, experience and natural talent from a young age in building and repairing anything around the farm has been a strong starting block for getting this business started Joining the team is Andrew Keeley with a very reputable 25+ years in general engineering in Methven. Todd Main who comes from the North Island to Methven with strong engineering/fabrication skills and

experience in operating and working on machinery on ski fields around the world. Chris Doig joined the team from North Canterbury now living in Methven brings his expertise in fitting/turning and strong knowledge of agricultural engineering working overseas during harvest in Canada. Nic Ewart is the after school trainee keen to work hard and learn all aspects of general engineering. A large workshop fully equipped with all the heavy machinery and tooling for a variety of work with a recently purchased large, modern all-purpose lathe and looking to add a mill to the workshop soon. Recently completed the new custom fabrication of silage bins and grain/seed hoppers, trailer crates and trailer repairs, custom fabrication of outdoor steel furniture, four-wheel drive modifications, sprayer repairs/ modifications. A full range of steel stock on hand with a large selection bolts, fasteners and paint. Humm Engineering recently fabricated a large rut filler machine which is available for hire, great for filling irrigator ruts on farm. Call Guyon for more information on hireage rates and options available.

Dixon Machinery & Dieseltech

DixonMachinery.co.nz

Dixon Machinery & Dieseltech

DixonMachinery.co.nz Call Call 03 302 8946 Cell Cell 0274 345 637

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Humm Engineering recently fabricated a large rut filler machine which is available for hire, great for filling irrigator ruts on farm. Call Guyon for more information on hireage rates and options available.

55 LINE ROAD, METHVEN • PHONE 027 622 8933


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MAINTENANCE AND SERVICE FEATURE

25

More cost effective in the long run With June fast approaching, new milk cooling regulations will be here before you know it. Many farmers have already taken advantage of early bird deals and have their new equipment installed and running. Many more are still investigating options available to them to upgrade their milk chilling equipment. Although there is a vast range of options available to farmers, it is a minefield for farmers to navigate through with all sorts of claims being made of systems’ performance, quality and efficiency, says Matt Cammock from Southfreeze Dairy. When looking at cooling options there are a few points to consider, they include capital cost, energy consumption and component quality. It’s fair to say the old saying of “you get what you pay for” hasn’t changed when it comes to milk cooling. Cammock believes the New Zealand made Varicool designed exclusively for New

Zealand dairy farms should be at the top of farmers’ list to consider. Although the capital cost of the Varicool units are often higher, they offer lower running costs which have been verified by an ECCA Study. This makes Varicool’s cost of ownership much cheaper than a lot of competitor products. Varicool logs its energy usage and cooling and hot water output which is viewable to the farmer via his smart phone. Varicool has many points of difference, firstly it’s New Zealand designed using 3D-modelling software and manufactured in Hamilton. Farmers can visit the factory and see what goes into building a Varicool system. As suggested in the name, the Varicool uses variable speed technology and utilises a variable speed drive. This is something most farmers will have experienced the benefit of in regards energy savings on their farm already when fitted on their vacuum pumps, water pumps and milk lift pumps.

Varicool offers high grade heat recovery on all models as standard, along with remote support via a wide area network internet connection. This gives the dealer, farmer and manufacture remote access to the machine to save time and money on call-outs etc, which are often not due to the chiller unit itself. Issues with bore water cooling and plate coolers can often be identified remotely with information from the Varicool’s remote connection. Varicool can reduce the electrical load on a dairy shed compared with adding a dedicated pre-chiller unit to existing Dx Vat chillers. By making current and often ageing direct expansion vat chillers redundant, therefore utilising the power normally used by the direct expansion units not only to cool the vats but precool the milk to between 6°C and 8°C. This is all within “one box” which takes up minimal space outside the shed. Another unique feature is the Varicool’s ability to log the milk’s thermal gain due to the

ambient air temperatures once it’s in the vat. Cammock reports this back to the farmer once the unit has been running for a few months and can identify how much it is costing the farmer per day to keep the milk at holding temperature. Once this is established Cammock can demonstrate how much benefit can be gained by using vat wraps. Varicool offers one of the most energy efficient systems on the market today to cool your milk on farm. Other services offered by Southfreeze Dairy include ice bank systems as well as insulating tanks and vat wraps – something Matt says can also result in significant power savings. The company also offers preventative maintenance checks and emergency breakdown service. Cammock says the company takes pride in offering a quick response and a first-time fix recognising the importance to farmers of having their plant up and running again as soon as possible.

Southfreeze Dairy are busy installing new equipment on new build sheds, and upgrades on existing sheds. Cammock urges farmers who have not upgraded their cooling equipment to meet the new regulations to take action now! Southfreeze Dairy currently have payment options, along with Farm Source interest free payment plans available to some customers to help spread the outlay. Pressure is already coming on manufactures and installer to provide equipment in the required time frame. By leaving your decision to the last minute you may also be narrowing your options, and end up purchasing a lesser unit. Based in West Melton, Southfreeze Dairy works as far north as Culverden and Parnassus and in the south to Hinds.

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26

Dairy Focus

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It’s human science, not rocket June 1 is fast approaching and, with that, you may have new staff moving onto your farm. This is a critical time for new employment relationships. There is a mix of excitement for new beginnings and yet this can also be a stressful time for your new staff member and their families. They usually have to move their household, settle kids into new schools and re-establish themselves in a new team and environment. A little extra effort into settling-in and planning for the first month of work, should carry through to a good employment outcome.

Settling in Like most things to do with staff, communication is the key. Now is the time to ring new staff to confirm settlingin plans and make sure the lines of communication are open. Moving in dates and coordination: Follow up any phone calls with an email, so both parties know exactly what’s happening and have correct contact details. First impressions: Small things impress. Ensure the house is spotless and the yard tidy (even if it was not left clean). I am always impressed when employers leave something in the fridge for the first few days. We’ve seen a cooked meal and chocolates left on the kitchen bench. Small touches leave a lasting impression on new staff members, but even more so, on their partners. And we all know how important partners are to a long and happy employment relationship! House insulation: The new insulation rules come into force next year, but why wait? Cold houses will not keep staff. Orientation folder: More paperwork I hear you say!

Phil Hughes

GREENSTONE RECRUITMENT

No, this does not have to be complicated. We’ve seen simple orientation folders that work fine, with printouts of information which you probably already have: • A welcome letter • Your vision for the farm and the team culture you expect • Key contact details including of other staff and emergency numbers • A farm map • Key farm figures such as production history, size, cow numbers, feeding regimes • A broad work plan for the first month • House rules • Farm health and safety rules

Final checks on documentation Remember that employment agreements must be signed before a staff member starts work. Your employee should also have a job description and understand the requirements of the role and level of expectations. If done well, a job description can later be used for performance reviews. Hopefully your new employee has signed a preemployment declaration before the job offer. Otherwise, get it done now, so that there are no surprises after they start work. This can cover declarations on health issues, police history, drug declarations and driver’s

Leaving a cooked meal ready for new staff members creates a great first impression.

licence validity. We also like to get a farm skills checklist signed-off, to highlight any skills areas that need work.

Orientation Once your new staff member has moved on farm we suggest a good orientation of the farm showing hazards to avoid; where the first aid kit is kept; location of tools; and machinery maintenance rules. This is a good time to cover your health and safety policy and explain it clearly. After they have been through it, set some fun questions to answer in a group, as different staff members can give input from different points of view, and

enhance best practice in this critical area. It is wise to document your orientation and have the employee sign it to ensure they fully understand what was covered off. Most importantly, though, staff need a good introduction to each other. Remember, you have seen their CV and know their history but the other staff probably don’t. A great practice is to assign a ‘buddy’ to a new employee to guide them in the first few weeks. Have your training plans in place, as not everyone comes with all the skills required for the role. We commonly get feedback from candidates looking for a new job that,

at the interview, they were promised training but the employer never made time for it. It is a good idea to commit some training dates onto the yearly planner (they can always be adjusted later). On-going staff feedback is key. We find regular and less formal meetings work well, so that small issues can be addressed and ironed out quickly. The more effort you make now to implement best practice in new staff integration, the more productive, engaged and happier staff will be. It’s not rocket science. It’s human science.

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27

Considering once a day milking OAD or TAD? That’s the question. When you hear a farmer talk about OAD (once-a-day) milking it is often noted that cows are so much happier. Milk production does not seem to drop that much, and they have a lot less lame cows. If you go by that, why wouldn’t you go OAD milking? On some farms that may well be the best option. The question that nobody seems to be asking is “why are cows so much happier and why are there much less lame cows”? I think there is a very good lesson to be learned from the OAD milkers. The reason why cows respond so well to OAD milking is because their basic needs are being better catered for. A cow needs water, food, air, light, space and shelter. The better you cater for those needs the better the cows can function and therefore the cow becomes more productive and profitable. So, when you go OAD milking what basic need are you catering for better than

Fred Hoekstra

VEEHOF DAIRY SERVICES

you did with the TAD (twicea-day) milking? Air, light and space are not usually a problem for our pasture-based dairy cows. On the other hand, water, food and shelter can be a big challenge. The water situation does not change when you go to OAD milking, but food and shelter does. The key here is the time budget. With time budget I mean that a cow has 24 hours of time each day. How is she spending or how should she be spending her 24 hours? In that time, she needs to eat, drink, rest, socialise, walk to and from the cow shed and be milked. When you look at a well-fed herd in a paddock on a dry day you see cows grazing, laying down,

drinking and socialising - this is normal, natural behaviour for a cow. When you take the cows out of the paddock and put them in the holding yard, cows take on a different behaviour: they bunch up on the tracks and just stand in the yard.

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As this is different behaviour to what they show us when they are not controlled by people we can conclude that just standing is not a natural behaviour. When we talk about shelter as a basic need for a cow we talk about everything that shelter is

for, e.g. a barrier in wet and windy conditions, but also a place to be able to lay down comfortably. The shelter itself has not changed when you go OAD milking but the amount of time available for a cow to lay down has because she is spending less of her time on the track and in the cow shed. This is also true for food. OAD cows spend more time in the paddock eating and spend less energy walking. These are the main differences from a cow’s perspective between OAD and TAD milking. Basically, the cows are telling us that the way we manage them in a TAD system is often not catering for their basic needs sufficiently. So, we can go OAD or we can change our management to improve the paddock time to better cater for their basic needs. If you cater for their basic needs to the same level as you would under OAD, you will find that the performance difference between the OAD and TAD cows becomes much greater.


Advertisement

What if you could reduce your NPK fertiliser cost by 50%? BY NOW we all understand that applying fertiliser or growing almost anything increases your soil acidity or lowers the pH of the soil. All good farmers apply Aglime to correct this acidification, however the final target pH level for optimum nutrient availability is and always has been a moving target. The absolute building blocks of growth such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Sulphur and Magnesium, are theoretically not even close to their peak availability at a pH of 5.5. The table below goes some way to indicate what the approximate nutrient availability is at various pH levels. As you can see below, a pH at 5.5 seems inefficient and illogical. However, at the pH between 6 and 6.5 availability increases exponentially and even starts peaking across many nutrients.

WHAT IS THE OPTIMAL PH AND WHY?

Your soil’s pH is one of the

key drivers in what nutrients are available to the plant. With a pH that is too low (sub 5.5pH) some real nasties like Aluminum and Manganese may be available and can heavily diminish growth or even kill crops. On the inverse, a pH near 7 or neutral, can be too high and limit the availability of Zinc and Manganese. The general consensus locally is that a pH of 5.5-5.8 is ‘good enough’, but the science just doesn’t back this up. 5

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“One aspect that has baffled us for years, is the apparent disconnect between fertiliser application and the availability or efficiency of the very nutrient being applied due to soil acidity.“

Almost every element of a fertiliser is represented in the nutrient availability table to the left. When you are spending good money on fertiliser, you should be damn concerned if your advisors aren’t ensuring that the nutrient you are applying is at or near maximum availability. If they are not, you need to ask yourself why not, maybe they have a vested interest in selling more fertiliser? In the grand scheme of things, liming is relatively cheap, especially when you consider that a shift in pH could potentially double the efficiency of a fertiliser in both the short and long term. The table to the right indicates this point and goes some way to show how a capital investment in liming may affect your overall and ongoing annual fertiliser spend.

To see the results for yourself, get in touch today for a quote: 0800 303 980 • www.vlime.co.nz

FERTILISER EFFICIENCY AT VARIOUS SOIL PH VALUES

Soil pH

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K Efficiency

Overall Fertilizer Efficiency

pH = 6.5

95%

63%

100%

86%

pH = 6.0

89%

52%

100%

80%

pH = 5.5

77%

48%

77%

67%

pH = 5.0

53%

34%

52%

56%

vanRoestel, J. (2014, March). The Value of Maintaining a Good soil pH.

CAPITAL LIMING TO LIFT TO AN OPTIMAL PH OF 6.2 – 6.5

As a rule of thumb 1 tonne/ha of high quality Aglime will raise the pH by 0.1 pH unit. Therefor a 6 tonne/ha application is required to increase the pH from 5.7 to 6.3. To maintain the optimum pH of 6.2-6.5, maintenance applications of at least 500kg per annum will be required. The above rates are based on high quality Aglime, and not all lime is created equal. Ensure your Aglime supply has a Lime Equivalency or ‘As delivered’ Calcium Carbonate content of 90% or greater. The particle size should meet New Zealand Aglime standards of 50% passing .5mm and no more than 10% passing

2mm to allow good even spreading and consistent long term release into the soil. Consider solubility and ensure you are dealing with a limestone resource that has been proven to lift pH as expected. Talk to a few neighbors, they will know the history. Keep in mind we can mix your fertiliser(s) with Aglime prior to dispatch to make your annual applications even more cost effective. FREE SOIL PH TESTING

We have a full laboratory based at our Coalgate site and are more than happy to pH test your Soil free of charge. We also have loan soil probes and sample bags available.


www.guardianonline.co.nz

MOVING DAY FEATURE

29

Extra precautions needed Changing farms this moving day requires extra special precautions because of mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis). M. bovis is spread by the movement of infected animals and incoming infected cows (including calves, heifers, bulls, beef cattle as well as milking cows) can bring the disease onto the farm, even if they show no signs of having it. Once in a herd the disease is spread by close animal to animal contact. While M. bovis is a new disease in New Zealand, if it becomes endemic, it can be managed, much like Tb, leptospirosis, bovine viral diarrhoea and Johne’s disease. Dairy farms all over the country are being tested via bulk milk testing of individual herds and cows from the sick mob for the presence of the organism. Individual farmers should know the results two weeks after the final milk sample has been collected. A ‘not detected’ result can give farmers an indication that the herd is free of disease and help with farm management decisions. This result is not, however, an absolute guarantee that a property is free from the disease. The tests will pick up if any cows were shedding M. bovis at the time of sampling, but it is possible for infected cows to be present in a herd but not shedding at the time of sample collection. Those who use the sharemilking and contract milking business model are particularly vulnerable to financial shocks should a disease like M. bovis come onto the farm. If at all possible, stay on the current farm, with the same herd. Or, if you are a farm owner, keep the current sharemilker, with the current herd. However, this may not be possible or desired.

Minimise the risks this moving day by taking precautions. 

There are some simple precautions sharemilkers, contract milkers and farm owners can take to minimise the risk of bringing it on farm. If everyone is clear about the level of risk being faced, decisions can be made – it’s all about communication.

For farm owners, looking to bring on a new contract milker or sharemilker 1. Ask where any incoming stock are coming from. 2. Ask for bulk milk M. bovis test results of the source herd(s) if available. 3. Ask if the stock have been mingling with other cattle – can you get any information about these other

4.

5.

6.

7. 8.

herds, such as bulk milk testing results? Ask about the health of the incoming stock – including calf health, mastitis, pneumonia, ear infections, swollen joints. Ask if the Nait recordings have been completed for all cow, calf, cattle movements. Set aside land where new animals can be kept, separate to stock already on farm, for seven days for quarantine purposes. Check to see that all equipment coming on farm is clean and dry. Inform the incoming sharemilker or contract milker about any M. bovis tracing by MPI that has been carried out on the farm, and any instructions given

PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN

by MPI that may affect how the herd is managed.

For sharemilkers or contract milkers, shifting onto a new farm 1. Buy animals from as few different farms as possible. Ask for the bulk milk M. bovis test results of the 2017/18 herd if available 2. Supply the farm owner with any M. bovis test results you may have. 3. Ask if the herd has been mixed with any other animals in the past 12 months, including at wintering. Ask if it is possible to get the bulk milk M. bovis test results of that herd. 4. Ask about the health

5. 6.

7. 8.

of the cows and calves on the farm during the 2017/18 season – including calf health, mastitis, pneumonia, ear infections, swollen joints. Complete all Nait movement recordings. When bringing new animals onto the farm, keep them separate from others for seven days and check them for signs of ill health. Clean and dry all incoming machinery and equipment. Ask if the farm has been subject to any tracing from MPI for M. bovis.

Information courtesy of DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and the New Zealand Veterinary Association

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Invites you to a FREE information evening

TAKING THE HASSLE OUT FARMERS AS LANDLORDS OFWeTENANCY will present what RTI hasINSPECTIONS to offer and bring along other industry experts to answer your questions.

Tuesday October 3rd Thursday October 5th Tuesday October 10th Tuesday October 17th

7pm 7pm 7pm 7pm

Culverden Hotel Blue Pub Methven Railway Tavern, Rakaia Geraldine Heritage Hotel

TOPICS COVERED INCLUDE 3 Inspections - Why do them? RURAL TENANCY3INSPECTIONS SPECIALISES Meth Contamination and testing IN PROVIDING 3 Insurance discussion around Meth Contamination Tenancy Inspection Services 3 Insulation and the changes in the Residential Tenancies Act Cleaning 3 SmokeManagement Detectors Property Advise on Insulation and Meth Testing

EVENT OPEN TO ALL

CONTACT US WITH ANY ENQUIRIES REGARDING TENANTED PROPERTIES.

Call Rebecca 027 313 2270 for more info Phone: 027 3132270

Email: ofďŹ ce@ruraltenancy.co.nz

www.rtil.co.nz Website: www.ruraltenancy.co.nz


www.guardianonline.co.nz

MOVING DAY FEATURE

31

Get it sorted before you moove We understand that moving farm can be an exciting but busy time – so many things to organise. Here’s a handy checklist so you don’t forget the most important.

Keep on top of your energy usage Sign up to our free online tool that allows you to monitor your energy usage, update your details and receive and pay your bills.

Make sure the jug will work Nothing worse than after a busy day of moving not having a cuppa. If you’re an existing Meridian customer, let us know a couple of days before the big move and we’ll make sure your electricity is connected when you get there so you can enjoy that hard earned drink (be it hot or cold).

Have your electricity capacity checked If your new farm was previously occupied by a higher electricity user, it may pay to have your meter configuration checked – either by an electrician, or by your local network company, to ensure you’re not paying for capacity you don’t need. This is especially important if you downgrade or remove any farm machinery or equipment.

The following tips can help ensure your new electricity connections are set up as smoothly as possible: Close your old farm electricity accounts Call Meridian and we’ll take

care of closing your accounts at your previous property and setting up your new ones. Read your meters To ensure your first account is based on your usage (not someone else’s) it’s a good idea to read your electricity meters on the day you move in and provide Meridian with these readings. Check you’re getting all your bills When you move to a new farm, it’s natural to assume everything’s been set up. But it’s easy to overlook a missing bill for one of your worker’s houses or for a pump that’s way down the back of the farm. Call your electricity supplier for advice if you think you might be missing a bill.

Consider having a price comparison done If some sites at your new farm are supplied by other electricity companies, you may want to consider switching them to Meridian. Having one electricity provider may be easier to manage and more cost-

effective. To request a price comparison call us on 0800 496 444. Did you know you get extra benefits for having your power through your rural supply company. If you’re new to Meridian or need to move sooner, simply call us on 0800 496 444 and we’ll get you sorted.

A few other tips to help on the day: Update all your suppliers Just like switching your electricity, you need to make sure you let your insurance company and other service providers know you’re moving too.

Sort your mail Don’t miss receiving your mail at your new address – most companies (including Meridian) will email your bill. Consider switching to ebills and never miss getting your electricity or other bills. Get organised Before moving day, create a timeline and a plan of how you want to move everything and, once you get to the new site, where you want everything to go. This will help save a lot of time on moving day if you know exactly what needs to be where. Advertising feature

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Dairy Focus

MOVING DAY FEATURE

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Since 2014 WasteBusters Trust has been offering an on farm recycling collection in the Mid Canterbury area. There have been many things to consider, what containers should be used, man hours, costings of pickups and finally markets to where the products can go. Farm recycling is quite different from town recycling. As you know at certain times of the year there is lots of mud along with cow excrement, which equates to a lot of mess. With many farms in Mid Canterbury, operating dairy farms, we have looked at what is acceptable contamination for bale wrap and silage covers. All this is very important, as we do not want to be picking up product that cannot be recycled. We have done our homework and believe we have found the most cost effective solution for us to be able to deliver this service to the farming community. Each farm will be required to purchase the bins for their farm which will then go into a swap system. WasteBusters will maintain the bins, if a bin comes in from a farm with major damage, that farm will be charged for a new bin. Rural Transport collect the farm recycling bins and deliver to our site

on McNally Street. If you wish you may deliver your bins yourself but there is a $20.00 + GST handling fee. If it is one of the rubbish bins, there is still the standard fee for the rubbish. When you require your bins picked up, it is as simple as ringing WasteBusters.

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34

Dairy Focus

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Farm in perfect balance for success Hawke’s Bay dairy farmers Kay and Roger Feather have faced challenges with their effluent pond at a pretty extreme end of the scale - and have come to the conclusion that a more biological approach is a far better longterm solution. After spending thousands on machinery-driven solutions to de-crust their effluent pond, the addition of Slurry Bugs in 2015 has been the only successful long-term solution – and three years on, the same bugs are still keeping the pond clear. The Feathers own Wairango Station, an 806ha Hawke’s Bay dairy farm on “environmentally fragile” land. They built a large 6,000,000 litre effluent pond to meet council regulations, incorporating recommendations for special pumps and monitoring equipment, and a vertical stirrer to mitigate the poor power supply to the pond. However, after one year the pond crust was severe. “The stirrer company said we needed a second stirrer, which cost $8000,” Roger

David Law

FORWARD FARMING

Feather said. “We thought, ok, if we have to.” Six months later, no progress had been made. The company suggested they needed four to six stirrers – a revelation met with disbelief by the Feathers. The pond was dangerously close to overflowing, and with the Taharua Stream on their land, the Feathers risked a $75,000 fine. The pond was pumped at a cost of $24,000, and six weeks later a digger was brought in to remove the crust, which had returned thicker than ever at 1m. In March 2015, Kay and Roger considered taking a more biological approach. They met with David Law of Forward Farming Biological

The effluent pond on Kay and Roger Feather’s Hawke’s Bay farm is back to the state it was when first built, thanks to PHOTO SUPPLIED Slurry Bugs. 

Consultancy and agreed to trial Slurry Bugs, under one condition: if Roger didn’t see his face reflected in the pond, he wasn’t going to pay a cent. David agreed. The pond was pumped down as far as possible in order to reduce the initial workload required by the Slurry Bugs, and a hose system was used to soften the crust, enabling

more light and oxygen into the pond – conditions the aerobic Slurry Bugs need in order to thrive and establish dominance. Despite a promising start, the hardened state of the pond and the reluctance of farm workers to follow new practices meant results were slower than expected. In June the couple agreed to persevere

for another couple of weeks. “I hadn’t seen the pond for a while, and one day in July I came over the hill and I saw it,” Roger said. “I said, Good God! That’s unbelievable! The pond was back to how it was when we first built it. I could see my reflection in the surface.” Despite navigating a few more challenges, the real transformation came three weeks after the cows were dried off. With no new pathogen-filled effluent entering the pond, the Slurry Bugs were able to catch up and permanently transform the pond back into a liquefied state. Three years on, no new Slurry Bugs have been added. Law says if conditions remain ideal, the Slurry Bugs will continue to dominate and keep the pond crust-free. “As long as the pH remains at an ideal level of around 6.3, at which beneficial bacteria thrive, and harmful chemicals are kept out of the pond, the Slurry Bugs will continue to do their job of liquefying effluent, readying it for uptake to pasture,” he said.

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www.guardianonline.co.nz

35

STEEL BUILDINGS with FACTOR Sheds Shelters Commercial Rural

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Good People doing Good Business! Get the best solution for your building project. Synlait boss John Penno says the company looks forward to contributing to the PHOTO SUPPLIED Dairy Industry Restructuring Act review process. 

Premium, Quality Product! We use only the best materials.

Shaping the future with DIRA review An inclusive and comprehensive review of dairy industry legislation will help our biggest export sector get in shape for the future, Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor says. The government has released the terms of reference for a review of the 17-year-old Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA), which regulates Fonterra to protect the long-term interests of farmers, consumers and the wider economy. “The Ministry for Primary Industries will consult widely throughout the review, including surveys and formal consultation later in the year and I encourage you all to get involved and have your say,” O’Connor said. “The review will allow us to take a strategic view of issues facing the dairy industry. “In particular it will look at open entry and exit for farmers, the raw milk price setting process, contestability for milk, the risks and costs for the sector, and the incentives or disincentives for dairy to move to sustainable, higher-value production and processing. “The whole dairy sector needs to look ahead to see what trends and potential disruptions are coming our way and get ahead of consumer trends. “Only through a frank appraisal of the issues will we come to the right conclusions. “In December last year I announced this government would review DIRA as a matter of priority, in February we rolled it over to stop certain parts

expiring, and today I release the terms of reference setting out the objectives, approach and timing of the review. “The dairy industry will be fully consulted throughout the review so that any issues can be given full consideration before any changes happen. “I look forward to receiving feedback from farmers, dairy processors, consumers and the wider public in the upcoming consultation process. “A high-performing, innovative and sustainable dairy sector is vital to New Zealand’s economic wellbeing,” O’Connor said. The government’s terms of reference have been welcomed by Canterbury milk company Synlait. “We are glad to see a comprehensive scope in the terms of reference and are pleased it will look beyond the current regulatory framework to address some of the fundamental issues facing the future of our industry,” chief executive and managing director John Penno said. “We look forward to contributing to the DIRA review process. We can provide a unique perspective as a successful value-add nutrition company in the industry. “At the end of the day, we want any outcomes to support a sustainable and high value industry in New Zealand. We’re confident this will allow the industry to continue to flourish while delivering a sustainable future for dairying,” Penno said. To see the terms of reference go to www.mpi.govt.nz/DIRA-review.

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Profile for Ashburton Guardian

Dairy Focus - May 2018  

Dairy Focus - May 2018