Dairy Focus DECEMBER, 2015
MENTAL HEALTH A farmer’s brave journey through depression Pages 3-5
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Farming Dairy Focus
COMMENT FROM EDITOR
Depression - one farmer’s journey
ANZCO chairman Sir Graeme Harrison on foreign investment
Rabobank on the state of NZ agriculture
International dairy news
Dairy industry awards
New Zealand news briefs
Around the traps
I was not surprised by SAFE man Hans Kriek and his campaign of war against the entire dairy industry nor his bold declaration of revenge via a United Kingdom newspaper. Having spoken to the man several times this year I have found him at times to be as blunt as a Nadine RURAL mallet, dogmatic in his stance and Porter REPORTER uncompromising. Tweet us @farmjourno But this is what I want to ask everyone who supports SAFE – do they really feel in their heart that throwing his toys out of the cot. Hans Kriek is an animal do-gooder or His harsh outlook on this and are they slightly suspicious that he is many other issues makes him a public on a power trip. liability to our export economy. I always feel when so-called Going straight to television every activists start ranting about bringing time you film something was never Governments to heel, that it is time going to be the answer and I just for them to move on – that their own hope his own cupboard is squeaky personal objectivity may be somewhat clean. clouded. Regardless something must be done In Hans’ case I think it’s time he about SAFE – starting from the top. was deposed. On another matter, the dry This last escapade has lost him continues to bite and with it comes valuable urban further uncertainty support through for our dairy farmers his unwillingness to grow It’s a sick sort needing to sit down and supplementary feed. meter out some It’s tough out there of irony that kind of valid and it continues to be people can be response with tough. industry. Farming seems to prosecuted by When I asked resemble a hurdle public media him if the track this year and so footage from the it seemed appropriate before being Waikato could to reprint a special allowed to be determined as story shared with us nationwide, he have their say earlier this year by simply said that google.com about if it was filmed in former Mid various trucks up Canterbury farmer there, then it would Dennis Bird. be happening here. Dennis has come through That was wrong on so many levels depression and was brave enough and dangerously wrong at that. to talk about the pain he was feeling It’s a sick sort of irony that people when he was at his worst. can be prosecuted by public media Some of you may be having some before being allowed to have their of the same feelings. say and yet he lives on to defame If so, I strongly urge you to talk to whomever, wherever he wants. your loved ones, or reach out to the If he really did have animal welfare myriad of help available. as his number one priority surely In the meantime let’s keep hoping he would be trying to help fix any for some substantial rainfall and take problems here, rather than acting comfort in our family and friends like a childish schoolboy or a toddler during the festive season.
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A personal battle with depression
Severe depression has been Dennis Bird’s constant companion for almost five years.
It was an ordinary task . . . drilling oats . . . but on this day for Dennis Bird it was insurmountable. Wracked with conflicting thoughts and anxiety he got out of the tractor and vomited. Afterwards he struggled to recall what he had been doing. It was a behaviour that had become all too common as he battled the darkest period of his life. Every day on the farm became a huge hurdle. By mid-morning he would often need to sleep. He couldn’t eat and didn’t want to talk to anyone. He was withdrawing from life, and as his thoughts darkened that life itself became questionable to his fragile mind. The personal hell that best describes severe depression has been Dennis’ constant companion for almost five years, and although he is a long way down the road to recovery, the memories of those pained years remain with him. A livestock and cropping
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farmer from Chertsey, Dennis was the third generation of his family to work on the land he owned. After a difficult marriage break-up, and the pressures of modernising his farm to best meet the needs of today’s business, the turmoil festered and grew and his increasingly dark thoughts left him feeling as though his body had shut down. “I wasn’t thinking right.” It got so bad that even seeing his farm or driving anywhere near it induced panic attacks and cold sweats. Once a strong member of the Pendarves Fire
Brigade, Dennis no longer left the house, no longer wanted to be around other farmers. “I just felt lost.” Eventually, his concerned parents took the drastic step of ‘bundling him into the truck’ and bringing Dennis back to their home in Ashburton. It wasn’t until they took him to see local doctor Penny Holdaway that he understand what was happening, but it would be a long journey over the next 12 months to some semblance of recovery. While the farm was leased out Dennis tried five different antidepressants before he responded positively to treatment. He was referred to a rural counsellor who he said ‘opened him up’. “I was talking about things for the first time.” Although medicated and receiving counselling, Dennis still spent much of that first year hiding himself away at his parents’ house. continued over page
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Farming Dairy Focus
MENTAL HEALTH From P3 During that time he read Sir John Kirwan’s first book All Blacks Don’t Cry and like many depression sufferers he found comfort in his honest and frank approach to what it was like to live with depression. “It helped me turn my life around.” And in time Dennis began to realise how much pressure running his 245ha farm had put on him. “From pumps to irrigators, to stock work, the constant red tape coming in and the administration …” Although the first five years farming alone had been fine, he now realises that all the stresses of those years had built up until it became unbearable. In 2014 he made the gutwrenching decision to sell the farm. It was at first upsetting, not least because he felt he had let his family down, but now he sees it differently. “The burden has gone but I’ve still got the responsibility of going to work.” Now Dennis works for farmers John and Andrew
Doak and credits them with helping him remain positive. He has just purchased his own home in Ashburton and has begun to enjoy life again. That Dennis has chosen to speak out about his illness is testament to the courage he has shown in battling his condition. He remains a firm advocate for farmers seeking help when they are overcome by negative feelings, or worst still, suicidal thoughts. He knows how difficult it can be to make that first step and understands that it may only be possible if someone else takes charge.
He concedes that his parents saved his life by taking him off the farm and making him see a doctor, and knows that all too often in rural situations farmers do not let their partners or families know how they are feeling - instead taking their lives before someone has had the chance to intervene. Dennis has lost three other farming friends to suicide – all of them seemed positive on the outside to their families and friends, all of them gave no indication before taking their lives that they were depressed. So why won’t our farmers seek help? Why do they choose
to omit to their partners and families the anguish they are suffering? And why are they often hiding behind a persona that is so different to what they are actually experiencing? It’s a question well-known Marlborough farmer Doug Avery has struggled to answer as he meets grieving farming families around the country. Doug’s own battle with depression led him to run workshops titled Resilient Farmer – a seminar bringing together high performing companies to work collaboratively with farmers to help introduce new tools in the office and on-farm to grow wealth and well-being. It has also been a platform in which Doug has spoken on his personal journey with depression following years of successive droughts. He has spoken to women who have lost their husbands to suicide too often. Often these women talk of men with highly successful farms. Most were aged 42 to 52 years – the demographic in which most farmer suicides take place.
“My experience is that this is a challenge among medium to very successful farmers than to those that are unsuccessful.” There remains an unchanged culture among the farming community of appearing staunch and that feeling depressed is somehow shameful, he said. Doug believes some farmers will think him a ‘loser’ for speaking about his experiences but says he couldn’t care less if they do because the status quo has to change. “We have to talk about it.” In 2013-2014, 22 farmers including seven women committed suicide. Six of those farmers were under the age of 24 and 10 over the age of 50, leading Federated Farmers Health and Safety spokesperson Katie Milne to label it a ‘national disgrace’. Former chief coroner Neil MacLean was so concerned during his time in the top job that he ordered coroners to report more on the leading causes of farmer suicides. He blamed rural stoicism for our abnormally high
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MENTAL HEALTH rate, saying that stress and depression was not talked about – leaving farmers to deal with problems alone. Doug also believes isolation remains a major contributor to the suicide rate and the growing challenge of a changing agriculture industry. “New Zealand as a country has a huge expectation in the performance of agriculture and its farmers.” And this year, low dairy payout and depressed sheep and arable industry could create “the perfect storm”, he said. The Mid Canterbury Rural
Support Trust is equipped to deal with any concerns family or neighbours might have about a farmer’s wellbeing. Trust co-ordinator Allan Baird said any calls registering concern can be anonymous and can come from anybody in the community including banks. Once an issue is raised the trust assesses the situation and sources the professionals needed to give the support and assistance needed. “That can be counselling, doctors, a farm advisor or mentor.” Often people that call in
“can’t put a finger on” what is happening with a farmer, but have noticed a change in behaviour, or that a farmer who has previously had a tidy farm has now “let the farm go”. Although the trust hasn’t dealt with many mental health issues recently among farmers, the impact of the drought and dairy prices will wear people down, he said. The trust is now working closely with the CDHB and Safer Ashburton so that between the three groups they can refer to each other if needed, he said.
It’s a team approach that will help the rural community recognise the trust’s role in helping those farmers in need of support. Mr Baird advises farmers to call the trust this season if they need support. “Don’t be frightened to ask for help. So often people struggle on and don’t ask for help because they are afraid it shows weakness but that is not the case at all.” Anyone with concerns about a member of their rural community should call the trust on 0800787254.
Farmstrong – helping keep our farmers well Over the past year rural insurer FMG has been working with the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand to build a programme that will help farmers, growers and those living in rural communities to invest in their own personal health and wellness. Farmstrong offers a range of practical tools and resources that will help improve a
person’s wellbeing so they’re better prepared and able to deal with the ups and downs of living and working in rural businesses. Farmstrong’s focus on wellbeing aims to provide farmers and their families with access to resources and information through its website, within a context of helping them to ‘live well
and farm well’. The initiative will also encourage rural communities and farmers to connect with each other via social media, through regional farmer ambassadors and via a number of regionally focused programmes and events which will be further detailed next month. “This is an important and timely initiative for us and the
Mental Health Foundation to be supporting,” says FMG Chief Executive Chris Black. “It’s one that has the potential to make a positive difference for all farmers, their families and staff – and support the agricultural sector in terms of its broader growth aspirations over the next 5 to 10 years.” - www.farmstrong.co.nz
HELPLINES ■ Rural Support Trust (Mid Canterbury) 0800 787 254 ■ Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland ■ Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) ■ Healthline – 0800 611 116 ■ Samaritans – 0800 726 666 (for callers from the Lower North Island, Christchurch and West Coast) or 0800 211 211 or (04) 473 9739 For callers from all other regions ■ Depression-specific helplines ■ Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 ■ www.depression.org. nz – includes The Journal online help service
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Farming Dairy Focus
FOREIGN INVESTMENT AND TRADE
South East Asia where New Being on the ground floor in South Korea since the early 1980s, Anzco chairman Sir Graeme Harrison has seen first-hand how trade can transform a country. He told the Rural Business Network and reporter Nadine Porter why he can’t understand anti-TPP sentiment.
Former Methven lad, Sir Graeme Harrison, doesn’t mince his words – our economy is built on trade and foreign investment, whether we accept it or not. “Some people want to build a fortress around New Zealand and that is not new … what I want to remind you of is the huge amount of foreign investment in this country.” Latest fiscal figures prove his point with $355.1 billion worth of investment into New Zealand in the last financial year alone, while rural debt has ballooned to over $50 billion – mostly in the dairy sector. “And who provides that funding? The top five banks are foreign owned. The reality is that we have never saved enough to make sure we have banks owned here in this country. We relied on foreign investment whether it be
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Above - Meat consumption is growing across South East Asia.
funding from our banks or other parts of our sectors.” While New Zealand looked to alternative industries in the 1960s and 1970s as Britain
joined the European Union, we are more dependent than ever on the primary sector with 72 per cent of all export revenue derived from the primary
FOREIGN INVESTMENT AND TRADE
Zealand’s opportunities lie
Left and above - Korea has come a long way, recently signing a free trade agreement with New Zealand.
sector, he said. Around 25 per cent of all New Zealand’s GDP came from primary industries and their add ons. “There’s no economy in the world that has such a high proportion. That makes us unique and the fact is that all this has been made possible because of trade, and we have to remind ourselves of that.” However, globalisation and foreign investment has never “sat well” with the New Zealand public, he said. “And the Prime Minister is convinced about the risk of us being tenants in our own land. I’m going to say I don’t agree with it.” The world was changing with the EU, United States and Japan still being important players in 2000, but the growth today had come from South East Asian countries, particularly China and Asia. “If you look at the history of mankind, the economic
We relied on foreign investment whether it be funding from our banks or other parts of our sectors – Sir Graeme Harrison, Anzco chairman
centre of gravity has really always been Asia, except for the industrial revolution. From about 1820 it migrated out of China across to the UK, Europe and across the Atlantic and now it’s on its way back again to Asia and that’s our opportunity.” While there had been a
hiccup recently in China’s economy, it was still growing at 7 per cent per annum – and with it the opportunity to export protein. “We are going to see the middle class in Asia grow by about three billion between today and 2050.” The real growth in protein
was in meat, he said, with the need for around 60 per cent more animal sourced protein by 2050. However, the FAO and the World Bank say only 10 per cent of that new demand can be met by new crop land, 20 per cent by better use of existing crop land and 70 per cent from technology and policy innovation. “And part of that policy innovation is open trade … more trade equals more growth.” Using South Korea as an example of how trade can vastly improve an economy, Sir Graeme spoke of his early days with Anzco and his struggles to process meat in Japan. “The only way we could service our customers in Japan was to process in Korea.” Repurposing five fish plants into boning plants, Sir Graeme recalled the average Korean wage in 1984 was just $US2300 per annum. Today
their wages are equivalent to ours. “In the process we have seen a country transform itself … I’m saying to you that this is also going on elsewhere in Asia and in that process, Korea was originally a nothing country in terms of our exports, but now is number five in our export market.” Eight of New Zealand’s 10 largest trading partners now lie in the Asia Pacific region, in stark contrast to 1984 when 85 per cent of our trade was still heading to the United Kingdom – yet significant trade barriers still exist. “When you have tariffs of more than 200 per cent on milk-based products, 72 per cent on jerky going into Korea, and Anzco as the largest chilled beef exporter in New Zealand unable to supply chilled beef or lamb into China … there is still a big job to be done.” continued next page
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Farming Dairy Focus
FOREIGN INVESTMENT AND TRADE From P7 Sir Graeme questioned why, with the importance of free trade to New Zealand’s economy, many oppose ratifying the Trans Pacific Partnership – the largest trade agreement ever negotiated. Covering 38 per cent of the world’s GDP, he described the agreement as a “huge prize”, and said it would not have been negotiated if it weren’t for Japan joining in 2013 as they were able to plead with the United States. “At last we are on the road.” Sir Graeme said he had waited all his career to see such an agreement happen with the TPP covering five of our 10 largest export countries. “When it comes to our existing trade we export about 8.3 billion of serviced exports and $20 billion of merchandised exports to TPP countries.” Times have changed, with the average level of support for all farmer income in OECD countries back in 1986 halved from 38 per cent to around 19 per cent by 2012. “But two-thirds of farmer income in Japan is due or supported by trade barriers so we still have problems with subsidies to this day.” Distance also remains an issue for New Zealand exporters, he said, with his ANZCO Chicago company office able to cover 25 per cent of the world’s GDP and 7 per cent of the world’s population within three and a half hours. If based in Hong Kong, that figure rose to a third of the world’s GDP and 40 per cent of the world’s population. “If sitting in Auckland it’s just 0.4 per cent of the world’s population and 1 per cent of GDP. “There is no future for us in just trading for ourselves – the rest of the world is where it’s
KEY POINTS ■ NZ relies on foreign investment ■ South East Asia is where the greatest primary opportunities lie ■ World will need 60 per cent more animal sourced protein by 2050 ■ Distance from market and foreign exchange rates greatest risks to our exporters ■ TPP covers 38 per cent of world’s GDP
Some people want to build a fortress around New Zealand, according to Anzco chairman Sir Graeme Harrison.
at.” Trade access and distance to market aside, the biggest threat remaining continued to be exchange rates with wild fluctuations causing exporters more than a few headaches. “It makes it very difficult to have any long term strategy in terms of getting into a market.” If New Zealand wants to take up market opportunities we will need to join hands, collaborate and form partnerships, he said. “No New Zealand company can do it on its own – not even Fonterra.” The simple strategy was to concentrate on wealthy customers, our integrity story, and to be involved in the value chain because there was “no way” we could own the chain ourselves, he said. “I personally strongly support the NZ Inc brand for each sector with over-arching standards … we’ve got a long way to go.”
New Zealand and China are a step closer to establishing a system to enhance trade facilitation under the New Zealand–China free trade agreement.
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Sustainability will be critical to agriculture.
Confidence still low, but on the up Though still at low levels overall, New Zealand farmer confidence has risen sharply from the near-decade lows recorded in the previous two quarters, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown. Although there were still more farmers expecting the rural economy to deteriorate than those expecting it to improve, the overall reading shot upwards to a negative net confidence reading of -6 per cent from -39 per cent last survey. The survey – completed last month – found the number of farmers expecting the rural economy to improve in the next 12 months had climbed to 24 per cent (up from 14 per cent last quarter), 44 per cent were expecting similar conditions (up from 32 per cent) and the number expecting the rural economy
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to worsen fell to 30 per cent (down from 53 per cent). Rabobank New Zealand general manager for Country Banking, Hayley Moynihan, said the latest survey found farmers from all sectors were more optimistic about the expectations for the rural economy than in the previous quarter and that this was largely attributable to improved sentiment about the prospects for the dairy industry. “Since the last survey, in late August, we’ve seen global dairy prices show some improvement following a string of 10 consecutive price falls at the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction. While GDT auctions in November eroded some of the gains made during September and October, there was another small recovery in the most recent auction in early
December. The improved farmer confidence levels illustrate that a greater number of farmers now share Rabobank’s view that dairy commodity prices will lift to more sustainable levels in the next 12 months,” Ms Moynihan said. The improved outlook for the rural economy as a whole was also reflected in farmers’ expectations for their own business performance over the next 12 months. Overall 34 per cent of the country’s farmers expected their own farm business to improve over this period, 43 per cent expected it to remain the same, and 22 per cent expected it to worsen. This resulted in a jump in the net reading for this measure to +12 per cent (-12 per cent previously). continued over page
Rabobank Head of Sustainable Business Development in Australia and New Zealand, Mark Oostdijk, recently sat down with Nadine Porter at the opening of the bank’s new premises in Ashburton where he outlined why we need to get our heads around traceability in today’s consumerdriven climate.
What are the main challenges facing New Zealand agriculture at present? “The big challenge is around water quality and the impact of mostly livestock farming (for the greater part dairying) on the environment, water quality and our waterways and the framework regulations that are being created at this moment around New Zealand in 16 different councils.” Do you think New Zealand farmers fully understand the need for sustainability? “We still see farmers today in denial about their impact on environment. Equally there are people who see the need to change and see an opportunity but I think slowly and surely we are moving into a mode of being transparent to each other and developing mitigation strategies. It’s a much different sentiment to two years ago. This (sustainability) isn’t going to go away – we need to get on the bandwagon and be proactive about it. Not only do we need to comply with regulation but we also have to be connected to our consumer because consumers
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farmers will need to invest in pasture management and plant replacement over the coming months. This, combined with the reduced income, means many farmers will require additional funding to get through the season.”
A change in dairy production systems is already beginning to take effect and impact on NZ’s milk supply for this season
The survey also indicated 52 per cent of dairy farmers are intending to make changes to their farming systems in the next two years and, of those, 58 per cent suggested this change would be to a less intensive system. “A change in dairy production systems is already beginning to take effect and impact on New Zealand’s milk supply for this season. Milk production is down by around 3 per cent for the season to date, compared to the same period last year. In addition to climatic impacts, this reflects less supplementary feed use this season and smaller herd sizes as part of dairy farmer strategies to de-intensify their management systems while taking advantage of favourable beef prices,” Ms Moynihan said. In the sheep and beef sector, she said, while expectations of farmers regarding the performance of their own business had fallen slightly, their investment appetite remained stable. “A total of 22 per cent of sheep and beef farmers expect to increase investment in their farming business in the coming year with only 7 per cent expecting investment to decrease,” she said.
the 15/16 season and this is despite 59 per cent expecting on-farm expenditure to reduce,” she said. “Farmers have significantly pared back costs from their businesses, however, some expenditure deferred remains essential for longer-term viability and we expect many
From P9 The primary driver of this increase was the improved expectations of dairy farmers, with this group registering an upward swing on this measure from a negative net reading of -42 per cent previously, to a positive net reading of +4 per cent this quarter. The expectations of sheep and beef farmers for their own business in the coming 12 months, at a net reading of +7 per cent, were slightly more positive than their dairy counterparts, but less positive than in the previous quarter when a net reading of +15 per cent was recorded. Horticulturalists were by far the most optimistic, with more than half expecting their business performance to improve in the coming year, contributing to a net reading of +44 per cent. Ms Moynihan said while the survey highlighted significantly improved confidence among dairy farmers, it also illustrated they were well aware that the immediate future would still be very tough. “Cashflows in the sector remain very tight, with 55 per cent of dairy farmers surveyed expecting working capital requirements to increase for
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in cities have questions. You can sometimes wonder at the legitimacy of those questions, but they still have to be answered.” We know European farmers have had to meet consumer desires , but surely it won’t be that bad here? “Sustainability is critical. When we held our global farmers’ master class in 2012, including seven New Zealand clients, in the Netherlands we spent one day listening to food presentations from major food companies in Europe. There was one that had a list of 350 checkpoints that you as a farmer had to check off in order to supply food to them. The reaction of the Kiwis and Aussies to that was that it was arrogant, whereas the Europeans accepted it. Don’t make any mistake – this is coming here too. I’ve heard people who went to the Netherlands 20 years ago when the manure policy came into being and farmers didn’t trust it. New Zealand farmers said, “it’s never going to come here”,
but you know, it’s upon us. Have we been guilty of being complacent in our attitude? “Arrogance can be explained by thinking when you are in a room full of people that you know better and so you impress your opinion on the group … but it’s almost as arrogant to exclude an opinion. In our company we have talked about psychological power and toxic assumptions. New Zealand has a very powerful reputation. In Europe they know what 100 per cent pure New Zealand means. It’s powerful but it’s a toxic assumption to think that it will always stay that way. If you don’t maintain or don’t reach for the next phase, the people beside and below you will at some point go over you.” Will it take a generational shift for change in mind-set to occur? “What Rabobank thinks is important is having an open environment that you can discuss sustainability and work together. I certainly see with all the conversations I have with farmers in New Zealand and Australia is that younger
people are approaching sustainability in an open, passionate way and that they are connected to consumers in the city in a different way. Sustainability has a place in their future strategy and they are quite passionate about it. It’s not only happening in the younger generation, but if I do generalise I do see a better pick-up in that age group. We often hear of how much food the world is going to need in the future, but should New Zealand be concentrating on niche markets instead? “We often connect to the topic of global food security because by 2050 nine billion people on this planet will need food. It’s not a race against the clock and it doesn’t mean that by 2050 if you can feed nine billion people that you’ve made it. It’s about a continuous attitude to improve, change and innovate. There has often been the whole discussion about Australia being the food bowl of Asia, but that’s absolutely not the case. What we can provide is only around 2 per
cent. So there are opportunities to tap into niche markets and produce premium quality food to a market that is growing conscious to the quality of food and is very sensitive to that quality. We are dealing with nations like China that doesn’t trust its own food systems. Should New Zealand and Australia’s primary industries work together more for the greater good? “On several elements there is definitely an opportunity. There’s enough market for both countries to be successful. They don’t need to compete, although both countries are in different positions. New Zealand is quite far ahead
in terms of branding into markets in a clear way. I think the Australians are pretty jealous about that. However, it’s interesting … Australia’s live export scandals has resulted in a process and legislation probably unique to the rest of the world in terms of quality and traceability of production in the world. It offers them a great position for those growing markets. How does the future look for agriculture? “What I think is quite important - and I see that attitude in dairy and in a couple of other sectors - is when industry bodies have a strong focus on transparency, cooperation, consumer confidence and research. It really increases the performance of the whole industry - like Dairy NZ. That determines the quality of industry. I think the consumer will get much closer and all the organisations that have been adapting their processes to the point that consumers trust what they are getting on their plate will do better business.
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INTERNATIONAL DAIRY NEWS infrastructure grants under the fund are capped at $A500,000. Fonterra Oceania managing director Judith Swales said the new plant would not increase the co-operative’s debt levels.
Australia Fonterra to rebuild Fonterra Co-operative Group’s Australian unit will invest $NZ141 million ($A128.47 million) in building a new cheese plant at its Stanhope factory in Victoria after its former one was destroyed by fire a year ago. The dairy giant said the cost of the new plant would be partly met by its insurance payout from the fire for damage and loss of business, the $A74 million it got from the sale of its nine per cent stake in Australia’s Bega Cheese in October, and other smaller recent divestments across the Tasman. It’s also received an undisclosed amount of financial assistance from the Victorian government through its Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund. The state government’s website said
after receiving a grant. The $10,000 Sensis grant will help Phil Oates and Sheridan Lee purchase a pasteuriser for their dairy at South Preston near Gunns Plains. “Once we get the pasteuriser up and running and the milk shed tagged off, we can get a cheese maker and sell the product to the public,” Mr Oates said. “Buffalo milk has more fat than cow’s milk and is easier to make cheese from, and you can make a lot of cheeses. “Our herd of around 40 buffalo is made up of Asian water buffaloes crossed with an Italian Riverine bull we call Mal, who comes from Maleny. “The Italian strain produces the cheese while the Asian strain is good for meat production, so we will do a bit of both.”
UK Morrisons supporting dairy farmers Buffalo cheese in Tasmania The owners of a north-west Tasmanian buffalo farm are going ahead with plans to make cheese from the buffalo milk
will now pay £1 instead of 89p for a standard four pint carton of milk, and £1.23 for the same quantity of the supermarket’s Milk For Farmers brand, up from £1.12. The chain’s dairy director Rick Bourne said customers are now prepared to pay more for milk to support struggling dairy farmers. But while Morrisons said it was also increasing the price it pays to dairy farmers, it is unclear just how much more farmers will receive. A spokesman for the retailer told The Yorkshire Post that the information was “commercially sensitive”. All liquid milk supplied to Morrisons comes from British farms via deals with Leeds-based dairy processor Arla and Dairy Crest which is based in Surrey. Arla is this month paying its on-account farmers 23.04 pence per litre (ppl) of milk, while Dairy Crest farmer suppliers get around 23.3ppl.
Supermarket chain Morrisons has announced it is raising the shelf price of its milk in a move to support dairy farmers, but it was unwilling to disclose how much of the increase will be passed on to farmers. Morrisons shoppers
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Europe Dairy markets slowly rebalancing The 3.6 per cent uplift in the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction should be read in the context of a slow rebalancing of dairy markets, according to the IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary. “Fonterra have varied their product offering through the auction, providing customers with age-guaranteed powders, fresh on delivery, for a price premium. “Also, the quantities going through the auction were low, at just over 28,000t. “Both those factors undoubtedly helped improve the auction result,” Mr O’Leary said. However, the updated study on milk production costs of the German Office for Agriculture and Agricultural Sociology BAL clearly reveals the dreadful financial state of dairy farms in July this year. In Germany, the milk price of 29,42 cents was far from covering the average cost of production of 44,79 cents. Yet, this imbalance in the milk sector and its dramatic consequences for producers and rural development is not
only a German problem. As milk prices reported from the other countries show, drastically falling prices have become the norm everywhere in Europe. In Lithuania for instance, producer prices are between 10 and 19 cents a litre. In Belgium, farmers only get 25 cents for one litre of milk and in Denmark 29 cents. The dairy sector in Europe thus currently faces a deep crisis, which forces many dairy farms out of business. But despite all the facts and information on the sector, EU Commissioner Phil Hogan still refuses to acknowledge the existence of a crisis. The political passivity resulting from this postpones the problem, aggravating it even further.
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China Yahili buys rival baby formula maker Yashili, a top Chinese baby formula maker, has agreed on a deal to buy domestic rival Dumex China, a unit of French dairy giant Danone SA, for 150 million euro ($HK1.2 billion) in cash, according to a joint statement by Yashili and its majority shareholder Mengniu Dairy. Shares of Yashili advanced 1.6 per cent in Hong Kong to close at HK$1.94, while China Mengniu Dairy Company ended flat at $HK12.36. The deal came after Danone, Yashili and Mengniu Dairy signed in July a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that said Danone will sell Dumex to Yashili and use the proceeds to buy shares in Mengniu Dairy, one of China’s largest milk producers. However, Mengniu said the company and Danone agreed not to proceed with the share transaction. Danone, which owns 25 per cent of Yashili, has been trying to revive its struggling Dumex unit, once China’s top baby formula brand, after Dumex took a hard hit in sales from a 2013 food safety scare involving its key supplier the Fonterra co-operative in New Zealand.
China and Brazil talk climate change Chinese President Xi Jinping and Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff met in Paris on the sidelines of the ongoing climate talks, and agreed to strengthen co-operation in a number of areas including a common position regarding global warming. Both leaders were in Paris attending the opening ceremony of the twoweek conference, officially called the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Xi said that China attaches great importance to its relations with Brazil and is willing to deepen political relations, promote communication and co-operation in various areas, and deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. The Chinese president urged the two sides to expand industrial investment co-operation in the fields of energy and resources, agriculture, infrastructure and manufacturing.
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Farming Dairy Focus
Water quality hits target A huge commitment by local farmers, community groups, government agencies and the West Coast Regional Council has seen water quality targets for the West Coast’s largest lake reached five years earlier than planned. Environment Minister Nick Smith was on the shores of Lake Brunner/Te Kotuku Whakaoka recently to help celebrate the achievement. “The success of the programme to restore the water quality of Lake Brunner is an example of how community, regulatory and business interests can come together to produce an excellent result for the environment,” said West Coast Regional Council chairman, Andrew Robb. “The result is also a win for lake users and the reputation of New Zealand’s farm products in overseas markets.” Mr Robb said the regional council and its partners set a target for water quality that was not expected to be reached until 2020. “Thanks to the huge amount of co-operation we have received from the community and farmers, especially the Brunner catchment shareholders of Westland Milk Products, we achieved that target this year.” Mr Robb noted that water quality monitoring in Lake Brunner indicated deteriorating trends for nutrients and water clarity. Of most concern were the levels of phosphorous in the lake, traced mainly to run-off from surrounding farmland. From the early 2000s the regional council worked with farmers to improve water quality, focusing on compliance with regional council rules and improving
Environment Minister Nick Smith (left), West Coast Regional Council chairman Andrew Robb (centre) and chairman of Westland Milk Products Matt O’Regan alongside an example of the PHOTO SUPPLIED riparian planting on the shores of Lake Brunner.
farm practices. “The enthusiasm and financial commitment from farmers was a major success factor, especially in dairying where the installation of effluent containment systems cost some farmers up to $300,000 per farm. Community and iwi groups also stepped up, helping with riparian planting initiatives in public areas,” Mr Robb said. “The work in the Lake Brunner catchment shows that we can achieve a balance between using our region’s natural resources and at the same time maintaining or improving our special places for the enjoyment of future
generations.” Westland Milk Products chairman, Matt O’Regan, said the co-operative was dedicated to helping the Lake Brunner water quality programme. “With the council, Westland helped identify that land disturbance, fertiliser application regimes and effluent management were contributing to the phosphorus build-up in Lake Brunner. As a result, the West Coast Regional Council updated the rules in its regional land plan and farms in the catchment are now subject to the strictest regulations in the region,” Mr O’Regan said.
“Westland’s farmers then focused on preventing direct discharge of effluent into waterways, improving fertiliser management and preventing stock access to waterways.” Each dairy farmer put in a land-based, low application rate effluent disposal system and/or adopted a direct drilling regime for applying waste directly into the soil. Additionally, many farms built new sealed holding ponds for effluent and re-visited their fertiliser regime. A lot of emphasis went on containment of effluent, ensuring ponds and tanks were sealed with no leakage to
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ground or surface water. “Westland supported this initiative by having its environment manager visit each Brunner catchment shareholder and work with them to draw up individual farm management plans to help them comply,” Mr O’Regan said. Both Mr O’Regan and Mr Robb noted that farmers joined efforts with enthusiasm, with many going well beyond the minimum regional requirements. In addition to new plant, many invested heavily in riparian fencing and planting and installing stock crossings over waterways.
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Dairy awards receive 452 entries A total of 452 entries have been received in the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, a pleasing result given the economic climate in the industry. The awards have also undergone significant change for the 2016 awards programme, with entry criteria changing for all three competitions resulting in two of the competitions sporting new names. “Given this we are really happy with the result and we are pleased with the balance of entries across the three competitions,” general manager Chris Keeping says. There are 119 entered in the Share Farmer of the Year competition, 164 entered in the Dairy Manager of the Year competition and 169 entered in the Dairy Trainee of the Year competition. Entrants will first compete in one of 11 regional competitions being held throughout the country in February and March next year. The 33 winners of those competitions will progress to the national finals in May next year. Mrs Keeping says the entry numbers are down on the 539 received last year and are the lowest received since 2010. “The regions have worked very hard to attract the entries and are rapt with the quality of entrants and that all three competitions will be run in all 11 regions. “A really positive factor is that there is a good balance between the three competitions – in that the entry numbers in each competition are much more even than they have been in the past. This means that some of our changes have produced one of the results we were after. “There will still need to be some tinkering as the awards programme continues to evolve, but overall we are very happy with the result given the changes and economic climate.” The Waikato region received the most entries with 58 in total, with Southland following with 54 entries. Canterbury/North Otago, Central Plateau and Bay of Plenty received 46, 44 and 42 entries respectively. The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac,
DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, and Ravensdown, along with industry partner Primary ITO.
Most regions will now hold an entrant event so they can gain a good understanding about what to expect and how to prepare for judging. Judging will take place in late January and throughout February.
“It’s also an opportunity to meet other entrants in a social environment.” More information on the awards can be found at www. dairyindustryawards.co.nz
Farming Dairy Focus
NZ NEWS BRIEF
Synlait shows strong growth
Dairy NZ has Q and A over calf welfare Dairy industry bodies are appalled at the bobby calf mistreatment revealed in video footage recorded by animal rights group Farmwatch and released as part of a Safe (Save Animals from Exploitation) public campaign launched against dairy farming in New Zealand this month, according to Dairy NZ. The group says cruel and illegal practices are in no way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming and the mistreatment shown in the videos was not widespread or that these videos fairly represent New Zealand dairy farming in general. Seven industry associations, along with the Ministry for Primary Industries, have joined together to eradicate the mistreatment of bobby calves. DairyNZ has ensured good practice advice is available to all dairy farmers and are also using mainstream and social media channels to communicate to everyone who is concerned about the issue. They have also announced they are meeting with Safe to talk through their concerns.
Synlait Milk’s financial performance in FY16 will reflect strong growth in nutritional sales volumes and showcase the benefits of a value added strategy. Shareholders were told at Synlait’s 2015 Annual Meeting the focus for the current financial year is on developing nutritional and infant formula products with key customers. “With the successful commissioning of our third large scale spray dryer in September and current increases in the sales volume of consumer packaged infant formula, I stand by my previous statement that our profitability will be in advance of anything achieved to date,” said Graeme Milne, Synlait Milk’s Chairman. Mr Milne discussed global factors behind the decreases in international dairy market pricing and pointed out prices since July 31, 2015 have decreased further to unsustainably low levels from a New Zealand farming perspective. “It’s important to understand our profitability is not directly affected by international dairy prices. It impacts our revenue, but the value we create by differentiating milk inside the farm gate and throughout the manufacturing process creates a margin for our business that is essentially independent of the global pricing of commodities,” said Mr Milne. “This margin is most evident in our nutritional products. The highlight in this category right now is consumer packaged infant formula, which we expect to increase four-fold in volume in FY16.” Managing director and chief executive officer, Dr John Penno, pointed to the completion of Synlait’s growth initiative programme as a key milestone in the business’ strategy to make more from milk.
DWN partners with software gurus Dairy Women’s Network is excited to announce it has signed on two new professional partners who have the potential to revolutionise its members’ accounting systems and overall farming businesses. Online accounting software companies Xero and Figured have just signed on as Network partners and DWN chief executive Zelda de Villiers said the network is excited by the potential benefits members will receive through the partnership with workshops offered to its membership. “We are very excited to have Xero and Figured on board, because these two companies are providing innovative solutions and technology to farm businesses as well as other New Zealand businesses,” she said. “DWN prides itself on its ability to connect dairying women with leaders in the industry, leaders in the business world, and with one another, so they are able to better their practices and ultimately, the industry. “It is partners like Xero and Figured, and our other carefully selected professional partners, that ensure that happens to the highest standard.” Silver partner Xero introduced the Farming in the Cloud solution about 18 months ago, which brought real time, single ledger reporting to the farm for the first time. The solution allows farmers and their accountants, banks and rural service companies to work together from the same set of online, real-time data, and provides one centralised home for key accounting and farm management tools.
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What is preventative hoof trimming? I have been on farms where they had done their own preventative hoof trimming during the year. When I started doing my trimming I had to explain what I was doing and it turned out to be quite different from the way that they did it. This made me wonder how many people out there actually understand preventative hoof trimming and what its benefits are. Preventative hoof trimming is not cutting out white line cracks and any other issues that you may find in a claw. If anything, you will probably make things worse for the cow if that is all you do. If all lameness issues are caused by physical damage then it would make sense to cut out any deformities, but the problem starts on the inside of the claw, in the live tissue, not the outside. If the live tissue (corium) is unhealthy, then preventative hoof trimming will not heal it. But with preventative hoof trimming we can reduce the stresses on that corium, enabling it to heal quicker. The ideal is to have both claws on the one foot carrying the same amount of weight. If one claw is bigger (usually the outer one) it will carry more weight. This, in itself, is not necessarily a problem as most cows have a bigger outer claw than the inner one, but not all cows go lame. Most cows have laminitis as well but not all cows are lame because of that either, depending on how severe the laminitis is. A cow that has laminitis has all claws affected.
Good preventative hoof care plays a large part in lameness control.
If the outer claw is bigger and therefore carrying a greater proportion of the weight, the corium is under more stress in that claw compared to the inner claw â€“ this is why most cows are lame on the outer claw. So, the first step that any preventative hoof trimming should entail is paring away the sole on the outer claw. This will reduce the weight and the stress on the live tissue in that claw. If we trim a cow that has a white line issue and we open it up, exposing the corium without taking the sole down, then there is a good chance that the corium will prolapse because that claw is still carrying too much weight. This obviously creates more problems for the cow than benefiting her. I know it sounds simple and straight forward, but it takes skill to achieve that balance. Both claws need to be level and flat, but on the other hand they are not allowed to get too thin either. That is why it takes more advanced training and time to become more proficient at hoof trimming. If you are keen to learn to become a better hoof trimmer, contact Veehof Dairy Services on 0800 833463 to find out what training options are available to you.
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