Page 1

high prices good for the environment Paying more for food makes a lot of sense for planet. page 24

treating grass like dollars Farming hill country is never easy but it looks that way at Opouahi Station. page 26

Rural NEWS to all farmers, for all farmers

july 3, 2012: Issue 518 

Time to move on

p e t e r bu r k e SU DESH KISSU N

IT’S CRUNCH time for farmers this week with NAIT. If farmers want to send animals to a sale, a meat processing plant or another farm they must be NAIT registered and the animals must have NAIT tags otherwise they will face problems and additional costs. NAIT chief executive Russell Burnard told Rural News at least 30,000 farmers have registered and he’s pleased with this result during what he describes as the “interim period”. About 60% of these are commercial farmers and about 40% lifestylers. “From 1 July it was mandatory to register and so we are still encouraging people to register. They must do it before the first movement of any stock otherwise it may make that movement difficult. The response is more positive than expected but it’s human nature to delay to the last minute.” Burnard says as of now it is a legal requirement that animals going to a sale, a meat processor or another farm must be NAIT tagged. The only exceptions are bobby calves or ‘dangerous’ animals. “They can still send their stock to the sale yard without tags, but they will probably face a fee at the saleyards before the animals are moved on.” In farm-to-farm movement it is up to the honesty of farmers to act within the law.

People who believe India is the answer to NZ’s growing dairy exports need to think again.

page 12

NAIT now operative

india not the answer

TIME TO move on: that’s the message from dairy industry leaders after last week’s Fonterra TAF (trading among farmers) vote. Primary Industries Minister David Carter says Fonterra and its farmers must shift focus from the co-op’s capital structure. “After many years of debate and focus, the majority have spoken and hopefully all shareholders will accept the outcome,” he told Rural News.

“I implore shareholders to move forward and concentrate on other issues. Fonterra has huge opportunities in New Zealand and overseas. Now capital structure has been sorted out, Fonterra should be allowed to pursue those opportunities.” The resolution on TAF was passed with 66.45% support of milksolids producers. Farmers supplying 85% of the co-op’s milksolids voted – a record turnout. Voting in the dairy industry is based on milksolids production. Carter believes there is a clear man-

date for TAF to proceed. “As a politician if I receive 66% of the votes, I will regard that as a very clear mandate.” He played down reports of a possible legal challenge against TAF. “I haven’t heard of possible legal challenge.... That would be an unfortunate development.” Former Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Lachlan McKenzie says people are looking at the legal ramifications of last week’s vote. No legal challenge is planned yet but McKenzie says “evidence” is being collected. “We will present our evidence to

lawyers who will decide whether it’s worth a shot. No one is yet talking about a legal challenge but if I were a Fonterra director I would be very worried.” However, Feds Dairy chairman Willy Leferink believes the time for fighting is over. Although Leferink says you could make a case on the milksolids vote, everyone had a chance to vote. He is unhappy some farmers did not vote. “I think it’s time to accept we had a decision and to move on. I think there are bigger fish to fry and far more important issues.” Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden says voting has always been on a milksolids basis. Farmers supplying two-thirds of the milksolids have agreed to move forward with TAF and that must be accepted. But he’s willing to reach out to farmers who voted against TAF. “I’m willing to meet them and get everyone behind TAF.” Van der Heyden was pleased with the record voter turnout. “Now we can move forward with this important evolution in our capital structure.”

All eyes on taf Fonterra directors Sir Ralph Norris and John Waller chat with shareholder, King Country/Taranaki MP and Primary Production Select Committee chair Shane Ardern at the TAF meeting at the Claudelands Events Centre, Hamilton last week.




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Rural News // july 3, 2012

news 3

Another bid for wool support

issue 518

pam t ipa

News������������������������������ 1-14 World������������������������� 16-17 Agribusiness������������ 18-19 Markets�������������������� 20-21 Hound, Edna������������������� 22 Contacts������������������������� 23 Opinion������������������������22-24 Management����������� 25-29 Animal Health�������� 30-33 Machinery and Products������������������ 34-38 Rural Trader���������� 38-39

IN A bid to emulate the success of the merino industry, Wools of New Zealand is inviting 12,000 growers to invest in it as a revamped strong wool sales and marketing company. A total of 12,000 wool growers were sent letters last week outlining the proposal and a prospectus will be released in September, director, Mark Shadbolt told the Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre conference. “We don’t like the word capital raising in the wool industry, but it is important that as growers we finally get into our pockets and invest in own industry and have some form of ownership and influence in where our wool goes.” This is “investing in our future and committing to a long-term strategy”, he said. “If you think we are going to change

THE SURPRISE failure of a motion tightening limits on the Fonterra Shareholders Fund (FSF) will not affect TAF’s launch, says chairman Henry van der Heyden. The board will later this year take the resolution back to the co-op’s annual meeting for another vote. Because of shareholder concerns the board proposed to decrease the threshold on the size of the FSF from 25% to 20% of total shares and decrease the number of dry shares on issue from 25% to 15%. Units in the FSF would be issued to members of the public in response to a farmer placing shares with the fund. The resolution garnered 72.8% of the vote, just shy of the 75% necessary for a constitutional change. Explaining the rejection, van der Heyden says some farmers voted ‘no’ against all TAF resolutions while some,

Phone: 09-307 0399 Fax: 09-307 0122 Postal Address PO Box 3855, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140 Published by: Rural News Group Printed by: PMP Print Contacts Editorial: Advertising material: Rural News online: Subscriptions: ABC audited circulation 80,879 as at 31.12.2011

who supported ‘resolution one’ on TAF, voted against to give the board “flexibility” on the fund size. In 2010 shareholders had voted to keep the FSF at 25% of total shares. He says further planning on TAF will proceed within the parameters outlined in resolution two. It’s in the best interests of the co-op, he says. Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Willy Leferink says safeguards need to be in place for TAF to be fully operational. The safeguards can either be in legislation or through Fonterra – no problem, he says. Leferink says Fonterra disclosed to him there were two elements to the second resolution not reaching the 75% threshold. “Some voted ‘no’ on both resolutions. There was also an element of a handful of voters that voted towards the original proposal in 2010 and they didn’t want the limitations.” Fonterra is still working towards a

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Wools of NZ director Mark Shadbolt.

“We have joint venture projects in place which will be talked about in the prospectus. They are something we have never had before and they will be commercial arrangements.” Wools of NZ had just spent three months putting together a strategic plan, a business plan; the financials were being completed and the prospectus was in the pipeline, he said. He was

TAF vote surprise SU DESH KISSU N

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the wool industry overnight, forget it. It hasn’t changed for 100 years; it is going to take an evolutionary shift of not only mentality but the method of how we take wool to the market. “So the business case is for an evolutionary improvement in wool returns. We won’t shift the price – it is like a jagged saw tooth – and unless we change the way we relate with the market and stabilise prices, we will always experience those fluctuating prices.” Since the highs of last year, the average grower had lost $40,000 or 10% of their income from softening wool prices. Shadbolt said when Wools of New Zealand was taken over from PGW he and another trustee spent weeks talking to industry people. A key to their success will be industry engagement, he said.

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November launch for TAF but this will depend on market conditions. The preconditions in the constitution still need to be finally satisfied, including the support of the Shareholders Council.  Necessary changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act are before Parliament. Primary Industries Minister David Carter says the Government has undertaken to pass legislation for TAF to occur. The decision to proceed with TAF was up to Fonterra and its shareholders, he says. “Now they have made a decision, we will complete the process,” he told Rural News. The DIRA Bill needs to pass through the committee stage and third reading in Parliament. Carter says it will be done after Parliament returns from a twoweek recess this month. Fonterra will determine an exact TAF launch date closer to the time.

limited in what he could say because of legalities about the prospectus. The strategy was to work with all industry participants including moving wool direct to scour where possible. “It’s not just about carpets, it’s about quality rugs, designer rugs, interior furnishings and bedding.” He said this was different from any other proposition. “It is a similar model to merino which has been very, very successful. It is a strong wool marketing and sales company.” Every grower would be given the opportunity to get involved, but they were prepared to start with a “very low threshold”. “This industry has to change and we are committed to making it work. That is how merino started and it took 15 years. This is not a quick fix; the strategy is a five year strategy, that is a third of what it will take to get there.

Crafar decision THE APPEAL on Crafar Farms by Michael Fay will go to an appeal court hearing on July 2. Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly told the Federated Farmers conference the judge will either give a decision immediately or reserve the decision, in which case it will be out by about mid-July. Fay could appeal to the Supreme Court but it is doubtful he will as he can only appeal on points of law and that would be the third time. Kelly said after that hopefully Shanghai Pengxin will settle and go unconditional. “I am hoping it will all be over by the end of July.” He said it was a terrible situation as the receivers weren’t spending any money. “They thought Shanghai Pengxin would be putting money in, but they can’t yet.”

Rural News // july 3, 2012

4 news

‘Meating’ of minds on advancing sector PA M T IPA

INDUSTRY ORGANISATIONS and commercial companies will work much more closely together in future, says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman Mike Petersen. “There has been a bit of discussion certainly since Keith Cooper’s resignation from our board around election time – about the value of industry organisations,” Petersen said at the Federated Farmers conference in Auckland. “Our view is we are a farmers’ organisation.... It should be up to the farmers to decide whether they want to invest in research programmes, extension work, economic anaylysis, skills and trade programme or market access. “Equally this should not be a debate about industry-good or commercial investment. We actually need everyone to put their [shoulders to] the wheel to make this industry move forward. “It is not about industry-good or commercial, it is about us all collectively working together to advance the sector.” Petersen said there was no doubt

the way industry-good functioned in future would continue to evolve. “You’ve seen the changes we’ve made since 2009. We’re getting much closer to farmers in the regions [via] the extension programmes run by farmers... through our farmer councils, the directors getting closely involved in [regional] events to get feedback and engagement on a regional basis. “Increasingly we’re going to see the industry-good organisations working alongside commercial companies much more to help the commercial companies achieve their aims. “Meat companies now know they cannot meet their commercial and market obligations without bringing farmers on board with their vision and aspirations and also helping farmers with the sorts of things they need to satisfy what the markets are looking for. “We’re starting to see some changes in the promotional work we’re doing. The meat companies are getting involved in that aspect of our work. It’s an ongoing discussion as we speak, but we’re certainly talking to them about the value of that pro-

gramme and how we can communicate that to farmers.” A “game changer” for the role of industry-good organisations and how they work with commercial companies and farmers is our Primary Growth Partnership applications, Petersen says. The red meat sector partnership aims to add $3.4 billion to the sector. A big part is leveraging investment from Meat Board funds and farmer levies alongside government funds to accelerate efforts to get those productivity gains. “The Primary Growth Partnership is not yet approved; it has only been approved as a concept to allow us to develop a business case with our partners. We hope to go for final approval from the Primary Growth Partnership panel towards the end of this year.” Now they had reached concept stage they had just about been overrun by commercial partners wanting to be involved, Petersen said. “We now have Silver Fern farms coming to us and saying they want to be involved.... This is a good news story. We have banks coming to us and saying ‘how can we be a part of it?’


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Enviro rules unstoppable ANDREW SWA L LOW

REGULATION TO protect the environment is going to hit your farm like a truck and if you try to shut the gate on it, it’s just going to keep coming and bust through anyway. That was the graphic analogy given last week’s South Island Dairy Event from a farmer who’s already been on the receiving end. “If you think this isn’t happening to you, then you’re wrong,” sheep and beef farmer and Lake Taupo Protection Trust deputy chair Sue Yerex told delegates at last week’s South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) in Dunedin. “It’s going to happen and you’re going to be left with regulation you might not be able to live with. It might put you out of business.” What’s more, the truck is coming fast to every region owing to the requirements of the Government’s National Water Policy Statement. In Otago, for example, proposed nutrient loss limits, as calculated by Overseer, are 30kg/ha for most of the region and 10kg/ha in sensitive areas. Hearings are in September. Yerex says many farms will not be able to operate as they are under those limits, even with best practice. “Best practice isn’t going to be good enough. We’re going to have to decide which catchments we want to preserve and which we let decline.” Average nitrogen loss from sheep and beef farms in the Taupo catchment is 17kg N/ha. From dairy it’s 55kg N/ha or more. After a long, highly stressful negotiation with

Sheep and beef farmer and Lake Taupo Protection Trust deputy chair Sue Yerex.

Waikato Regional Council, which went to the Environment Court over some points, farms were allocated nitrogen credits based on use in the best years between 2001 and 2005. The aim is a 20% reduction in nitrogen loss across the catchment to a total of 153,000kg. ”For a small-scale farm enterprise this is slow strangulation and death,” Yerex told SIDE delegates. Most farms in the catchment, except the Landcorp and Maori holdings, are ex-ballot blocks

of 280-300ha. There are only five dairy farms, and only 20% of the catchment is farmland. Losses from native tussock and forest were ruled to be 3kg N/ha. Tough as the regime may be that Taupo catchment farmers find themselves under, it might have been much worse if they hadn’t united to ensure their interests were heard, says Yerex. Her advice to other regions is to do the same. “We got involved because we had to influence the outcome. The question is, will you?”

Singing same song YEREX WASN’T the only SIDE speaker to warn of impending environmental constraints on farming. “This green thing is coming at you like a freight train and it’s coming at you from all over the world,” sheep and beef farmer and tourism operator Dan Steele told a panel discussion audience. “You can’t beat it. You’ve got to join it.” More from Steele and other SIDE speakers on page 5.



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Rural News // july 3, 2012

news 5

Call for all farmers to be conservationists A capacity South Island Dairy Event – aka SIDE – last week in Dunedin heard some inspiring keynote presentations, as usual wrapped around a packed programme of practical workshops and business sessions. Andrew Swallow reports. “I AM a conservationist.” If there’s one line delegates from last week’s South Island Dairy Event I went home repeating, that was probably it. Central North Island sheep and beef farmer, tourism operator and conservationist Dan Steele had the audience of 500 repeat the phrase, then told them that’s how quickly attitudes can change. “Everything we do, sell, trade, relies on our environment and we need to look after it. It’s our home, our brand, it’s who we are.... The world sees New Zealand as a beautiful place and one of the friendliest places. That’s something we’ve got to protect with every drop of

Side conference-goers were our blood.” urged to embrace the concept While nearly of being conservationists. one third of the country is in the conservation estate, only about 12% of that – effectively just 4% of the national landmass – is managed, said Steele. Consequently rats, stoats, cats and responsibility, it’s all of other undesirable species ours. Every business benare rampant. efits from our environFarmers, with nearly ment.... Every farmer is 70% of the land in their part of the solution.” control, “can turn that Steele told the audiaround.” ence they needed to sort “Kiwis are nearly out “the worst 10% of gone from the wild. Once farmers and I’ll look after they’re gone what are we the 10% of extremists”. going to call ourselves? The latter will never be Stoats? Rats? It’s not happy and their protests quite got the same ring to impede even sustainable it.... This isn’t just DOC’s

business, he explained. Steele was speaking during a panel discussion headed ‘Perception is your reality’, alongside Dairy NZ chief executive Tim Mackle, Fish & Game Nelson region manager Neil Deans and local award winning dairy farmer Stephen Korteweg. “People are perceiving your gain is at their pain,”

Deans said. “It doesn’t have to be like that... Best practice is what is required from all of you.” Most farms have “moved on” in environmental performance, he acknowledged, but some haven’t. “The question is ‘do you want these people to be part of your industry?’ “Deans said while Fish & Game had coined the term ‘dirty dairy’, it had only used it twice. To get past the label the industry needs to show groups such as Fish & Game it has “addressed the issue”. “You actually need people to be saying ‘I think dairy is doing quite a good

Winning your own medal BANKER TURNED motivational speaker David Todd’s opening keynote speech set the tone for the SIDE conference. “People, perception, pride – I love it; what a great theme,” he enthused. Focussing on the people aspect, he noted most motivational speakers are former Olympians or Everest-conquering mountaineers, but he’s not. “I’m just like most of you.... But the life you lead is your own Olympics. Win your own medal!” Todd cleverly worked an ABC

theme – ‘attitude, balance and commitment’ – using balloons to engage his audience and as an analogy to many things in life: it’s hard to start blowing it up; if you blow too hard it will burst; tie it off and over time it will go flat. “And if you put the wrong stuff in it, it will disappear off into the stratosphere.” Todd was due to wrap up the conference but opened it owing to fellow keynote speaker Olympic and transatlantic rower Rob Hamill being delayed in the US. Hamill duly closed the confer-


Dunedin a success ORGANISING COMMITTEE chair Brangka Munan told Rural News the switch to Dunedin due to Stadium Southland not having been rebuilt in time proved a success. “We had 500 here. That was pretty much capacity. TAF (Monday) took a lot away but we’ve got about 200 newbies here and we couldn’t have got in many more.” Whether Dunedin would become a regular SIDE venue is still to be decided but it had “put a very strong case,” he said. SIDE returns to Lincoln next year. Dunedin could either slot in to make it a three-year roster with Invercargill, or perhaps alternate with Invercargill, effectively giving each of the southern venues the event every fourth year.

job in this space’.” Deans warned there’s a limit to production increases and said he has “very real concerns” about intensification of agriculture in general. “The irony about stock in streams is that most of it now is drystock, beef cattle, but most of the townies wouldn’t know the difference between a Hereford and a Friesian.” Dairy shouldn’t “try to defend the indefensible,” he added.

While the panel members were more or less on the same page, Korteweg sounded a note of caution to keep things in perspective on drystock in streams, and said the industry shouldn’t abandon the bottom 10%. “Go talk to them, keep them involved, rather than segregating them more than they probably feel segregated already.” More from SIDE on p32 and 33, and in Dairy News next week.

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

6 news

Kiwifruit compensation on the cards SUD ES H K I SSUN

THE GOVERNMENT is considering financial help for stricken kiwifruit growers in the Bay of Plenty. Primary Industries

Minister David Carter is working with the kiwifruit industry on the issue and a decision is pending, he says. “We are closely monitoring the effects of Psa but more work needs to

be done before we make a decision,” Carter told Rural News. New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) says about 46% of New Zealand’s kiwifruit orchards are identified

with Psa, and many other growers face increased prevention costs. While Psa is tough for all affected growers, it’s expected about 120 growers will qualify for state assistance. The Government said

last week that help in recovering from biosecurity incursions would go on a similar footing to adverse events. A new biosecurity recovery framework will sit alongside existing support mea-




NZKGI’s Neil Trebilco has welcomed moves by Government to look at financially assisting growers affected by Psa.

sures for farmers and growers affected by major climate events such as droughts and floods. Carter says there’s “a well-tested framework in place” and the same approach would now apply to a biosecurity incursion. “The new framework will make recovery measures available to people seriously impacted by a disease or pest incursion. It will include most of the measures available under the existing adverse events framework.” Kiwifruit growers have been pushing the Government to get biosecurity incursions, such as Psa, included in the definition of adverse events. NZKGI president Neil Trebilco says growers welcome the change as a first step towards making relief measures available for growers hardest hit by Psa.  “The next step is for NZKGI to continue to work with Government to communicate the hardship some growers are facing so relief measures can be made available.  At least now there is a framework to work with.” Federated Farmers vice president William Roll-

eston says as seen with the Psa outbreak, the impact of a biosecurity incursion is as debilitating as a snow storm well into spring. “This is not just logical but is genuinely welcomed by us. “This is very much about the impact upon individual farms and their ability to cope during times of extreme stress. We operate in unpredictable and varied environments that are anything but linear.” Federated Farmers is a key player in Rural Support Trusts, which helps farmers and rural communities hit by adverse events. “It must also be remembered that biosecurity incursions impact the wider economy.  That is why government and industry must continue to work together to respond to any incursion.” Three categories of incursion would apply: localised, medium-scale and large-scale. To be eligible for help, those affected would need to show they have taken all reasonable steps to mitigate and manage biosecurity risks, Carter says.

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

news 7

Water next hurdle for dairy – Feds pa m tipa

THE TAF issue is nothing compared to the next hurdle for farmers: the implementation of national policy statements for freshwater management, says Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson Willy Leferink. The farming industry will have to deal with the “schizophrenic” nature of government and local government policies, Leferink said. “Believe it or not, a current starting point for water quality benchmarks is pre-human New Zealand – say 900AD,” he said. The National Policy Standards (NPS) for water require regional councils to set limits on fresh water by 2030. They are meant to engage with communities to establish robust and durable solutions. But Leferink said some councils saw the item about limits in the NPS and skipped past working with the community. There were tensions in Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Horizons, Bay of Plenty and other regions were at various stages of setting limits “We seem to have schizophrenic policies from our government and the

opposition. On one hand they want lots and lots of export earnings from us.... On the other hand, they’ve put in place policies that give over eager regional council staff a blank cheque guaranteeing their wages as crusaders for the environment.” He said it felt like “we’ve given the keys of our Caterpillar D8s to the bureaucrats”. In Holland, home to the tallest people in Europe, the nitrogen content per hectare is about 229kg, in Belgium it is 184 and in Germany, it is 113. Here in New Zealand, it is 46kg/ha. Federated Farmers and other industry partners wanted to pull council planners back to reality. A limit set by the Otago Regional Council of 10kg nitrogen/ha “puts farmers out of business”. “Sustainability is balancing the needs of the environment with our economic, social and cultural needs. It is in the RMA and all four need to be in balance to achieve sustainability. I get that. “My question to government, some regional councils and sections of the media is, do you [get it]?” Leferink said the way environmental problems in New Zealand were handled

Willy Leferink

was not helpful. “It sets up community group against community group until a commissioner makes a decision, which, in general, is challenged until the money runs out in the Environment Court,” he said. Canterbury was showing promise with the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, Leferink said. Those communities were truly negotiating

outcomes. Leferink gave two possible future scenarios: first, some Fonterra shareholders remained in New Zealand but most lived on Australia’s east coast. Some 80% of Fonterra’s milk came from offshore, as the Fonterra farms closer to the end consumer. All this was dairying had become too difficult in New Zealand. Rural com-

munities had dropped below the poverty line, “and if you want to see what that looks like go to heartland America; some of the largest farms sit among dirt poor communities.” The second scenario “is where we get on the front foot as I mentioned before and really engage with other community groups who understand our roadmap. More importantly, they back us to deliver sustainable, high value agriculture with real outcomes for all. “In this scenario, a big part of Fonterra’s milk is still produced onshore, and most Fonterra shareholders still live here in thriving rural communities generating tax revenues the cities need for their sustainable transport.” But Leferink said there needed to be big shifts in how we farm – paradigm shifts in fact. “We can and will do more because agriculture has done that for thousands of years. “In the meantime, let us grab low hanging fruit without ending up in an environmental or economic pickle barrel. To get to where we want to go, we need a lot of science and new leadership to form smart consensus solutions, as opposed to compromising on complex problems.”






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Rural News // july 3, 2012

8 news

A man who takes the weather with him p e t e r bu r k e

THE NEW public face of weather in New Zealand says it’s too hard to say what pattern is heading our way in the coming months. Former BBC weather presenter Daniel Corbett has taken over from the legendary Bob McDavitt as MetService weather ambassador. He told Rural News the weather is at a crossroads and it’s too early to say if we’ll have La Nina or El Nino. Parts of an El Nino system are starting to develop in the east-

ern areas of the equatorial Pacific. “We may head in that direction in the next few months, but that’s not guaranteed and that’s why we meteorologists need to watch this space over the next few weeks to see what are some of the other major global centres for climate.” As with an economist or a lawyer, it’s hard to pin down a weather forecaster to giving an exact prediction and to be fair we all know how unpredictable the weather in New Zealand can be. Put simply there are no guarantees.

“It’s very hard to pin it down and say if you go El Nino it’s going to do this. It’s more for NIWA to make such predictions.’ Corbett is a fast talker – literally – in complete contrast to McDavitt. He admits predicting the weather in New Zealand is not easy because of the country’s location between the equator and the south pole. We have a unique topography and subtle wind changes can make the difference between rain and no rain. “New Zealand has more micro-climates than the UK simply because

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of the undulating nature of our country compared with the ‘flatter’ landscape of the UK.” But with changes in technology it’s amazing the new tools available to weather forecasters. Sitting in the MetService office in Kelburn, Wellington, forecasters can get a good idea of the weather in just about any ‘nook and cranny’ in New Zealand. “The satellites and radars are just amazing,” he says. “They can see the wind inside a storm.” But for all the technology, Daniel Corbett says farmers should not discount their own local knowledge in predicting weather. This local knowledge can be overlayed with

information from MetService. “There are lots of tools for farmers: live radar, planning tools such as seven- and threeday rainfalls, and the actual computermodelled rainfall that could be in their area at a given time. “It’s good to get out and talk to farmers at shows such as field days to let them know about the information available to them.” While Corbett concedes they don’t always get it right, they believe it’s important to put out warnings about major

Daniel Corbett

impending weather events so farmers can plan. “We

know their livelihood depends on the weather.”

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ELECTRIC WIRES are becoming an increasing danger to topdressing pilots, the New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association told the Federated Farmers conference. A pilot recently came across a wire at 400ft. One company is making a green wire which is impossible to see against pasture. Executive officer John Sinclair told farmers if there was one message he wanted them to take from his session is the danger to pilots from electric wires. The association had written to Federated Farmers saying if electric wires cross a gully or any open area it must be tied to the fence and follow the fence contour. If this is not possible it should

be tied to a pole which must be no higher than normal pole height. “What this is saying very clearly is the next time a pilot gets hurt by running into one of these wires the farmer is going to be in trouble, because he is not providing a safe workplace.” Sinclair told Rural News the popularity of electric fences meant the problem was getting worse. But pilots also faced other ongoing problems with poor buy-in to fenceline and airstrip guidelines, leaking bins, bins too small, no bins at all, access tracks only suitable for dry weather, substandard airfields and airfields pugged by cattle in winter. Sinclair said pilots also face the heightened possibility of prosecution for fertiliser in waterways but the physical properties of fertiliser

was a big contributing problem. He said if you dropped (granular-type) fertiliser you would know exactly where it was going to go,; but if you dropped dust it could go anywhere. Three pilots had been prosecuted recently by Environment Bay of Plenty for dropping fertiliser into water. Sinclair said pilots face fines of up to $650,000 for putting contaminants into water. “You guys have to ask yourself whether you want aerial topdressing; the only reason we can do it at the moment is because councils don’t have the resources to get out and prosecute.” The fertiliser itself was a big problem. “Fertiliser isn’t going to change until the shareholders demand it,” Sinclair says.

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

10 news Demand for NZ goat milk swells SUD ES H K I SSUN

A SPIKE in demand for goat milk infant formula is behind New Zealand Dairy Goat Cooperative’s growth plans. The Hamilton cooperative is this month signing eight new suppliers and hopes to double milk intake within three years. A new spray dryer is also

being planned. Chief executive Dave Stanley says demand for grass-fed goat milk infant formula is growing worldwide. The co-op exports to 20 countries including China, a growing market. The co-op is the first company in the world to produce goat milk infant formula. Other countries have since joined the

trade, Stanley told Rural News. “When you have a good idea, others get on quickly.” Stanley says New Zealand goat milk products are renowned globally as safe and high quality. After lying low for 10 years, the co-op is expanding. To process extra milk it has booked Innovation Waikato’s new spray dryer

officially opened last week by Science and Innovation Minister Stephen Joyce. Stanley says the new dryer provides the co-op with valuable extra processing capacity when milk flow is at its peak. The dairy goat industry follows a similar pattern to the dairy cow industry – a ‘bell-curve’ shaped milk supply peaking late

autumn and early summer. The co-op is owned by 50 suppliers with 500-600 animals each – 30,000 in total – located in Waikato, Taranaki and Northland. The goats are milked in herringbone and rotary sheds. Milk is collected by tankers. At the season’s peak, the co-op collects 90,000L daily, processing about 25mL annually.


NZ Dairy Goat Cooperative chief executive Dave Stanley.

is a win-win-win for those involved. “Not only did our backing help the Innovation Waikato Park get the project off the ground, it also provides Dairy Goat Cooperative with valuable extra processing capacity when our milk flow is at its peak. “And finally, there are many smaller producers out there – in milk processing industries and others – who will also experience a win through this project.”

The co-op will use the NZ Food Innovation Waikato spray dryer for about six months every year until its new facility is completed in two years. Eight co-op staff will work on the site. Plant manager David Shute says the DGC’s commitment was critical in creating the commercial case, plus Government funding and approval to build the plant as a true private public partnership. Stanley says the project

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AN UNPRECEDENTED increase in demand for goat milk formula is causing a shortage in local supermarkets here. New Zealand-based infant formula manufacturer Nutricia says it is unable to source high quality product in quantities for its Karicare goat formula products. A notice posted on its website says meeting the needs of Australian and New Zealand mothers and babies is its number-one supply priority. For New Zealand mothers it has a limited supply of goat infant formula and goat follow-on formula available online. DGC chief executive Dave Stanley says the situation is difficult for mothers whose babies depend on goat milk formula and cannot tolerate cow milk formula. Nutricia, owned by French dairy company Danone, says there has been a three-fold demand increase in recent years. We are working closely with our goat milk formula supplier, the Dairy Goat Corporation (DGC), in an effort to source more high quality goat milk product, Danone says.

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news 11

Dump ‘direct exit’ from airports – Hort NZ PA M T IPA

QUEENSLAND FRUIT fly is “the real biggie” in terms of threats to New Zealand’s $4 billion horticultural industry, says HortNZ president Andrew Fenton. And plant material on tourists was a likely path into New Zealand of the single male fruit fly found in Auckland in May, Fenton told Rural News. The two-week response following the find is expected to cost about $1.5 million. That does not include the possibility of compensation payments under the Biosecurity Act. “That’s a lot of money to spend on one fly,” says Fenton. “And we had to spend it, considering what we would have lost in export trade if more flies

had been found.” HortNZ is calling on the Government to abandon its ‘direct exit’ policy at airports and re-introduce 100% x-ray at the border. ‘Direct exit’ involves using ‘profiling’ to tell if passengers are likely to be carrying plant material, rather than using an x-ray machine to find it. Fenton told Rural News the fruit fly could have come into the country with tourists, on containers or even on the skin of an aircraft – although every aircraft is certified every three months for insecticide treatment. “There are plenty of biosecurity issues such as psyllids that infected the potato and tamarillo industries, the bee varroa mite…. “But the biggie in

Hort NZ is calling on the Government to abandon its ‘direct exit’ at airports.

the game – that will cost the country billions and billions of dollars – is the Queensland fruit fly.

“The list of host material for the fruit fly is enormous. But from an export point of view the biggies

are kiwifruit and apples. Apples and kiwifruit are being harvested in that January-May period which

No return to full x-rays – MPI A RETURN to full x-ray screening at the borders has been counted out by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). And compliance with its ‘direct exit’ strategy is 99.2%, a January/February 2011 survey showed, says Steve Gilbert, MPI director border clearance services. He was responding to calls by HortNZ president Andrew Fenton to return to full x-ray screening following revelations that the Queensland fruit fly scare in Auckland cost MPI about $1.5m. But Gilbert told Rural News compliance with all our border interventions was 98.6%, exceeding the Government’s expectation of 98.5% compliance. “That does not mean we won’t consider changes to ‘direct exit’ in the

future. We undertake surveys to review the effectiveness of our border interventions and to identify any aspects we can improve. We have just undertaken another survey and hope to finalise the results shortly. “We consider x-ray screening to be a useful intervention, but not perfect. For example, the fruit fly found in Auckland was tiny, making it unlikely to be picked up by x-ray. “MPI is committed to maintaining and improving our biosecurity systems. For example, we are currently in the process of recruiting 40 quarantine inspectors and are expecting a new batch of detector dogs to be ready for duty later this year. “

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is the fruit fly time of highest risk. “They are the big value crops; if the fly stops them,

the problems really hit the fan.” Fenton says Australia spends $150 million a year controlling Queensland fruit fly, with checks between state borders, yet Australia is far less exposed to loss of export earnings than New Zealand as 80% of its produce is sold on the domestic market. In contrast New Zealand exports 80% of its produce. Fortunately, Fenton says finding one male fruit fly caused no market reaction. “MPI [Ministry of Primary Industries] went through all the protocols correctly and swiftly so there was no impact on any market anywhere…. “Obviously importing countries had confidence in our MPI and biosecurity.”

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

12 news

India not the panacea for NZ’s dairy exports p e t e r bu r k e

NEW ZEALAND must avoid high expectations of India as a major market for dairy products, says Rabobank senior dairy analyst Hayley Moynihan. She told a Smaller

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“There are people involved in the dairy industry who are living on the poverty line and it’s very sensitive politically. For that reason trade with India is difficult and it is controlled by their government. “That makes it more difficult than some other markets.”

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DAIRY FARMERS in countries such as Ireland, UK, Germany and Holland are counting the days and possible the hours to the end of European Union regulations that restrict the amount of milk they can produce – commonly called ‘the cap’ . The lifting of the restrictions is about three years away, but Rabobank dairy analyst Hayley Moynihan says already many of these countries are gearing up for this and are starting to build up their dairy herds. This will disrupt the international dairy market and will have some effect on New Zealand’s exports of dairy products. The world market needs more milk and Europe will be in a position to supply it, Moynihan says. “When the cap on dairy products is lifted there will be an initial surge then there will be a re-balancing. In fact some European countries which are less efficient milk producers may exit the market altogether. “But in other regions such as Ireland it will grow and there are signs they’re gearing up for this. If they do grow it will require new investment in processing capacity which means there are challenges for the Irish, but it’s within their capability.” Moynihan says New Zealand should also remember it’s no longer the cheapest producer of dairy products. New Zealand is efficient at scale.

India is the single largest dairy producer in the world, producing some 108.5 million tonnes in 2008/09. It has 11 million dairy farmers and 100 million people work in the industry, three quarters of them women. It’s production is small scale with about half its milk produced by cows

and the remainder by buffalo. There are 111.5 million animals producing milk. Dairy products are popular in India but just on half the production is consumed at ‘village’ level.

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But like many Asian countries the rise of a wealthy middle class is starting to change consumption patterns. India is described as an “elastic” market. Moynihan says sometimes India has surplus milk and is an exporter and sometimes is in deficit and has to import milk products to meet consumer demand. But the country is trying to be self-sufficient in milk, she says. “Certainly demand is growing in India – demand for high quality milk products and more processed milk products – and that’s what makes it so exciting, especially the fact that even small shifts make quite a difference in

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news 13

Beef + Lamb plans to tap into PGP funding pa m ti pa

BEEF + LAMB NZ will consult farmers in October on a new business plan for its part in unlocking $35 million of Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) funding for the red meat sector. The industry-good body proposes to apply for $20 million from Meat Board reserves towards the $70 million required for the PGP. Another $15 million will come from industry partners and the Government will match this collective investment dollar for dollar. Beef+Lamb NZ director James Parsons told a field day in Northland that the disparity between the topearning farms and the bottom-earning had widened markedly for 20 years. “From a Beef + Lamb perspective we say ‘we are here to invest in growing farm profitability; our role is to help farmers make profitable decisions’,” he said. “So part of the ‘red meat sector strategy’ (RMSS) released in May of last year is about improving this.” The objective is to grow the sector from its export contribution of $8 billion per annum this year to $11.4 billion by 2025, or by $420/ha. Parsons said a lot of people had been asking what had happened to the strategy. “I can assure you although we haven’t been talking much about it, there’s been a lot of activity going on.” The strategy had three

key units: in-market coordination, procurement and behind the farmgate. “We have joined with industry partners to access Primary Growth Partnership funding to put some wheels under initiatives for the behind-thefarmgate aspect of the ‘red meat sector strategy’,” he said. Industry partners to date are Alliance, ANZCO Foods, Blue Sky Meats, Progressive Meats, Deloitte, ANZ and Silver Fern Farms. “If we carve out the prize identified in the ‘red meat sector strategy’ behind the farmgate area it comes to a GDP increase of $2.3 billion more, a sector growth of 18% and extra farmgate revenue of $2.7 billion or $333/ha by 2025.” In a nutshell the PGP application was to strengthen the four pillars of a farm business: financial, production, people, and compliance/risk/environment, he said. The means of doing this: improved systems and data capture; tools, skills and capability; understanding behaviour change; and better communicating the production story to New Zealand’s public. In terms of skills and capability it was important to find out what was stopping technology transfer and “why farmers don’t come to events like this”. He said the PGP was a “capital investment behind the farm gate to take the industry forward,

“From a Beef + Lamb perspective we say ‘we are here to invest in growing farm profitability.” not maintain it”. Parsons said Beef + Lamb will present much more detail on the busi-

ness plan before consulting farmers. The Meat Board reserves stand at $80

million and B + LNZ will apply for $20 million of capital over the next seven years.

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Tariffs cost big FARMERS STAND to lose potentially $115 per cattle beast due to tariffs and $2.52 per sheep. The tariffs paid on exports of New Zealand fresh and frozen beef amount to $239m, more than our total beef exports to Japan. B + LNZ works closely with government trade negotiators to ensure the meat sector’s trade priorities are looked after, says director James Parson. Market access and development are among four programmes B + LNZ talks a lot about, he says. The others are farm (extension, research and development), people and information. Parsons says many farmers did not realise much of B + LNZ’s work and levy expenditure was about just maintaining the sector’s profitability, just as farmers must maintain their farms. Only leftover money could go to capital expenditure projects, he said.

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

14 news

Farmers will benefit from local govt reforms – Carter p e t e r bu r k e

The Minister of Local Government David Carter believes farmers pay considerably more rates than urban people and don’t

receive a large number of services. His comments to Rural News follow the introduction of the Local Government Reform Bill into parliament last week. The bill is aimed at getting

councils to focus on being more fiscally responsible, strengthening their governance and concentrating on core activities such as water supply and wastewater treatment. “It’s for a council to

determine its rating base and most go on a capital value system. I don’t see that changing, but if we can focus local government to get back to doing core functions that will be a benefit to rural ratepay-

ers,” says Carter. The reforms could see changes in local council electoral boundaries with a focus on ‘communities of interest’ rather than boundaries based purely on numbers. There is also

David Carter

a provision to make it easier for regions to form unitary authorities which may see the demise of some regional councils. The focus in the reforms is on making local government ‘simpler’ rather than creating larger units of local government, Carter says. The ‘statement of purpose’ for local government will be to emphasise a desire for them to focus on core business, he adds. “We’re simply saying to councils when they undertake any activity we want them to do far more stringent cost benefit analysis of that activity to make sure it is a function that brings benefit to the

ratepayers.” Carter says there are huge fiscal restraints on central government budgets and he wants local government to do the same. “The average rate increase for the last 10 years has been 7% each year local council debt has risen by 250% over that decade.” Carter says he also plans to investigate claims from local government that it has to put up rates because of decisions thrust on councils by central government.

Dirty dairying media beat-up TARANAKI REGIONAL Council and Fonterra director David MacLeod says in his region some urban waterways have potentially greater pollution problems than those in rural areas. His comments follow daily media carping about ‘dirty dairying’. He concedes there are problems in rural areas and the daily media tend to focus on the dairy industry. “It’s a bit of a tall poppy syndrome because the dairy industry has been so successful.” MacLeod believes society is becoming more aware of environmental issues and are ‘green’ in their outlook. “This has heightened over the last couple of decades so people are much more vigilant over what’s happening in the environment. There’s a heck of a lot of land in dairying that people can see, hence more people are vigilant of what’s happening in the environment and in particular on the dairy landscape.” But MacLeod concedes the dairy industry has a few farmers who have to lift their game. “It’s a huge industry and by far the majority of dairy farmers are excellent custodians of the environment. Within any industry you can some find who don’t comply with the rules and the challenge is to get all… to lift the game of the few to produce better environmental outcomes.” The time has come to get tough with the “10% of laggards” not complying with the rules, he says. Federated Farmers Dairy Group Chairman, Willy Leferink says some of the stories about farmers breaching environmental standards is “historic stuff”. It’s easy for the mainstream media to target a group such as dairy farmers; they are easy to identify because their animals are big, he says. “Nobody talks about the raw sewage running over the highway in Shannon in the Horowhenua onto a dairy farm. Nobody talks about the effluent coming out of the sewerage pipes in Palmerston North and going straight into the Manawatu River, or what goes into the stormwater drains in Waitakere.” But Leferink acknowledges there are some ‘ratbags’ in the dairy industry letting the side down.

NAIT now mandatory for cattle - how to comply The National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme became mandatory for beef and dairy farmers, including lifestylers, on 1 July 2012. This means if you are in charge of cattle but have not got a NAIT number, you will not be able to move stock off-farm. To meet your NAIT obligations you need to: • Get a NAIT number • Tag your animals • Register your animals with NAIT Once you’ve done this you’ll be able to record movements of cattle in the NAIT system. This is now legally required if you are moving stock off-farm. Deer join the NAIT scheme on 1 March next year. Deer farmers can also get ready and are encouraged to check what they need to do on the NAIT website

Get a NAIT number

Now the NAIT scheme is mandatory for cattle every person in charge of cattle at a given location must register with NAIT and get a NAIT number. A NAIT number is in addition to an Animal Health Board (AHB) number or dairy participant code. The quickest way to get a NAIT number is via the NAIT website at It’s a straightforward process and takes less than 10 minutes. Remember, any properties within 20km of each other where the same person is in charge of animals can be registered under the same NAIT number. Also, have your AHB herd number or dairy participant code handy, as doing so will mean you can electronically view the tag numbers associated with your NAIT number in the NAIT system. This makes it easier to register animals and to record animal movements.

Purpose of NAIT scheme

The scheme will provide lifetime traceability of individual cattle and deer, enhancing New Zealand’s ability to respond more quickly if there’s a food safety event or a biosecurity threat such as a disease outbreak. In a situation like this NAIT’s capacity to provide a rapid containment response would enable trade to resume more quickly with less economic impact for farmers and New Zealand.

How the NAIT scheme works


The NAIT scheme is about who is responsible for stock on a day-today basis rather than who owns the animals. The NAIT scheme will link individual animals to the person responsible for them, and their current location. This is done via the radio frequency identification device (RFID) ear tag in

Tag your cattle and deer

Now the NAIT scheme is mandatory for cattle, newborn animals must be tagged with NAIT-approved tags within 180 days of birth or before their first movement off-farm. There is a three-year grace period for existing stock to be tagged with NAITapproved tags unless they are being moved off-farm. Calves born from 1 July onwards should be tagged with a birth tag. Use a traka tag for all existing animals to make them compliant to move. The mandatory requirement for an official Animal Health Board bar-coded secondary tag ceased on from 1 July 2012, but you should not remove these tags from existing animals. You still need to use your AHB herd number or dairy participant code when ordering NAIT tags from your usual rural supplier.

Tagging exemptions

There are two main exemptions for tagging animals. 1. Calves less than 30 days old and going directly to a meat processor do not require NAIT tags as they are considered a low biosecurity risk and are not included in the NAIT scheme. For these calves continue to use the direct-to-slaughter tags currently issued by meat processing companies. 2. Animals which are considered by a farmer to be impractical to tag are also exempt from NAIT tagging requirements. This exemption only applies if the animal is tagged with an official AHB bar-coded primary tag and is being transported directly to a meat processor. For 2012/13 these animals will incur a levy of $13 per head (excluding GST) which will be deducted by the meat processor. each animal’s ear and a central database which links each tagged animal to information about the person registered as responsible for it, and the location where the animal is kept. NAIT tags can be purchased from your local rural supplies company. Recording each time an animal moves from one location to another, and/or when the person responsible for it changes is how the NAIT scheme maintains lifetime traceability of animals. It’s necessary for this information to be kept up to date so the NAIT system can quickly provide details of where individual animals are and who is responsible for them.

Benefits of RFID technology

The RFID technology used by the NAIT system is an enabler for on-farm benefits for farmers who make a further investment in RFID systems in

Registering animals

Animals now need to be registered with NAIT within one week of being tagged. Animals born after 1 July 2012 should be tagged within 180 days of birth. The registration process links animals to tags in the NAIT system so they can be traced. If you’ve got a NAIT number you can register animals online now at

Recording cattle movements

NAIT legislation requires that when animals are sent to a location which has a different NAIT number linked to it, or the person in charge of the animals changes, this needs to be recorded in the NAIT system. For example, when an animal is bought, sold, sent for grazing or sent to a meat processor or saleyard. Animal movements to NAIT-accredited meat processors and saleyards are recorded for you. For information about NAITaccredited organisations which carry out some or all NAIT obligations on behalf of people in charge of animals, including animal movement recording, go to When an animal is received from a NAIT-accredited saleyard a movement still needs to be recorded.

Getting help

NAIT-accredited information providers can handle many of your NAIT obligations for you. For a list of accredited information providers visit the NAIT website addition to NAIT-approved RFID tags. Potential benefits include: • automated drafting of animals that meet pre-defined conditions • accurate recording of production details about individual animals so it can be used to support management decisions, for example: regularly weighing animals to sell at optimum individual weight tracking treatments recording breeding information measuring milk production {{

{{ {{ {{

This additional investment is not mandatory under the NAIT scheme, but can potentially have significant benefits. High performance HDX tags will be more suitable for these onfarm activities. | | 0800 624 843

The quickest way to get a NAIT number is via the NAIT website at

Rural News // july 3, 2012

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SCOTTISH BEEKEEPERS are on alert as authorities deal with a single case of the deadly American foulbrood (AFB) disease. The Scottish Government confirmed AFB has this month been found in an apiary in Inverness-shire, following laboratory diagnosis by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA). Outbreaks of AFB over the last three years have been reported and dealt with in the region. The AFB-infected hive will be destroyed as there is no permitted

treatment for the disease in the UK. The disease affects bee larvae and destroys apiaries within days of infection. The Scottish Government says there are no risks to public health from AFB and no implications for the quality and safety of honey. “The affected apiary is located near Inverness and the movement of bees and related equipment into or out of the affected apiary is prohibited,” it says. The Government wants bee farm-

ers and beekeepers to be vigilant for signs of the disease. They are also urging good husbandry practices and notification of any suspicion of disease to authorities. To help Scottish Government bee inspectors control this and other diseases beekeepers are urged to register on BeeBase, the national bee database, for access to up-to-date information on the control of AFB and bee related issues. AFB is a notifiable disease under Scottish law.

Sow crates: gone-burger ALAN HA RMAN

AMERICAN FAST food chain McDonald’s says it will begin a 10-year phaseout, with its pork suppliers, of gestation stalls (sow crates) in the US. The Humane Society welcomes the news, though says it prefers a shorter time frame. Suppliers, pork producers and animal welfare experts have contributed to the plan to source all pork for McDonald’s US business from producers that do not house pregnant sows in gestation stalls by the end of 2022. The move comes as campaigns for more humane livestock production continue to grow. Eight states have passed laws to ban the crates and other states have bills pending to do the same.

The Kroger Co., the largest US supermarket operator with 2435 stores in 31 states, says it believes a gestation crate-free environment is more humane and that the pork industry should work toward this. It is encouraging suppliers to accelerate the transition, but sets no deadline. As an interim step, by 2017, McDonald’s will seek to source pork for its US business only from producers willing to phase out gestation stalls. The chain will work with producers and suppliers to develop traceability systems to verify pork sourced from non-gestation stall supply chains and assess how to best support producers moving away from gestation stalls. “Our approach seeks to build on the work

already in place, and we are also sensitive to the needs of the smaller, independent pork producers in phasing out of gestation stalls,” McDonald’s North America supply chain management senior vice president Dan Gorsky says. Temple Grandin, animal welfare scientist at Colorado State University and a member of McDonald’s animal welfare council, says the change is complex and will require extra resources. “The 10-year timeline that McDonald’s has outlined is necessary to research and identify better housing alternatives and ensure proper training of employees,” Grandin says. US Humane Society farm animal protection vice president Paul Shap-

iro welcomed the definite timeline. In the pork industry, most female pigs are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates – 600mm by 2100mm cages (roughly the size of the animals’ bodies) preventing them from even turning around. They are then placed in another crate to give birth, re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilisation. “These cages are so cramped, the animals are unable even to turn around, essentially immobilised and lined up like parked cars for virtually their entire lives,” Shapiro says.

Rural News // july 3, 2012

world 17

Australian farmers want coal mining veto on their land STEPHE N CO O KE

VICTORIAN FARMERS have called for a right of veto of any proposed mining activity on their land. Victoria is the latest state in Australia – after Queensland and NSW – to attract interest from mining and fuel companies searching for gas trapped in coal seams. Coal seam gas (CSG) exploration has united the farming community in the two northern states as mining companies have had unfettered access to privately held land. Some of this has been prime farm land, prompting claims that the federal and state governments are selling the country’s longterm food security and export potential for shortterm gains in the form of royalties from mining companies. ExxonMobil has taken an initial 10% stake in a joint venture to explore and potentially develop reserves of methane gas in brown goal in the Gippsland Basin in eastern Victoria. At least $20 billion was spent in 2008 on coal seam gas deals in Australia by multinational corporations such as ExxonMobil. But leaks at wells in Queensland, potential contamination of groundwater supply and worries over new drilling techniques are causing a backlash from the wider community and governments are starting to respond. The Victorian Government has established a new Earth Resources Ministerial Advisory Council to tackle coal seam gas and other mining issues. Gerald Leach of the Victorian Farmers Federation said an independent committee would be good for farmers, but landholders’ rights could always be stronger. “The Victorian Gov-

ernment must be committed to protecting landholders’ rights in the face of increased concerns about the impact of coal seam gas and brown coal mining. The VFF has already called for farmers to have a right of veto of any mining activity on their land.” Currently, 100% of NSW is covered cumulatively by mining and CSG titles and applications, causing great uncertainty for farm families, the $8.4 billion agriculture industry and the 74,000 people it employs. In NSW, at present, not one hectare has been set aside for food production. NSW Farmers is asking the Government to declare some agricultural land off limits to exploration and to strengthen proposed land and water protections for mining and CSG. About 20 groups from across the state rallied on May 1 outside Parliament House in NSW to demonstrate concern about the NSW Government’s strategic regional land use policy and its approach to exploration and mining in this state. During the recent consultation process on the policy, the Government received at least 1400 submissions, a vast majority favouring stronger protection of the state’s land and water resources. The policy will be finalised later this year. New surveys show NSW city and country residents think the state government is going too hard at mining and coal seam gas development. A recent Newspoll survey found 58% of respondents thought the NSW Government was too keen on satisfying the interests of extractive industries compared with about 1% who saw too much emphasis on farmers. The survey also revealed 88% either strongly favoured or

somewhat favoured parts of NSW’s agricultural land being reserved from mining and coal seam gas. About 50% thought at least half the state’s food producing land should be reserved for agriculture,

be excluded from mining or coal seam gas activities. NSW Farmers’ President, Fiona Simson, said she was genuinely surprised by the depth of feeling across the state. “People talk about the

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and one in four believed at least 90% should be set aside solely for agriculture. Under proposed new land use policies, the NSW Government has not earmarked any farm land to

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country and city divide but it’s not there on this issue and I think that is very encouraging. “It is also great to see an awareness and appreciation of agricultural land and its value and the

need for it to be reserved to ensure sustainability of food production. “NSW country and city dwellers want to see areas of agricultural land in NSW off limits to mining and exploration.”

Rural News // july 3, 2012

18 agribusiness

Steady as she goes for sheepmeat – Rabobank PA M T IPA

SHEEPMEAT PRICES have tumbled from record highs but should stabilise soon and keep holding, says Christchurch Rabobank analyst Rebecca Redmond.

After a global look at prices, markets and production forecasts, Redmond told Rural News she expects the sheepmeat price to settle about the mid NZ$6/kg. She gave a market update to a Beef + Lamb NZ monitor farm

field day on the Kaipara coast, north of Auckland. Redmond is one of a global team of researchers with a “broad overview” of the world market, asking various countries around the world if they were lifting sheepmeat prices. The

researchers’ task is to look at what impact production forecasts would have on prices. “Sheepmeat pricing has been through a rollercoaster in the last 12-24 months; one driver of this has been the global tight-

ness of sheepmeat that’s occurred over the last couple of seasons.” New Zealand exports sheepmeat to about 70 countries. Redmond said figures showed that, despite prices lifting 20-30% in Europe during the past couple of years, demand has remained stable. It was obvious some Europeans would still pay for lamb whatever the economic situation.

Beef looking good BEEF WILL lift towards the end of this year, and will be at the $4 mark next year, says Rebecca Redmond. With 30% of the US beef production area affected last year by drought, they now have lightweight heifers and breeding cows, with 15% of feedlot production needed to rebuild the herd. Brazil used to be a big, cheap beef producer but land and resource consent costs had gone up, animal welfare requirements had increased, including vaccinations, and they had a booming domestic economy. Their beef exports last year fell 6% in volume.

price destruction. Percentage margins for retailers have come under pressure but they are still comfortable.

Rabobank’s Rebecca Redmond.

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Ten years ago China was just a “blip” in terms of our sheepmeat export. They were big sheepmeat producers but stocks have declined and “they have come looking for security of supply”. In the past five years the exports to China have increased in value, they are moving to more expensive cuts and they are also taking offal exports. “So there’s a good broadness of market,” Redmond says. Demand for our leg roasts in the UK is softening with “dramatic” price rises, but there hasn’t been

tion will stay flat. About 80% (90% in Scotland) of the EU flock is farmed on ‘least favoured areas’, but producers get a pay-out

“New Zealand is positioned in a good place for sheepmeat production.” – Redmond On production forecasts, Redmond said Ireland’s sheepmeat production is buoyant with great prices, but they don’t have a large flock to build on. In the US land is being given over to corn and soy. Government intervention can be a constraint in South America. Australia has 74 million sheep but is focused on wool production and half of its sheepmeat goes to the domestic market. Australian farmers are more reluctant to improve pasture because of drought. The UK has a large sheep flock but produc-

for farming on that land. This demotivates farmers to increase production. “When they stopped getting paid per head we saw their flock decline.” French sheep farmers get top dollar – 5.50 euros/ kg, their consumers are loyal to local product but their land and production is expensive. The Rabobank study predicts “by 2015 we will have only the volumes of sheepmeat to trade globally that we had in 2010,” Redmond says. “New Zealand is positioned in a good place for sheepmeat production.”

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

agribusiness 19

Mixed outlook for the year ahead THE OUTLOOK for New Zealand’s main commodities is mixed for the 201213 season. Some are set to improve, but largely due to a poor growing season (i.e. viticulture, kiwifruit and apples) and they are coming off levels often below the cost of production. Others are set to decline, but off all-time highs (i.e. lamb and wool). Despite recent price falls the 2011-12 financial year will be one to remember for the livestock sectors. A mix of solid farm-gate prices, controlled costs, excellent seasonal conditions and lower interest rates ensure profit-and-loss statements will be solid. We still maintain that the medium–term trend in soft commodities is up. However, this needs to be at a rate affordable to emerging countries. Volatility in this upward trend looks set to continue due to the wobbly global scene and other structural shifts in food markets.

The wobbly global scene, especially in Europe, is feeding through to demand from the middle class for high quality protein and foodstuffs. Those sectors that sell a large proportion of their product to Europe face a number of challenges from government belttightening, lower consumer confidence and high unemployment. The offset is that any extra slack is being redirected to China and the wider Asian/Middle East region. Slow growth in the US is also providing another avenue for product. In particular, confidence levels in the foodservice trade in the US have picked up, leading to another avenue for higher value products traditionally sold in Europe. Softer dairy prices have been a function of increased supply, not reduced demand. Milk supply has increased from all the major exporters over the last 12 months

and some of the minor players. Things turned bearish in April and May as the long tail to the New Zealand season overlapped with peak production in the northern hemisphere. Nonetheless, farmgate prices in the northern hemisphere countries have started to adjust downwards and their inputs costs, such as feed, remain at historically high levels. This implies the tap will be turned off as the marginal incentive to produce extra milk is not as great. At this stage we would concur with Fonterra’s milk price of $5.50/ kgMS for 2012–13. Longerterm a milk price range of $6.00-$6.50/kgMS still

looks prudent. Lamb prices face a number of challenges. These include weaker retail prices, higher wholesale and processor margins, a modest increase in the supply of tradeable lamb and a continued strong NZD/EUR. Beef prices remain positive. Venison demand is robust and supply stable. The only downside to farmgate prices is a strong NZD/EUR. Key levels for strong wool prices look like NZ$3.00/kg, back some 30% on last year. End demand is under pressure in Europe and Japan. Substitute fibres such as cotton have dropped in price also. An abundance of local grain, softer livestock demand and lower international prices are expected to weigh on domestic grain prices. Sauvignon blanc grape prices are expected to increase courtesy of a smaller 2012 vintage.

Chance to sharpen up THE FIRST ‘pilot’ workshop in a new agribusiness training scheme organised by Beef + Lamb New Zealand kicks off next week at Invermay, Otago; similar programmes will start soon in Hawkes Bay and Northland. Inspired by the ‘red meat sector strategy’ (RMSS), it gives sheep and beef farm owner-

operators access to government supported training through the Open Polytechnic and AgITO. The scheme will run for 12-18 months with six one-day workshops based on BLNZ tools and services: pasture production, animal production, animal health and welfare, whole farm planning, and risk and market forces. BLNZ people and

capability advisor Sarah Deans told Rural News the same facilitator is being used across the three regions to ensure consistency. “Our target for the programme is for 10 attendees in each region. At this stage, as long as the attendees are farmers – this is aimed solely at employers, not employees – the first people reg-

istered will secure a spot on the programme.”   Government funding and BLNZ’s contribution means attendees pay only a nominal fee of $250, spread over workshops 3-6 of the scheme. As Rural News went to press a few places were available. Contact: Tel. 04 474 0808

NZ Commodity Price Indices (world currency terms) Index (Jan 1986 = 100) 400


350 300


250 200 150


100 50 0 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Sources: ANZ, National Bank

Prices for other white varieties are expected to lift, but not so much, and red varieties are forecast to be stable.

Gold kiwifruit prices are expected lift to above $9/tray due to lower volumes because of Psa. Green prices increased,

but not to the same extent, up 8% to $4 per tray. • Con Williams is an economist with ANZ/ National Bank.

Rural News // july 3, 2012

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Rural News // july 3, 2012 

Beef  NAIT draws cattle out The prime cattle keep rolling into the works which is keeping a lid on export prices in the North Island. Many farmers have done a last minute dash to kill cattle before NAIT came onto play on July 1st. Last week, 300kg prime steer was $4.15/kg on average, although up to $4.20/kg has been paid on larger lines. Bulls are few and far between and prices are strong on $4.25/kg. Local trade prices are flat, largely due to plentiful supply. In the South Island, cattle prices are holding with almost everyone being paid $4.00/kg for prime steer and local trade cattle last week. 300kg cwt bull is slightly less on $3.95/kg however up to $4.00/kg can be achieved for larger lines. The only thing going for export prices at the moment is the seasonal decline in supplies. The NZ dollar continues to bounce around causing concern, while the overseas markets have taken a dive in recent weeks. US imported beef prices dive US imported beef prices have taken a slide over the past month. 95CL dropped to US$2.04/lb a fortnight ago, when a month ago it was about US10c/lb higher. The main driver for the recent fall is the seasonal drop in US domestic prices following Memorial Day. Looking at past seasonal trends, Steiner Consulting Group suggests that US domestic prices could fall another US10c/lb between now and the end of August. Despite the short term outlook being average, the long term outlook remains positive. US domestic supplies continue to shrink so there will be a greater reliance on imports going forward.






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Export lamb prices creeping up      The lamb kill is seasonally coming back but supply is still fairly good for this time of year. Farmers are realising lambs are growing faster than expected and are opting to   slaughter before weights get too heavy. Last week, 16kg  cwt lambs in the North Island increased to $5.61/kg on  average (net). Some processors are paying the same  money for a wide weight range, however ‘all weights and  grades’ is unlikely to happen this year, as meat     processors have made it clear they don’t want heavy  lambs. There was a large variance in prices paid for 16kg       cwt lambs in the South Island last week, so it continues to be difficult to put a peg in the sand. On average, 16kg cwt   lambs were $5.73/kg (net). Once lamb contracts come  into play in July, it will be interesting to see if this drives spot prices higher like it has done in the past.   Too much lamb in freezers   Farmgate prices have begun to seasonally lift albeit at a  slow rate. Meat processors are reluctant to raise        schedules as market conditions remain tough. The overseas lamb market is weak and the kiwi dollar is strong which is impacting returns. Large stocks of frozen lamb in New Zealand  will continue to hold back prices until these stocks are cleared and we can     start fresh. Some farmers are hopeful of $7.00/kg (gross) peak season    due to limited lamb numbers, but this appears optimistic as there would     be too much ground to be made from today’s farmgate price. Meat     processors will unlikely make the same mistake they did last year, get     caught up in chasing lambs. Many have emphasised they’ll focus on     managing capacity.    

Dairy Dairy market stabilising There are signs the dairy market could be stabilising. At the recent global dairy trade auction, prices maintained the sharp gains made in the prior auction. Longer term contract prices are climbing while shorter term contracts have been moving down, due to the increased supply after a strong milk production season in 2011-12. Fonterra believes that global supply and demand may start to rebalance later this year.



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Rural News // july 3, 2012

22 opinion editorial


Time to move forward from TAF debate CHAMPAGNE CORKS were not popping when Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden last week announced TAF (trading among farmers) had passed with a 66.5% majority. The mood among the co-op’s top brass was relief rather than elation at the executive lounge of the Claudelands Event Centre, Hamilton, where they released the results to the media. It was clear the second vote on TAF had failed to deliver a winner. Fonterra can argue that a 66.5% majority in any democratically held election is a good result. And it is a solid endorsement for TAF to proceed. But the sizeable ‘no’ vote (33.5%) could become a constant irritation for the co-op. Interestingly the vote was based on milksolids, as is the norm in the dairy industry. With corporate farmers and state-owned Landcorp likely on its side, Fonterra never doubted it would gain the 50.1% majority. But small family farms, still a key part of the cooperative’s milk supply base, have never been on the same page with TAF. So, TAF would have sunk if each farmer had been allowed one vote irrespective of his milksolids production. That’s the dilemma over TAF: Fonterra cannot claim a ‘clear mandate’ yet the opposition has been outvoted two-to-one. But though TAF may not be the only answer to Fonterra’s redemption risk, it’s the one preferred by a clear majority of shareholders. Therefore, the time to debate TAF is over. Now the strategy refresh spearheaded by management outlines exciting global growth opportunities and all Fonterra shareholders must put their shoulders to the wheel and help it tap into those opportunities. The co-op says it had no ‘Plan B’. In fact, TAF is Fonterra’s ‘Plan B’. Remember shareholders four years ago roundly rejected the co-op’s preferred option of a partial float. The co-op cannot spend more time dilly-dallying over its capital structure. Talks of a legal challenge to TAF will further debilitate the co-op. The onus is now on the board and management to unite the shareholder base. They must reach out to the small farmers, who have championed the cooperative model through generations. Fonterra stands a great chance of cementing its name as one of the biggest players in global dairying as the TAF journey begins. But every shareholder must be on the journey. Leaving behind the 33.5% who voted against TAF is not an option.

“I wonder what the neigbour will trade me not to tell anyone he bought a new tractor at Fieldays”

the hound Ego deflation THE HOUND was impressed by the efforts of Fonterra’s PR machine to get the dairy industry glitterati to come out in public support of TAF prior to the big vote. However, he is not sure whether former dairy industry stalwart Sir Dryden Spring was feeling too well-loved when he contacted one journalist to convey his opinion on why TAF was a good thing. Apparently the white knight discovered just how long he’s been out of the dairy industry limelight when the said reporter told Sir Dryden he’d have to Google him to find out who he was.


Core business? YOUR CANINE crusader reckons farmers, the Feds and others have a point about local government and its on-going costs increases. However, he’s not surprised due to some of the funding requests made to different councils around the country. One that caught the Hound’s attention was a request for the Timaru District Council to save dolphins. Among the less traditional submissions to the council’s long term plan were about 20 asking the council to take steps to help protect maui and hector’s dolphins.

Tacky! the Hound thought Federated Farmers was supposed to be the lobby group that promotes farming in a positive light and debunks silly myths about the rural sector to the wider New Zealand community. So he was surprised and disappointed at the humour attempt – a very poor one – by Feds’ communications team in the heading used in a media advisory to announce this year’s Feds annual conference being held late last month in Auckland. “Lock up your livestock Auckland, Federated Farmers is coming to town”, read the heading. Not smart, not clever – just tacky!

Dirty business Your old mate felt somewhat uncomfortable recently when the Domionion Post ran a story about Fonterra director and possible chairman-inwaiting Colin Armer being convicted of unlawful effluent discharge. At face value this looked like a great ‘gotcha’ story, but look a little deeper and you could question both the timing and the motive for this story. The Hound hopes this story was not fed to the Dom Post by an Armer board rival to dent his chances of taking over as Fonterra chair when Henry van der Heyden steps down later in the year.

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YOUR OLD mate reckons the ‘green-jackets’ at National Fieldays really need to sort out the issues about traffic getting in and out of the event, or they may well start putting people off attending. The Hound suggests the organisers need to get a traffic management plan in place and arrange for arterial routes in and out to be one-way at peak entry and exit times. And how about park-andride options, with shuttle buses ferrying visitors to and from the event and leaving exhibitors to use the nearest on-site carparks?

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

opinion 23

Organic types smug – research WELL, CUT off my legs and call me shorty; my long-held prejudice about organic enthusiasts being smug, superior types has been all but confirmed by research. According to a paper in the Journal of Social Psychological & Personality Science, people exposed to organic foods ‘’judged moral transgressions significantly harsher’’ than the control group. They also volunteered significantly less time to help a needy stranger. Lead author Dr Kendall J Eskine says about the study: “There’s something about being exposed to organic food that made them feel better about themselves. And that made them kind of jerks a little bit, I guess.” Erskine’s researchers called it ‘’moral licensing’’ – whereby because you do good deeds in one area of life, you feel you’ve paid your dues and can give up on being good in other areas. So, according to this study, people who eat organic food are more likely to be judgmental about their fellow man.

ag twits

Which surely now gives us free rein to judge all those ‘I’m better than you because I only eat organic’ types; who tend to infest the suburbs of Grey Lynn in Auckland, Wellington’s central city region, Lyttelton in Christchurch, plus the rank-and-file of the Green Party of Aoteoroa/ New Zealand. I’ve felt the judgemental wrath of the outraged organic lobby when some 18-months or so ago, after I penned a tongue-in-cheek column for this paper, suggesting organics may not be as pure or as good for the planet as its exponents have claimed. The genesis of the column was a couple of presentations to an Australian Farm Institute conference, which suggested organic production was not as sustainable as claimed by its proponents. In my offending article I wrote how the country’s agricultural productive sector had suffered the disdain of eco-warrior-types who regularly derided the environmental merits of their products

and/or systems. I pointed out this was somewhat moot now that research had shown organics was not as environmentally or economically viable as it proponents believed. Though I was being deliberately provocative, I figured most reasonable people would take the piece for what it was – comment. However, I’d forgotten that organic types – like all evangelists – are rarely reasoned or reasonable. They practise a strange form of democracy that says it is only acceptable if the outcome agrees with what they believe. So as sure as God made little green apples – Biogro certified organic, of course – came the obligatory indignant letter to the editor from the organic lobby accusing me of being bought off by Monsanto

and the rest. Yada, yada, yada as George (1990s TV show Seinfeld) would say. Sydney Morning Herald writer Jacqueline Maley, commenting on this latest research, wrote: “One of the more insidious trends of the modern era… is the moral sanctity people attach to their food choices. Eating is no longer something we do for taste and energy con-

sumption; it is a political act. The ability to select and consume biodynamic, macrobiotic, locally sourced and fully organic food is surely the greatest middle-class indulgence of our time.” It is hard to disagree with these sentiments when, as a friend recently experienced, being accosted by one of these environmental evangelistic types in the super-

market when buying some meat. Apparently the sanctimonious lady lectured my friend how he must feel awful because the beef he was buying had at some point in its lifetime been drenched. His question, to the holder of this particular moral licence, was that humans actually worm themselves too, so does that mean we are harming the planet as well? He

then invited her, ever so politely, to take her smug views, crocheted shopping bag and go and climb a tree. What’s the bet the smug one is the type who breaks the speed limit on the way home, with my friend’s flea ringing in her ear. No doubt, the holierthan-thou crusader will have justified her actions as being okay because she drives a Toyota Prius!

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Top Bleats view all henryfonterra: Wow 66% support by farmers for TAF – what a thumping endorsement. To those 34% of shareholders who voted against it can I just say: na-na-na! #wewonyoulosteatthat

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ianbrownshc: @henryfonterra my Shareholders’ Council unreservedly and overwhelmingly would like to join in your gloating over the opponents of TAF . #suckonthatsimoncouper

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leonieguineyantitaf: How dare you even think about implementing TAF @henryfonterra when you only have 66% support. We believe our minority opposition is more of a majority than your majority support. #wedidnotlosewejustgotlessvotes damienoconnormp: I don’t think I’m being overly histrionic when I say a 66% vote in favour of TAF is indeed a black day for democratic decisionmaking in the New Zealand dairy industry! #darkdayfordemocracy dcarterminforprimaryindustries: Bloody hell, the 66% vote in support of TAF shows the kind of majority a Government in our MMP environment can only ever dream about! #bringbackfpp

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

24 opinion

High food prices good for the environment FOOD PRICES have dropped in the course of the past year. Supermarket shoppers might question the evidence, but the midJune data from Statistics NZ was clear: since last May the cost of the overall shopping basket has dropped by 0.2%. Yet most people believe food is becoming more expensive, particularly in New Zealand. Concerns about food

security (quantity of food available globally) do have an effect on price, as does the health of the global economy. Food safety also impacts on prices and costs – an Escherichia coli outbreak or melamine scare creates a demand for safe products and prices increase. The range of items now in supermarkets accounts for some of the challenges in comparing ‘food

spend’ in different countries, and what constitutes the ‘average’ food basket also changes: last year the

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basic food basket in New Zealand included frozen berries, chicken nuggets, dried apricots and flat bread. The biggest confusion, however, is in such factors as GST (or VAT) and on how much tax payers are indirectly giving to farmers directly through subsidies. In the OECD countries an average 18% of gross farm receipts are from subsidies. In New Zealand there are no farm subsidies, hence consumers are not paying an unknown extra for their food via taxes on their wages and salaries. True, food prices have increased over the last 20 years, but production costs have increased by far more: 45% for food and over 60% for costs. MPI calculates many farmers are now losing money, but keep farming in the hope they will achieve capital gains. The reality in the market is that SOE Landcorp, New Zealand’s largest farmer, estimates a 2-3% return for sheep and beef enterprises and a

4-5% return for dairy. In contrast, Standard and Poor estimates return on capital invested in supermarkets is about 16%. Supermarkets can afford to play with prices. Over the year to May 2012, cheddar cheese decreased in price 15%, butter 25%, potatoes 13% and chicken 5.3%. Milk also decreased in price (by 7.2%) despite the fact Fonterra froze the price for the domestic market in February 2011 when the global price escalated. Supermarkets have been challenged by smaller outlets using milk as a loss leader, relying on the increased effect of impulse buying to boost sales overall. In a Westpac survey

released last year, people aged 18 and over were found to spend on impulse about $5/day ($16 million for the country) mostly at supermarkets, cafes, petrol stations and fast food outlets. This is 50% of the cost of the daily basic-diet food for an adult (University of Otago research). The argument that food should be cheaper in New Zealand because we are a food-producing country overlooks the fact much food is imported, and the return to the farmer is decreasing. As society imposes increased environmental and animal welfare regulations, and power, fuel and labour costs escalate, farm returns will decrease even

further. Only if food prices increase will primary production be sustainable. More money on-farm means greater capability to implement the new technologies that increase productivity while maintaining or improving environmental protection. In Europe at least part of the subsidies are directed at supporting the environment; New Zealand farmers pay their costs from returns from selling their milk, meat and wool. Paying more for high quality, sustainably-produced food makes a lot of sense for the environment. • Jacqueline Rowarth is a professor of agribusiness at the University of Waikato.

Rural News // july 3, 2012

management 25

Lessons in soil structure study A N DREW SWA L LOW

YOUR COWS might not be pugging your paddocks, but are they causing unseen compaction and consequent production losses? Scientists at Agresearch’s Invermay campus are seeing this on Is your farm’s soil like the left, or the right, asks Agresearch’s Seth Laurenson.

some dairy farms in North Otago. Their work is part of the Land Use Change and Intensification Project, a ten-year project AgResearch is running, now in its eighth year, looking at changes to soil structure on farms as production increases with

newly installed irrigation. In North Otago, most have converted from sheep and beef, and maybe a bit of crop, to dairying as the water’s come online. “What’s happened is that with irrigation there’s been an increase in production and there are a whole lot of pressures

on the soil that were not there before,” explains Seth Laurenson. The project has three phases. The first was a series of experiments to assess soil structure changes between dryland and irrigated farmland under cattle and sheep grazing. The combination of irrigation and increased grazing intensity is changing soil structure, generally for the worse. How much worse depends on management. “Where there’s been high stock density on wet soils we’ve seen a huge impact on structure.” On the plus side, despite naturally quite vulnerable soils in the area, the extent of severe damage is limited. However, unlike pugging where damage and consequent production loss is obvious, compaction can easily go unnoticed causing lesser, but more persistent losses in production, Laurenson points out. The second phase of the work has been to look at what to do where soil structure has deteriorated. Trials compared natural recovery with mechan-

ical aeration. While the latter saw soil biology reinvigorated, it did little for structure, the researchers found. “It’s good, but it must be done in combination with good management of livestock.” Done at the wrong time, mechanical intervention can also do more harm than good, so check soil is dry enough to avoid

smearing at depth, and to ensure compacted layers are fractured, adds Laurenson. But the best approach is to prevent the damage happening in the first place, he stresses. “On a cost benefit basis it’s better to avoid doing the damage, than try to recover it. You should only need to aerate soil

if you’ve made a mistake. You can speed up the recovery process with aeration but you need to change the management practice that caused it.” Avoiding compaction in the first place means little or no lost production, and the risk of run-off and consequent environmental damage is reduced. to page 27


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Rural News // july 3, 2012

26 management Landcorp’s Opouahi Station, inland of Tutira, Hawkes Bay, has been chosen as an inhouse monitor farm to focus on beef herd performance, as Rural News reporter Peter Burke found out on a recent trip up the East Coast. steers, the beef animal of choice on the east coast. Sam, four permanent staff and two casuals run the station. He became manager of Opouahi in

2010 after stints as a shepherd on several farms, including Smedley Station, a 31,000 stock unit property that incorporates a Cadet Training Farm

which Bunny was once a student of, prior to doing a Bcom Ag at Lincoln. Communication is a big part of his management style and he makes sure

Ohouapi Station manager Sam Bunny uses cows to groom pasture for sheep.

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FARMING HILL hill country is never easy but at Landcorp’s Opouahi Station, Hawkes Bay, manager Sam Bunny has succeeded in lifting performance substantially, not that he’s making life easy for the stock, especially cattle. Grass is money in his eyes and he won’t let it go into any animal unless he can see a sufficient return in the offering. The station is 2,500ha of “steep, rolling hill country,” as Bunny puts it, running from 300m to 1200m with 1900ha effective carrying 17,000 stock units. Landcorp Romney ewes and hoggets make up 60% of the stock; the rest are Angus breeding cows and


If stock must be put onto a wetter-than-ideal paddock, take them off as soon as they’ve had their feed, suggests Laurenson. “Density of stocking, and duration, both affect the amount of compaction. Give them three or four hours on the paddock, then stand them off on less vulnerable soils or standoff facilities.” As for production losses due to compaction, previous work has shown typically a 2% reduction in pasture growth for every 1% drop in porosity. A healthy porosity for soil under pasture is 15-18%, but in extreme cases of compaction Agresearch has found it down to 6%. “Below 10% is where real problems begin as soil biological activity is severely reduced, organic matter is lost, and with it the ability for the soil to recover naturally.”



Trigger values will be determined by soil type and soil moisture deficit. That may be measured by meters such as Aquaflex, though such meters only measure where they’re positioned, portable TDR probe-type meters, water balance sheet calculations and visual assessment. Soils likely to have the longest ‘do not graze’ periods post irrigation or rain are those with high clay content and low organic matter. “The organic matter is what holds everything together. The North Otago soils are quite low in organic matter, and they have a high clay content, so they’re vulnerable to being compacted.” Adjusting irrigation schedules and/or grazing rotations to avoid putting cattle onto freshly watered paddocks will help reduce the risk of compaction.


“If the soil’s compacted, two things happen: there’s a lot more movement of water horizontally due to a reduction in soil infiltration rate and secondly, because of the reduction in airspaces, there’s less water held in the soil; so you get greater frequency of saturation excess. “Furthermore as the air space decreases with compaction, soils remain wetter for longer, thereby enhancing the likelihood of subsequent grazing when soils are still wet – thereby compounding the risk of compaction.” The third phase of the project is looking at ways to assess soil moisture and make grazing decisions accordingly. The aim is to produce guidelines for farmers that will help determine when to remove cows from paddocks.

Treating grass like


from page 25


Lessons in soil structure study

Rural News // july 3, 2012

management 27

dollars in Hawkes Bay his staff understand the ‘big picture’ goals on the property as well as their own individual tasks. He encourages them to share their ideas on the farm and to enjoy their work. His arrival at Opouahi sort of coincided with the station being designated as one of Landcorps beef monitor farms. The programme is designed to work out how to make more money out of beef cows. “Beef cow performance has been pretty much stagnant over the last 20 years [while] sheep performance has skyrocketed so we were asked to be the monitor farm,” he explains. Three or four times a year the station hosts Landcorp managers and staff from across the eastern and central north island region. “Plus some staff from Wellington.” NAIT technology is being used to monitor cattle and find out what is affecting their performance, then see what can be done to change things. “One main area is the poor calving percentage, with North Island farmers managing about 88% which means that they’re losing 12 calves in every 100. We’re trying to find out where we’re losing these calves – second scanning’s part of this. “We’re also monitoring the animals post calving where we tend to lose them to misadventure, such as falling over banks.” Good grazing management and modest mob-sizes are his answer: shifting big mobs increases the risk of misadventure and having feed readily available means cows don’t have to forage very steep country. That said, he believes in giving the beef cows a hard time, and believes some farms feed too well. Opouahi’s herd is ‘high A key challenge, and focus, is having pastures ‘ready at the right time’ for ewes and lambs.

performing’ given it does very well on minimal tucker. He says the objective with beef cattle is to limit losses and to use them to groom the pastures for ewes and lambs. “The reason is that sheep are financially more viable than cattle. Because of that you have to get the best possible performance out of them on the mini-


Sam Bunny Where:

Northern Hawkes Bay What:

Ohouapi Station

mum and poorest quality feed available. We work our cows very hard during the winter with the idea of having feed for them at the time they need it, which is calving and when the bull is going out.” Steers are grown to 18 months then trucked to another Landcorp farm for finishing. If it wasn’t for the beef cows, sheep performance would not be what it is, says Bunny. The station winters 8,200 Landcorp Romney ewes and 2,500 hoggets. Ewes did 142% last spring, and hoggets 50% in what was the first time that class of stock had been mated on the property. The improved lambing percentage, plus hogget contribution, produced 2000 more lambs. Summers on the station are generally good, with plenty of rain, but winters can be harsh with snow on the tops. Grass doesn’t really get growing until well into October. Lambing is late September – probably not late

enough, says Bunny – with weaning first week January. The problem is having enough feed in winter and enough stock to eat it in summer, hence the move to hogget mating. It’s an all grass system and very little supplement is fed, even in winter. A key challenge, and focus, is having pastures

“ready at the right time” for ewes and lambs. Weaning weights have lifted 4kg. Over 11,000 lambs that’s huge, notes Bunny. Another strategic focus is improved lamb survival scanning to tailing. Given the nature of the property it’s possible to lose 30% to 40%, notes Bunny. Something below 20% is good.

“We do this by setting up pasture on the lower country to lamb on and virtually jamming the ewes in there to lamb. We select the best sheltered paddocks and don’t lamb on the high country. Once the ewes have lambed and are pretty comfortable, then we bring them up to the higher country.”

They also finish lambs well, getting breeding hoggets to weight quickly

with a surplus of ewe lambs that can go to other Landcorp farms.

Rural News // july 3, 2012

28 management/animal health

Making more from Scanning is widely used on sheep farms but do we get full value out of the information available? Andrew Swallow reports from a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farming For Profit workshop. HOW DO you use your scanning data? Do you even scan? Judging by presentations at one of a recent series of Beef + Lamb New Zealand

workshops, making more and smarter management decisions based on scanning data can dramatically cut losses, raising profits. Speaker Peter Young,

a farm adviser from Alexandra, says typically scanning results are used to identify dries and split flocks into multiple and single-carrying mobs. “But

that’s about the extent it.” In many cases more management decisions could be made from the data, helping reduce losses in that year, and drive







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flock performance further into the future. “It’s not just about the information; it’s what you do with it.”

Peter Young

For example, besides using scan data to determine stocking rate for set stocking singles and multiples, for about 20c/ewe

extra scanners can age foetuses, allowing timing of set stocking to be finetuned. “If you set stock them all at the same date and some aren’t due to lamb until four weeks after that date, there’s the potential for problems there,” Young warns. While it’s well known a ewe’s feed demand increases rapidly towards her due date, especially for those carrying twins, understanding the detail of that (see table) is key. Having foetal age data is particularly advantageous on farms with a range of country – hill, flat, different soils, aspects and altitudes – so lambing dates can be matched to

Genetic progress and ram harnesses FELLOW SPEAKER Errol Holgate showed how split scanning-age classes helps monitor genetic progress, with 4-tooth results being “the most accurate group in the flock to tell where you are going with your genetics”. Analysing them separately will also help show if 2-tooths are particularly “off the pace”, and if so, allow something to be done about it. Answering a question from the floor about what’s an acceptable difference between 2-tooth and 4-tooth performance, Agresearch’s David Stevens’ answer was blunt. “There isn’t an acceptable difference.” Holgate suggests first-time lambers should be run as a separate mob post weaning “for six weeks or even through to mating” before they go back with the mixed-age ewes. However, that weaning to mating window is a period when ewes should manage on minimal feed without it affecting performance, he stresses. “There’s no room for a high performance animal if she can only perform if she’s got fruit salad. One of the most important periods from an efficiency point of view is what a ewe can handle weaning to mating.” At mating, using ram harnesses can give an even earlier indication of lambing dates than scanning, and allow prioritisation of feed at mating. “If you’ve got a tight feed situation at mating there’s an opportunity 10 days after the ram went out to take out those ewes that are marked, so are presumably in lamb, and give feed priority to those ewes that are not marked.” Harnesses also give an earlier indication of what’s going to happen come lambing. “Is all hell going to break loose on the due date or will there be not much happening for the first week?” On his own farm as scanning % started hitting the 200s, with ever more triplets, weekly harness changes helped minimise triplet losses through mis-mothering, with ewes drafted into mobs all due within one week. “The oldest a triplet lamb [on a lambing paddock] would get was seven days.”

Rural News // july 3, 2012

management/animal health 29

scanning when spring growth starts across different blocks of the farm. Set stocking too early not only wastes feed, it risks ewes putting on too much condition, being less fit and having more lambing difficulties, he warns. It can also hit pasture production throughout the spring. “Once you’re on top of the pasture cover early, you stay on top of it for a long-time.” As a guide, Young suggests comparing covers at tailing to what ewes were put onto at set stocking. “If it’s about the same, you’ve got it [stocking rate and date] about right. If it’s lower, perhaps you need to lower your stocking rate.” Tailing should coincide with peak milk production for the ewe and if feed has

been restricted lambing to tailing, milk production, and lamb growth, is lost – irreparably. “If at tailing time your covers are low the damage is done.” Young suggests using foetal aging to split ewes into those due in the first ten days, second ten days and last fortnight of mating. Typically 65-70% of ewes should be due in that first period, with 25-30% in the second and 5-15% in that last fortnight. Delaying set stocking those second and third groups by ten days can have “quite a dramatic” effect on pasture cover. “There’s the potential for 250kgDM/ha growth in that 10 days.” Lambing paddocks will also be growing that much faster if ewes are put on to them later.

Work by Massey University shows cover length at lambing is a key factor in mis-mothering, he notes. Below-optimal covers mean ewes have to forage further and longer to eat their fill resulting in more lambs being mis-mothered. “At 1200kgDM/ha the ewe can eat her requirement but she takes longer than if the cover was 1500-1700kgDM/ha. At that she’s getting more per mouthful. Any less and she’s spending more time away eating, and less time being a stay-at-home mum, which means there’s more time for the youngsters to get into trouble.” Set stocking as late as possible also minimises the risk of overfat ewes that take too long to lamb. That’s particularly a prob-

Foetal aging at scanning can help fine-tune set stocking dates, cutting lamb losses.

ago, he found giving ewes a 1km/day walk and “not allowing them to dawdle” worked wonders, slashing birthing problems and mis-mothering. “It also helped us identify any ewes that were

lem with multiple births when the firstborn may wander off while its siblings arrive, notes Young. In his own case, before chronic back and knee problems prompted him to sell his farm a few years

on the edge of being a bit staggery earlier. We’d put them straight out on to ad-lib grass. It had a big effect on reducing our ewe deaths.” At 20c/ewe, Young reckons foetal aging is a

no-brainer, assuming the data is acted on. “The cost of it just isn’t an issue. If you can’t save three lambs/1000 ewes with that sort of information then you shouldn’t be in farming, I reckon.”

Ewe feed demand (MJME/day)

Ewe carrying

6 weeks pre-lamb

4 weeks pre-lamb

2 weeks pre-lamb

Lambing day

2x 5kg twins





6kg single





Rural News // july 3, 2012

30 animal health

Rural dog registration fees a rort? Each year, at this time, my blood boils: dog registration! My letter arrived last week: $35 per dog and $53 if paid after July 31. It never bothered me years ago when we were eliminating Hydatids as it paid for the samples taken at the dosing strip annually, and a visit administering worm tablets every 6 weeks. The costs would have been high; I can see where our money went; but now, $35 gets you a plastic tag that cost a few cents to produce. If questioned council officials would say that it pays for dog control. Most farmers and farm workers keep their dogs confined when not in work, and when you think of the thousands of farm dogs throughout New Zealand, how many of them are impounded or cause problems to anyone other than the farmer who owns them? They certainly don’t fowl the pavements and terrorise postmen. Why should farmers pay for the urban dog problem? New Zealand would not be where it is today with-

out the working farm dog, and we would have a meagre future indeed if they all suddenly vanished. I suppose there would always be fruit and veg. It seems totally unreasonable to have to register our farm dogs, after all, aren’t they really just a tool to do a job? We don’t register station-hacks, farm-bikes or chainsaws. I would like to see everyone who owns a Why should farm dog fees subsidise control of working farm dog, unite and not unruly urban mutts? pay. They can’t take all of us to court. They can’t throw us all pay a higher fee, if there were ‘farm dog in jail. They can’t impound all officers’ visiting unannounced, each our dogs. Incidentally, one of the objectives of and every farm annually, checking the the Dog Control Act is “to make better welfare of our working farm and staprovisions for the care and control of tion dogs. Sadly there is no one looking out for dogs”. Part of this act is on the registration form. Please read it. It’s item 54: them. The owners answer only to their conscience. Too many don’t have a conObligations of dog owner. I would happily sign my cheque for science, or are they in fact, stupid? I have been witness to much cruelty dog registration, in fact be prepared to

over the years. Many dogs are skin and bone. You wouldn’t believe the water, for want of a better word, some dogs have to drink, usually out of containers that are never cleaned, often fouled with faeces and urine. One idiot said to me “he shits in it, he can drink it”. We confine our farm dogs, we give them no choice as to where they relieve themselves, and as a dog’s mind doesn’t

think like us, he may accidentally foul the water. He doesn’t think “if I cock my leg here, or squat there, it is going to land in my water container”. If this happens, and the dog isn’t let out for several days (many aren’t) that is all he has to drink. No dog should live like this. I have seen horrendous living conditions. Once, I saw a line of dog motels where several of the dogs had chewed the front of the kennels so badly the rain used to drive in; on this occasion the dogs were huddled inside, standing in an inch of water. They couldn’t lie down, they had nowhere to go. The owner knew and did nothing, when questioned he shrugged and said “they chewed it”. Please, if you see dogs being treated like this, report the owner – speak for the dogs. • Anna Holland is teaching people dog training. For more information www. or Ph 06) 388 1318 or

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

animal health 31

Teat spray revamp cuts mastitis A N DREW SWA L LOW

BETTER PENETRATION of muck and mud plus more active ingredient in a new formulation of a teat spray can dramatically cut mastitis infection, says its manufacturer. Deosan has boosted chlorhexidine content of its old Teat-Ex formulation from 0.45% to 0.6% and rebranded it as TeatX. Emollient (glycerine) content is up 10% for better teat conditioning and multiple surfactants mean it gives good coverage of the teat. “The job of a good teat spray is to penetrate the soil loading and get into the cracks and grooves to get at the microscopic bugs,” Doesan managing director Kip Bodle told Rural News. “We’ve assessed ours at all dilutions and it achieves penetration in less than two seconds. A couple of products took three days... You want the teat protected before the cow leaves the shed.” Rising prices for iodine mean chlorhexidine is now more or less on a par price-wise, with superior performance, he adds. “Iodine is acidic and harsh on a cow’s skin whereas TeatX has a neutral pH which helps prevent teat damage

occurring in the first place. Less teat damage means fewer infections and more profit.... Our research indicates 30% of farmers now prefer to use chlorhexidine teat spray. “We know that teat condition is one of the key issues in the prevention of mastitis. Chlorhexidine is just as effective at killing bugs as iodine and TeatX has been proven to outperform every other chlorhexidine teat spray on the market.” Bodle says most of the test work was “at lab level” with the new product piloted on “probably four farms”. A farm study of the old Teat-Ex formulation on a large corporate South Island farm that had previously used iodine teat sprays found clinical cases of mastitis down by a third in the 2011/12 season, saving the farm almost $200,000 or $21/cow across 9459 animals. “While mastitis is multi-factorial, in this case there was a substantial improvement in teat condition which resulted in decreased BMSCC (bulk milk somatic cell count) from 201,000 to 167,000 and 248 less clinical cases,” says Bodle. “This improvement was largely attributable to

in brief SmartSAMM goes online DAIRY NZ has put a revised version of its mastitis management tool SAMM Plan online. Dubbed SmartSAMM, it will give farmers and advisors easy access to comprehensive, industry-agreed knowledge about mastitis and milk quality, says Dairy NZ’s Jane LacyHulbert. “For farmers, SmartSAMM provides key tools and resources to help establish whether a problem exists, and if so what to do next and how to prevent it in future. There are guidelines and key recommendations for managing mastitis during calving, lactation, drying off and the dry period. “For advisors, the corresponding Technotes provide more of the science detail that sits behind the recommendations; we’ve tried to make this an all-you-need-to-know resource,” says Lacy-Hulbert. See

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

32 animal health

Background BVD costs add up AND REW SWALLOW

IF YOU think you might be better off living with bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) in the herd rather than risk an outbreak in a naive herd, then numbers presented last week at the South Island Dairy Event in Dunedin might make you think again.

For a herd of 582 cows – the South Island average – with high BVD antibodies and a $6/kgMS payout the annual cost/year of living with the disease in a herd is $102,000, Andrew Weir of Eltham Veterinary Services and the national BVD steering group told delegates. That cost is based

“Testing replacement calves covers the majority of risks and vaccinating the herd does a lot too.” on typical losses in such herds compared to BVDfree of 5% lower production, 2.4% lower conception, 2% higher abortion, and losses due to death or culling of persis-

tent infectors, aka PIs. “And that cost is just based on this [milk production] part of the equation. Obviously there are other parts to look at such as losses of calves.”

While work on calf losses here is limited, studies elsewhere – notably Europe where some countries have managed to eradicate the disease – show increased growth rate of calves and improved calf health in its absence. US work found even BVD-vaccinated calves had a 20% lower

Andrew Weir

growth rate when constantly exposed to infection due to a PI cow being nearby. Weir showed several images of BVD-infected calves here, including two 19-month-old, supposedly in-calf Friesian cross heifers little bigger than a 7-month-old Jersey. Such small, weak calves, if they survive, typically have poor fertility so either won’t make it into the milking herd or won’t last.

Mortality of PIs is 17% higher between birth and two years. “So it’s a significant cost but not enough to do our job [of culling PIs] for us.” PIs also, on average, are 18% slower growing, have a 6% higher abortion rate, and have 49% lower milk production. What milk they produce is laden with virus – so highly infectious if fed to a calf - and typically has a high cell count. Testing and culling is the only way to deal with PIs. “If you vaccinate it does nothing at all for the PIs.” Bought-in stock, including calves born to bought-in cows, should also be tested. Vaccination will protect cows from infection, but comes at a cost of about $6/shot with a second booster shot needed to achieve anything more than a few weeks’ protection, stresses Weir. AB bulls are BVDtested so they present no risk, but bought-in bulls do. Tests have shown one or two in every 200 to be a PI. “So the longer you go without testing the bigger the risk you are going to hit one.” In a naive herd, bringing in infection with a bull, or otherwise, will cause immediate and serious

BVD • Antibodies in 90% of herds – indicates exposure at some point. • In those herds 60% of cows have antibodies. • Initial infection in naive herd causes disease storm. • Ongoing milk, conception, abortion, calf and cow losses if infection allowed to persist. • Combination of testing, vaccination, and on-farm biosecurity required. • Complex disease so consult vet on strategy.

For most PIs that’s also true, however some manage to make it into herds where they constantly “shed massive amounts of virus, through every hole and every fluid” without obviously being carriers, warns Weir. PIs originate when a cow is infected with BVD in the first four months of pregnancy. While she will probably mount an immune response and overcome the disease, if the foetus isn’t aborted, it will also be infected and carry that infection for life as a PI.

losses due to scours, milk loss, abortions and cow deaths. Even in a herd with high antibodies, hence immunity, they’re a problem as they’re likely to create PIs. Other sources of infection are animal-to-animal across fence lines, or on vectors such as service industry personnel, equipment and vehicles. “Testing replacement calves covers the majority of risks and vaccinating the herd does a lot too. But whichever of these you do, you have to test bulls and replacement cows.”

Rural News // july 3, 2012

animal health 33

Dehydration kills calves, not scours

last week’s South Island Dairy Event, Dunedin. “It’s most important to remember a calf needs to drink at least 10% of its bodyweight in fluids every day. That means a 40kg calf needs at least 4L and it will comfortably take


whole thing is basically a myth.” Electrolytes typically contain only half the energy of milk and a calf needs 3L of milk just for maintenance. “Six litres of any electrolyte is only half the energy requirement of a calf... you cannot get enough [energy] in.” Schouten’s regime for treating a scouring calf is electrolyte in the morning, milk at midday, elec-

Housing, meals and automation SCHOUTEN’S INTERACTIVE session dealt with about a dozen points raised by delegates at the outset. Homemade electrolytes and meals were shot down in flames, as were automated feeders. “They come around every fivesix years but two years later most of them are sitting in the corner of the shed doing nothing. There’s no substitute for going in there and seeing your calves.” As for homemade electrolytes, “don’t do it,” was Schouten’s advice. “You’ll never get enough energy in there.” One trick to boost the energy content of bought electrolytes is to add a tablespoon of dextrose per litre

of electrolyte. “So buy your electrolyte and a sack of dextrose.” Bought meals are “very safe” and typically contain “a beautiful balance of three grains, molasses, rumen buffers, sodium bentonite and minerals.” Palatability is a key requirement and a point where some of the fibrebased meals fall down, he added. Such meals, due to lower dry matter content, also provide less energy per dollar. “If you want to buy a bag that’s half water, that’s up to you!” Probiotics on the other hand are “very good value” and at 5c/day, adding one to a calf’s feed for the first ten days “is a good investment”.

trolyte again at teatime, and then ad lib electrolyte overnight. “Do that and tomorrow it’s going to be bouncing.” Shifting scouring calves to separate pens only serves to spread infection and Schouten’s preference is to isolate the casualty for ease of management by putting it in a corner with a hurdle across it to form a small pen within the main one. If more than half a pen of calves is scouring start them all on treatment for scours as it’s a near certainty they all will be scouring soon, he adds. If treatment is right, calves won’t scour for more than three-four days. Research work has shown even with rotovirus and calves that received little colostrum, and consequently have low-levels of immune-globulins, only 14% die. “With good immunity you’ve got a 97% chance of recovery. You do not need any veterinary help at all. All you’ve got to do is keep that milk and electrolyte going.... I want you to understand calf rearing can be stress free.”

Lifestylers’ animal care under fire SPEAKERS AT last month’s New Zealand Veterinary Association Conference in Hamilton lambasted lifestyle block owners’ animal husbandry skills. Mark Anderson, Helensville Veterinary Services, told delegates to expect more after-hours callouts from small block owners because they often have strong emotional con-

nections with their animals but lack knowledge or resources to deal with animal health or welfare situations. Vets should check if livestock on a lifestyle block are considered commercial or a pet, and be upfront about costs, he said. Fellow conference presenter Francine Shields, SPCA Whangarei, said bony and/or ailing stock are too

common a sight on lifestyle blocks, where overstocking and lack of basic husbandry skills can lead to problems. People new to rural living often do not understand feed quantity and quality needs for different stock either, and are not usually able to rotate and rest paddocks. Poor pasture quality and lack of parasite and disease controls exacerbate problems.


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Bas Schouten


HOW MUCH milk and electrolyte do you give a scouring calf? Too often the answer is not enough, judging by independent calf rearing expert Bas Schouten’s workshop at

6L,” he told delegates. If a calf has been scouring for a day before it is detected, as is quite likely, it will already be 5% dehydrated so needs an extra 2L of electrolyte just to get it back to normal. “So it needs a minimum of 6L of electrolyte.” Whether scours are nutritional – white faeces due to protein (casein) escaping from the abomasum and passing straight through the small intestine – or infectious, “treatment is exactly the same,” he stressed. “The calf will die of dehydration and lack of energy, not due to the bugs. Get as much milk and electrolyte in as you can.” Many vets still say don’t give milk to scouring calves, based on the theory the fat and lactose in the milk feed the bacteria or virus causing the scours. But the calves desperately need the energy the milk provides and it will not exacerbate the scours, he said. “The

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

34 machinery & products Saves water, less effluent GA RET H G I L L ATT

COW HOUSING pioneer Herd Homes reckons it can save water and cut effluent volumes on dairy yards, and is looking for a North Island farmer to test its ideas by trialling its new Dairyard. Crucial to the development is a roofed-over yard and more “strategic” use of yard-wash water from plant and pit area. Herd Homes chief executive Hamish McMillan told Rural News the company needs a farmer building a new shed or dramatically remodelling an old shed to test the theory. “You can reduce the amount of effluent going into a pond by one and a half times just by putting a roof over the yard,” says McMillan. “All of a sudden you’ve got a valuable resource instead of something just going into the effluent pond.” The company estimates a cut in water use of 11L/cow/day. The company will build a roof over the trial farm’s yard, then install a system using scrapers and wash water from the dairy plant and pit area to dispose of effluent. Effluent is moved off the yard by a backing gate fitted with hoses supplied with waste water collected during other steps of the washdown process. Effluent is then pushed by another mechanical scraper from the yard via channels to silos. McMillan sees scope to cut the water content of effluent to about half that occurring in traditional systems. “It is easier to handle and spread. Drier effluent keeps its nutrient value better.” The Dairyard concept is a revi-

sion of a system trialled since 2005 by the company but shelved due to New Zealand Food And Safety Authority (NZFSA) requirements. The previous concept had stock walking on a grated surface through which effluent fell on to dry matter below, but this did not comply with NZFSA regulations which stipulate effluent must be stored at least 45m from milk harvesting equipment.

“With the new system, effluent is carried a long way away from that 45m so it shouldn’t be a problem,” says McMillan. He cannot say when a commercial version of the Dairyard will be on sale. A story last week in Dairy News yielded about a dozen phone calls from interested farmers but the complex nature of the project complicated things, McMillan says. “There’s a limited build window. “We’re ideally looking for someone building a new shed.” Preferred region is Waikato or Bay Of Plenty, but given the right conditions they may look further. “We have experts all over the country and it would be easier to bring them to a central location such as Waikato or Bay of Plenty. That’s where the regulators are and where we are.” Tel. 021 706 848

Irish eyes smile on Fieldays PETER BURKE

WE’LL BE back, the Irish say, after gaining good impressions of National Fieldays. Ireland’s ambassador to New Zealand and Australia, Noel White, is vowing to return to National Fieldays next year. It was his first visit to Fieldays since recently taking up his post in Canberra. White told Rural News being at Fieldays is a priority for Enterprise Ireland which handles day-to-day trade issues with New Zealand. Fieldays is a top-class event and a good business platform highly regarded by Irish companies, he says. Ireland this year had a large site with 14 companies exhibiting. “We’re beginning to see benefits, over time, of being involved and we need to give it more time. The fact 14 Irish exhibitors were there shows the people in the farm machinery business believe in Fieldays as a worthwhile exercise coming all the way here for. “It was interesting to note a number of Irish exhibitors actu-

ally brought product with them and I must admit it was nice to see Irish trailers on the ground in Hamilton.” White says he’s been told first-time Irish exhibitors made good contacts to help set up partnerships and distributorships in New Zealand. And companies well-established here, such as Keenans, were able to build on excellent relationships they already have. “We’re producing rugged machinery needed in a rugged marketplace – New Zealand – and this is being put to good use. This is fantastic to see good results because it proves the quality of the product we are selling. We have products which clearly appeal to the New Zealand market.”

White says the export of farm machinery from Ireland is a priority trade and with the growth of the New Zealand market Fieldays is the preferred platform to spearhead this growth. “People often think the tyranny of distance between our two countries makes it hard to build good connections. But it’s clear to me that if you have good products and can link that into a market in a sensible way then people will be interested.” New Zealand and Ireland have a lot in common, being small nations with similar political, cultural and historical backgrounds, White says. He notes the huge number of family connections between the two countries, supporting the wider

Noel White

trading relationship. Thirty years ago New Zealand and Ireland were competing for lamb market access to Europe. Nowadays there is a high level of cooperation in these markets to grow the market and to complement each other’s products. “We appreciate the opportunity to come down and do business. Our two counties go back a long way and we tend to view the world in the same way. The relationship is working well in both directions.”

Effluent firm aims for top end DENIS MADAGAN was pleased with his four days at Fieldays and says he’ll be back again. He manages a company called HSNZ and is the local distributor for an Irish company called Hi-spec. The company has for nearly 25 years made auger feeders, mix feeders, muck spreaders and effluent tankers, the company being regarded as a leading maker of this type of equipment in Europe. Madigan worked in New Zealand

some years ago, saw opportunity for these products and set up a company distributing the brand, helped by Fieldays. “Irish companies have a good standard of product and our machines are well engineered and heavily built. There is a place for certain brands of Irish machines in New Zealand but we have to compete with local engineering companies especially on price which is not always easy,” he says.



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Rural News // july 3, 2012

machinery & products 35

Indian cab tractor is good value A NEW farm-utility cab tractor (70hp) from Indian giant Mahindra is designed in Germany. Fit and finish are second to none, says the company, from its Australasian base in Brisbane. Sagar Bhadkamkar, national manager says, “The new 7060 cab tractor represents the best value on the market with the highest operating weight and lift capacities, at this price point. “With decent wheel equipment standard, it is a serious, hardworking utility tractor. It has all-steel construction, large 16.9 x 30 ag rear wheels and 11.2 x 24 fronts. This tractor will push more, pull more, and lift more. “Combined with our 3-year limited warranty plan, this represents the most powerful value package available to tractor buyers today.” The launch of the new 7060 Cab tractor comple-

ments the earlier released 8560 4WD Cab tractor in the 60 series range. Both tractors have rubber isolators on the cab floor insulating the operator from the chassis, and a comfortable air suspension seat. This has electric-pneumatic operation of seat height adjustment, adjustability of the seat fore and aft, along with fore and aft movement of the steering wheel for “supreme” operator comfort. The cab floor is fully flat with solid rubber matting for grip. Other comfort features are “numerous” air-condition/heating vents, standard DIN size radio slot,

and large sun visors. There is also a hook for the driver’s jacket and storage area for bits and pieces. Both cab doors are lockable and the rear window opens for greater air flow and visibility when heating/cooling is not required. The 7060 weighs 3425kg – in the 60-70hp cab market this is a “substantial platform from which to safely and stably feed out bales,” avoiding the cost of a larger, more expensive tractor. It will especially suit dairy farmers with at least 2.3 t lift capacity at the ball ends of the hitch and a 900kg safe working load on the loader. With two sets of remote standard, also featuring float, detent and kick out, orchard farmers will appreciate the lift-

ing capacity for spraying applications. Optional carbon filters for the cabin are also available.

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Rural News // july 3, 2012

36 machinery & products

Easy-move wool press TO N Y H OPKI N SO N

PASSAGE THROUGH woolshed standard doorways is no problem for ICS Manufacturing’s Dominator wool press, says company director Ian Cowan, displaying it at National Fieldays. Mounted on a threewheel trolley, the press can be shifted on the wool floor, and through standard doorways, without dismantling, ideal for baling various piles of wool. Lowering the towing handle activates the builtin weigh scales so all bales can be packed to a uniform legal weight. The Dominator has automatic corner pinning which does not pierce the wool pack, averting the risk of contaminating the wool. It has front and rear loading and two sides open for easy bale

Ian Cowan, director ICS Farm Machinery the maker of the Dominator NFD wool press.

removal with no need for mechanical ejection. Says Cowan,“The Dominator is without doubt the best wool press on the market and is built

to make hard work easier. With all the noise associated with shearing and shearing sheds the Dominator is whisper quiet in its operation.”

He says the three stage hydraulic pump can exert a pressure of 13.5t, the most powerful in New Zealand. “The press has a fully integrated safety system which ensures all doors are closed before operating and the selected loading door opens automatically at the end of each cycle.” The Dominator comes in two models with single phase power; the 4hp and the 5hp which is a reinforced commercial model for average sheds. There are two models with three phase power both with 5.5hp motors. One is a reinforced commercial type for larger sheds and commercial situations   Prices from $17,600.00+GST to $19,200+GST for the largest. Tel. 0800 641 146

Tru-Test product manager Shane Dooley says the stick allows more accurate and easier measurement of animals.

Design and function earns prize TRU-TEST GROUP has won an NZ Agribusiness Product award for its Tru-Test XRS EID stick reader, launched late last year. Product manager Shane Dooley says the device addresses a key issue: how do you measure more animals in a day, easily and accurately? The XRS enables readings of stock through yards at a rate of at least 800 reads/ minute, claimed higher than has previously been achievable using other readers, the company says. It is said to have best-inclass battery life and ergonomics. “The agritech industry’s focus to date has been largely on ‘read range’ – the maximum distance between the reader and the animal,” Dooley says. “While range is important and a key feature of the XRS, the number-one requirement of a portable reader is the ability to put large numbers of animals through

quickly, and to measure accurately.” The XRS reads up to 500,000 tags on one battery charge, equivalent to about 20 hours continuous use, reckoned at least twice the continuous operating time between re-charges of any such device. The company says it worked hard on the XRS ergonomics and ease of set up. “We took sports equipment such as tennis rackets and cricket bats as inspiration,” Dooley says. “We’ve added weight to the XRS to move the centre of gravity to where the farmer’s hand sits. It can be used all day in the yard and is one of the lightest readers on the market.” The XRS links with any Bluetooth enabled Tru-Test weigh scale. It is said to have made a “major splash” in North America, where 12 months sales targets were achieved in 12 weeks.



$ 4990 +GST

Rural News // july 3, 2012

machinery & products 37

Guardian angel prevents bad milk grades gar e t h gillat t

KNOWING EXACTLY what’s going on in the milking shed is now made easier thanks to the Halo milk monitoring tool new from GEA Farm Technologies. The Halo system, developed by TagIT, utilises probes, traps and sensors at strategic spots in the milking plant to measure the volume, temperature and flow of milk and wash water going through the plant. Measurements are taken at 10-minute intervals and uploaded to a cloud server through mobile data, with information compiled into reports then either sent back to the farmer as a text message or email or posted to the internet. Technical development manager Russell Gibbs says it gives opportunity to fix problems before they turn into grades. “All farmers know they lose milk either through mistakes or by accident,” says Gibbs. “We’re trying to let them know what’s happening close to the source so they don’t have to deal with grades.” Some of the things the Halo mik monitoring system can detect include thermodurics and warm milk says Gibb. Messages are passed to farmers for whatever action they deem fit. “We’re not prescriptive in what we do; we just give them the information,” Gibbs explains. “We don’t ask the farmer to change what he’s doing, we just say ‘do what you normally do and we’ll give them the data’.” While the system has been available for just nine months and is on about nine farms now, Gibbs says it has been in development for the last two and a half years and is bringing good results. Farmers are very happy with the technology,” he says. Tel. 07 823 3660


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GEA Farm Technologies says the Halo milk monitoring tool gives farmers an opportunity to fix problems before they occur.

Rural News // july 3, 2012

38 motoring/rural trader

Kia flying high with new technology SMOOTHER GEAR shifting on the new Kia K9 luxury ‘flagship’ model is one result of aviation technology adopted by this South Korean car maker. The K9 is now on sale in South Korea and will be launched globally later this year. Shift-by-wire technology activates the automatic transmission, instead of a mechanical shift. This is similar to fly-by-wire systems used by

aircraft makers on their latest passenger planes. Kia says the K9’s gear shifting is “much smoother and we could see it used on other models in the near future”. Other aviation technology on the K9 is a high-tech ‘heads-up display’ (HUD). Used on advanced

fighter jets, this projects vital data on to the windscreen of a vehicle, telling the driver the vehicle’s speed, navigational data, danger signals, and rear and side obstacles. And it warns when the vehicle veers off track. Also new, Flex Steer

enables the driver to select driving mode (normal, eco, snow and sport), each regulating the engine, transmission, steering and suspension to balance between driving comfort, performance and fuel economy. This gear is likely on other Kia vehicles, especially the SUV and

Crossover, making them safer on dangerous surfaces, the company says. Adaptive cruise control automatically adjusts the car’s distance from other vehicles. The K9 will be one of the first cars outside Europe to offer this. The K9 has Kia’s firstever telematics system that enables drivers to

Kia has released a technological tour de force in the new K9 flagship.


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Some years ago,Quad Bike manufacturers were unhappy about roll bars being fitted to their bikes. Fitting them insinuated that their quads were unsafe without them. So they produced a computer generated video featuring a dummy riding a quad with a roll bar. Being a dummy, it couldn’t hold on, lean, stand or think. Consequently, the dummy was tossed around like a rag doll, hitting everything. From this flawed test, it was reasoned that roll bars were dangerous and should be taken off! Go figure! They didn’t mention bull bars, brush bars, handle bars or the bikes bulk. Amazingly, nobody questioned them. Meanwhile, in Australia, a clever little Aussie engineer was taking a fresh look at the problem of being crushed under a quad. Many models later and exhaustive safety tests by the Queensland University and the Quadbar was born. It was small,light,fitted all quads and even in a backflip, tended to land on its side. Better still, ACC and OSH were in the loop. Since 2011, over 150 farms in NZ have begun using Quadbars and manufacturing is now done in Orewa. The best part is that lives have been saved in that time and I feel pretty good about that. I recently learnt that when you are crushed for some time, toxins build up in your blood and can cause a heart attack and possible death. Keeping that bike off you seems a good idea. Stuart Davidson. For a Quadbar, call me, Stuart Davidson, Owner of Quadbar NZ. owner of Quadbar NZ, on 021-182 8115. Email sales@quadbar. or for more info go to

turn on the engine and air conditioning by smartphone. The K9 has all-LED headlamps that automatically shift the angle and breadth of the units according to the direction and speed of the car, reducing blind spots.

Power comes from a normally aspirated V6 petrol engine with direct injection, giving the power of a V8 with the fuel efficiency of a mid-size sedan, the company says. The top version of the 3.8 litre engine delivers 334hp.

Gilmour’s best finish in Rally NZ EMMA GILMOUR battled through major problems on the final day of Rally New Zealand to claim 14th place overall. It was her best finish in a world championship event. Along with the overall finish – two places better than her previous best on a WRC round – Gilmour was the third Kiwi home and second amongst the national rally championship contenders for the three-day event. The Dunedin-based Vantage Team Subaru driver began Rally NZ aiming to match the pace of defending national champion Richard Mason. The pair quickly broke clear of the rest of the national championship field as well as running strongly in the overall order for the rally, which counts as round seven of this year’s world series.




However, with her car struggling for rear-end grip in the slippery leg one conditions, Gilmour gradually lost ground to Mason, finishing the day some 50 seconds down. The contest was much more even on Saturday’s second leg: the pair traded times all day and the margin between them at the end of the leg was just 12 seconds. Come Sunday’s third and final day, Gilmour set out determined to take the leg win from Mason. However a severe brake problem intervened on the opening stages of the day. She eventually nursed her Subaru Impreza to the finish in 14th place overall, one place behind Mason, and one place ahead of the third national championship finisher Matt Jansen.

Rural News // july 3, 2012

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The facts about transmission line buffer corridors. I am writing this letter directly for landowners who have transmission lines across their properties. I am concerned that the information in the public arena around transmission line buffer corridors has been confusing and misleading and would like to set the facts straight. Why are transmission line buffer corridors needed? One requirement of the Government’s National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission 2008 (NPSET) is that all district councils include transmission line buffer corridors in their district plans, notionally by this year. NPSET recognises the national importance of the existing transmission grid. Unfortunately, our transmission lines have been compromised over the years, particularly (but not solely) by new developments directly underneath them. We are supportive of development around transmission lines as long as it is planned appropriately – incompatible development limits our ability to use and maintain existing lines (ultimately resulting in the need to build new lines) and this comes at a cost to all electricity users. Transmission line buffer corridors address this issue. They ensure that activities that may be incompatible with the safe and efficient operation of the transmission line, or the safety of the landowner and the public, are subject to controls. Buffer corridors do not provide Transpower with any new rights. No landowner wants additional controls on their land. I am totally sympathetic to that, particularly as an East Coast farmer myself who is as concerned about the environment as most, but doesn’t appreciate being told where to plant conservation trees or how to control kanuka regrowth! I know that applying for resource consent has a real cost. So I’m not supportive of any more restrictions around transmission lines than are absolutely necessary. Yes, we do want to protect the national infrastructure and the safety of those working on, and living around our assets. But no, we don’t want landowners’ farming operations and agricultural activity to be unnecessarily restricted by the introduction of buffer corridors. So is it a 64 metre wide corridor we’re seeking? Let’s set the facts straight. There is a lot of talk about the 64 metre corridor – the rugby field or ‘land grab’ as I have heard it described – where apparently Transpower wants to restrict all activity. This is just not true. We are primarily concerned about the area directly below the wires and immediately next to the tower foundations. We describe this as the red zone: it is typically about 12 metres either side of the transmission line. We are solely concerned with activities that may be inappropriate in this zone. Principally, these are new buildings and structures, substantial extensions to existing buildings, and major earthworks (those that could undermine the towers or materially reduce clearances to live wires). We’re suggesting that these types of activities require a resource consent.

Almost all farming activity (for example, cropping, harvesting, grazing, ploughing, tracks, etc), is not impacted in any way. Nor are existing buildings in the red zone impacted – if they burn down, for example, they can be replaced with a similar structure. Most farmers I talk to understand that it is not wise to build structures within 12 metres of a high voltage line, and aren’t of a mind to do so. If you want to subdivide, you will need a resource consent – but subdivision already requires this. So what about the area outside of the red zone? We are also proposing to councils that they include a “green zone” – typically around 20 metres either side of the red zone – where development activity does not require resource consent as long as it complies with the New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice for Electrical Safe Distances 2001 (NZECP34), which is a legal requirement already. Compliance with NZECP34 is not a new requirement (it’s been in place for nearly 20 years). All structures near any power lines distribution or transmission - are required to be compliant with it today, whether they are in the red or green zone, or beyond. The NZECP34 simply defines how close parts of a structure can be to the power line, so that there are no safety issues for a landowner or the public. Unfortunately, NZECP34 is not widely understood and many structures have been built that infringe it. Providing the landowner shows that NZECP34 clearances have been checked (which is already a requirement), there are no additional restrictions in the green zone, and no need for resource consent. So what’s next? We know that you have concerns that your activities may be restricted, or that you will incur additional costs because of the need to go through the consent process. We understand this concern. We are working closely with landowners and councils around the country to minimise any impact. This includes asking that the corridor be as narrow as possible. But ultimately, this is not our decision. The statutory obligation is on the individual council, not Transpower, to determine an appropriate buffer corridor width (councils may decide on a wider corridor than we are proposing for other concerns they may have) and what activities may require resource consent. Requirements may differ between councils, but we are all trying to make it as simple as possible. Our landowner relationships are vitally important to us, and we encourage you to contact us with questions or concerns. While we need to ensure that the National Grid is protected, we are more than happy to talk with landowners and try to find an appropriate, workable solution. Yours sincerely

Patrick Strange Chief Executive

Further information on transmission line buffer corridors is available at

Rural News 3 July 2012  

Rural News 3 July 2012

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