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Govt could scuttle capital structure plan. PAGE 3



Trailer for baleage PAGE 22

Legacy lives on PAGE 13

NOVEMBER 23, 2021 ISSUE 484 //

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NEWS  // 3

We’re on the same page – McBride SUDESH KISSUN

FONTERRA CHAIRMAN Peter Dairy loses a champion. PG.08

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NEWS ������������������������������������������������������3-13 OPINION ���������������������������������������������� 14-15 AGRIBUSINESS ������������������������������������16 MANAGEMENT ���������������������������������17-18 ANIMAL HEALTH ���������������������������������� 19 MACHINERY & PRODUCTS �������������������������������������� 20-22

McBride isn’t too fussed with a Government threat to scuttle Fonterra’s capital structure revamp. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has told the co-operative that the capital structure proposal, currently before farmers for a vote, isn’t consistent with the Government’s policy objectives. In a letter to McBride, O’Connor stated that at this stage it would be difficult for the Government to support regulatory changes needed to facilitate the proposals. Fonterra farmers received the new capital structure proposal last week and will vote on it at a special general meeting in Invercargill on December 9. A copy of O’Connor’s letter was also sent to all farmer shareholders. McBride told Dairy News that he was “happy” to receive the letter as it shows the Government’s willingness to work with the co-operative on a new capital structure. McBride agreed that some might take the letter literally while others will think it is supportive of the cooperative. “I was happy to receive the letter,” he says. “It’s clear that we share the same objective: to see a sustainable, efficient, high performing and innovative Fonterra. “Our objectives are aligned.”

Peter McBride says he can understand why the Government is not at this stage in a position to support DIRA changes to facilitate the proposal.

McBride noted that O’Connor was “really supportive of co-operatives”. “The important point in the letter is that the Government will work with us.” The new capital structure will have a flexible shareholding structure, allowing all farmers more flexibility around increasing or decreasing their shareholding during their farming career. It requires 75% support from voting shareholders. It will also require Parliament to approve changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). O’Connor claims the current proposals “envisage a legislative change to remove key mechanisms that risk

weakening performance incentives on Fonterra”. “Without alternative measures, I am not yet assured that these proposals would deliver the best longterm outcomes for farmers or the dairy sector as a whole. “I am particularly concerned that the current proposals would create a higher risk of diverging shareholder interests inside the co-operative, between farmers with minimum shareholdings for supply only and those with larger shareholdings held for investment purposes. “My concern is that this could result in competing shareholder priorities relating to Fonterra’s future direction and strategy.” McBride says he can understand

why the Government is not at this stage in a position to support DIRA changes to facilitate the proposal. “We understand the Government is looking for further assurance that our proposal supports contestability, drives performance and innovation, and protects alignment of shareholder interests,” he says. “I have spoken to the minister since receiving his letter and remain confident that we can provide the Government with the necessary assurances and work together to find a regulatory framework that supports the flexible shareholding structure. “One of the considerations will be a strong mandate for change from the co-op’s farmers.”


4 //  NEWS

‘We listened and removed fish hooks’ SUDESH KISSUN


confident that the revised capital structure proposal mailed to farmers last week will be approved. The proposal needs 75% support to pass. McBride, who has spent the last few months meeting farmer shareholders throughout the country, says he has generally received positive feedback. Following an online survey of farmer views, the co-operative started consulting with farmers in May. A revised capital structure proposal was presented to farmers in September following feedback. McBride believes

Fonterra says milk supply is not growing and it needs a new capital structure to remain competitive.

there was “quite a mood change” since the revised plan was unveiled. “We clearly articulated our 10-year plan and our debt reduction and dividend plan,” he told Dairy News. “That was a real important pivot for us. “I think sentiment has moved a long way and we have been encouraged with our own polling.” McBride admitted that

the initial plan had “issues and fish hooks”. “But we listened to our farmer shareholders and changed the proposal.” The proposal has unanimous support of board and management. It has also received 92% support from the Fonterra Co-operative Council. Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says the co-operative’s strategy to add value to NZ milk and

be a leader in sustainability and innovation depend on a sustainable supply of New Zealand milk and, in turn, a capital structure that enables this. To achieve that, Fonterra must be an attractive option to farmers, who have a choice on where their milk goes, notes Hurrell. “Our proposed capital structure gives all farmers a level of flexible share-

MAIN FEATURES of the capital structure proposal are: ■ New minimum shareholding requirement would be set at 33% of milk supply (1 share/3 kgMS), compared to the current compulsory requirement of 1 share/1 kgMS.

holding, which is critical to supporting farmers to join or stay with our co-op.” He says the management team considers these changes “to be our best course of action if we are to maintain farmer ownership and control of a financially sustainable co-operative”. “We have an incredible natural product made on farms, a business supported by a talented and committed team, and an exciting opportunity to create value. It’s up to us as a co-op to work together, make the necessary changes and ensure we’re creating goodness for generations.” Council chairman James Barron says he is confident that the final proposal gives appropriate protections.

This aims to strike a balance between providing a meaningful level of flexibility for those who need it, which is critical to maintaining a sustainable milk supply, while ensuring all farmers having some capital-backed supply. New maximum shareholding requirement would be set at 4x milk supply, compared to the current 2x milk supply, with the aim of striking a balance between supporting liquidity in the farmer-only market – by ensuring more capacity for farmers to buy shares from those who want to sell – while avoiding significant concentration of ownership. Fonterra shares would be open to sharemilkers, contract milkers and farm lessors. The co-operative hopes this recognises their connection to Fonterra, provides a pathway for future farmer owners and increases the number of potential participants in the farmer-only market by around 4000 to support liquidity. Exit provisions for current shareholders have been extended: up to 15 seasons initially to exit, reducing annually to 10 seasons, which would also support liquidity and give these farmers greater choice about how long they retain an investment in the co-operative. New entrants would have up to six seasons to achieve the 33% minimum shareholding requirement. This compares to a standard three seasons for both entry and exit under the current structure.


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DOING NOTHING to arrest the slide

in milk supply is not an option, says Fonterra chairman Peter McBride. He told farmer shareholders that the total New Zealand milk supply is likely to decline or be flat at best. McBride says Fonterra’s supply depends on the actions it takes with the capital structure, performance, productivity and sustainability. “If we do nothing, we are likely to see around a 12-20% decline by 2030 based on the milk supply scenarios we

have modelled. “Protecting a strong New Zealand farmer-owned co-operative of scale is in all our interests.” He notes that being a strong co-op ensures it pays the highest sustainable milk price. Fonterra’s milk price sets the benchmark for prices Kiwi dairy farmers are paid for their milk. “Based on our current operations, our farmgate milk price could be 6-13 cents lower by 2030 if we make no changes to our capital structure.”


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NEWS  // 5

Milk production dip makes $9/kgMS a real prospect SUDESH KISSUN

A $9/KGMS milk price is becom-

ing a real prospect with global dairy prices showing no signs of easing. The latest Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction price rise has prompted two banks – BNZ and Westpac – to raise their forecast milk price for the season to $8.90/kgMS. Their latest forecast hits the top end of Fonterra’s forecast milk price range of $7.90 to $8.90/kgMS. The co-operative is expected to upgrade its forecast early next month. Strong demand and tight global supply, including soft milk production figures from New Zealand processors in the past few months, are putting upward pressure on prices. BNZ senior economist Doug Steel notes that NZ milk production figures have been “disappointing”. “Both August and September outcomes are around 4% below the corresponding months a year ago,” he says.

“This sets up the season overall to be lower than the prior year.” Strong milk prices normally lead to rises in global milk production as farmers try to cash in on the high farm gate milk price. However, milk production around the globe remains subdued, says Steel. He notes that milk production growth in the EU has been subdued with output in many key EU countries slipping below year earlier levels. Australian milk output is down more than 3% year to date. And in the US, September milk production was a mere 0.2% higher than a year earlier. “We have long been sceptical that global milk supply would respond meaningfully to elevated dairy prices. In part, this is because we saw limited milk supply as a key factor behind higher prices in the first place on rising costs. “Take the US for example. The US milk price-to-feed ratio has been significantly below average all year, raising the risk that US milk production

dips below year earlier levels over coming months.” Steel says all this suggests dairy product prices will be stronger for longer than previously anticipated. Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny says the key catalyst for the 2021/22 forecast revision is the downgrade to forecast production for the season. Penny now expects New Zealand production to fall by 1.5% compared to last season. “Previously, we expected production to fall by 1%. This season, New Zealand production has been on the back foot. “Winter and spring have been either wet or cold or both in many parts of the country. “As a result, production for the first four months of the season is running at 3.1% behind the same stage of last season.” Coupled with soft dairy production elsewhere in the world thanks to very high feed costs and limited feed availability, strong milk prices could be here to stay.

Soaring whole milk powder prices mean a very strong milk price this season.

KOWBUCHA READY FOR FARM TRIALS A FONTERRA project, using home-grown probiotics to reduce cow emissions, is ready for on-farm trials. The project uses potential methane-busting Kowbucha probiotics from the co-op’s extensive dairy culture collection stored at Fonterra Research & Development Centre (FRDC). Fonterra head of strategy and innovation Mark Piper says the trademarked Kowbucha is all about making the most of its peoples’ skills and dairy expertise to unlock the potential of these cultures. “The cultures have been selected over decades for their properties in producing different varieties of cheese, yoghurts, sour creams and for use as health promoting probiotics. “Following analysis of thousands of strains from the collection, specific strains have been identified as those that could potentially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) production naturally from inside the cow.

“The solution must tick all the criteria we apply to any potential GHG reduction technology. It must be good for the cow, good for the milk, good for the environment and good for the farmer.” Working with AgResearch, Fonterra scientists have replicated the cow’s rumen in the laboratory and then added Kowbucha probiotic strains which have shown to reduce methane by up to 50%. “We’re now moving to the next stage,” Piper says. Fonterra has launched its on-farm trials to see how the probiotics perform in the real environment in collaboration with the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc), Massey University and AgResearch where a group of calves will have Kowbucha as part of their regular milk feeding. In a similar way that young children can gain lasting benefits from taking Fonterra’s probiotics early in their lives,

it is said the earlier the cows can take the Kowbucha the more effective it could be. Fonterra project manager for the trial Charlotte Van Der Lee says the


amount of methane emissions the calves produce will be measured, and they will be looking for a substantial reduction in emissions. “Coming from a farm-

ing family, it’s exciting to be part of this project,” she says. “The race is on to find viable solutions to the methane challenge that will allow New Zealand

to achieve national emission reduction targets and further strengthen our reputation as one of the world’s most sustainable milk producers.” On-farm trial results

will be available in six months. But the animals will be followed for at least 12 months to track their long-term methane emissions.


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6 //  NEWS

Tankers will be turning up to collect milk from Covid farms SUDESH KISSUN

A COVID outbreak on a supplier farm will not stop Fonterra from collecting milk, says chief executive Miles Hurrell. He told Dairy News that milk collection is not up for discussion. “We will pick up milk even if the farmer is affected by Covid,” he says. “Tankers will still turn up to collect milk – that’s not up for discussion.” Fonterra has processes in place for such a situation. There will be no “human to human con-

tact” on the farm, says Hurrell. The right controls will need to be in place on the farm as well. On vaccination, Hurrell says it’s not mandatory for Fonterra staff or farmer suppliers and their workers. However, the co-operative ran on-site vaccination clinics to boost uptake among staff. “We are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated and we are pleased with the uptake.” Covid is seeping through the Auckland border into other parts of the North Island. Dairy farmers are preparing for

more positive cases turning up on farms. “It’s only a matter of time before we get more positive cases of Covid-19 turning up on farm,” says Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis. “Distance from health and other facilities, workforce shortages and the need to continue to look after animals and crops raise all sorts of complications. “As DHB medical officers will be making the decision on whether it’s practicable for a farmer or key farm staff member to self-isolate on the farm, evidence of pre-planning and preparedness will

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says tankers will still turn up to collect milk from farms that may be infected by Covid.

be an important factor,” Lewis says. In a Federated Farm-

ers-hosted webinar Southern DHB medical officer of health Dr Michael

Butchard emphasised being double-jabbed was the “very best defence” if a farmer or key team member who tests positive sought to self-isolate on farm. Vaccination rates of people on the farm would weigh heavily on MOHs as they made the “case by case” decisions on how and where isolation would happen if someone tested positive. “The latest data out of the USA indicates if you’re not vaccinated you’re 11 times more likely to die from Covid-19 and 10 times more likely to be hospitalised,” Butchard says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has been working with the agri sector to ensure farmers are prepared. The latest initiative is a checklist for farmers so that they can tick off preparation readiness in terms of personal wellbeing, and everything a neighbour or someone else coming onto the farm would need to know should key people have to go into MIQ or hospital – right down to the names of dogs and where their food is located. The checklist is available on DairyNZ and Federated Farmers websites.


DAIRY HAS been named as New Zealand’s largest organic sector with exports of $153.8 million, up 55% from 2017. The figures were released in the Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) sector strategy earlier this month. The strategy ‘Taking Action for a Better New Zealand’ was commissioned by OANZ and aims to contrib-

ute $4.7 billion to New Zealand’s GDP while reducing climate and environmental pollution. “Growth in the organic sector is better growth for Aotearoa’s environment, the New Zealand economy and for New Zealanders,” says OANZ chief executive Viv Williams. She says the strategy focuses on extension services to support more growers to meet organic standards, while collaborating with regenerative growers and researchers to deliver the best of both worlds. Dairy has dominated the organic

market, making up 37% of organic exports. Williams says the $153.8 million exports come from a combination of butter, cheese, milk, milk powder products, UHT liquid milk and pure milk fat. She adds that major New Zealand producers include Fonterra, Open Country Dairy, Organic Dairy Hub and Waiu Dairy. The 2020/21 financial year saw continued growth in organic export opportunities in key markets including China, the USA, and Russia.

For dairy, China has proved to be one of the fastest growing markets, according to the strategy document. It says the Chinese market for organic dairy reached $1.8 billion by 2023. “Although organic liquid milk accounts for the largest share of organic dairy products valued at US$1.6 billion, organic infant formula is also popular in China,” the strategy document reads. It says that, valued at US$200 million, China is the largest organic infant formula market globally.

The strategy document attributes the growth in organic dairy’s popularity in China to concerns over food safety, adulteration, quality, rapid urbanisation and a growing middle-class with higher disposable income. The strategy makes a number of recommendations in order to complete the strategy’s goals. For the years 2022-2025, it recommends increasing consumer recognition of organic options as an effective environmental and nutritional solution.


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NEWS  // 7

Vaccine roll-out leaves behind rural dwellers PETER BURKE

THE COVID-19 vaccine

roll-out did not suit rural people, according to the chair of Rural GP Network Dr Fiona Bolden. She told Dairy News that at the beginning, the roll-out was designed for an urban setting with large vaccination centres. She says such a plan simply didn’t work for rural people. Bolden says some of the tools for managing Covid in the community, such as what’s happening in Auckland, are developed from an urban perspective and don’t fit neatly into the vastly different rural environment. Bolden says the reason for low vaccination rates in rural areas is complex. She says some of this is due to the distance that people may have to travel to get a jab; others still haven’t got that message that Covid will eventually come to their area. She notes that rural people are notoriously independent and often don’t like being told what to do, so this could be a factor. She says looking at the present situation, some of the statistics about vaccination rates in rural

regions are misleading and fail to capture key problems such as the low Māori vaccination rates. “Although your overall rate in a region may not look too bad, there are pockets and clusters in some areas that have very low vaccination rates and these are often in the more isolated areas, which again can affect Māori and the rural workforce,” she says. Bolden says the community care programme is based around wellbeing and social support to help people who have Covid and who are isolating at home. “The difficulty is how is that going to happen in rural areas and who is going to coordinate that and how that will be funded and how will people be supported in rural areas? “What happens if people have to go into an MIQ facility? We know there are no MIQ facilities in rural areas and we have heard that these are unlikely to be developed. So therefore we need extra help for homecare and from the DHBs and nursing support to be able to particularly help older people who are isolating at home on their own with Covid. That is a huge

CARING FOR THE CARERS DR FIONA BOLDEN says she also has concerns for health professionals in rural areas and to that end wants rapid antigen tests made freely available. She says this is so that rural health providers who are asymptomatic can be tested to stop any spread of Covid in health teams and in the community. “If the whole health team goes down, that’s it,” she says. Bolden says we still need to push the rural vaccination message. She says it’s more important than anywhere else in the country that we get good coverage in rural because we don’t have the capacity to manage really sick people in the community. “Covid is going to go through everybody and we can reduce the chance of getting it if we are vaccinated. But people can still get it even if they are vaccinated – they are just less likely to get severely ill –that’s why it’s so important for people in rural areas to get vaccinated, because the chances are you won’t have access to significant health resources,” she says.

issue,” she says. The news that the Rotorua DHB has only four ICU beds is terrifying, she says, and means that GPs are going to have to manage the majority of

people who catch Covid. She says the low vaccination rates in many rural communities mean that, in a major Covid outbreak, unvaccinated people are going to get

more severely ill and this will stretch health facilities in many places. She has concerns about holidays times if Covid-stricken visitors come into rural areas.

Rural GP Network chair Dr Fiona Bolden


8 //  NEWS

Tributes to a dairy champion SUDESH KISSUN


has paid tribute to dairy industry leader John Luxton, who passed away earlier this month. McBride says he had a huge amount of respect for Luxton, a former Agriculture Minister and founding chairman of DairyNZ. McBride recalled first meeting Luxton during the Christchurch earthquake in 2016. They were both in Christchurch attending a meeting on the Trans Pacific Partnership with US officials. After the meeting was disrupted by the earthquake, McBride and Luxton ended up walking across the devastated city.

“We were also part of several overseas trade delegations,” McBride told Dairy News. “He was a lovely guy.” Born in Morrinsville, Luxton came from a family of dairy farmers. The Luxton family have continuously supplied milk to small independent processor Tatua since 1921. Luxton served on the Tatua board for 24 years, stepping down in 2018. He was also the cochair of Waikato River Authority until 2020 and the founding chairman of DairyNZ. He stepped down from DairyNZ in November 2015 after more than a decade of service. DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel says Luxton will be remembered for his longstanding, unfaltering contribution to the

Born in Morrinsville, John Luxton came from a family of dairy farmers.

rural sector, particularly dairy. “John has had a major role in the success of New Zealand’s dairy industry.

John has always demonstrated strong leadership and longstanding commitment to the sector,” says van der Poel.

“John was instrumental in a number of significant policy and legislative changes in New Zealand, including the foundation

policy work that led to the formation of Fonterra and the deregulation of producer boards. “One of his major achievements was shaping the development of DairyNZ – the first industry-good body of its kind and the largest in Australasia.” He played a major role in helping guide the dairy industry through a significant period of change, which would soon become New Zealand’s number one export industry. He was instrumental in supporting a successful, viable, competitive dairy industry in New Zealand, with the sector employing 42,240 people and contributing $13.2 billion to New Zealand’s export revenue during his time as chair of DairyNZ. Luxton was a National

MP for 15 years and held various portfolios including agriculture. He entered Parliament in 1987 as MP for Matamata, replacing his father Jack Luxton. Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says Luxton’s political contribution was significant across numerous ministerial roles, including his time as Minister of Agriculture. “The dairy sector would not be the same if it weren’t for John’s work towards forming DairyNZ and then chairing the organisation between 2008 and 2015. “He spearheaded the formation of several dairy companies, including Open Country Cheese and Kaimai Cheese company.” @dairy_news



NEWS  // 9

Dairy conversion days are over? PETER BURKE

THE DAYS of dairy conversions are pretty much done, according to the Real Estate Institute (REI). There are multiple reasons for this, including the cost and difficulty of getting a resource consent, availability of water and other environmental issues, says REI spokesperson on rural issues, Brian Peacocke. He says people wishing to convert lower classes of pastoral land will struggle to gain a consent given the way that regional councils have classified land use. Peacocke says it’s easier to come down a land use category, rather than trying to go up one.

According to Peacocke, it appears that more dairy farms are coming on the market at the moment, but the latest statistics on this are not out yet. He says the same applies for the price of dairy land with sales of many farms currently on the market still to be finalised. “In terms of sales, what appears to be happening is that good dairy farms in prime areas are being sold as dairy farms, whereas in some of the fringe dairy areas we are seeing evidence of a change of land use,” he told Dairy News. “Some marginal dairy farms are going back to beef or heifer grazing dairy support. In some of the country that’s further back, more remote or inhospitable we are seeing a move into trees

and some land that may be integrated into trees,” he says. Peacocke says the trend of larger farming operations absorbing small neighbouring blocks is continuing and

there are now very few small dairy farms left. He says the demand for good dairy support land is significant and often this land is fetching higher prices than actual dairy farmland.

Some marginal dairy farms are going back to beef or heifer grazing dairy support.


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BRIAN PEACOCKE says there is a trend for some dairy farms on very good land to be bought for commercial vegetable growing and other horticultural activities. But he says such land must have good soil, the right contours and have a sustainable water supply. He says water is key and in Northland a new water scheme will certainly foster horticultural development. “In the Waikato we are seeing a spill over from the Bay of Plenty in terms of demand. Alternatively some of the well-established horticulturalists in the Waikato are expanding their operations and that is to kiwifruit, whereas Northland will be a mixture of kiwifruit and avocados,” he says. Just recently Zespri announced it is halving the number of hectares for SunGold kiwifruit this year and Peacocke says this is likely to result in record prices being paid for land in areas where kiwifruit can be grown. He says last year prices were around $550,000/hectare, but this year it could be up around $700,000/ha. Peacocke says the other ongoing factor is that good quality land is being acquired for urban development and this is adding to the pressure on the dairy industry. He says fewer cows along with adverse climatic conditions is also leading to a drop in the overall milk supply – something he says is concerning Fonterra.


10 //  NEWS

M. bovis review panel The advisory panel says it is “convinced that the biosecurity system must be strengthened by a planned programme of improving animal tracking and compliance and the accurate recording of farm data”.



review into the Mycoplasma bovis eradication strategy has found that the programme is still hindered by poor industry-wide compliance in the recording of animal movements. The review team, headed by Professor Nicola Shadbolt, says despite the best efforts of all concerned there are still problems with sharing data between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), farmers and supporting agencies and that this continues to

M. bovis response was the biggest ever response conducted in NZ and when it began it was clear that the various authorities were not as prepared as they thought they were, a review has found.

frustrate the implementation of the programme. But Shadbolt says it’s a remarkable achievement that NZ is currently on track to eradicate M. bovis. The 196-page report canvasses processes and procedures that have taken place since the disease was first discovered in 2017 and charts the progress made since then. It makes a series of recommendations to improve this and other biosecurity incursions. It notes the M. bovis response was the biggest ever response conducted in NZ and when it began it was clear that the various authorities were not as prepared as they thought they were. The report says MPI and the livestock sector were unprepared to tackle a large scale response because there were too few well trained and experienced staff. It adds that there were issues around training and consistency of decision making, particularly around movement control and dealing with compensation claims. Not surprisingly the report takes a close look at NAIT saying that it

was widely known before 2017, when M. bovis was detected, that the system had significant challenges and that compliance was low. It suggests that the present situation in regards to NAIT compliance still leaves a lot to be desired. The advisory panel says it is “convinced that the biosecurity system must be strengthened by a planned programme of improving animal tracking and compliance and the accurate recording of farm data”. The other issue to come under the spotlight in the report is that of communication. It notes that early participants (likely farmers) found engaging with the M. bovis programme deeply frustrating, partly because many MPI field staff were inexperienced and decision making was cumbersome and inflexible. Also a cautious interpretation of the Privacy Act prevented information sharing. The reports says there needs to be better appreciation of the importance of good communications. A key recommendation of the review panel is



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calls for changes to develop a governance structure for dealing with livestock diseases which would be made up of representatives of MPI and industry organisations, with an independent chair. Its role would be to report to the Minister of Biosecurity and to effectively develop and monitor progress on a plan to deal with biosecurity diseases relating to livestock.

The review panel highlights the need to have a core group of skilled professionals, trained and experienced in biosecurity responses, including epidemiology, diagnostics and leadership. It also wants a ‘reserve’ of trained skilled people who can be mobilised to help deal with a similar event in the future, and stresses that it’s critical

these people have technical knowledge of farming systems. Other recommendations from the panel point to the need for MPI to develop and resource a livestock preparedness function, leveraging off the decision for them to

establish the new position of chief veterinary officer (CVO) – a position that incidentally existed in the old MAF days. The panel sees this person having the responsibility to connect with MPI vets and vets in private practice. It wants

a much stronger ‘team’ approach to be established with people working outside MPI. A major recommendation is to develop a national contingency plan to deal with animal diseases, supported by a full suite of operating proce-

dures including manuals and templates. It also wants a resource data strategy for the livestock biosecurity system. While the report contains many criticisms of how the M. bovis programme was handled, it does acknowledge

improvements have been made since the start of the outbreak. It says in many respects the programme has evolved to being an “exemplar of good practice” and says it’s important that the hard-won lessons of the past are not lost.

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THE REVIEW chair Professor Nicola Shadbolt says the panel acknowledges the significant impact the eradication has had on farmers and rural communities, as well as those working on the programme. She says a large number of people, including farmers, worked incredibly hard to get to where we are now and has put us on track to be the first country in the world to eradicate M. bovis. “We now need to make sure we capture these lessons learned, improve our preparedness for the next animal health response, have a world class biosecurity system that all players commit to and that will deliver,” she says. MPI director-general Ray Smith says the M. bovis programme has provided valuable lessons for future disease responses, including the foot and mouth disease readiness programme. He says changes have already been made across the biosecurity system but the review panel’s recommendations will help MPI in the future. “A number of improvements have already been made or are under way and these include the appointment of a new specialist welfare advisor within Biosecurity NZ to ensure a greater focus on the needs of people affected by future incursion responses. One of the key recommendations is that we all need to work more closely together to ensure the right capability and support is in place for people affected by a disease incursion,” he says. DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says the biosecurity response and management of M. bovis has been challenging, especially for our farmers directly affected. He says the review will help ensure that government and industry are better prepared for any future incursion. “It’s vital we get it right for farmers. “Establishing a cross government and industry working group, coupled with ongoing biosecurity and farm management practices, will help strengthen the work we do,” he says.

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12 //  NEWS

Vet scheme wins praise SUDESH KISSUN


scheme to place 34 graduate vets in rural areas is winning praise from one recruitment agency. Julie South of VetStaff says it’s a great initiative. “I know of quite a few vets who’ve worked in the rural sector because of this scheme,” she told Dairy News. “It helps make a difference to paying off their student loan.” The graduate vets are being placed in rural areas, from Kaitaia in the Far North to Gore in Southland, through the Government’s Voluntary Bonding Scheme for Veterinarians (VBS). The successful recipients will each receive funding of $55,000 over five years, in a bid to help

ease the shortage of veterinarians working with production animals in our regions. Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor says it’s well known that there’s a real need for vets, especially in rural areas. “Since it began 12 years ago, the VBS has made a big difference in attracting and retaining graduate vets to rural communities that can be challenging to recruit staff to. “The graduate vets start their career working predominantly with production animals, such as cows, sheep and pigs, which are essential in our primary industries. “This scheme supports New Zealand to maintain our world-class standards in biosecurity, animal welfare and food

Julie South, VetStaff

safety. “Through this funding, we aim to ensure we have the best care for production animals and working dogs across the

country.” The programme is delivered by the Ministry for Primary Industries and since its inception in 2009 has supported

384 graduate vets to start their careers working with production animals in rural practice. Julie South says some of the rural farming ‘clubs’ also have their own private scheme to help attract vets who are ineligible for the government scheme. “One recent mixed animal vet I placed into a permanent country position earlier this year was super impressed that the clinic she was going to was prepared to invest in its team in this way. “She qualified for the MPI scheme, but it made a difference to how she viewed her future employer.” South questioned whether MPI could extend this to attract overseas-qualified vets who are eligible for NZ registration to help fill rural vacancies.

Always on target

EX-FONTERRA DIRECTORS JOIN BOARD TWO FORMER Fonterra directors have been elected

to the Cooperative Business New Zealand board. Nicola Shadbolt and Greg Gent will join two others – Mike Brown of Marlborough Grape Growers Cooperative and Matthew Washington of Mitre 10 on the board. Shadbolt has extensive governance experience and is an experienced advocate of the co-operative model. A professor of farm and agri business management at Massey University, she is the current chair of Plant and Food Research Institute and a Climate Change Commissioner. Gent, a Northland dairy farmer, joins the board with an extensive career in governance, spanning several decades across multiple sectors. He is chairman of Southern Cross Health Society and is a past chair of Farmers’ Mutual Group, past director of Fonterra, and works as a dairy farmer in Ruawai. NZ Co-op Business chief executive Roz Henry says the combined experience of the new directors will be a great help to members. “Their combined experience, knowledge and skills, covering a range of sectors and specialist knowledge will prove invaluable and greatly assist in pursuing the interest of our members, in particular working alongside our government and educators to support New Zealand member-owned businesses.”



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NEWS  // 13

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What your cows are telling you? Gordonton farmers Annabelle and Stephen Scherer.

A passion to farm and continuing the family legacy GORDONTON DAIRY FARMERS Annabelle and Stephen Scherer

are enjoying the pursuit of their passion for Holstein Friesians while building a business that continues a family legacy. The couple have been sharemilking for the last 18 years. It was only around five years ago that the couple, who sharemilk 190 Holstein Friesian cows on 75ha, resumed their interest in registering, showing and classifying their cattle. Annabelle is also the newest member of the Holstein Friesian NZ Board, elected at the organisation’s annual meeting earlier this year. “The Holstein Friesian breed has been a passion of mine since I was young,” she says. “As a young girl I helped my parents show Charbelle animals, attended many Holstein Friesian youth camps and had the privilege of being awarded the Arapeta Trophy in 1993. “I studied, had a family, sharemilked, and now that the kids are a little older, I have a little more time to pursue the things I am passionate about.” The Scherer’s farm is owned by Annabelle’s parents Dyanne and Wayne Osborne, who founded

the Charbelle Holsteins stud 35 years ago. Annabelle and Stephen have been sharemilking on the all-peat farm for six years, and also own a second herd, run by a manager on a nearby lease farm. The farm system is pasture-based, but the herd also receives silage from the 7.5ha of maize grown on farm annually, as well as an in-shed feed blend. The production target is 450 kgMS/cow. The Scherer’s split-calve their herd: 80 cows in autumn, and 110 in spring. They rear 25-30 replacements and sell the surplus. Mating is undertaken in a six to seven week window of AB, with a slightly shorter window in autumn. “Our breeding policy is to be strict on stature to produce a moderate stature,” Stephen says. “We also play with some high type genetics on a small percentage of animals in order to produce some animals for showing.” Good udders, feet and legs are also important when it comes to breeding decisions, with improved fertility a key focus. “We have used the World Wide Sires mating programme for

many years now,” Annabelle says. “It helps with deciding which sires go to which dams, much like TOP cows are assessed for traits and mated to suitable bulls accordingly. We are also moving toward using more sexed semen and beef genetics.” The Charbelle Holsteins stud is producing some notable cow families, including Charbelle MWB Prancer S2F VG88, who was All Breeds Intermediate Champion at the 2020 Stratford A&P Show; All Breeds Intermediate Champion and Holstein Intermediate Champion at the 2020 Waikato A&P Show, and Overall Best Intermediate Udder at the 2021 New Zealand Dairy Event. Prancer’s daughter, Charbelle Tatoo Pix S3F, was All Breeds Junior Champion at the 2020 Stratford A&P Show, and All Breeds Junior Champion and Holstein Junior Champion at the 2021 New Zealand Dairy Event. “Prancer was the cow that got us back into showing,” Annabelle says. “We attended NZDE for the first time with three calves, one of which was Prancer, and it escalated from there.” @dairy_news

GIVING SOMETHING BACK TO THE BREED HAVING BEEN elected to the Holstein Friesian NZ Board in 2021, Annabelle Scherer says she is relishing “being around all things Holstein Friesian”. “There are a great bunch of people on the board and I’ve really enjoyed my time so far,” she says. “I particularly want to concentrate on the youth aspect of Holstein Friesian NZ and ensure they are well

looked after, for the future of the Holstein Friesian breed. “I also want to give something back to the breed that from a young age I have experienced many benefits and much enjoyment from.” The family strives to achieve a good work-life balance. The kids play winter sports and Annabelle and Stephen enjoy social volleyball, in addition to the treasured time they spend

showing cattle. “Stephen and I enjoy attending the three major shows each year,” Annabelle says. “It’s like a little holiday for us. The two older kids enjoy coming along with us, and we are hoping the two younger kids will enjoy it in the coming years, too.” Annabelle and Stephen are working toward buying into Charbelle.

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Which face do we believe?

MILKING IT... No favours SOME LEADERS from protest group Groundswell seem to be doing no favours to the organisation. After their first hugely successful ‘Howl of a Protest’ in July was nearly hijacked by a few nutters, one would have thought they would tread carefully, especially when airing their views on social media. The recent forced resignation of Tatua Dairy Co-operative director Ross Townshend is a case in point. The Waikato regional protest coordinator shot himself in the foot with disparaging remarks about Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta. Now, Mahuta should be taken to task for trying to ram through the disastrous Three Water reforms proposal, but Townshend went too far and has unfortunately dragged Groundswell through the mud as well.

Anti-cooperative? AGRICULTURE MINISTER Damien O’Connor has thrown a spanner in the works as far as Fonterra’s proposed capital structure is concerned. He wants unspecified “alternative measures” otherwise Parliament won’t pass regulatory changes needed for the new structure to become effective. O’Connor’s stance is going against the wishes of Fonterra’s 10,000 farmer shareholders, who have helped the board draft the capital structure proposal so that it remains 100% farmer owned and controlled. But O’Connor was singing a different tune when Westland Milk, located on his home patch, was sold to a Chinese buyer two years ago. He was unhappy with the co-op being offloaded to an overseas buyer and even wished Fonterra had bought the Hokitika-based business.

Not bad NEW ZEALAND may be a minnow on the global stage but here’s another example how our ag sector punches above its weight. According to US Department of Agriculture figures, there are over 1 billion cattle in the world: India leads with 305 million cattle followed by Brazil on 252 million. NZ is 12th on the list with just over 10 million cattle or just 1% of the total global herd. About 80% of New Zealand beef is exported and makes up 8% of the world’s exported beef. New Zealand produces 21 billion litres of milk every year – about 3% of the world milk production. We are the world’s 8th largest milk producer. Not bad for a team of just five million!

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Poo-powered BMW CAR MAKER BMW is partnering with a California dairy farm to turn effluent into clean energy to power its electric cars. BMW and California’s Straus Organic Dairy Farm will install a methane biodigester in Marshall, California that will be responsible for capturing methane from cow manure, converting it to renewable energy which will be sent to the power grid. The German company describes the strategy as a one-two punch that will help deliver ‘extraordinarily efficient’ electric cars. Not only will its EVs produce zero emissions while driving, but cleaner energy for the grid will help make charging cars more sustainable too.

WHEN COVID-19 first arrived in New Zealand, PM Jacinda Ardern made great play of the fact that it would be the primary sector – and that means rural NZ – would be the saviour of the economy. Agriculture and the supporting processing and supply chain workers and farmers were deemed essential, and to their great credit these people have delivered 100% and more. But if perchance, or maybe out of morbid curiosity, you tune into Jacinda’s daily sermons from the Beehive, you would struggle to hear the word ‘rural’ mentioned these days. The vaccine roll-out has been urban driven with percentage rates in Auckland hailed and glorified. It seems to be all about high population numbers, which also means votes, or is that being too cynical? While low vaccination rates are in the Beehive narrative, what is not coming through is that many of the very low vaccination rates are in clusters in rural areas – often Maori and Pasifika who are absolutely essential, in fact critical, workers for the success of NZ’s economic future. They often form the bulk of the workers in the meat processing plants and perform other essential roles in rural areas. It would appear that the Government and the Ministry of Health officials stupidly think that urban based solutions for dealing with Covid can somehow be shoehorned or made to fit in rural areas. It’s time these people started listening to people like Dr Fiona Bolden (chair Rural GP Network) and other rural GPs and health professionals and get a few facts under their belts before joining the cheerleaders’ party at the Beehive. Regional NZ has been short-changed by successive governments: we have sewerage leaks in the hospital in Whangarei, only four ICU beds in Rotorua and Dairy News has been told that one DHB servicing a large rural area has closed off its waiting list for people wanting elective surgery. Now just watch Parliament and see the different parties hold up graphs and put out press releases saying how good they are or have been. The word ‘bullshit’ readily comes to mind! It has taken a pandemic to show up the underinvestment in health. The fact is, rural people are deprived of quality health care due to years of neglect and it seems the politicians and policy wonks in Wellington simply don’t get, or care, about what happens outside big city boundaries. People will die because of this. – Peter Burke

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OPINION  // 15

Why Fonterra needs to change CHARLES WHITING

MAKING A change to any businesses is difficult. Augmenting a capital structure with the diversity of stakeholders and complexity as at Fonterra is a significant challenge. That said, change is needed and the proposal on foot is sensible and coupled with a refreshed executable strategy. Fonterra has been plagued in the last decade with what I call an ‘ambition-to-ability’ mismatch. In short, Fonterra didn’t have the necessary skills to take on the world. Execution was lacking. Poor choices were made around strategy: a lack of quality thinking and diligence characterised investments. Governors failed in not asking the right questions, or knowing what to ask, and effectively let management run roughshod over a national champion. Some farmers rightly left to pursue other opportunities. It is often forgotten what would happen if Fonterra didn’t exist in its co-operative format. It is very simple. Farmers would be squeezed down to accept lower milk prices just above their breakeven. Money wouldn’t end up back in local communities and tax and GST takes would immediately impact government. This on-farm

economic multiplier effect delivered by an efficient cooperative is critical to New Zealand. Regardless, New Zealand farmers are resilient and continue to deliver quality nutrition to the world. The core of this need for quality nutrition underpins the new Fonterra strategy. It plays to Fonterra’s strengths, taking account of likely New Zealand production declines (mostly from regulatory pressures), the benefits of New Zealand pasture-based milk (both environmental and nutritionally) and Fonterra’s world leading research and development capabilities. Regardless of the new strategy there is one thing that Fonterra needs to deliver – performance. You can have any capital structure, however, if a business doesn’t perform it will fail. Behind performance are three clear requirements: a clear articulated strategy, capable people and measured execution against the plan. It is clear to me that elements of this are coming together. Execution must be held to account by the board and, failing that, by shareholders playing a more active role. We cannot afford more thought experiments using shareholders’ capital. Credit needs to be made for work done

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already. The level of communication and transparency from the board and management has increased ten-fold. The humility of the current management team and board to own up to mistakes of the business – many of which didn’t happen on their watch – has been excellent. Cou-

pled with a sensible and achievable strategy they will position Fonterra for a strong future. Why will I be supporting the proposed capital structure? Put simply, the status quo doesn’t work for a declining milk volume environment. Personally, I would have gone further and

brought back the units and also a number of the ‘dry shares’. Either way the option remains. Farmers need to think about their shares as a ‘right to supply’ because if the strategy is delivered, you will be financially better off to supply Fonterra. This new capital struc-

es Sometim IT TAKES


KEEP THE WATER FLOWING Whatever you need to keep the water flowing this summer at your place, we have the right parts and advice on tap. So whether you just need a fast replacement of a faulty trough valve, planning a major upgrade, or access to great supply deals, we can make sure you’re connected.

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ture, with an executable strategy, give us confidence to invest on farm and let Fonterra do for future generations what it has for past – deliver prosperity and wealth to rural communities and in turn contribute significantly to New Zealand’s global standing. Dairy is enduring: it can deliver perpet-

ual value, unlike extractive resources. Government and regulators cannot afford to forget this. As a smart man once said, “you can’t put iron ore on your Weetbix”. • Charles Whiting is a Waikato-based former finance executive investing in dairy and other NZ businesses.



New technology targets pond methane emissions RAVENSDOWN HAS

unveiled new methane mitigating technology that it says virtually eliminates the methane emitted from effluent ponds – reducing it by up to 99.9%. Ponds are the second largest source of methane on a dairy farm – behind direct emissions from the animals themselves – so Ravensdown says its EcoPond system could cut total farm emissions by 4% to 5%. EcoPond is an offshoot of Ravensdown’s award-winning ClearTech effluent recovery system, giving many of its benefits without the full cost of its

holding tanks and associated machinery. It was developed in conjunction with the same team of Lincoln University’s Emeritus Professor Keith Cameron and Professor Hong Di. The automated “plug and play” in-line system can be retrofitted to existing ponds and uses the same iron sulphate additive as ClearTech, metered into the pond by a computer-controlled pump and mixing system. To help ensure reliability and reduce cost, it uses the proven properties of liquid flow through coiled pipe to thoroughly mix the additive and effluent without any further moving parts.

Professors Keith Cameron and Hong Di, developers of the new Ravensdown EcoPond system.

A raft-mounted sensor in the pond monitors and adjusts the mix in real time. The system was unveiled recently at a launch at Lincoln Uni-

versity’s Dairy Research Farm, with speeches from a number of both Ravensdown and Lincoln bigwigs and a pre-recorded video message from Agriculture Minister Damien

Carl Ahlberg says there are now 10 ClearTech installations in operation from Northland to South Canterbury. The release of the science around EcoPond was “another big tick” for them, as it confirms that they are already getting the benefit of reduced methane from their effluent ponds, he said. While ClearTech was primarily designed to recover and reuse water from effluent, many farmers didn’t need that. Ravensdown would continue to offer both systems. At an estimated $45,000 to $49,000, EcoPond would be about a third of the cost of ClearTech and Ahlberg said there was a huge amount of interest in it already. He noted that the country has now set a 12% target for biogenic methane reduction by 2030.

happens in those wetland soils. “We’re stopping the methane at this point, keeping the carbon in the solution that gets returned to the pasture soil. “So we’re returning, not only the nitrogen, the phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, calcium, magnesium copper, manganese, zinc etc, it also returns more carbon to the land because it’s not been blasted off into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas methane.” Hong Di added that EcoPond reduces the risk of Dissolved Reactive Phosphate loss to water by up to 99%. “This means that this essential nutrient can be recycled with reduced risk of water contamination. The EcoPond system also strips out E.coli so that the dairy effluent is much safer to irrigate to pasture.” Meanwhile, Ravensdown’s product manager

O’Connor. Explaining the science behind it, Cameron told the launch that it was a natural process mimicking what happens in coastal wetlands. “People could not understand why coastal wetlands had lower missions of methane than inland wetlands and it’s because of the sulphate in the seawater. “Really, we’re looking at a nature-based solution following exactly what

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Avoiding harm in the sun WITH SUMMER around the corner, farmers are being urged to take steps to lower their risk of skin cancer. People who work outside receive up to 10 times more UV radiation exposure than indoor workers, putting them at high risk of developing skin cancer, according to the Cancer Society. It says not everyone realises the hidden hazard of over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Additionally, items that can protect you from UV radiation, like sun protective clothing, sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are tax deductable for farmers who are self employed. Cancer Society medical director Dr Kate Gregory says skin cancer is the most common cancer in Aotearoa New Zealand. “Fortunately, we now

TIPS WHEN OUT ON THE FARM Wear items that can protect you while outdoors. Depending on the requirements, this could include: ■ a wide-brimmed hat or helmet with a peak and neck guard (legionnaire’s flap)

All farmers have to be careful in the sun but farmers in more northern parts of the country experience higher UV radiation for longer.

know that there are things we can do to lower our risk. It is important that we embed SunSmart practices in our lives from a very young age as UV damage accumulates over time. “Also, if you are working outside, it is essential that you take steps to protect yourself from UV

radiation. It is never too late to start. “These actions can make a real difference in reducing the risk of skin cancers.” Otago Farmer Jeremy Wales, from Baldwin Farm, in the Knobbie Range has been farming for 24 years. Generally a man of few words

he still wants to spread the message of taking care while working outdoors. “The sun is hard and hot in Central, and you don’t want to get done over by skin cancer! Cover up, wear a hat, and put your sunnies on.” Gregory notes that most skin cancers can be treated successfully if

caught early. “It is so important for everyone, particularly those spending large amounts of time outdoors, to regularly check their skin. “And remember that you cannot see or feel UV radiation – it can be harmful even on a cool or cloudy day. Because UV

a long-sleeved, collared shirt (wear the collar upturned to protect your neck, a common place for skin cancers, ideally in a tightweaved, dark fabric

close-fitting, wrap-around sunglasses that meet safety and sun protection standards (check the label). Slip into shade If possible, move tasks where there is shade or inside. If not, try to schedule outside tasks when UV radiation levels are lower, such as early morning or late afternoon.

damage accumulates over time, we recommend that farmers use sun protection all day. “Be particularly careful from the beginning of September to April between the hours of

10am-4pm when UV levels are highest.” All farmers have to be careful in the sun but farmers in more northern parts of the country experience higher UV radiation for longer.

IMMIGRATION AND RECRUITMENT EXPERTS JOIN FORCES Recent changes to immigration processes and plans to reopen the border to migrant workers next year, along with mandatory employer accreditation from July 2022, made creating a partnership with an immigration specialist a natural progression for Rural People director Paula Hems. Paula selected Visa Max owner Bevan O’Connor to provide specialised immigration services for her rural recruitment business based on their shared values of honesty, empathy, and professionalism. “We deliver an exceptional service to our clients which puts people first. As a migrant myself, I understand what migrant workers are going through when moving to a new country and organising a job with a good employer. “Bevan and I both believe in a business model based on integrity which provides employers with a competitively priced service while maintaining a proven record of exceptional service and care for the staff we recruit.” The upcoming changes to immigration include a new one-off streamlined residency process which begins on 1st December. Residency applications will be open until 31st July 2022 and will enable over 100,000 migrants to obtain New Zealand residency.

Bevan says providing certainty to migrants via residency and allowing them to reconnect with their families is vital. “It is really important to be able to offer migrant workers the chance to move forward with their lives. This also helps our rural clients who have been losing excellent workers to other countries due to New Zealand not being able to process new Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for residency during the pandemic.” The gradual border reopening throughout 2022 will allow more vaccinated workers and family members of migrant workers to enter the country, which Paula says is vital for boosting our rural economy and the wellbeing Rural People of migrants. dire

ctor Paula H growing bu ems has pa siness. rtnered wit

“It’s been really tough for our farmers. They have been crying out for workers and losing staff due to uncertainty over residency. These changes will help to alleviate these issues.

“Being able to reunite with overseas family members will also ease a huge mental burden for many of the staff we have placed.” Rural People client Sam Spencer-Bowers says Paula and her team are ex-

h Visa Max

owner Bevan

tremely helpful when it comes to working through the immigration process to secure the appropriate visas for migrant workers on their North Canterbury farm. “We have been using Paula for five years, and we keep coming back to her because she is so helpful, down to earth and makes things happen for us.

O’Connor to

gain immig

ration expe

rtise for he

“Running a farm is a time-consuming business and we don’t want to be bogged down with paperwork for visas and immigration. “It’s more cost-effective to let Paula take care of it and then we can get on with the things we need to be doing on the farm.”

Rural People are passionate about working with the Dairy Farmers of New Zealand


PAULA: 0275 11 88 14




Foundation for future breeders YEAR TWELVE student

Kimberley Simmons is the winner of the 2021 Holstein Friesian New Zealand Black & White Show Trip. Simmons says the successful youth programme has been instrumental in bringing together young people passionate about breeding and showing Holstein Friesian cattle. The programme encourages youth aged 21 years and under to become members of the association. Members are able to enter competitions, apply for exchange opportunities, attend youth camps and enter Black & White Youth showmanship classes at local shows. Simmons, 17, lives in Southland on 60ha Lowburn and Brydale Studs with Mum Teena, Dad Sandy and brother Jack, 22. They milk 170 mainly Holstein Friesian cows, but also have Jersey and Milking Shorthorn cattle on farm. The Menzies College student first showed her pet calf at age four, and her passion for showing cattle has only increased since then. She says HFNZ Black & White Youth initiative encourages young people to get involved with their breed association and to continue with their passion beyond childhood,

The technology combines behaviour data collected via proprietary collar-mounted sensors with data from internetconnected farm systems, farm equipment and third-party sources.


Kimberley Simmons with Belbrook US Seisme-RED-ET VG86, who took out South Island Intermediate Champion Holstein at the Ellesmere Show.

going on to breed good stock and show their cattle as adults. Simmons attends most shows in Southland and Otago, with the Oxford Show the furthest north she has travelled to show cattle. This year she has entered a number of competitions to vie for any opportunities offered to young people interested in cattle – and her application for the Holstein Friesian NZ Black & White Show Trip was a winner. She wowed judges with her application, which included a onepage essay describing her involvement with the Holstein Friesian breed and why she believed she would benefit from being

selected for this trip. She attended the South Island Championships at the Ellesmere A&P Show, Canterbury, held on October 16. Holstein Friesian NZ organised Kimberley’s return travel and billeted her with local members the Wakelin family of Belbrook Farming Ltd. Simmons spent three days with the Wakelins, helping them prepare cattle for the show. She washed and helped clip cows and heifers in the lead-up to the show, and at the show itself kept the animals clean throughout the day. Robbie Wakelin says his family were very impressed with Kimberley throughout her stay. “She was a tremen-

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dous help and was a welldeserved recipient of the trip,” he says. “She really got stuck in and did a good job.” Simmons says attending the show was awesome. “I got to meet lots of new people and talk about all things cows, and it was cool seeing cattle of a high standard compete.” She encourages other Black & White Youth members to apply for the opportunities offered by Holstein Friesian NZ, particularly if they have limited experience in attending shows. “It’s a great introduction to the showing circuit, and a good opportunity for a ‘newbie’ to meet people with similar interests,” she says.

with Fonterra’s Farm Source to launch collar-mounted sensors for cows. Connecterra, which uses artificial intelligence to deliver insights to dairy farmers, says it has signed a deal with Fonterra for the sale of its intelligent dairy assistant (Ida) platform in New Zealand. The technology combines behaviour data collected via proprietary collar-mounted sensors with data from internet-connected farm systems, farm equipment and third-party sources. Ida then uses artificial intelligence to translate the data into real-time, easy-to-understand insights in the app. Users respond to insights with just a few taps. This feedback is processed using machine learning, allowing Ida to become smarter and more personalised for each farm over time. Connecterra says the NZ launch follows the completion of a successful two-year trial at Cloverlea Farm, a split calving farm in South Waikato. Owner Chris Poole sees a clear difference in Ida and believes the tech-

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nology can be a game changer for Kiwi farmers. “Ida’s technology is different. She learns you and your farm. It’s easy to see the difference in our in-calf rates and animal health. There is so much potential for other farms in New Zealand,” says Poole. The nationwide rollout began in the South Waikato region in August. With mating season underway, Connecterra says customers are already using Ida to help with tasks such as detecting heats and drafting for insemination. “Our goal is to empower farmers globally to increase productivity while reducing the impact of farming on the planet. “After seeing strong, positive results during the pilot, we’re pleased to see Ida technology scale across New Zealand,” said Yasir Khokhar, chief executive of Connecterra. He says to celebrate Ida’s arrival in New Zealand, Connecterra is offering a special introductory price for Farm Source customers and Fonterra suppliers who subscribe before January 31.

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Record number of elite bulls join AB team LIC SAYS farmers around New Zealand are set to reap the rewards from a record number of genetically superior young bulls joining the ranks of its artificial breeding bull teams. Twenty-six young, genomically selected sires have made the cut to join the teams this spring, up from 23 bulls last year and 17 the year before. The 2017-born cohort, commonly known as ‘spring bulls’, secured their spot in the teams after their superior performance predicted by genomics was validated by herd testing data from their first crop of daughters now being milked on farms around

the country. “The record number of young bulls graduating into our Premier Sires teams this year demonstrates the accuracy and value in using genomic selection in our breeding scheme,” said LIC Livestock selection manager Simon Worth. “Based on these bulls’ DNA and ancestry we predicted they would produce phenomenal dairy cows, and that has well and truly shown itself to be true as their daughters are now being milked with great results.” Worth says the farmers can now utilise these elite genetics this mating season. “The nature of our

LIC Livestock Selection Manager Simon Worth says the major benefit in these early-mid mating season additions is ensuring farmers have access to the latest and greatest young genetics.

fresh semen service means we can select a bull to join a team one day and then his semen can arrive on-farm the next day for insemination, so we can deliver that genetic improvement on-farm almost immediately for farmers to capi-

talise on.” Worth says securing a place in one of the coop’s renowned Premier Sires bull teams is no easy feat and rightly so as the teams are responsible for siring up to 75 per cent of the national dairy herd. “There’s a lot of boxes

a bull needs to tick to earn a spot in one of our teams. First and foremost, he must be able to produce daughters which have the outstanding production and efficiency expected of the next generation of New Zealand dairy cows.” He says this year’s spring bull graduates are now some the most genetically superior sires for AB that New Zealand has to offer, taking out six of the top seven spots in the industry’s Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list which ranks bulls from all breeding companies according to their Breeding Worth. Two of the bulls – KiwiCross Werders Pre-

monition (518038) and Holstein Friesian Waimata SB Ransom-ET (118001) – have also secured the number one position for their respective breed on the RAS list. Worth, who has been working in LIC’s livestock selection team for 18 years, says he can’t remember a graduation rate as high as this year. “This is really gratifying for us with the work we do – from the contract mating through to bull team selection – and ultimately great news for New Zealand dairy farmers.” Asked if he has a favourite of the new bulls, he said that’s like asking a parent if they have a

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favourite child, and there is no room for favouritism when it comes to the coop’s bull selection. “But if I had to pick one that is particularly close to our hearts it’d be the KiwiCross sire, Innovation Homebrew. He was born and bred on LIC’s commercial dairy farm outside Hamilton and LIC staff named him. “Although Homebrew has a special link to LIC, his high BW shows he well and truly deserved his spot on the team. We’re looking forward to following his journey.” Farmers can now access the elite new genetics through the coop’s range of Premier Sires bull teams.



JV for Bucket Test app MARK DANIEL


global farm management company CropX have established a joint venture agreement for the Bucket Test app. The app is an irrigation efficiency tool that has been used thousands of times to determine application depth, rate and how uniformly water is being applied during an irrigation event. The simple method is based on collecting irrigation water in strategically placed buckets and

measuring water collected over a period of time. The app is used to collate this data and walks you through the steps to collect all relevant inputs, then provides the results instantly to your phone or smart device and e-mails a summary report. “The Bucket Test app is another addition to the CropX toolkit,” explains Eitan Dan, managing director of CropX New Zealand. “We’ve seen farmers in many countries crying out for an accurate way to measure irrigation efficiency, so the app offers a ready-made solution

that we can now bring to them.” The Bucket Test works well alongside CropX’s patented Soil Sensor which is embedded with their sophisticated, yet easy to use digital platform. Eitan acknowledges that as environmental legislation and consumer expectations are tightening the screws on New Zealand farmers, there is an urgent need to measure environmental impacts and increase efficiency. Having originally developed the app with Regen, Irrigation NZ is

The Bucket Test app is another addition to the CropX toolkit, says Eitan Dan, managing director of CropX New Zealand.

excited to work with CropX to further develop the tool. “We’re very proud of the work we’ve done with Regen to develop a tool that takes the guesswork out of assessing irrigation infrastructure performance,” says Vanessa Winning, chief executive of IrrigationNZ. “It’s been used thousands of times since development with great outcomes. CropX’s expertise means we will be able to improve the app even further and deliver greater value to our members,” says Winning.


bers published by ACC, more than 60 farmrelated injuries are reported every day, leaving much room for improvement. With the Health and Safety Act placing the onus on employers, people in positions of power and employees to carry out rural operations safely, a routine safety check of machinery offers the benefits of keeping staff safe from hazards,

Nagle Contracting from Methven, Canterbury is among the contractors using the app (pictured right).

while also offering the potential to extend the working life of plant. Two years ago, Danish startup company FarmBackup Task introduced a job-tracking system to rural contractors in New Zealand. More recently, they have introduced a new feature to replace paper-based pre-start safety checks, with the aim to eliminate preventable accidents and breakdowns. When introduced,

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Task offered a digital way to keep track of job sheets and ease accounting, with the app helping to digitise and optimise workflows for contractors. Feedback from users has highlighted potential in digitising the safety check sheets which many contractors rely on for their employees to go through prior to using a tractor or machine. Co-founder Anders Knudsen says since launching FarmBackup Task a couple of years ago, New Zealand has become its home away from home. “After Denmark, it is our biggest market, so we work closely with rural contractors to help them digitise their workflows, so the addition of safety check sheets made a great deal of sense.” Contractors can customise the pre-startchecks to suit every machine, with the number of items needing to be checked down to the individual operator. Besides reducing injuries, the daily checks should also prove to be beneficial in the early identification of potential failures, with unplanned breakdowns always having the habit of occurring in the

middle of a good harvesting day or just before the last paddock of baling needs to be finished before a storm arrives. Nagle Contracting from Methven, Canterbury is among the contractors using FarmBackup Task. Catherine Leonard from Nagle contracting explains: “Incorporating the Safety Check into the existing app will enable us to identify possible hazards faster and ensure that procedures are followed to help our staff and our machinery run efficiently and safely, so we’re looking forward to implementing the new feature.” Knudsen says, “when one in four injuries is caused by being stressed out, the checklist will be a friendly reminder to pay attention even when you are busy and on the run”.



‘Free fertiliser’ from the pond OTOROHANGA FARMER Grant Mitch-

ell milks 176 cows once-aday throughout the year, so good grass growth is crucial. To keep the grass growing, Mitchell has been tapping into “free fertiliser” from his effluent pond for the past 10 years. Effluent is sprayed onto 7ha of the farm at a time and within a week the cows can graze that area. To make sure that the effluent is easily irrigated, Mitchell says he has been using the Impact effluent treatment from Bioworks, pouring five litres of the product into the pond every month. Mitchell built the 1200 cubic metre effluent pond in 2009. The pond became anaerobic not long after he started using it and a thick crust formed on top. “There was even grass growing on top of the crusted pond,” he told Dairy News. Irrigating the crusty effluent wasn’t easy, he says. Cows were also

delaying their moving to grazing paddocks sprayed with the crusting effluent. The odour from the pond was also becoming an issue. “You couldn’t put cows onto an irrigated paddock until about three weeks after the cannon had been in the paddock,” he says. Mitchell started looking for solutions, settling on Impact because it is formulated to speed up the pond’s natural oxidation process. “The crust went away leaving just green water in the pond. We put them in paddocks now and the cows are there next week munching away. “There’s no need for a stirrer now, there’s no crust and Impact does its own job. We are getting green, mixed effluent going on the grass and it’s all rich fertiliser.” Mitchell says the bad smell has gone away. “When I look at the pond now, it’s just full of green water. I can see bubbles coming up and I know the bacteria are doing their stuff under water.”


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Putting the squeeze on baleage WHILE THE task of moving wrapped bales in New Zealand normally falls to trucks of flat bed trailers, in Europe, probably due to very strict secure load regulations, many trailer manufacturers are now offering more specialised trailers with hydraulically clamped side bars to keep load secure. Those looking for greater daily outputs and greater load security are starting to see even more dedicated solutions. Irish company SAMCO, regular visitors to the Irish Pavilion at National Fieldays and well known for their machines for sowing maize under plastic, have recently released details of the new CTS1600 Bale Chaser. Said to enable one operator to load 16 netted or wrapped bales, without the need for a loader, in around eight minutes, a hydraulically actuated “squeezer” grabs,

A hydraulically actuated “squeezer” grabs, lifts and rotates the bales up onto the trailer.

lifts and rotates the bales up onto the trailer. Designed to “load” itself automatically, the machine places two bales side by side and two bales high, before the “stack” is moved rearwards along the trailer body, using rollers. Once loaded, the 16 bales are held securely by caged sides that

squeeze inwards to secure the load, working in combination with gripping bars along the upper edge and the rear, to keep the load safe during transport. Using a Danfoss load sensing hydraulic system to control the main functions, eight bales (four stacks of two bales) can be

unloaded simultaneously, before the trailers needs to move forwards to discharge the remaining eight bales. With an overall length of 7.3 metres, the chaser is fitted with tandem, air-braked ADR axles, with a range of options including oversize tyre and a steering axle set-up.

Gongs for John Deere THE TRACTOR of the Year 2022 Awards,

held at the recent EIMA show in Bologna, handed out a brace of gongs for the Green Giant John Deere. The 7R350 picked up the prestigious Overall Tractor of the Year 2022, impressing the judges with its on-board technology and automation, a wide, spacious cab said to offer outstanding operator comfort, while the Active Command steering and E-Z Ballast weight systems, also received a special mention. Also winning the TOTY 2022 Best utility Class, the JD 6120M scored highly for its compact nature and 2.4 metre wheelbase, 4.7 tonne payload capacity, the latest precision technology and its inherent suitability for fitting a front-end loader package. In other categories, the relatively unknown Reform Metrac H75 pro picked up the Best Specialised Award, while the well exposed New Holland T6 165 Methane tractor, as expected, came away with the Best Sustainable Tractor Award. Running since 1998 and currently sponsored by tyre manufacturer BKT, the TOTY Awards programme winners are picked by a jury of 26 agricultural machinery journalists from 25 countries.


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