Page 1

trees saving us East Coast farm suffers much less erosion thanks to trees. page 28

precision drill Works wide, fits through gates – Kuhn’s Maxima drill. page 41

Rural NEWS

'keep your promise' Rural Women speak out on schools’ fast internet.

page 13

to all farmers, for all farmers

may 1, 2012: Issue 514

TAF ‘2’ vote backed SU D ES H K I SSU N

THE GOVERNMENT says a second TAF vote should settle concerns among some Fonterra farmers once and for all. Primary Industries Minister David Carter is backing Fonterra board’s decision to hold a second vote on June 25. “There is certainly angst among some shareholders. It’s an important decision so another vote should settle it once and for all,” he told Rural News. Carter says the Government did not pressure Fonterra to hold another vote in the face of mounting criticism of TAF by shareholders. This week the parliamentary primary production select committee will hear public submissions on DIRA reforms designed to accommodate TAF. Carter believes the Government has the numbers to pass DIRA amendments in Parliament. But he says it will be interesting to see whether Labour supports it. He rejected a call by Labour primary industries spokesman Damien O’Connor to suspend the DIRA Bill until a final decision on TAF by Fonterra farmers. “It’s silly. The legislation is necessary so Fonterra can go to the investor community,” he says. Part of TAF is the creation of a ‘shareholders fund’ that will see units in Fonterra shares sold to private investors. O’Connor says the legislation will create a dilemma for farmers and will impose milk price interference and manipulated share pricing on their cooperative if they reject TAF.

“Fonterra’s directors have astutely recognised the growing concern among farmers regarding the proposed changes, which have yet to be fully detailed or explained by the board,” he says. “The National Government should put the current DIRA legislation on hold until farmers have the information and have spoken – through the vote – on whether capital restructure is needed or supported.” Federated Farmers is also welcoming the second vote. Feds’ dairy chairman Willy Leferink says the TAF debate is “increasingly white hot”. “Farmers like me voted for the principle of a shareholders’ fund but that was two years ago and was based on a concept. We also thought it was tied to the cooperative’s constitution and not legislation currently before Parliament. “There’s realisation that if we go down the TAF route, the board doesn’t need to go back to farmer-shareholders

until the fund hits 25% of the cooperative’s equity. “This is a major decision for shareholders and [they] must go into this with their eyes wide open.” The Fonterra Shareholders Council

is also urging farmers to have their say on the future of Fonterra. Council chairman Simon Couper says the second vote is important given the questions being raised in some parts of the shareholder base. More on taf pg 4

ploughing championships

Fred Pilling, Hamilton, with horses Bonnie and Janet. Competing for the Rural News Horse Plough Trophy at the recent NZ Ploughing Championships near Cambridge, they finished third overall. More ploughing coverage on pages 42, 43 and 45.

Back to the future on wool levy? p eter bur ke

THE BOARD of Beef + Lamb NZ will this week discuss a somewhat controversial remit passed at its annual meeting calling for them to investigate the possibility of reinstating a wool levy. Growers voted in 2009 for no levy, but a remit promoted by Wairarapa farmer Derek Daniell, asking BLNZ to “undertake an evaluation of the discontinuation of the wool levy”, was passed with significant support. The remit called for such a report to be presented at next year’s annual meeting. If there was support, such a proposal could be voted on when the BLNZ commodity levy is voted on in 2014. BLNZ chairman Mike Petersen told Rural News he didn’t want to pre-empt what decision the board might make. “BLNZ is ambivalent as an organisation about whether there should be a wool levy or not. I think it’s important for us to stay quite neutral in respect of this issue.” Petersen says this is because potentially BLNZ could be an organisation that could collect a levy. “The wool debate always polarises people and therefore it’s important for BLNZ to stay neutral and let farmers have the discussion themselves.”

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Rural News // may 1, 2012

news 3 issue 514

Spurned Crafar buyers continuing to complain pete r bu rke

News������������������������������ 1-17 World������������������������� 18-19 Agribusiness����������� 20-21 Markets�������������������� 22-23 Hound, Edna������������������� 24 Contacts������������������������� 25 Opinion����������������������� 24-26 Management����������� 27-32 Animal Health�������� 33-37 Machinery and Products������������������ 38-45 Rural Trader���������� 46-47

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THE DEAL to allow the Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin to buy the 16 Crafar farms has been labeled a political – not economic – decision by the Sir Michael Fay-led consortium whose bid for the farms was rejected. Spokesman Alan McDonald says the Shanghai Pengxin bid simply did not stack up economically and only got accepted because it had the backing of state-owned Landcorp. He says the deal is back to front: “We should be leasing the land to the Chinese, not them leasing it to us.” McDonald says the price Pengxin paid for the land is way above what it’s worth. “Landcorp only offered $150 million when it put in its bid. The valuations haven’t changed in two years and there are farms next to the Crafar farms in the Taupo region that are selling for much less than the Chinese paid.” McDonald says he was very surprised to hear that the Minister of Land Information, Maurice Williamson, had consulted the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Printed by: PMP Print Contacts Editorial: Advertising material: Rural News online: Subscriptions: ABC audited circulation 80,879 as at 31.12.2011

FAY CONSORTIUM spokesman Alan McDonald says the group’s legal team is ‘digesting’ the OIO decision and says they will do anything they can do to change the outcome. “If there is to be some legal action that arises out of that, it needs to be on a practical basis. Our buyers are pretty disappointed and in some cases angry. “The iwi guys in particular feel they have been left out of the consultation process with both Landcorp and the OIO. They feel they have missed a chance to get back land they had historical claims on since about the 1800s and they were going to do that on a commercial basis.” McDonald says the consortium has no plans to withdraw the action lodged in the Court of Appeal against the original judgment on the OIO decision. But he concedes that the further down the track the Shanghai Pengxin deal gets – with the land signed over to them – the more difficult it will be to ‘unwind’ such an arrangement.

Queue growing for Chinese trade

Postal Address PO Box 3855, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140 Published by: Rural News Group

before making his announcement to Kelly denies doing any deal last July with approve the deal. “I don’t think a Free Pengxin. “We might have had some iniTrade Agreement [with China] should tial discussions with them, but the deal wasn’t signed until earlier this year,” he override domestic law,” he says. says. The role Landcorp Neither does Kelly played in the deal is critshare the view that the icised by McDonald. He Shanghai Pengxin deal says papers from Landwas contingent on Landcorp acquired by the Fay corp’s involvement. consortium under the “I concede Pengxin Official Information Act certainly needed a ‘cor(OIA) shows that since porate farmer’, but July last year Landcorp whether that had to be was involved with ShangSir Michael Fay Landcorp was certainly hai Pengxin despite statea moot point. They ments to the contrary. “This is a Landcorp deal, not a could have easily gone to other corpoShanghai Pengxin deal. Without Land- rate farmers and asked them to run the corp it falls over and Landcorp has farms on their behalf. In the end they negotiated its way through this. You didn’t do that and they used Landcorp. have to wonder what role Landcorp We are not the only game in town by any has played in basically facilitating the means.” Kelly acknowledges Asian coundeal. It’s quite clear the deal wouldn’t have happened without them. If Land- tries take ‘comfort’ in quasi-governcorp’s no longer the farmer, then Shang- ment agencies, but he says he does not hai Pengxin has to get out. It’s a strange know whether that in any way affected the final report recommending the deal deal.” But Landcorp chief executive Chris from the Overseas Investment Office.

Team Fay ponders legal options

pam ti pa

MAKE HAY while the China sun shines because it won’t last forever. That’s the advice from an Auckland University business study group recently back from a trip to the region so as to advise Kiwi businesses. The China-NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA) provides a significant cost advantage to New Zealand, Paul Hosking from the university’s business school reports in the BNZ’s ‘Growing with China’ report. “The favourable conditions are not expected to continue indefinitely as

other nations are ready to sign FTAs,” he says. Meanwhile BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander, who produces ‘Growing with China’ once a month, says some Kiwis fret about ownership of New Zealand farmland extending to the Chinese. But the chances of strong capital inflows into any sectors in the near future do not look high, he says. The Crafar farms saga is one reason and Australia’s banning of Huawei from participating in the national broadband project will also deter the Chinese. But a third factor is, according to an Ernst and Young report released this

month, Chinese investors are now preferring to target Europe, citing “pricing, exchange rates and deal dynamics”. On another issue, Alexander says as large companies search the world for better technologies, there is strong demand for farming systems. “Our challenge is to figure out how to supply such demand while maximising value for New Zealand.” Our primary sector is heavily capacity-constrained, he says, unlike Australia where primary exports can be expanded. Investment of at least A$400b is underway or planned. “So we have no choice other than

to expand our farming sector through involvement in the same sector offshore,” he says. “There are, however, strong premium market opportunities offshore for New Zealand food and beverage products. In other words, more than just the good old fashioned bulk milk powder, wool, meat and fruit and veg. “But often our business models overseas leave a lot of value in the market. We too easily give away the bigger margins to those on the ground simply in the interests of securing some sales which will provide some money for a bit more R&D.”

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

4 news

Ongoing TAF debate makes Fonterra blink SU D ES H K I SSU N

POTENTIAL BRAND and reputation damage were the “defining issues” behind Fonterra’s decision to hold another TAF (trading among farmers) vote. Co-op chairman Henry van der Heyden says TAF “was the first conversation people wanted to have” during his and chief executive Theo Spierings’ visit to Asia last month. Media commentary on TAF was unsettling jointventure partners and business associates. “They believe Fonterra has a fantastic strategy and

Henry van der Hayden

excellent market positions but TAF is the big issue,”


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he told Rural News. “Brand and reputation damage and its affect on jointventure partners were the defining issues for us. It’s not a good place for Fonterra to be.” The second vote is an aboutturn by the Fonterra board, which in February ruled out another vote in the face of mounting pressure from disgruntled shareholders. Fonterra shareholders opposing TAF are welcoming the second vote but warn the ballot “should not be engineered to get a positive vote”. Ashburton farmer Eddie Glass, who spearheaded opposition to

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ONE OF Fonterra’s biggest suppliers is backing TAF. State-owned farmer Landcorp, which supplies about 1% of Fonterra’s total milk, believes redemption risk is real for the co-op. Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly says he personally doesn’t see the need for another vote. But Fonterra is a co-op and at the end of the day shareholder concerns must be addressed, he says. “Being the good co-op that it is, Fon-


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TAF, wants a simple vote on June 25. Every farmer should get a final copy of TAF, he says. “It should clearly define TAF and have a tear-off section with a simple question: whether farmers support TAF or want the status quo.” He suggests Fonterra Shareholders Council networkers, who look after 12-15 shareholders in their respective regions, deliver and collect ballot papers. “This will ensure almost 100% participation and we’ll be delighted to go along with it.” Glass says meetings at which farmers listen to

directors before voting are “brainwashing sessions”. Fonterra says the special meeting on June 25 will satellite-link eight venues so all shareholders can ‘attend’ in person. The co-op board meets later this month to finalise resolutions for the meeting. Van der Heyden could not say what the final resolution will look like. “The resolution will be signed off by the board in late May before ballot papers and supporting documents are sent out to shareholders.” He also defended not calling the second vote earlier, saying it was in

the middle of the TAF process. With 95% of TAF work to be completed by June 25, it was “more appropriate” to hold the second vote then, he says. Van der Heyden insists a majority of Fonterra shareholders want it to “get on with TAF”. He says a small group of vocal shareEddie Glass holders had strategy. At the moment concerns. The all we are doing is media debate on TAF was destroying value and splitting its shareholder compromising potential base. business opportunities.” “We have to put a Glass agrees the TAF stop to this and use debate has split the sharethe special meeting to holder base and the Shareunify the shareholder holders Council and hopes base so we can get on the second vote will be a with implementing the chance to reunite. new, refreshed business

Landcorp backs TAF

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“The resolution will be signed off by the board in late May before ballot papers and supporting documents are sent out to shareholders.”

terra has no option but to hold another vote,” he told Rural News. Kelly has supported TAF “all along” but admits there are some issues about detail. He says dangers about redemption are real for the co-op. But he says it’s vital the co-op has shareholder confidence. “Once a co-op loses confidence of shareholders it is very difficult to function properly. I don’t believe there should be another vote but Fonterra has no option.” Landcorp also supplies milk to Synlait, Open Country Dairy and Westland Milk.

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Rural News // may 1, 2012

news 5

Better prospects for NZ beef in Indonesia p eter bu rke

A MEMBER of the recent Government-led trade mission to Indonesia says while they could not get an immediate freeing up of the beef quotas to that country, some building blocks have been put in place to ultimately achieve that. Mark Clarkson, managing director of ANZCO Foods, was one of 25 business leaders on the John Key/Tim Groser led mission. In 2010 Indonesia was importing 120,000 tonnes of beef from New Zealand, Australia and other countries. But this year they have cut it back to 36,000 tonnes, causing concern to New Zealand meat companies and trade officials. Clarkson says the pres-

ence of Key and Groser helped the situation. “Like all things in Asia, incremental steps were taken. By us going up there and basically fronting up to the

their government. Clarkson says Indonesia is trying to lift its annual per capita consumption of beef from the present 2kg to 20kg.

“Our offer has been to work with them to grow that consumption because clearly self sufficiency won’t do the job.” – Mark Clarkson Indonesians we have made progress and have developed good relations with them.” Indonesia’s import restrictions stem from their desire to become self sufficient in beef. This is linked to dietary problems within the state where there are health problems, especially diabetes. Increasing protein consumption is a goal of

“Our offer has been to work with them to grow that consumption because clearly self sufficiency won’t do the job. They will need to import product and New Zealand is in a good position to help. “We have a good reputation for high quality, safe and reliable product and we have good livestock production which acts as

a backdrop to that. We can fit either the upper or lower end of the market.” Clarkson says the trade mission was hugely valuable because Indonesia is close to New Zealand and with a population of 248 million offers big trade opportunities. “But you have to realise New Zealand is not able to flood the market with product as we have finite land area in farming. It’s not about us sending all this product to Indonesia and dropping the price for their domestic level.” Clarkson says the preferred meat in Indonesia is beef, but as the wealth of the population grows so will the desire for new foods including lamb. The Indonesian market has huge potential and the trade mission positioned

New BSE scare for US A l an ha r man

THE UNITED States has discovered its fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California. The carcase of the animal, held at a rendering facility in California, was never presented for slaughter for human consumption. The US Department of Agriculture began notifying trade partners of the discovery, but officials say there should be no adverse impact on beef exports. The US had its first BSE case in 2004 when an animal imported from Canada tested positive. The second case, 17 months later, was a cow born in Texas. Some nine months later a cow in Alabama was confirmed with the disease. Some 65 countries fully or par-

tially banned US beef products and exports plunged from 1.3 million tonnes in 2003 to 322,000 tonnes in 2004. USDA chief veterinary officer John Clifford says the latest case does not affect the US BSE status because its vigorous surveillance system, mammalian feed ban and the removal of specified risk materials ensure beef and beef products are safe for human consumption. “Evidence shows our systems and safeguards to prevent BSE are working, as are similar actions taken by [other] countries,” Clifford says. “In 2011, there were only 29 worldwide cases of BSE, a dramatic decline and 99% reduction since the peak in 1992 of 37,311 cases. “This is directly attributable to the impact and effectiveness of feed

bans as a primary control measure for the disease.” Samples from the latest case were tested at USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. Immunohistochemistry and western blot tests confirmed the animal was positive for atypical BSE, a rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed. “We are sharing our laboratory results with international animal health reference laboratories in Canada and England, which have official World Animal Health (OIE) reference labs,” Clifford says. “In addition, we will be conducting a comprehensive epidemiological investigation in conjunction with California animal and public health officials and the FDA,” Clifford says.

New Zealand well. “Indonesia is currently a US$1 trillion economy. By 2030 they expect to be a US$9 trillion economy. That’s the sort of aspirations the Indonesians have.”

It is believed the presence of both Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Grosser, pictured, on the recent trade mission to Indonesia will ultimately help free up beef quotas to that country.

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

6 news

Burning march fails to fire A PROTEST march in Ashburton, April 21, against stubble burning failed to gain much support, with the local paper reporting attendance of “about 30”. The march followed several weeks of letters and an editorial in the Ashburton Guardian on the practice. Organiser Vince Leonard was said to be “gutted” by the

low showing. “It was an opportunity wasted but I told the people who were there that they had balls to put up with the way we were sworn at and abused,” he said, after the march and subsequent meeting turned ugly. Federated Farmers Grain’s Mid Canterbury chairman David Clark told Rural News he didn’t attend the march or meeting, but the event highlights why cropping farmers

ing in a slanging match in the main street of Ashburton.” The late, cool harvest concentrated the burning season into a handful of days this year, in not always ideal conditions, generating more smoke than normal. Agronomically burning is a valuable tool and without it more agrichemical, nitrogen fertiliser and diesel would be used, he points out.

need to use best practice when burning, and regard it as a privilege, not a right. “I’ve spoken at length with the organisers of this protest and I am quite happy to front at any public meeting as long as there is some formality to it, with an appropriate chair. “Everybody has a right to protest but farmers’ concerns are not going to be best served by engag-

The late, cool harvest concentrated this year’s burning season and generated more smoke than usual.

Deer industry sets sights high p eter bur ke

DEER FARMERS gathering May 15-17 at Wanaka for the Deer Industry Conference will learn about initiatives to increase the industry’s productivity and profit. They include animal health, genetics, processing, marketing and farm management. Fifteen initiatives are aimed at ‘having more deer, heavier deer and having them earlier’. One involves defining the ‘ideal venison carcass’, suggesting the ideal target should be a 65kg carcass, up about 10kg on the present weight. For a start the focus will be on changing on-farm practices. Timaru veterinarian Adrian Campbell told Rural News the industry has concluded that to compete with the sheep-and-beef and dairy industries it must look closely at its productivity levels. “It’s… time to have a fresh look at finding new approaches that would boost productivity to maintain or increase the productivity relative to the other farm species.” The deer industry is a ‘little bit embarrassed about… the weaning weight of mixed age hinds and especially first calvers – the latter of which is about 70%.” Deer farmers are conscious of what is happening in the beef industry, for example, which meant they had to look at their own situation, Campbell says. One serious issue is technology transfer. “We have found that even if no further science was undertaken, the adoption of existing science would deliver a lot of value to the industry on its productivity. Practice change is important, technology change is critical.” He says while the deer industry has been good at adopting best-practice change, there clearly needs to be incentives – financial ones being the obvious. But farmer pride should not be discounted.

Price drop 40.4



andr ew swa l low






35 33.4

THE HIGH dollar and falling commodity prices has led Westland Milk Products to drop its forecast shareholder payout range by 60c. The range will be $6.30 - $6.60 for the season ending July 31, 2012. This compares with the previously forecasted range of $6.60 - $6.90. “A combination of falling commodity prices driven by increased global supply, and a strengthening kiwi dollar has meant that now is the time for a prudent adjustment to our payout forecast,” says Westland’s chairman Matt O’Regan. “Engagement with customers continues to be a priority for our business and demand for high quality products from Westland remains steady”.  The West Coast based cooperative has seen milk production rise by 13.5% versus the same time last year. – Pam Tipa

Rural News // may 1, 2012

news 7

Farm vehicle proposals welcomed andr ew swa l low

TAKING FARM vehicles on the road, legally, looks set to become much simpler, judging by a consultation paper released last week by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee. The core proposal in the Review of Agricultural Transport Legislation document is a new E class X registration which would allow unlimited mileage at up to 40km/h, without a warrant or certificate of fitness, or excessive driver licensing requirements. It’s enthusiastically welcomed by industry representatives. “This is an overwhelming victory in the simplification of operating agricultural vehicles on the road,” Mid Canterbury farmer and Federated Farmers representative on the Agricultural Transport Forum, David Clark told Rural News. While the proposals won’t meet

Proposals for taking farm vehicles on road have been welcomed by industry representatives.

every farmer’s every wish, they are a “significant step forward” from the current morass of regulations and amendments which confused even those charged with enforcing them, he says. “It takes away the confusion of whether you are a farmer or contractor, and means you’re not captured by the working time rule.

“In consulting on this, Federated Farmers was very aware Government would not compromise [on] road safety and this proposal achieves that, while still meeting most of our aims.” Clark says if farmers identify points in the proposals that could be done better, let the federation know and/or attend one of the five

consultation meetings (see panel). “We’ll go through [any points] very carefully and listen to the feedback from our members at the five meetings. So far the feedback we’ve had has been overwhelmingly supportive.” That’s echoed by Rural Contractors Association executive director Roger Parton. “This is a huge leap forward...,” he told Rural News. “It will take a lot of pressure off the agricultural sector and allow it to operate as it needs to without overly restrictive legislation, but without putting at risk road safety.” Parton says the increase in registration fee, from $23 to $46 under E class X, is because time licences have gone. Abolition of E class B registration for trucks and utes is “a separate issue”. “This review is just about tractors and self-propelled agricultural vehicles.”

New life for mill pam ti pa

WOOL EQUITIES last week took 77% ownership of the historic former QualitYarns wool spinning company in Milton, South Otago. A new company, Bruce Woollen Mill Ltd, will operate out of the existing Milton mill which has been on the site since it was formed by a group of farmers in 1897. The balance of the shares will be held by 11 industry participants who will be customers of the mill. Wool Equities became involved after a consortium of customers sought backing to keep the mill functioning to provide the specialist yarns needed for their businesses. Bruce Woollen Mill will cement itself “as the cornerstone spinning company for specialist yarns for the innovative New Zealand wool based textiles sector, hand knitters, machine knitters and fabric weavers,” says the company in a statement. QualityYarns, which closed on December 23 last year, once had at least 500 staff. Using the water from the Tokomariro Stream it made some of the finest textile yarns produced in New Zealand, Wool Equities says in its half-yearly report. “In recent years this iconic mill supported a number of clients who manufactured and retailed some of the wonderful wool products which we require to keep the image and pureness of New Zealand wool alive,” says Wool Equities chairman Cliff Heath in the report.

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

8 new

High dollar continues to confound p eter bur ke

THE NEW Zealand dollar is surprisingly high and probably overvalued, says Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens. But he told Rural News that he doesn’t buy into reports that the Kiwi dollar is heading towards 90c vs the US dollar in the coming year. Stephens says during 2012 export prices have fallen while the US dollar has remained very strong. But he says he doesn’t expect that to continue. “Indeed we’re expecting a further decline in export commodity prices and the New Zealand dollar to dip as a consequence.”

“One place global investors have decided is good to put their money is New Zealand Government bonds. They may be chasing the slightly higher returns they offer but more importantly the perception of safety is a key factor.” There are many reasons for the high New Zealand dollar, Stephens says. A crucial one is that international investors have limited safe places for their money at a decent rate of return. “One place global investors have decided is good to put their money is New Zealand Govern-

ment bonds. They may be chasing the slightly higher returns they offer but more importantly the perception of safety is a key factor. Of course, to buy Government bonds they need to buy New Zealand dollars and that’s creating demand for [them],” he says. Another factor is that

reinsurance companies are buying our currency to meet their obligations as a consequence of the Christchurch earthquake. “Thirdly, although export commodity prices have fallen, export volumes from New Zealand have been strong. If you’re selling a lot of product and you’re earning foreign currency as is Fonterra, you have to pay your farmers in New Zealand dollars. I think all those three factors have conspired to increase demand for New Zealand dollars,” he says. But Stephens does not agree with a recent suggestion the New Zealand dollar could rise to 91c vs the US dollar. “There were predic-


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FARMERS ARE taking a big hit from the high New Zealand dollar, says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman Mike Petersen. He told Rural News that while the high dollar is reducing returns to farmers, the costs of inputs such as fuel and fertiliser are increasing. “We’re actually being hit both ways: low returns at the farm gate but also with higher prices coming through on the cost side. We thought these may have been offset by a stronger dollar as we have seen in the past with fertiliser and fuel, but both are continuing to rise in price in spite of the high dollar.” Petersen says it’s harder for farmers because they aren’t getting the benefit of increased prices in the market such as happened over the past 12-18 months. “We’re actually seeing prices languishing now at levels that are quite disappointing because of the value of the New Zealand dollar. My understanding is that it’s making lamb in

tions along those lines last year as well. Currencies are very difficult to forecast and I certainly wouldn’t rule out that sort of thing. But for me the New Zealand dollar is trading well above its longrun share value. Some of the things holding it up are not going to continue for-

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Double whammy from NZ$ particular very expensive. “The other frustrating thing is we’re getting record prices for beef in America yet the returns back to farmers are not record.” BLNZ has talked to successive governments over the years, says Mike Petersen, about the impact of the dollar and monetary policy in general on primary producers. But there’s nothing any government is going to do, he says, because New Zealand relies on overseas capital to live day by day. On a positive note, Petersen, says one has to look at the gains made by the industry over the last decade. “The last best profit year we had was in 2001/02 when the New Zealand dollar was just 42 cents against the US dollar. But [when you consider] that this year we are looking at getting our secondbest profit year, and the New Zealand dollar is effectively 81 cents against the US dollar, then that means there has been real progress.”

ever. So a declining trend in the New Zealand dollar is a better forecast.” Stephens says he also understands the demand for New Zealand Government bonds may be waning and he notes that one day reinsurance companies will finish meeting their obligations.


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But Stephens concedes the high-dollar period is most unusual. He agrees farmers may have a legitimate complaint about high input costs which he says should, in theory, be lower because of the high dollar. “Ultimately what farmers would like to see is a period when the New Zealand dollar is low and product prices are high. We’ve pointed out this seldom happens so don’t hang out for it.”

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Rural News // may 1, 2012

news 9

Confidence on the wane – reports pam tipa

FARMER CONFIDENCE is waning amid price drops and a high New Zealand dollar, two surveys in the last week indicate. Rabobank found 27% of farmers expect the agricultural economy to worsen in the next 12 months – up from 12% in the previous 12 months. The confidence freefall is echoed in a MYOB survey showing the agriculture and fisheries sectors are the most uncertain in the nation. Rabobank says only 17% of farmers expect conditions to improve, down from 33% previously. The beef and sheep sectors, whose prices dropped 15-20% since the year’s start, were the least optimistic. Only 13% expected agricultural economy improvement over the next 12 months (down from 39% in the previous quarter). In the dairy sector 21% of farmers registered a positive view, compared to 28% in the last survey. Rabobank NZ chief executive Ben Russell says declines in key commodity prices and a persistently high New Zealand dollar were the main causes of increasing pessimism. Farmers also expected the golden run of good seasonal conditions to end soon. However, of those expecting improvement, 40% cited fundamental macro-economic factors – including global population growth and growing

world demand for food. Russell says, interestingly, farmers’ investment intentions indicate an underlying confidence in the long-term outlook. “This measure remains quite robust, with 92% of farmers surveyed expecting to maintain or increase the level of their on-farm investment in the coming 12 months.” The Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey interviews 450 farmers each quarter. The MYOB survey found 19% of the agriculture and fisheries business didn’t know whether their revenues would increase or decrease during the next year. Factors influencing confidence included international volatility, a high New Zealand dollar and the slow pace of economic recovery. The MYOB Business Monitor, a regular survey of at least 1000 small and medium enterprises, showed only 27% of agriculture and fisheries businesses expected their revenue to rise over the next year, the lowest percentage of any sector surveyed. Businesses in the agricultural and fisheries sector were three times as likely as other businesses to say they felt “extreme pressure” from exchange rates. “It is concerning that our primary industries appear to be being held back by the high dollar, increasing costs and global uncertainty, at a time when we would hope to

Affco strike not biting farmers HIGHER-THAN-normal feed levels will prevent the Affco Morewa lockout affecting farmers too much, say stock agents. The Affco sheep and beef processing plant at Morewa has been running at limited capacity for eight weeks due to ongoing labour disputes. However, Northland stock agents say there is now a shortage of stock due to Northland’s exceptional season and strong demand for dairy cows in China. North Hokianga PGG Wrightson stock agent Eric Campbell says stock agents would expect to see a large volume of stock now but that hasn’t happened. “The cows in the north are all pretty good, the grass is still growing and the kikuyu is going mad. There’s a lot of grass so farmers are holding onto their cows longer.” Campbell says some meatworks have been sourcing from stockyards. “There’s been a fair few cows coming out of Kaikohe and they’re going straight to the works after they’ve been bought.” – Gareth Gillat

see them doing very well,” says MYOB general manager Julian Smith. “With global food supply emerging as one of the key pressures, New Zealand’s primary producers should be well positioned to take advantage of the rising demand.” Despite the uncertainty, Smith says 25%

were looking to increase their employees’ pay over the next 12 months, the highest of any business sector surveyed. “A large part of this may be the increasing focus in the agricultural sector on value-added production, as our agricultural sector embraces greater use of technology.”

Recent surveys carried out by both Rabobank and MYOB have found dropping farmer confidence.

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

10 news

Goodman may court its own dairy supply SU D ES H K I SSU N

FRESH MILK processor Goodman Fielder is not ruling out sourcing raw milk directly from farmers. The company is nearing the limit of its 250 million-litre quota from Fonterra. But a review of GF’s New Zealand dairy operations to boost its market share means it will need more milk. Managing director New Zealand Peter Reidie says the supply from Fonterra is adequate to meet the demands of its 13,000 daily customers. “In terms of sourc-

ing milk from farmers, we don’t have any specific plans to do that. We are conscious that we do buy all our milk from Fonterra, and I think at some point in time we will say ‘Is it smart to buy elsewhere?’ We haven’t got to that place yet,” he told Rural News. However, he points out taking on Fonterra’s supply base won’t be easy. “It will be a challenge; Fonterra picks milk from nine out of 10 farms up and down the country. Do you really want to set up a similar infrastructure doing the same thing? The scale they have from

that is quite challenging to compete with I would suggest.” GF uses Fonterra milk to produce Meadow Fresh milk, flavoured milk, UHT and cream at its Christchurch plant. It also uses it for milk, yoghurt and cultured foods at Palmerston North and for making cheese at its Puhoi Valley Cheese plant, north of Auckland. The Government is reviewing raw milk regulations and is recommending Fonterra supply should cease to processors with their own supply. Reidie does not anticipate any effects on GF’s 250m

L under the Dairy Industry Restructuring ACT (DIRA). “We’re an alternative to Fonterra in the domestic milk market,” he says. “Our business is valued by the Government and consumers and I’d be surprised if there was any significant change that would affect that.” Reidie describes GF’s relationship with Fonterra as “complex”. GF is both a supplier to and competitor with Fonterra: it supplies oils for Fonterra milk powder and contract packs UHT milk for export. “On the supply side, it’s

a very professional relationship and we are slugging it out against each other on the competitive side.” Fonterra’s Anchor and GF’s Meadow Fresh brands face stiff competition from private labels and supermarket in-house brands. Recently, boutique supermarket operator Nosh slashed its milk price to $1/L for one month in the face of growing public discontent over milk prices. The company then announced a bottling agreement with a small processor, Green Valley Dairies, for an in-house

Goodman Fielder New Zealand managing director Peter Reidie says a boost to its market share means it will need more milk, but the company has not yet made a decision if this will include sourcing its own farmer supply.

brand to retail at $2.49/2L. But GF is “not selling anything to lose money”. It’s not just about the price of milk, Reidie says. The cost of delivering milk to consumers daily has added supply chain, sales support and marketing costs. He agrees rising milk prices are pushing consumers to cheaper private labels. The challenge for GF is to promote the value

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of its products. “We have to do a better job at differentiating our brands from the private labels. We have to show consumers why Meadow Fresh Calci Trim is better and worth paying for.” Improving GF’s market position is part of a strategy review by the company. Reidie says they seek to make the company leaner and more efficient.

First wine, then cheese PETER REIDIE says New Zealand is in a great position to become a world leader in specialty cheeses. “We can do for cheese what the wine industry has done to sauvignon blanc and pinot noir,” he says. Goodman Fielder operates Puhoi Valley Cheese. Founded in 1983 to convert goat milk to ice cream powder and camembert, it diversified into manufacturing using cow milk. Products include camembert, brie, feta, blue and other European products such as ricotta, creme fraiche and mascarpone. Reidie says Puhoi targets the upper-end market with specialty cheese made by its artisan cheese makers. Puhoi Valley Cheese has also opened a new café where visitors can taste its products and view blue cheese production.

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

12 news

Chch rebuild stealing hort staff already under labour pressure from the dairy boom in Southland. With demolition work started, Christchurch is already acting as a pull. One grower has had to increase a worker’s pay by $7 an hour to compete with work offered as a house painter in the city, HortNZ says. Multi-skilled Kiwis who


THE CANTERBURY horticulture and viticulture industries risk having their most highly skilled workers poached for the Christchurch rebuild. And HortNZ’s Jerf van Beek, who helps co-ordinate a group set to assist growers find and retain staff, says the industry is

are normally year-round workers for growers will be particularly sought after. That includes forklift and truck drivers, packhouse supervisors and team leaders. “Permanent people on orchards, vineyards and cropping farms can put their hand to many things; they are good machinery operators,” says van Beek.

A governance group is being sent up to help members of either Winegrowers or HortNZ, modelled on similar groups around the country, and including local grower representatives, industry groups, government and regional economic development agencies. The group is now fact finding on where the


labour force is coming from at present, and what training is available or can be made available to newcomers, van Beek says. As HortNZ’s national coordinator for seasonal labour, he has dealt with labour shortages in horticulture and viticulture since 2003. “I possibly have some answers in my mind, but

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it’s industry in the Canterbury region that really needs to come up with these answers collaboratively.” Labour issues cannot be solved overnight, Van Beek says. Horticulture started having major labour issues in the late 1990s and early 2000s, developed a strategy in 2003-04 and launched it in 2005. Not until 2007 did they see the first real results, partly through a visa scheme.

Jerf van Beek

Several crop harvests are now coming to an end, but the grape harvest is to come and pruning and preparation work for a variety of crops next year. This involves a lot of machinery work usually carried out by highly skilled year-round workers, van Beek says – those most likely to be poached for Christchurch.

Dairy sector needs to bone-up on migrant workers M ARY WI TS EY

WHILE THE dairy industry knows a lot about cows, it appears to know a lot less about the people who work in it, say Lincoln University researchers who investigated migrant labour issues in the sector. The researchers hope to release an interim report next month on their findings on the implications of a migrant dairy farm labour force for New Zealand farms and rural communities. Researcher and Lincoln University senior lecturer in employment relations Dr Rupert Tipples says understanding migrant labour issues is crucial if the dairy sector wants to progress. “We want to be able to highlight some of the real issues people are facing and produce tools which will help both the industry and its migrant staff.” Research has been done this month in Canterbury and Southland on issues such as training requirements, wages and support services for migrant workers, he says. “We want to determine the impacts of migrants on farm systems and their management, look at the health, welfare and support needs of migrants and discover whether the migrant experience can be improved.” He suggests the industry is relying more and more on a migrant workforce as staff recruitment and retention become problematic. “Staff turnover is far more accentuated in the dairy industry then in the rest of the country, so it’s not doing well. It’s not an attractive industry compared to others: the hours are long, accident rates are high and people are often required to live on-farm in an isolated situation.” In response to that the number of migrant workers is now quite significant, he points out. “At the end of the day we’re interested in helping the industry in respect of cows getting milked and industry productivity, but we also want to help migrants adjust to communities and fit in well. It can be a win-win situation for farmers, for their cows and for farm workers.” Migrant interviews in the south are confidential but Tipples says there are some common issues. “Language is a major one; kiwis speak too fast and they use kiwi slang which the migrants struggle with.” English language classes are therefore important, though while farmers often enrol their staff, they don’t follow through and give them the time off to attend, he suggests. “Accommodation on arrival can also be an issue, with quality and cleanliness often seriously lacking.” And while migrants have brought back life to many southern schools, the social side for migrant children in rural areas is often a concern. “If dairy farmers want loyalty and better productivity, it needs to be a good experience for these people. If people are happy they’ll go the extra mile.”

Rural News // may 1, 2012

news 13

Govt called to honour school broadband pledge PA M T IPA

RURAL WOMEN wants the Government to subsidise remote schools which only have access to internet through expensive satellite connection. “RWNZ challenges the Government to follow through with its promise that no school will miss out on affordable fast broadband,” Rural Women’s president Liz Evan says. The Rural Women comments are a response to Telecommunications Minister Amy Adams and Education Minister Hekia Parata saying 243 more schools are included in the latest round of rural broadband initiative contracts. Rural Women welcomed the news which for some schools “will be a quantum leap into the digital age,” Evans says.

But Rural Women executive officer Noeline Holt says although the ministers say no school will miss out, there will be some areas broadband will not reach – scattered around the country in remote pockets. “They are going to be stuck on high-cost, low-data satellite and it’s very expensive,” she says. “It’s not just about inclusion, it is about the business of the rural communities and their ability to fully participate,” she says. “And in the finish it’s going to be affordability; while one school down in the town can get this broadband and connect with other communities all around the world, there will be schools that won’t be able to afford it.” But Parata says the negotiated remote schools broadband prices are much lower than current satellite prices.

Rural Woman NZ has challenged Communications Minister Amy Adams (pictured) to follow through on the government’s promise that no school will miss out on affordable, fast broadband.

“These prices are competitive and inviting for schools. They have been negotiated because the Government via remote schools broadband initiative funding is funding fixed wireless infrastructure to provide improved broadband coverage [at better prices] to these schools and their surrounding communities,” she says. “The Government has committed to 97.7% of schools (99.9% of students) receiving access to ultra-fast broadband by 2016 via its ultra fast broadband (UFB) and rural broadband (RBI) initiatives. The remaining remote schools (2.3%) will have access to improved broadband speeds by alternative technologies. This commitment remains unchanged.” Rural Women recommended about two and a half years ago that the Government should, for a small-ticket item,

come up with subsidies for people stuck on satellite. The organisation late last

year submitted the same request to the incoming government.

‘Light-years ahead’ FIFTY SEVEN remote schools and 193 provincial schools are included in the latest rural broadband initiative contracts announced this month by the Government. Remote schools include Haast, Stewart Island and Great Barrier which will receive faster broadband using pointto-point wireless technology.

Information Technology Minister Amy Adams says many communities surrounding the schools also benefit, as the providers agreed to make available wireless and fixed-line broadband services to many of the communities. “The improved broadband services will

be light years ahead of where they are today. This will mean that students will be able to use tools that were not very effective using satellite broadband, such as video conferencing.” The four service providers are, Gisborne. net, Chorus and Araneo.

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

14 news

Quad crash blitzes life’s memories PA M T IPA

EMILY MOTT, of Dannevirke, cannot remember meeting her husband or her first wedding to him in 2007. That was six weeks before she came off a farm quad while not wearing a helmet. Since then, the 32-yearold can’t remember grow-

ing up or anything but tiny snippets from before the accident. But she can remember marrying her husband for the second time. A doctor told her husband Bazil to give his wife a memory, so the couple has remarried. “It was a beautiful wedding,” she says. “We

A quad accident saw Emily Mott in hospital six weeks after her wedding, which she still has no memories of five years later.




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invited those who had really helped out – the neighbours and family were there for the second wedding.” And recently one of the few memories to come back to her is her husband wolf-whistling as she walked up the aisle at their first wedding. Five years after the accident Mott was told just last week she probably will not regain her sense of taste or smell and she doubts whether she would ever cope with having children. Raised on a dairy farm, Mott had been on the job at another Dannevirke farm for three weeks when, as a passenger without a helmet, she was thrown from a quad. “I was sitting on the side – there was a rock involved that’s all I know. I haven’t asked because it has just been too real for everybody. To the driver, my boss and the owner of the farm I have said it was a mistake, but if we had worn our helmets it would have changed the outcome.” The policy of the farm was to wear a helmet, but she believes they ignored it because they were only going to lock up the cows. Five years later she has to write down anything she wants to be sure to remember. “Long term I don’t remember growing up in the family home; my first memory of a home was hospital. So I love hospital but I would never go back. “Because the wedding

was six weeks before the accident, I don’t remember that either. I don’t remember meeting my husband; there’s a lot of history I would love to remember. “I have got to be positive. I am unable to do a lot of things. But I love baking, I love doing little things… I love my animals and I am very passionate about what I do. I am like ‘hey I can’t smell so you guys are all the guinea pigs.” The local fire service has installed smoke alarms because she can’t smell burning and the community has been “awesome”. Tiny slivers of memory give her hope. Recently she greeted an old school friend in the street, realising only later she had “had a memory”. Mott has moved into town away from her parents’ run-off farm saying “it’s a pretty touchy subject”. “My family still won’t wear helmets on motorbikes. They don’t say it but it probably was my fault I had the accident. It was a nightmare every day to see them on a motorbike. I would burst into tears every day thinking ‘is it today they have the accident?’ ” Mott says she hopes by speaking out she can prevent someone else and their family going through what they have. “I will feel like I have done something. It is not saying ‘get off your bike because you haven’t got a helmet it’s ‘hey guys accidents do happen’.”

Action plan targets deaths, injuries LABOUR MINISTER Kate Wilkinson has launched a new action plan to bring down the “unacceptable” number of workplace injuries in the agriculture sector. On average New Zealand loses one farmer every month, and a farmer is injured every 30 minutes, making agriculture one of our most dangerous industries, she says. Provisional figures show 15 agricultural workers were killed last year alone. The Agriculture Sector Action Plan targets four priority areas that account for at least half of all injuries and deaths in the sector, including: •   Use of agricultural vehicles and machinery. • The physical and mental health/wellbeing of agricultural workers. • Slips, trips and falls. • Animal handling.  “People working in agriculture are exposed to a wide range of hazards,” Ms Wilkinson says.



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Rural News // May 1, 2012

16 news

China wool demands spend pam ti pa

THE GREAT promise of emerging markets for wool, particularly in China, is beginning to crystallise, but investment is needed to secure it, says a Rabobank report. Wool apparel for China is a particularly strong market opportunity, says the report by Rabobank analyst Airlie Hoskins. Broad wools are under threat as new technology for some synthet-

ics fibres now allowed them to be marketed as eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable. “This is a key attribute of wool that is commonly used in marketing campaigns to differentiate wool from man-made fibres. Without improvements in productivity and greater investment in marketing initiatives, alternative fibres will continue to erode broad wool’s share in the global interior textile market.”

China’s domestic supply of wool has grown over the past two decades, yet is still insufficient to meet the demands of its processing industry. With few global producers competing to supply high-quality fine raw wool, China is likely to continue seeking greater access to fine wool supplies from Australia and New Zealand, the report says. “In China, strong income growth has increased the afford-

ability of high quality apparel wool products and has established China as one of the main wool-consuming countries in the world,” Hoskins says. “Imports of apparel wool products and retail sales grew strongly in 2010/11, and the domestic market is now estimated to consume roughly 50% of the raw wool imported into China.” Clothing sales have grown by at least 20% for the past five years. Kiwifruit growers hit hard by Psa are turning to passionfuit as an alternative. Photo by Lesley Board



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SOME KIWIFRUIT growers hit by Psa are turning to passionfruit as a quick cash crop, leaving long-term passionfruit growers fearing for their livelihoods. Next season’s passionfruit harvest is expected to jump 40%, says the NZ Passionfruit Growers Association president, Tony Wright. The 40 long-term passionfruit growers fear a glut of the fruit on the market could devastate prices. “For the passionfruit industry it could be worse than Psa is to kiwifruit,” Wright says. “They have whipped in and planted all these vines. At harvest time they will throw all their fruit at the market and there will be no market for it. They haven’t done any marketing strategies.” But “thinking positively” Wright hopes his predictions are not correct and that it will give the industry a boost and lead to more markets opening up. Many kiwifruit growers now face two production seasons without income as they tred the recovery pathway to remove disease-ridden Gold vines and plant new Psaresistant varieties. Wright says he understands some kiwifruit growers want a quick cash crop to fill the gap. “A lot of the growers were looking for something easy to grow on the structures they already have,” he says. “The passionfruit vines they planted in November-October last year will produce their first crop, November-December this year – or January-February maybe. “I believe they are looking at an interim income until they can graft new varieties on or something else comes along.” Passionfruit in the supermarket is priced about $23/kg; the grower gets about $6-7/kg. “Add another 45% of fruit on the market and the growers aren’t going to get anything. There’s no retail market... it’s too expensive.” Among the 40 active long-term growers, many are semi-retired couples trying to earn some extra money. “We only have three-four growers with more than 1500 vines. These guys in Te Puke are planting 2500 at once.” Passionfruit are exported to Australia, America and a little into Asia but are generally too acidic for the Asian taste. “In some ways I hope, thinking positively, it will open up more markets... but it needs the marketing. The retailers aren’t going to market it. They won’t spend any money. It is going to be very interesting.” But even if the market grows, he ponders what will then happen when kiwifruit are back on line. “Are these kiwifruit growers going to stay with it or are they going to go back into kiwifruit? “All of a sudden we... have all these markets and we don’t have the fruit.” Wright says the situation is up in the air. “The next 12 months will give us a good idea of what is going to happen.”

Rural News // may 1, 2012

news 17

Pasture is New Zealand’s ‘green’ gold THE PASTURE Renewal Charitable Trust is doing good work in terms of promoting the value of research to the New Zealand economy. The 2011 BERL (Business and Economic Research Ltd) report released at the end of March calculates that pasture earns New Zealand $24.5 billion dollars annually – over 12% of total GDP (tourism is 9%). Farm gate returns have increased 58% since 2006-7 which is not only impressive in terms of growth but also just as well for farmers. Many say that they aren’t actually achieving a better lifestyle in terms of income and security than they were, and fluctuating demand and exchange rate means that few are relaxing. Most farmers are striving to put themselves in a better position for the future. Apart from paying off

debt, this includes investing in buildings, machinery, fertiliser, and not least, pasture renewal. BERL calculated that pasture renewal has the potential to deliver yield gains worth somewhere between $78 anad 361 million extra to the economy. The range indicates at least part of the problem. But this calculation of the benefits of re-sowing is based on the increases in production seen in the first full year after sowing. It overlooks how little evidence there is that these benefits persist. In one of

very few extensive studies of the yield benefits of resowing, tested at 16 sites across the United Kingdom and under different managements, Dr Alan Hopkins showed clearly that any yield advantage had disappeared by the second year. The boost in yield after cultivation was not due to increased availability of soil nitrogen: there’s something different about new pasture in that first year. After year one, improved cultivars showed no yield advantage over permanent pasture (20-400 years old) across a range of N inputs from 0 to 900 kg/ha/year. In a recent review, Professor Tony Parsons, Massey University, with co-workers from the seed industry, universities, and CRI’s, drew attention to the sobering gap between claims for the benefits of pasture renewal with new

cultivars, and any New Zealand evidence based on the kind of trials that Hopkins had conducted. Parsons’ review is positive in that it highlights what kinds of trials are needed. It also suggests possible reasons for why either the newly sown plants, or the traits within them, may have less ‘fitness’ than those long adapted to their local environment. The plant associations with soil fungi and other plant species are also important. BERL and the breeding industry believe that resowing pastures using the latest new cultivars will lead to improved pasture production and stress tolerance. The problem is that definitive trials

Pasture earns the economy $24.5 billion annually - making it green gold for New Zealand.

are expensive and should be done over at least three years. The timeframe should encompass the stresses for the area – drought and heat, for instance. Only then will there be evidence that the gains will persist. Parsons and colleagues believe the way forward is for research to focus more on ‘proof of concept’ of the trait, before release. ‘Proof of concept’ must

include testing that the desired trait will sustain a net fitness benefit, and so remain expressed within the plants. The plants must also be sustained within the pasture community. “We need more effort to ensure science leads pasture improvements,” said Professor Parsons. “Establishing ‘proof of concept’ means a line of work might be seen to be worth pursuing

much earlier than if simply observed in the field. It also allows lines to be discarded.” Pasture is green gold for New Zealand. The BERL report makes the case. Now farmers and scientists can work with BERL to make the case for improved funding for better targeted research. • Jacqueline Rowarth is Professor of Agribusiness, The University of Waikato

Let’s get down to business

13-16 June 2012


Rural News // May 1, 2012

18 world/agribusiness Farm sales warm up over summer PA M T IPA

MORE FARMS were sold in the first three months of this year than any similar period since the start of the global financial crisis in September 2008. Overall 397 farms were sold, 207 more than the same period last year, Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) figures show. REINZ rural market

spokesman Brian Peacocke says the sale reflected the strengthening of the rural economy, bolstered by favourable growing conditions. However he sounded a note of caution with the industry expecting more moderate income levels next season. “It is unlikely the combination of current benevolent factors will be

repeated for some time to come,” he says. A total of 1400 farms were sold in the year to March 2012, 61% more than were sold in the same six months last year. The median price per ha for all farms was $20,056, a 7.3% decrease on the $21,641 recorded for the three months ended February 2012 and up $2479 per hectare (+14.1%)

on the $17,577 recorded for the three months to March 2011. Included in sales for the month of February were 27 dairy farms at an average sale value of $23,220 per ha. The average farm size was 184.3ha and the average production per hectare on all dairy farms sold in March 2012 was 674kgMS. For the three months

ended March the median sales price per ha for dairy farms was $32,294 (61 properties) compared to $34,223 for the three months ended February 2012 (61) and $32,533 (35) for the three months ended March 2011. Grazing properties accounted for the largest number of sales: 53.9% during the three months.

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A number of US dairy cooperatives are subsidising exports of dairy produce to 25 countries to cut inventories and hold up prices at home.

US dairy farmers to subsidise exports A L A N H AR M A N

A UNITED States dairy farmers group is subsidising the export of 824 tonnes of cheese and 487 tonnes of butter to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa. The product is to be delivered by September. Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) says it has accepted 16 requests for export help from Bongards Creameries, Dairy Farmers of America, Darigold, Foremost Farms, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Upstate Niagara Cooperative and United Dairymen of Arizona. CWT has also announced it will begin assisting sales of whole milk powder. CWT is a voluntary, producer-funded scheme by the National Milk Producers Federation to strengthen and stabilise milk prices. Dairy farmers in every state,

CWT is a voluntary, producer-funded scheme by the National Milk Producers Federation to strengthen and stabilise milk prices producing almost 70% of the country’s milk, have signed to give 2c for each 45kg of milk they produce. The federation says the export market is growing eight times faster than the domestic U.S. market. CWT decided in 2010 to focus on increasing sales of dairy products overseas via the export assistance scheme, rather than funding a well-known herd retirement scheme. It says an analysis shows that for every dollar spent by CWT in helping members export dairy products, $16.59 is returned to dairy producers. This export funding means CWT this year has now assisted member co-operatives to sell cheddar, monterey jack and gouda cheese totalling 19,685 tonnes, and 17,463 tonnes of butter, to 25 countries on four continents. On a butterfat basis, the milk equivalent of these exports is 562,000 tonnes, or the same as the annual milk production of 59,000 cows. CWT says this help to its members supports producer milk prices short-term by reducing inventories that overhang the market and depress cheese and butter prices. “In the long-term, CWT’s [scheme] helps member co-ops gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for US dairy products and the farm milk that produces them,” it says.

Rural News // may 1, 2012

world 19

UK favours global Halal scheme A L A N H ARM A N

THE HALAL Authority Board (HAB) in the UK has created for the food industry a new Shariah-compliant halal certification scheme it wants adopted as a worldwide standard. The HAB includes 13 of the UK’s most respected Islamic scholars. The UK certification business Cert ID Europe has joined as the auditing body for the scheme. The backers say the scheme is realistic and practical, and designed to combine the requirements of the 1500-year-old Halal belief with modern food processing requirements. Various standards are available worldwide, confusing the world’s 1.6 billion Muslim consumers. The aim is for a uniform standard to streamline the process for food businesses and clarify it for consumers. HAB’s product certification is backed by 950 of the UK’s 1400 mosques, making it the most representative and influential halal certification body with Muslim consumers in the UK and overseas. Cert ID Europe business develop-

“HAB’s connection with Muslim consumers adds value to the certification scheme too and provides the element missing from other certification programmes.” HAB regulates the production of Halal products in accordance with Islamic law, from the rearing of livestock and the production of drinks, to serving retail customers. It says the halal sector has failed to fulfill its maximum potential due to the lack of a uniform standard applicable to Halal production worldwide. The HAB standard sets out guide-

lines including food health and safety regulations, storage, delivery and cleaning and cleansing. It takes into account scientific developments to prevent contamination from pork and other unacceptable derivatives. Five modules cover primary production of livestock; primary processing of livestock, including guidelines on cleaning and cleansing; slaughter and packaging and labeling; further processing; logistics; and food service. The standard takes account of other halal standards and so applies to to meat production worldwide.

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The scheme is designed to combine the requirements of the 1500 year-old Halal belief with modern food processing requirements.

ment director Jerry Houseago says he believes the new HAB standard will

make it much easier for the global food industry to reach halal certification.

JUST THREE years after its launching, a controversial 50-year scheme to reshape the use of England’s uplands has been scrapped. Critics had said it would turn sheep farmers into park managers instead of food producers. Natural England chairman Poul Christensen says despite consulting at least 200 people from 60 involved organisations, important partners still felt marginalised. “Our vision has never been accepted by everyone we need to work with to make it happen,” he says. Some two million people live in the uplands, most in urban areas.

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

20 agribusiness

Upbeat A2 eyes China and more suppliers in expansion plans pam tipa

TWO CANTERBURY farms will initially supply a2 milk for processing into infant formula. But more farms may be needed if A2 Corporation’s (A2C) realises its hopes to market the specialty milk powder into China, says Australian-based managing director Geoffrey Babidge. A2C last week announced an agreement with Synlait Milk to process the a2 milk formula at its Rakaia plant. A2C relies on partners to market the product in Asia and particularly China. Synlait Milk’s general manager, nutritional, Tony McKenna, says the two

“The review is in response to the increasing interest being demonstrated and approaches to the company from parties to look at potential partnership.” – Geoff Babidge

farms identified should be sufficient for the start-up. With A2 driving the market side, they will wait for the signals for increased volume and potentially extra farms. A2 milk is little known in New Zealand, but has taken off in Australia with A2C this month opening a processing plant in Sydney. It has also just


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THE MEAT processor JBS Australia has permanently closed its 35,000-head Prime City Feedlot in NSW citing challenging overseas conditions, but government critics say it is because companies are acting to avoid looming carbon taxes. JBS’s six feedlot sites make it Australia’s largest feedlot operator, with capacity for 162,000 cattle and 40,000 lambs. The Australian feedlot industry production is worth A$2.7 billion via 700 accredited feedlots.

announced a joint venture with Robert Wiseman in the UK. Most dairy cows today produce A1 and A2 type beta-casein protein, but a2 milk comes from cows which naturally produce only A2. A2C promotes its product as helpA2 managing director Geoff Babidge says more New Zealand suppliers ing digestive wellbeing; it says many may be needed to meet its moves into China. people who have Valley, Northland. opportunity. “There is problems drinking milk “We are [discussing find they can drink a2. The sufficient evidence and a with them a reshaping growing body of science company claims people to support the health ben- of] our relationship so we who believe they are lacefits of A2 milk for certain can become more active tose intolerant are in fact in fresh milk in the New people. We are building reacting to the A1 betaZealand market,” Babidge successfully on that.” casein. says. Babidge says A2’s difBabidge says A2C is priA2C also last week ficulty in establishing oritising plans to market announced a review with itself in the New Zealand infant milk formula in Greenhill Caliburn as market results from misChina, and hopes to have principal advisor. takes 10 years ago when a distribution partner “The review is in it was “adversarial to the this calendar year and to response to the increasdairy industry generally”. build some “meaningful” ing interest being demonA number of licences volumes in the short to strated and approaches to were given to suppliers, medium term. but they have been bought the company from parties Having done the back except for one exclu- to look at potential partresearch, A2 is now intent nership,” Babidge says. sive licence to Fresha on commercialising the


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Rural News // may 1, 2012

agribusiness 21

Jersey boy sings breed’s praises pam tipa

A PASSIONATE pledge to lead a resurgence of the Jersey cow was given by LIC’s new acquisition manager for the breed at the Premier Sires Breeding Day, while the KiwiCross manager purred over the success of this newcomer. A dairy farmer and breeder for 20 years, Malcolm Ellis, who took over the Jersey position in November, gave a commitment to his goal of “J25-25” – a 25% Jersey population by 2025. Worth said in 1991 the Jersey represented 26% of the national herd – now it was just 12.4% - “a dangerous position”. “I have no doubt the dairy industry is stronger with a 25% presence of the Jersey breed in our national herd.” He intended to encourage existing Jersey farmers to breed a surplus and sell them into a national pool. “Secondly we will present AB options to the industry that will tempt other breeds to cross. Clearly the second is my focus. “Day to day my drive is to present two Jersey bulls, both daughter and DNA proven, to the industry that Jersey cow farmers can be proud of and that KiwiCross and Fresian farmers can’t resist.” Worth said from 1989-1991 he was an LIC technician when even third-generation Friesian farmers could not get enough of Jersey sire Judds Admiral because his EBI (economic breeding index) was 14 points higher than the next pretender. “The whole industry benefited from his bloodlines. The Jersey breed needs a Dante, an Admiral, a Manhatten and we need bulls of this calibre at the rate of a couple a year, not settling for one of these supersizes every five years.” Key points of his job will be to build strong relationships between LIC and the breeder, breed a high quality selection of cows for contract breeding and the selection of sires which would ultimately sire sons. “When I look back over my time as a breeder and dairy farmer, the ultimate achievement was to have selected a sire of sons. We need to get back to that. The selection of sires of sons in the Jersey programme will be concentrating on the very best.” He also said he would not compromise the coat colour of the Jersey. Meanwhile bull acquisition manager Simon Worth said the KiwiCross breed was one of the most impressive initiatives through LIC. “I am hugely excited to be able to tap into the crossbred cow – she is efficient, fertile, aggressive and high indexing as well.” “Kiwi farmers were demanding a KiwiCross product. We first realised the potential in 2004 when North Sea exploded onto the scene. His influence without a doubt has been enormous. “In 2012 we are witnessing a new phenomenon, Howies Checkpoint, whose impact will be felt for many years to come.”

Worth said inseminations through DNA and daughter proven saw KiwiCross this year only 200 short of the one million mark. At 32% this was second only to the Holstein Friesian at 51%, a breed worth also championed later in the day.

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Fire risk high in south FIRE RISK remains high in Southland due to unusually warm temperatures and low rainfall in April, the Southern Rural Fire Authority says. Indicators of fire risk, measured daily, have been trending upwards, says principal rural fire officer Mike Grant. This and dry and dead vegetation are making fires easy to start. “Warm temperatures and little rain are continuing to dry out vegetation around Southland,” Grant says. “It’s been an unusually dry season for the area [so] people have to change their burning practices to keep... safe.”

LIC bull aquisition manager Malcolm Ellis wants Jerseys to make a come back.

Rural News // May 1, 2012

Market Snapshot North Island c/kgCWT

Lamb Market Trends

Meat South Island

Lamb Prices

Beef Prices Last Year

Change c/kg

Last Week









PM - 16.0kg







PX - 19.0kg





PH - 22.0kg





MX1 - 21kg









PM - 16.0kg




PX - 19.0kg



PH - 22.0kg

-10 n/c



Bull - M2 300kg





Venison - AP 60kg






c/kgCWT NI Lamb

YM - 13.5kg

Mutton SI Lamb

YM - 13.5kg

North Island 16.0kg M Lamb Price $8.5 Mutton


MX1 -


NZ Slaughter



$5.5 5yr Ave Last Year This Year

$4.5 $3.5 Feb

2 Wks Ago

Last Week

Steer - P2 300kg


Last Week

Change c/kg

Lamb - PM 16.0kg





5yr Ave Last Year This Year

$3.5 Jan








M Cow - 200kg




3.55 4.40 4.25


M2 Bull - 300kg







P2 Cow - 230kg








M Cow - 200kg








Local Trade - 230kg





Local Trade - 230kg SI

NZ Slaughter

2Wks Ago

3 Wks Ago

Last Year

5yr Ave


Estimated Weekly Kill



Cattle NI








Cattle SI






Lamb NZ






Cattle NZ






Mutton NZ






Bull NI






Bull SI






Str & Hfr NI






NZ Weekly Lamb Kill Last Year This Year

Str & Hfr SI






Cows NI






Cows SI







NZ Weekly Beef Kill 80

0 Jan






60 40

Last Week

2 Wks Ago

Last Year

5yr Ave













Last Year


This Year

0 Jan






Export Market Demand

Demand Indicator - UK Leg Price

Last Week

2 Wks Ago

Last Year

5yr Ave













Last Year


Demand Indicator - US 95CL Beef

This Year


South Island 300kg Steer Price

5yr Ave


$3.0 May

Last Year


£2.10 Apr

3 Wks Ago


95CL US$/lb


2Wks Ago









P2 Cow - 230kg


UK Leg






5yr Ave Last Year This Year



Lamb SI

North Island 300kg Bull Price






-2 n/c


Export Market Demand $5.0

P2 Steer - 300kg M2 Bull - 300kg








Last Year




2 Wks Ago

Lamb NI



Last Week


Estimated Weekly Kill




P2 Steer - 300kg

South Island 16.0kg M Lamb Price


Beef Market Trends







Last Year


This Year $4.5

Procurement Indicator Change

$4.0 $3.5 5yr Ave

Last Year




3 Wks Ago

Last Year

5yr Ave

% Returned NI






% Returned SI






This Year

$3.0 Jan


2Wks Ago






Last Year This Year

80% 70%





2Wks Ago

3 Wks Ago

Last Year

5yr Ave

% Returned NI











Procurement Indicator - North I.


50% Feb


% Returned SI




Procurement Indicator

Procurement Indicator - North I.


North Island 60kg Stag Price


Jun 80%

$7.0 5yr Ave Last Year This Year $6.0 Jan






South Island 60kg Stag Price


Procurement Indicator - South I.


Last Year


This Year



Last Year This Year Feb



65% 55%


Procurement Indicator - South I.


45% Feb


Jun 80%

$7.5 5yr Ave Last Year This Year

$6.5 Jan






Venison Prices Change


Last Week

2 Wks Ago

Last Year

5yr Ave

NI Stag - 60kg






SI Stag - 60kg






Last Year This Year

60% Feb




Beef & venison prices are reported as gross (before normal levies & charges are deducted). Lamb & mutton prices are reported nett (after levies & charges are deducted). Note: Freight is paid in the North Island but not by all companies in the South Island.

‘WE’VE USED IT HERE FOR 37 YEARS , IT GETS THE RESULTS.’ Barry Stoddart – Sheep and Beef Farmer, Central Hawke’s Bay

Rural News // may 1, 2012

Beef Wool Price Watch Clear market signals in the South Island The export cattle market is mixed in the North Island. Backlogs are continuing for prime steer and heifer, as meat companies opt for cows and bulls. This was the likely reason prime prices dropped to average $3.98/kg last week. 300kg cwt bull was still on $4.10/kg, while cow prices varied depending on processor and the size of the lines being offered by farmers. In general they were ranging between $3.00-3.10/kg. The cow kill continues to be very stop-start, but it’s expected to get cranking in the coming weeks. In the South Island market, the signals were a lot clearer last week. Prices dropped across the board by 10c/kg on average. In some of the dairy regions the cows are starting to flow, which may be influencing recent price movements. Both 300kg cwt bull and steer eased to $3.75/kg, although there is a lot of variation in steer prices depending on where the cattle are sent. NZ beef exports tighten A much tighter supply of cattle through early March was the main driver to lower beef exports last month. Beef exports for the month came in at just under 40,000t, a fall of 1500t on February volumes but compared to March 2011 levels they were 5% higher. Higher returns and good demand saw NZ exporters focus on the US market with a 10% year on year lift to 17,000t. Unfortunately the full benefits of this strong market were not felt as the higher dollar this March meant US beef returns in NZ$ terms were down 4% for the month compared to March 2011..


Dairy Price Watch Change



Last Year

Indicators in NZ$/T

Coarse Xbred Indic.






Fine Xbred Indicator





Skim Milk Powder

Lamb Indicator





Whole Milk Powder






Indicators in NZ$

Mid Micron Indic.

Wool Indicator Trends


Last 2 Wks

Prev. 2 Wks

Last Year


















Dairy Prices Trends SMP But.


700 650

WMP Ched.


600 550




450 Apr







3,500 Apr


Coarse Xbred Indicator







Whole Milk Powder Price (NZ$)


Last Year 600

This Year




Last Year This Year

400 Feb

3,500 Mar






Overseas Price Indicators






Last 2 Wks

Prev. 2 Wks

Last Year

Overseas Price Indicators




Last Year

Coarse Xbred Indicator










Fine Xbred Indicator





Skim Milk Powder









Whole Milk Powder












Indicators in US$/kg

Lamb Indicator

Lamb prices dropping again Mid Micron Indicator Prices for export lambs in the North Island are under pressure again, following two weeks of no change. Prices last week eased by 5-10c/kg. In general, this means 16kg Wool Indicator in US$ 600 cwt export lambs are now fetching an average of 550 $5.53/kg (net) on the hooks. Despite the softer market 500 the lambs continue to flow into the processing plants. In 450 the South Island last week export lamb prices eased by 10c/kg. A 16kg cwt lamb is now averaging $5.63/kg (net). 400 CXI FXI LI There has been a large variation in prices paid for lambs 350 Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec in recent weeks depending on the region and processor farmers supply. Space has been tight following the short Coarse Xbred Indictor in US$ weeks through April as many plants continue to work on 550 restricted capacity. Mutton prices are holding across 500 both islands at $3.10-$3.20/kg. The old ewes are flowing 450 in the North Island as farmers kill ewes that would have 400 usually been offloaded earlier. The excellent season has 350 encouraged some to hold ewes to clean up surplus feed, 300 however despite the weight gain, prices are significantly Feb Mar Apr May Jun down on when they would have usually killed. South Island mutton slaughter rates remain tight for this time of the season. Currency Watch Last New Zealand lamb exports down on last season vs. NZ Dollar Week While there is clear pricing resistance in some markets, lamb is still US dollar 0.813 heading offshore but at lower levels than normal, given the slow kill. Euro 0.619 Season to date New Zealand lamb exports total 135,000 tonnes, a drop of UK pound 0.507 4500t on last season and 33,000t down on five-year average levels. After Aus dollar 0.787 a strong February for chilled lamb, buoyed along by the Easter trade, Japan yen 66.34 chilled lamb exports dropped by 4000t in March to 6900t, 20% down on historical March levels. Processors were obviously left with no choice but Euro to freeze down the extra lamb with frozen lamb exports lifting to over 25,000t, despite the frozen lamb market being in the doldrums. 0.61

Wool Wool market feeling the pressure Farmers appear reluctant to sell wool at the current lower prices. Passing rates at recent auctions have soared as sellers hold onto wool in the hope prices may turn around. The softer prices currently being offered reflect the strong kiwi dollar and lack of international demand in the market place.

Indicators in US$/T


Dairy Prices in US$/Tonne


SMP But.


3,000 Apr







Whole Milk Powder Price in US$/T

5,000 4,500 4,000 Last Year

Last Year


This Year

This Year

3,000 Feb


2 Wks Ago

4 Wks Ago

Last Year




















0.80 Last Year This Year

0.70 Jan





Last Year


This Year 0.47

0.51 Feb





Last Year This Year

0.42 Jan




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Rural News // May 1, 2012

24 opinion editorial


Is a second TAF vote enough? LAST MONTH’S visit to Asia by Fonterra bosses is turning out to be a defining moment for the co-op. Whatever was said to chairman Henry van der Heyden and chief executive Theo Spierings in China, Indonesia and Singapore was enough to convince them there was no other way but a second vote on TAF (trading among farmers). Remember, only two months ago they rubbished the very idea. Fonterra says concerns raised by key Asian customers and joint venture partners have been the tipping point for a second vote. It claims the controversial share trading plan is now spilling into international media and hurting the co-op’s reputation. Let’s also not forget Prime Minister John Key was with Spierings in Singapore and Indonesia. Key may well have taken the Dutchman aside and whispered his preference for another vote. After all, TAF cannot go ahead without DIRA reforms being pursued by the Government in Parliament. There’s no doubt opposition to TAF is growing. More farmers are questioning the co-op’s ‘trust us, we will give you details later’ approach. However, it’s unlikely they have the numbers to block TAF. Fonterra hopes to end shareholder dissent by having another vote. It will also be hoping another ‘yes’ vote puts TAF back on track and heals the Fonterra family wounds. The co-op has only itself to blame. It has been slow to arrest growing shareholder dissent about TAF, choosing to work on details of the scheme behind closed doors and either ignoring and/or dismissing critics as scaremongers. Unfortunately, this public vacuum has given TAF opponents an almost unencumbered platform to float conspiracy theories and undermine farmer/shareholder confidence that they will retain 100% ownership and control of Fonterra. In 2010, 80% of shareholders voted on the original TAF proposal – 90% in support. But a lot has changed since that first vote. Farmers have become more sceptical of the board’s promise to retain 100% ownership and control. The Fonterra Shareholders Council is split, causing more rancour among the farmer base. Before the second vote on June 25, Fonterra will present TAF in its final shape. Farmers will know exactly what they are voting for. The board hopes another yes vote will kill the anti-TAF crusade by a vocal minority.

“That new camou’ we put on the maimai really works! – we can’t find it!”

the hound Same old prejudices!


YOUR OLD mate thought it might be safe to venture out and see if some political parties have changed their stance on the farming sector. It wasn’t too flash at the last election when Labour labelled farmers as tax dodgers and the Greens basically blamed farmers for every polluted waterway in the country. However, it seems little has changed if one sees the bile emitted by both Labour and the Greens towards the agriculture sector in their reaction to the Government’s ETS consultation document.


YOUR OLD mate went a little weak at the knees when hearing about how the Western Australia Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) want the Federal Government to introduce a $200 bounty on wild dog scalps. The PGA wants $6 million spent over three years for the programme to try to reduce WA’s wild dog numbers by 30,000. This old mutt suggests there might be more than one or two people in agriculture and politics sectors in this country who’d like see a bounty on a certain Hound’s scalp .

Deafening silence MOST REASONABLE people around the country will have been disturbed and perturbed by the destruction of hundreds of geneticallyengineered pine trees during a break-in at a Rotorua plantation at Easter weekend. The Hound has been interested to note the deafening silence on this from the Green Party leadership, who are only too quick to put the boot into farmers and others when their actions do not meet the party’s political philosophy.

Winston-lite! LABOUR’S FINANCE spokesman and Harry Potter-look-a-like David Parker has of late been doing his best to scratch the itch that is foreign purchases of New Zealand farms. Between trying to impersonate Winston Peters scaring people about the purchase of Crafar farms and the imminent takeover over of our country by the Chinese, Parker has also been making claims about no checks being done on foreign purchases of New Zealand farms. Not so, according to Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson. “The sale of land to foreign investors is monitored by the

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Overseas Investment Office (OIO). There is a clear difference between the OIO’s monitoring of land sales to foreign buyers and the investigating of cases. Statements that there has been a decline in the number of investigations are misleading as an investigation is only carried out if a breach is suspected.” Considering some 600,000ha of farmland was sold to foreigners under Labour’s watch – including when Parker was the minister responsible – the Hound thinks perhaps this is a case of Mr Parker roaring like a lion when in Opposition and bleeting like a lamb when in Government!

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Rural News // may 1, 2012

opinion 25

Enough hot air on ETS W ILL I A M ROLL ESTO N

IF THERE’S one thing guaranteed to spark debate in business – especially farming circles – it is the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The problem is it has become bogged down in costly and bureaucratic accounting rules – a “jobs scheme”, as one former Federated Farmers president described it. While pilloried at the time, Federated Farmers scepticism is becoming increasingly mainstream. Those from both ‘warmest’ and ‘denialist’ camps are now asking what the ETS is fundamentally meant to achieve – aside from the right to say: we have an ETS. The Ministry for the Environment is also starting a series of regional ETS consultations as a pre-regulatory move; change is on the way. What we do know is that Kyoto’s first commitment period comes to a halt at the end of this year and we must set a national ‘carbon budget’ to 2020. Will we sign up to Kyoto’s second commitment period or revert back to the United Nations’

looser Framework Convention on Climate Change? Big emitters in the G10 members have signalled retreat. Canada, Japan and Russia have all stepped back from Kyoto and the US never made it to the start line. Minister for Climate Change Tim Groser believes we must have an ETS or overseas trade will become problematic. That’s incorrect. Canada, when faced with a multibillion dollar bill for its coal fired power stations, last year withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol. Its exports have not suffered and nobody here has called for a boycott of maple syrup. Neither are we seeing Greenpeace activists chaining themselves to Toyota dealers’ railings in protest at Japan’s decision not to sign up to a second commitment period. While we need to be seen doing our bit, Minister Groser confuses market entry with consumer discretion. Under World Trade Organisation rules, a country cannot impose standards on imported goods that it hasn’t placed on its own.

Since no other country is imposing carbon penalties on its own agricultural goods, they cannot, under WTO rules, unilaterally impose them on ours because our ETS doesn’t include agricultural biological emissions. All the while, carbon prices under the European ETS – the world’s largest – have slumped to under $10 a tonne. Our ETS is predicated on $25 a tonne. It seems the European ETS is caught in a vice of its own making; a mild winter and increased renewable generation have at least temporarily offset an emissions spike expected from Germany’s nuclear power station decommissioning. Farmers here are encouraged to see agriculture’s enrolment on hold until mitigation technologies are available and other countries make progress. Such pragmatic preconditions don’t go far enough. Federated Farmers considers it a necessity that our competitors bring agricultural biological emissions into their schemes before we do likewise. Otherwise, all that will happen is carbon leakage to less efficient carbon production systems. If

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we price ourselves off the market we will make no difference to the world price of the commodities we produce. We will not have changed demand either. Our overpriced production would simply be replaced by other high carbon footprint countries, which would have the effect of increasing overall world CO2 production. Meanwhile, some positive recognition of agriculture’s impressive carbon leadership would be welcome. New Zealand agriculture has, over the past 20 years, reduced emissions in every single unit of agricultural product by about 1.3% each year. As a biotechnologist and a farmer, I ask what about giving science a chance, through the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre. • William Rolleston is vicepresident of Federated Farmers and chair of the Ministry of Science & Innovation’s Innovation Committee.

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

26 opinion

Keep good employment records adam ga l lag he r & summe r pr in gl e

LAWYERS DEALING with employment issues often advise employer clients that having no document is better than having a bad document. But this general advice doesn’t ring true for the requirements placed on employers to collect and retain employee time, wage, holiday and leave records. Wage and time records There are no fewer than 10 distinct requirements for wage and time records, including recording the age of the employee (if under 20 years of age), the type of employment agreement the employee is

employed on (individual or collective), the hours worked each day (including start time, finish time and any non-paid breaks taken) and the days of employment in each pay period. Holidays and sick leave When it comes to recording holidays and sick leave, the list is even more onerous. By law, holiday and leave records must include the days on which an employee works, the date the employee last became entitled to annual holidays, current entitlements to annual holidays and sick leave, and the dates and

amount of payment for any annual holiday, sick or bereavement leave taken. Also needed are the dates of and payment for any public holiday worked, the number of hours worked on any public holiday and the day, or part of any public holiday agreed to be transferred, and the day to which it has been transferred. Responsibility cannot be delegated Employers commonly instruct and rely on a senior employee or manager to collect and retain such records. It is imperative for employers to understand that where the senior employee or

manager fails in that regard, it is no defence for the employer not meeting its legal obligations. We have seen a number of these instances in a farming context - whether it is, for example, the accounts person responsible for collecting the information or the farm manager’s responsibility. Irrespectively, the employer is held liable for the accounts person or farm manager’s failure to keep accurate records. • Adam Gallagher and Summer Pringle are employment law specialists at Duncan Cotterill Lawyers. www.DuncanCotterill. com.

ag twits Rural News’ irreverent and hypothetical look at what’s happening in the farming world

Top Bleats view all mwilliamsonminister: I grant consent to Milk New Zealand Holding Ltd to acquire the 16 Crafar farms because New Zealand has a transparent set of laws and regulations on overseas investment: you pay – you get! #ineedaliedown mikefayfarmer: As a non-farming merchant banker, who made all his money selling New Zealand assets overseas, let me say the Government’s approval to sell the Crafar Farms to a passive overseas investor with no dairy expertise or background is a bad day for New Zealand and a very bad day for Sir Michael Fay! #bugger dshearerlabour: A nice MP called Winston, who tells me to shut up and let him do all the talking, tells me the decision to approve the sale of Crafar farms is a tragedy because it will see New Zealanders become sharemilkers in their own country! What is a sharemilker? What is a country? #iamirrelevant

Innovation. Integration. Incorporation.

winstonfirstandlast: As the self-anointed greatest MP never to have been PM, I say all New Zealanders have been sold out by this Government’s sale of the Crafar farms to the communist Government of China! #redsunderourbedsandonourfarms damienoconnormp: I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but okaying the Crafar Farms deal is the final nail in the coffin of family farming in New Zealand and just what you’d expect from the gaggle of gays and self-centred unionists in the current Labour – NZ First – Green – National Government. #whoops rnormangreenmp: I fail to see how allowing the large-scale purchase of our productive farm land by overseas buyers is in New Zealand’s long term economic interest, but allowing an Australian-born communist sympathiser constantly criticise our productive farmers for political gain is. #hypocrisy bwillsfedfarmers: Surely if Winston Peters, Russel Norman and Michael Fay all claim the sale of Crafar farms to the Chinese is a bad thing, then it hasn’t it got to be a good thing? #myheadhurts dcarterminofprimaryindustries: Apparently a number of dairy farms in the North Island have just changed hands. It’s great to see this Government’s strong leadership in the agricultural sector is creating an exciting and vibrant rural real estate market. #apositivespin

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management 27

Shedding light on wool What works on one farm, or in one season, with wool, won’t necessarily work on another farm or different season. Peter Burke reports THE ROLE of daylength in sheep breeding is well known, but what about wool? “Light acts on a gland at the base of the brain and this determines the rate of growth of a wool fibre,” explains Dr Roland Sumner, AgResearch, one of New Zealand’s leading wool scientists. “When wool is growing there is a joint relationship between increasing diameter and length and when these two factors are in phase and wool is growing faster, it’s coarser. You cannot change that light is the basic controlling factor,” he told a recent Beef + Lamb New Zealand field day in the Wairarapa. Romneys are very light sensitive, Merinos much less so, he explains. That’s reflected in a “relatively restricted” breeding season for the Romney, but much longer potential mating period with the Merino. Similarly, there’s little variation in rate of wool growth with a Merino, but much more with the Romney. “Historically it’s noted that the further away from the equator that the type of sheep evolved, the greater its sensitivity to changes in day length with changing seasons.” Besides light, Sumner says a host of other factors impinge on wool growth, most of which are sometimes beyond control of the farmer. Feeding is the classic example. Wool naturally wants to grow twice as fast in summer as it does in the winter. “This is difficult to deal with when you’ve got a drought.” The problem is, in terms of partitioning nutrients by sheep, wool growth is a low priority. Energy for maintenance and warmth comes first; then the demands of the developing lamb in the womb; then milk production, ewe body growth and last wool growth. Sumner says in times of shortage sheep grow just enough wool for survival, but no more. “Once you get over that, wool is nothing more than a sink for surplus protein. You get high fleece weights in good seasons like the one we are having now. If there is a drought wool growth suffers first. There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s a fact of life and nature.” When it comes to shearing, the act itself has little impact, as it’s all over within a minute or so. But there is stress following shearing on account of the animal having suddenly lost its insulation. How much stress depends on time of shearing and feed available, especially for ewes, for about four weeks post shearing. “The sheep gets cold and its body mechanisms immediately demand more nutrient to increase its energy supply just to keep itself alive. In good conditions it’s fine but if the weather is adverse the sheep can get hyperthermia and possibly die.” Breed and inherent fleece weight, physiological state and fat reserves are important considerations in determining shearing strategy, as is market. Winter shearing produces a product that buyers like on account of its soundness, but the weather risk to the ewe is greater, while summer shearing can produce unsound fleece wool due to reduced diameter and lower tensile strength in the middle of the staple. However, shearing in winter can benefit lamb survival and increase birthweight, he notes. It’s a matter of weighing up all the options and making the best decision for the farm in question. “Every farm is different; every year is different. I want farmers to understand the basic biology behind wool growth to allow them to develop the best production system to suit their farm and its climate.”

Wool scientist, Roland Sumner.

Rural News // May 1, 2012

28 management

Trees pay on East Coast A sunny day, superb views and an impressive farm made for a memorable day out at the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Award supreme winner’s field day recently. Vivienne Haldane reports Returning to Rangitoto in 1990 after working for the Rural Bank, he had a definite vision, part of which was to carry on a family tradition. “Dad planted poplars and willows and his father had done the same – all we’ve done is extended that programme.” But he’s gone further, creating waterways; enhancing and protecting wetlands; covenanting and fencing scrub areas for native regeneration; and draining other areas to increase production. An on-farm earthworm trial, growing and releasing the deep burrowing ‘longa’ worm which his father began in the 1980s, is ongoing as an aid to soil structure and pasture production. Along the way Hunter’s tapped into available resources such as the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Landcare Incen-

IT’S A tall order to sustainably farm a coastal hill property but James and Jane Hunter manage it. The Supreme title winners in this year’s East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards hosted a field day on their Rangitoto property recently. It was among those hit by last April’s weather bomb and earthquake which caused widespread slips. “We are trying to farm hills and we need to keep them there,” Hunter told the field day. “Some people say trees don’t stop anything, but without them, it would have been a lot worse.” After the storm, fertiliser and seed had to be applied to just 3% of the farm, compared to 15% on nearby properties. “A round of applause for the trees!” Hunter called.

tive Scheme to help with erosion control and stream protection. Of 200ha identified as suitable for drainage, 134ha has been done. “The production we are getting off these blocks just blows away land without drainage.” Laying the 100mm plastic pipes at $4000/ha is expensive, he admits, but the returns after two to three years speak for themselves. “The best we’ve had is 19-20 tonne from a September sowing of kale through until February.” The focus now for that land is on ewes with lambs going on to chicory in the spring. “We were trading hoggets, but I’m looking to increase our lambing percentage back into the 150’s and finish what we can on the chicory. “We killed one lot of lambs at weaning at 19.7kgs. You throw 1000 ewes with twins onto this sort of country and it makes summer very easy.” As for tree planting on hills, that makes a lot of sense for several reasons, he says: it keeps sediment on the hills, anchoring areas prone to mass movement.

East Coast BFEA supreme winners, James and Jane Hunter.

“You keep the soil on the hills; it stops the sediment running into streams; it also avoids unnecessary wastage of fertiliser. Why would you put it on, just to have it run off?” Hunter reckons they have “some influence” over 85% of run-off. “It either goes through riparian

zones or into dams. Not all are fenced off – that’s a work in progress.” Willows are a useful tool to prevent hills slipping but unmanaged can become a pest, hence the management programme they have in place. “You can’t just plant them and walk away,” he warns.


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Rural News // May 1, 2012

30 management

Pasture skills power production Dairy Industry Awards field days come thick and fast at this time of year. Mary Witsey reports from one of the latest in Southland. GOOD PASTURE management is a key to the success of this year’s Dairy Industry Awards Trust Southland sharemilker/equity farmers of the year, Billy and Sharn Roskam. Moving south from Waikato in 2008, the couple are in their second season sharemilking 900 crossbred cows for John, Yvonne and Richard Evans at Springhills, central Southland. In 2009/10 their predecessor on the farm achieved 268,000 kgMS from 800 cows. The Roskam’s pumped that up to 320,090 kgMS from 880 crossbreds in 2010/11, and this season are on target for about 385,000 kg/MS from a herd of 910. About 170 Southland farmers gained an insight into the management behind that at the awards’ winner’s field day on the 296ha property a fortnight ago. The couple, who won the Ravensdown pasture management award as well as the overall title, say pasture quality has a major impact on milksolids

production, and their system balances pasture and cow demands to maximise sustainable profit. Farm walks are a crucial part of their strategy to ensure targets are met, with these happening weekly from August to May and monthly in June and July. “We try to target a 1500 kg/DM residual all year round and use our pre-grazing calculations to achieve that,” says Billy. Pre-grazing cover is calculated by multiplying the stocking rate by intake and round length, plus the optimum residual, while feed cover is distributed over the farm in a wedge. “We just focus on the basics,” Sharn adds. “We just work out the calculations and go from there.” On average their cows were 490kg as at December 1. They have to walk 4km/ day on average and by last month’s field day were still producing 1.4kg/MS. “We calculated the maintenance, the walking, the milksolids and the live-

Southland Dairy Industry Awards 2012 Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year Sharn and Billy Roskam, with one year-old son Flynn, at their field day last week (19/4) on their Springhills farm near Winton.

weight gain, which works out that they need 191ME (megajoules of metabolisable energy). Divide that by an 11 ME feed, and it works out that we need 17.4kg per cow of feed offered.” Good stockmanship is also crucial. “You can plate a paddock, and use scales and dry matter tests – but at the

end of the day you’ve just got to look at the cows and see whether they’ve been fed enough.” Average pasture cover targets throughout the season are: 1800kgDM/ ha at June 1; 2100kgDM/ha at August 1; 2050-2100kgDM/ha in summer and 2300kgDM/ha down to 1800kgDM/ha

in autumn, to maximise pasture growth rates. “This year we started at 1800kgDM/ ha and built the cover up, then the snow hit, followed by the drought, and we got extremely high growth out of that and cut a lot of baleage.” The first round finishes no earlier than September 20, followed by a 20-25 day round to the end of February, then a 30-35 day round through March and April, and 40 days in April and May. “We’re putting in more silage now and building up our covers while it’s dry and then when it gets wet we’ll let the cows have a bit more area.” Feed wedges, average pasture cover and round length are used to calculate supplement use and to top up the cow’s diet. A wagon with scales and dry matter testing of supplements ensure they know exactly what’s going to the cows. “Any genuine surplus is put into baleage first.” Effluent is spread by slurry wagon to improve fertility in selected paddocks – “not a cheap exercise, but we try to use it to target certain areas on the farm” – and pods.

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Rural News // may 1, 2012

management 31

Gains in online crop recording of the year and figure out whether or not you should be taking a contract or looking for something better.” Weather data logged

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A ONE-STOP crop recording system from Australia to meet all compliance, management and benchmarking requirements here is being considered by the Foundation for Arable Research. The ProductionWise system, produced by notfor-profit group Grain Growers, maps users’ farms using Google, logs inputs, calculates yield potential and gross margins, and provides paddock to buyer’s silo traceability. “It’s an online platform,” Grain Growers’ Drew Christian explained to one of FAR’s recent Autumn Results meetings. “It’s not a system you need to download onto your computer.” Data is secure so only the user can access it, though there’s a facility to allow anonymous use of the data for benchmarking purposes by organisations such as Grain Growers, or FAR. As such, it could save growers filing quarterly Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) survey forms, and provide regional and national figures against which they could compare their performance. Christian says the data of at least three growers is needed in a region before a benchmark report will be generated. “Hopefully it will help them see where they sit in terms of performance and bring the bottom up while the top will want to keep going,” he told Rural News. ProductionWise was two-and-a-half years in the making and launched in February in Australia. By early this month 500 growers were registered and Christian says the aim is to have 2000 on board by July. Grain Growers’ business manager information services, Alicia Garden, says it’s designed so any task or page is accessible in three mouse clicks. “Setting up your farm on it is really simple. We

use a Google Maps interface to locate paddocks and grain storage.” Non production areas in paddocks, such as trees or wet patches, can be taken out. “It’s also able to give you the elevation, slope and aspect.” Multiple farms or holdings can be listed by a user, similarly storage sites. The system is “prepopulated” with every crop cultivar and agrichemical, including the myriad brand names for some active ingredients. A default price for each input could also be centrally loaded, so users see the likely cost, and resulting margin, of various approaches. Actual costs can be put in by the user to over-ride the default figures. In Australia, all grain deliveries must be made with a vendor declaration of inputs used on the crop. There are over 100 buyers, each with their own declaration form, so deliveries made without correct paperwork is a recurring problem. Even with the right form, an incomplete crop history can still cause problems. “If a chemical [residue] is found that wasn’t declared, the truck will get turned around,” notes Garden. Assuming growers keep records up to date on ProductionWise, such problems will be avoided, as all the various vendor declaration forms are supplied by the system with crop input and storage data automatically transferred onto the appropriate form for printing and sending with the delivery. While the yield calculator is an Australian model, New Zealand equivalents such as Plant and Food Research’s Wheat Calculator could be substituted. Garden says the gross margin tool means users can run what-if type analyses prior to or as the crop is growing. “You can start to figure out what the breakeven price is at the end


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32 management

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Turning tail is a common confidence issue with heading dogs.

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times she will cast right to the head and bring them back to me with great balance but other times she will run directly at the mob and push them into a corner and hold them there, and no matter what I say she won’t let them out. “I have trained her on small mobs of around 8 sheep and she didn’t do it on them but when starting on bigger mobs of 200+ sheep she started doing it and now when I take her back to the smaller mobs she occasionally does it on them too. “Her other fault is she is starting to turn tail on the mobs when a sheep stands her up. She will eye very well then walk up, and if a ewe stands her up or changes direction, she will turn her back out away from them. “The older fella’s in my dog club down here seem to think its unfixable and told me to sell her but I think she has a massive future and I was just wondering if you have any tips or techniques of stopping this?” I don’t see either of these as a problem and with the correct training they can be a thing of the past. With the casting around the mob she needs more work on her ‘sides’ and there are a couple of exercises done in the sheep-yards that will simplify to her, what he (the owner) requires. The turning tail, if caught soon enough, can be easily solved when working on a small number of sheep, however if a big mob is pushing down on her she may do it again, and so too will a

lot of dogs that don’t normally do it; dogs don’t run backwards so it is either move somewhere else or get trampled. Turning tail is a confidence issue. A lot of Heading dogs have it and it is surprisingly easy to teach them to hold their ground, confidently walk forward and turn the offending animal. So what happened? I sent a quick email back to the young chap saying that I was happy to help, but as this is my way of income I would have to charge for my time. I gave him bank details and postal address and told him that for $50 I would send him some relevant articles I had written, and also talk with him on the phone for about half an hour. I never heard from him again. He is not the first person to do this, and he won’t be the last. To me, $50 was a very small price to pay for two problems solved. Would you contact a plumber, doctor or lawyer with problems and expect them to spend an hour or so sending you information, and consulting with them free of charge? • Anna Holland is teaching people dog training. For more information www. or tel (06)388 1318 or

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Rural News // may 1, 2012

animal health 33 Cheap is fine, but the market also needs new products, says Agcarm.

Agcarm cool on co-op’s aggressive price pitch A N DREW SWALLOW

FARMER-OWNED cooperative Ravensdown’s promise to “disrupt the drench, dips and mineral market with... aggressive pricing” is fair enough, but highlights a wider issue of intellectual property protection, says animal health industry representative body Agcarm. “There’s nothing wrong with this ‘pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap’ philosophy as it creates competition and gives choice,” Agcarm chief executive Graeme Peters told Rural News following an April 18 media release from Ravensdown. “A range of companies occupy a segment of the market that offers older technologies which are approaching the end of their life cycle, at the cheapest price.... “But it’s not fair to criticise research and development companies which bring new products to market. Without these new products, generic companies would not be able to eventually sell their older technologies at ‘aggressive’ prices.” Peters says New Zealand’s regulatory system favours generic suppliers, which is a concern. “Someone has to go to the time and expense of bringing new products to market. “New Zealand farmers can continue to be offered old products at cheaper and cheaper prices in a race for the bottom. But that can only go on so long before we are left behind and the world has moved on. “New Zealand agriculture does not want to be stuck with the animal health equivalent of 1950s Massey Fergusson tractors which are the cheapest in the world. They want and need new technologies which will raise productivity, help manage worm resistance and be safer for people and the environment.” Ravensdown’s media release promises drenches, dips and minerals which “deliver proven quality without gimmicky giveaways and at a price that only a direct-to-farm co-operative can deliver.” “The large corporate animal health players are often offshoots of large overseas pharmaceuticals companies,” said Ravensdown chief executive Rodney Green. Because Ravensdown owns the intellectual property to its products and doesn’t sell through retailers it can pass on savings to farmers, he adds. “Of course, our shareholders are the first to benefit, but we hope all farmers will get a fairer deal when the keen edge of competition slices through the animal health sector.” Ravensdown vet Gavin Goble last week told Rural News at least one competitor had already responded with a price cut. “We don’t always see all our competitors prices as they’re not made public,” he added. Ravensdown’s pour-on abamectin cattle drench has the “most aggressive” price, says Goble; it’s less than $2/cow

treated, compared to about $3/cow for similar competitor products or $4-5/cow for other cattle pour-on drenches. While there are differences with some abamectin formulations, such as in meat withholding period (Ravensdown’s has a 35-day requirement), when treating cows at drying off that’s generally irrelevant. “Our point is, if you just want to kill worms in cows at drying off, you’re going to get a similar kill – if not the same – with our product as the more expensive ones.” Closer to calving, if bobby calves are likely to be sold, then the withholding period difference may become relevant, he points out. The price gap between Ravensdown’s range and comparable products in the sheep drench market is generally less as it’s a more competitive market, he says. In general such products are suitable quarantine drenches for bought-in stores, or end of season exit drenches, he says. “There’s been talk of using one of the new actives but as long as a drench is 100% effective what you use doesn’t matter. If it’s not 100% effective, you are selecting for resistance.” Goble advises FEC testing on the day of drenching, and 10 days later. “It’s a simple, cheap and easy way to check efficacy.”

Drying off drench decision GOBLE SAYS determining whether a drying-off drench will be worthwhile for dairy herds comes down to an assessment of individual animals and farm circumstances. “With well fed, good condition cows, the Gavin Goble need to drench will be less than where they’re obviously not in good condition or under stress. There are differences of opinion in the industry on the benefits and huge variation in what people do.” Faecal egg counts are “not a lot of value in adult cattle but bulk milk testing for ostertagia antibodies could be useful,” he adds. With beef cows a single active pour-on “may not be the most appropriate approach” owing to more widespread resistance issues.

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

34 animal health

1080 study should allay fears – AHB THE ANIMAL Health Board (AHB) says it hopes the findings of an Otago University study of a pest control programme using aerial application of the poison 1080 will reassure that such programmes

have “changed for the better.” The ongoing study is by scientists from the university’s Threatened Birds Research Group with some funding from the AHB. It is investigat-

ing the effects of modern aerial 1080 methods on native robins – monitoring a marked population of the birds, rather than the less-reliable traditional ‘five-minute bird count’ method.

Individually colourbanded robins were monitored in the Silver Peaks area before and after 1080 was dropped, to see whether or not any of the 19 birds were killed. A second study popula-

Intended target – TB vector the possum.

Why 1080’s used THE AHB says aerially applied 1080 is used on 5-10% of possum control areas. An operation can kill 98-100% of possums in target areas and is effective in keeping numbers low enough to prevent the spread of tuberculosis within possum populations and onto farms. It remains the most effective method available to control possums in New Zealand’s rugged, steep and remote terrain. At least 70% of new disease outbreaks in high-risk areas are linked to wild animals, mostly possums.

tion of 15 marked robins in nearby Silverstream – where no 1080 was dropped – was also monitored during the same period for comparative purposes. “The AHB’s possum control operation in the Silver Peaks gave us a rare opportunity to study the effects of 1080 on an intensively studied population of native birds,” says research supervisor associate professor Ian Jamieson. “We suspected that improvements in the quality of 1080 baits, together with a big reduction in the amount of poison used, would mean less impact on non-target species, but this hypothesis had not been tested using a marked population. “We also wanted to see whether or not the current practice of pre-feeding with non-toxic pellets to overcome potential bait-shyness in possums had any negative impact on birds.” The researchers monitored the number of possums and rats at the two sites with chew tracking cards, to determine how effective 1080 was at killing two of the robins’ major nest predators. At Silver Peaks there was no sign of either rats or possums 11 days after the operation or again after

80 days. By comparison, there was no real change at the non-treatment Silverstream site during the same period. All banded birds in the Silver Peaks site were observed alive 16 days after the 1080 operation, and 67% of monitored nests at the site successfully produced at least one fledgling. While all monitored birds in the control site were also re-sighted, breeding success was markedly lower; only 8% of monitored nests successfully produced at least one fledgling. “The conclusions we can draw from this data is: firstly, the pre-fed 1080 operation at Silver Peaks had no negative effect on the robins; secondly, it knocked the possum and rat numbers down to almost zero; thirdly, robins experienced relatively high breeding success when predator numbers were low,” says Jamieson.    AHB research and TB eradication manager Paul Livingstone notes gaps in research on the effect of 1080 operations on native birds have been highlighted by DOC and Forest & Bird. “We hope this study helps to reassure people aerial pest control operations using 1080 have genuinely changed for the better.”

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animal health 35

Funding cut threatens Waikato TB work A N DR EW SWALLOW

WAIKATO REGIONAL Council’s proposal to end contributions to the Animal Health Board’s bovine tuberculosis (TB) possum control programme jeopardises its future, says AHB. However, the council says AHB should look at alternative funding mechanisms. “We have agreed to fund a regional share of $825,000 in 2012-13 but not beyond that,” says WRC biosecurity group manager John Simmons. “There has not been the William McCook accountability and transparency we would have liked for how this money is spent.” The cut is signalled in the council’s draft Long-Term Plan, submissions on which closed April 27. Simmons says AHB should look at an alternative funding mechanism from 2013-14. “It has the power to strike a land levy, increase the stock slaughter levy or use some other funding mechanism. So in no way should any withdrawing of funding by the regional council be portrayed as unreasonably creating a funding gap that puts TB control or farming at risk. “The AHB has known our intentions for some time and is already looking at alternative funding mechanisms.” That was acknowledged to Rural News by an AHB spokesman but he says a commitment from the council

to maintain funding until alternative mechanisms had been considered by all parties, and were in place, would be a better way forward. As it is, council collection of the funds through rates is probably the most cost effective mechanism. While the council’s $825,000 represents only 12% of the $6.8m budget for AHB’s TB control programmes in the regions, the spokesman says it is pivotal because it leverages funds from industry, and Government. Without it, the whole programme would be at risk. A land levy would be an option, but would require Parliamentary legislation so may well not be possible by 201314 when WRC proposes to drop out, and would also likely be more costly to administer. Such a levy is in place in Otago but even there the regional council makes a contribution to AHB’s programmes. “We’ve no desire to single out Waikato Regional Council but it’s the only [regional council/unitary authority] that’s signalled its intent not to fund beyond next year, and we’ve still got TB in wildlife there.” That’s echoed by AHB chief executive William McCook. “Extensive areas of the region still have TB in wildlife which continues to pose a threat... Now is not the time to be relaxing our control work, or we risk repeating the scenario that saw cattle and deer herd infections rise exponentially in the 1980s and 1990s.” Pastoral production is worth some $8.5 billion annually to the regional economy, he notes. To fund ratepayers’ contributions to the AHB’s TB control programme, the council currently charges a targeted rate on rural properties.

Game Animal Council Bill concerns THE PARLIAMENTARY Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, says she has concerns the Game Animal Council bill has potential to interfere with effective pest control. Wright’s submission on the bill on April 20 highlights the need to ensure legislation doesn’t interfere with the use of 1080 for pest control. “As I concluded in my 2010 report, Evaluating the use of 1080:

Predators, poisons and island forests, possums, rats and stoats are destroying our native plants and birds where they are unchecked by pest control,” she says in comments accompanying the submission. “And they are unchecked on the great majority of conservation land.” Wright says she’s concerned the Game Animal Council’s management of herds of national significance may conflict with DOC’s

need to use 1080 to protect native plants and birds, as 1080 can kill some game animals, and some game animals are pests in their own right. “The council’s objectives may... hamper or delay the use of 1080 at an operational level. “This would be extremely unsatisfactory as effective use of 1080 for conservation purposes is often time-critical.” See publications

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

36 animal health

Funding to progress varroa control AL AN HA RMAN

UK RESEARCHERS have been given funding to develop a system to ‘knock down’ genes in Varroa mites, causing them to die. The technique

attempts to trick part of the bug’s immune system into thinking one of its genes is a virus. The discovery by scientists at the University of Aberdeen and the National Bee Unit has so


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treatments. “Having proved our concept in the lab we are delighted that this funding will allow us to develop our research to have realworld impact,” Bowman

“There is an urgent need to develop a Varroa-specific, environmentally friendly treatment.” – Alan Bowman Bowman says honey bee numbers are seriously declining and while there are probably several reasons for this, one of the most important factors is Varroa, which sucks the blood from bees and transmits serious viral diseases. “There is an urgent need to develop a Varroa-specific, environmentally friendly treatment or some method of overcoming the Varroa’s resistance mechanism to existing treatments and that’s what we are now working towards,” he says. Researchers will create and scour databases of all the Varroa genes to identify the ones that can be effectively and safely targeted by potential new treatments. The aim is to find likely genes by the northern hemisphere autumn and start small-scale trials next year. The researchers are asking beekeepers to send them live Varroa mites to be used to test possible


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far only been used in the lab. But now the team can take their work a step closer towards developing a product that could help beekeepers. Project leader Alan

says. More than £250,000 (NZ$485,325) of funding has been committed by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Vita (Europe) Ltd. Vita technical director Max Watkins says finding treatments that kill Varroa mites, but don’t harm honeybees, bee products or the environment is not easy. “The challenge is heightened because the relatively short life cycle of the Varroa mite means that resistance to a single treatment can often develop quite quickly unless beekeepers alternate treatments of different types. “Vita is therefore supporting this exciting and innovative research and hopes that an effective and environmentally sensitive treatment can eventually be developed at a cost that is affordable to beekeepers across the globe.”

FE still a threat FACIAL ECZEMA could continue to be a threat through May, so it still pays to be vigilant, says Agrifeeds. While spore counts haven’t hit the highs of previous years, continued low-level exposure will still put animals at risk of liver damage, says technical manager Andrew Oakley. Also, a few areas have seen high spore counts with some farms recording counts of up to 500,000 spores/g of pasture, with 50,000 s/g the normal trigger point for action. “We can’t afford to be complacent despite some cooler nights. It is likely counts will remain moderate with some high peaks for at least another four to six weeks.” Often the first signal of high spore intake is a sudden drop in milk production, as much as 30% overnight. Cows become restless at milking, seek shade and lick their flank or udder. “Another drop in production occurs when physical symptoms (clinical facial ezcema) become obvious, usually about four to six weeks after consuming the toxin.”

Rural News // may 1, 2012

animal health 37

Covers prompt winter warning DON’T LET ample pasture now lull you into a false sense of security with winter just round the corner, says farm management systems firm Farmax. “Some farmers could tend to be complacent when it comes to making decisions for winter feeding because they have a surplus to work with,” says Farmax general manager Gavin McEwen. “Based on the historical pasture cover information we have in Farmax, we want to caution farmers against this tendency as there are plenty of decisions to be made heading into winter even if covers are higher than normal.” Farmax’s database holds historic pasture cover data, pasture growth rates, stock performance prices and trends which allows modelling, scenario analysis and planning. As of end of March this year, average pasture cover on North Island sheep and beef farms was 2,300 – 2,700kgDM/ ha. “On average at that time of year it’s well below 2000.” Last week McEwen told Rural News covers now “probably haven’t changed too much” from that March figure.

scenario with pastures that were high at Christmas and have continued to stay at high levels until now. These pastures will have a high level of dead/stem material and lower metabolisable energy levels.” The difference in quality can make a marked difference in an animal’s ability to convert dry matter to protein, even though quantity of feed offered may be similar. Brier says the challenge in both situations is managing covers appropriately to convert the extra feed effectively and efficiently into increased profit. “The simplest option would be to do nothing and accept reasonable results given the impact of heavier ewes at mating. But if you have accurate knowledge of your current pasture cover and can model scenarios for winter, there is opportunity to push the envelope and

Allow for pasture quality when doing winter feed budges, says Farmax general manager, Gavin McEwen (right).

“We’ve continued to have a very good growing season through the autumn in most regions.” Waikato-based consultant, colleague, Brendan Brier, stresses the situation is different region to region which means winter pasture management decisions must be tuned accordingly. “What’s important to remember... is that not all pasture covers are the same. For example, take a Northern Waikato

farm that had a well controlled pasture cover, say less than 1900 kgDM/ha at Christmas time, and has since accumulated cover to the 2,300-2,700 levels. This farm’s pasture will be a relatively fresh sward with moderate metabolisable energy levels and low levels of dead matter. “Alternatively, a farm in Hawkes Bay will be in a completely different

create higher profits.” A planning tool like Farmax helps hit key pasture cover levels at target times to maintain excellent feed quality, he adds. “For instance, in the example above, Farmax estimates that the energy content is 8.5 MJME/kgDM on the Hawkes Bay farm compared to 9.1 MJME/kgDM on the Waikato farm. That’s a 7% difference.” Also, the better quality pasture in the Waikato situation means net autumn growth will be higher. Brier suggests six management priorities for the coming months: Ensure quality feed for ewes over tupping; Getting timing right when weaning cows; Timing of nitrogen fertiliser use; Use of winter supplements; Winter grazing options; Lifting spring stocking rates to prevent a repeat of this season. McEwan says to maximise profit from pasture, “you need to analyse each of these six factors to decide what needs to be done to positively affect your bottom line.”


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Rural News // May 1, 2012

38 machinery & products

Tractors come up trumps for contractor to ny h o p kinso n

MARSH CONTRACTING at Pongakawa, south of Te Puke, has a variety of machines and tractors for their extensive business but when it comes to rolling and compacting silage stacks – maize or grass – a Valtra is their choice. “Many other tractors do not like their bonnets pointing to the sky for too long as it causes problems in the transmissions and engines, but the Valtra thrives on this work and I have not had any problems with their engines or transmissions,” says partner Neville Marsh. Neville and his wife Jill have owned Marsh Contracting for 20 years and now daughter Tammy and son Daniel are involved. The business is based on their 50ha farm with 5ha of kiwifruit, avocados and

grazing land for cattle. Their client base extends to Pikowai down SH2, to Rotorua and to Tauranga in the north. “We give a full agricultural service and our main aim is to give satisfaction to all our customers.” Services include silage and hay, mowing, drying, baling, square and rounds, stacking or to pits where required and wrapping. They have two truck and trailers so hay and silage bales can be transported, and the trucks are used alongside forage harvesters. Cultivation includes all ground preparation for all crops including grass. Also maize planting, harvesting as well as soil aeration. Machinery includes 13 tractors including orchard machines, four mower/conditioners, and round and square

Neville Marsh says his Valtra tractors thrive on the hard work his contracting business puts them through.

balers. Marsh Contracting has two Valtra model Versu tractors – a T171 run for three years and their newest, a T172 bought from Piako Tractors Ltd, Rotorua. Both models are 170hp. “They are used in all parts

of our business but were specifically bought for rolling and compacting stacks as they are heavy tractors, and with weights and tyres filled with water weigh 13 tonnes.” A bonus is that the tractors have high clearance with the drive shaft to the front wheels

being enclosed so there is no chance of grass being caught up. The steps to the cab also fold back to stop any grass entanglement. When buying a Valtra direct from the factory buyers can order their own specifications including colour, to suit their needs. Marsh ordered five double bank hydraulic outlets and a Valtra factory fitted loader with electronic controls plumbed into the arm rest. “It is the quickest responding loader I have ever worked with.” The loader has soft ride with quick attachment for buckets and forks. The air bag front suspension is the same as fitted to Volvo trucks. The tractors have synchromesh transmissions with all electric gear changing and have a top road speed of 50km/h. Tel 07 533 1887

Nothing foul about it CHOOK MANURE to orchards and farms is a growing business for Marsh Contracting. “About 90% goes on maize ground either before planting or following harvesting and the rest to orchards or pasture.” The manure comes from a local egg farm where it is collected on rubber belts. When it is about 100mm deep it is removed and immediately taken to be spread. “The manure never touches the ground until spread,” Marsh says. He has learned that the manure, with lime added, is an excellent natural fertiliser. As demand grows he is bringing more in from outside the district. For spreading he has a Keenan orbital spreader, ideal for spreading on hillsides, and two spinner/spreaders both of which he made. One spreader is low profile for spreading in kiwifruit orchards and the other a normal spreader for pasture.

Rural News // may 1, 2012

machinery & products 39 Plug-in, switch-on to be rat free RATS COME with autumn, but you don’t have to let them stay in homes or farm buildings and plant, says Rushton Farmer, Auckland. The company last year supplied hundreds of the electromagnetic devices to farmers for their homes, and for milking plant, livestock feed mills and piggeries. About 6000 of the Australian-made Plug-in Pest Free expellers now operate in New Zealand.

The company last year supplied hundreds of the electromagnetic devices to farmers for their homes, and for milking plant, livestock feed mills and piggeries. The Pest Free plugs into a power point from where it overlays a 50Hz pulse on to the electromagnetic field that occurs naturally around live electrical wiring. It emits no sound and causes no harm to humans, pets or electronic gear such as computers and controllers. The pulse

switches on/off every three minutes, so pests do not develop immunity. The pulsing stresses rodents, causing them to lose body moisture, drink more and eat less, so upsetting their nutrition and reproductive patterns. They must exit the building or dangerously dehydrate. The maker stresses nothing can prevent pests entering a building, but electromagnetic pulsing discourages them from establishing nests and colonies. The Pest Free technology was proven during 2-year scientific trials (1996-97) at The University of New England, Armidale, NSW. Australian Federal Government funding helped to research, develop and export the products. The devices carry a 60-day money-back guarantee and a two-year warranty. Price: $159.90 incl. GST and postage. Tel. 09 833 1931 or 021 230 1863

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formation of deposits in the injection system. High temperatures and pressures cause soot-like deposits in fuel filters. These then decompose in the injection system. These blocked filters may only last 16,000-20,00km, then need replacing. And the high temperatures and pressures in

modern injection systems lead to stubborn deposits at injector valve seats and nozzles, “resulting in injector drift power loss and increased smoke emissions,” the company says. Power describes BlackOut as a “multifunction middle distillate fuel additive that... prevents the

formation of fuel soot by conditioning diesel to withstand the extreme temperatures and high pressures of fuel injection systems. “It also cleans up existing deposits, returning injectors to ‘like-new’ condition in a short time.” It also prevents the formation of black sludge result-

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

40 machinery & products

Nice call to high-tech baling and wrapping THE ATTRACTION of higher-tech baling prompted B&B Contracting (2006) Ltd’s October 2011 purchase of a Lely Welger Tornado balerwrapper, the supplier reports. B&B Contracting, Featherston, is co-owned by Jake Hawkins, Richard Blundell and Sandy

Bidwell. They do all sorts of agricultural contracting except fine-chop silage, running a large fleet and employing six permanent staff and up to 10 operators at peak season. The Lely Welger Tornado variable baler-wrapper combination also has automatic wrapping that’s variable.

Hawkins says the Tornado replaced another baler and is the latest technology – the main catalyst for the upgrade. “We didn’t have any issues with our previous baler but [seeing this new machine] we thought we would give it a go.” B&B Contracting has done 12,000 bales with Jake Hawkins says the speed of the wrapping system on his new Lely Welger Tornado helped him chalk up a huge tally of bales this season.

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the Tornado this season – 9000 baleage and 3000 hay. “We’ve baled lucerne, oats, clover and ryegrass for baleage, as well as hay. It’s been really good and I can’t fault it. We had a second-hand Welger baler we bought a couple of seasons ago and we had good success with that on hay and baleage, so we knew what sort of bales we’d be getting out of the new Tornado. I’ve operated it myself all season and it’s run well.” Hawkins says the speed of the wrapping is second-

to-none and the transfer of the bale to the wrapping table is good. With its automatic wrapping system, the Tornado wraps bales so quickly that the output of the variable round baler can be utilised to its full potential, Lely says. “The Welger has high capacity and it can do the job, so we’ve been getting through a large number of bales a day. It produces a dense bale. We’ve been averaging 60-70 bales an hour in good going.” Hawkins likes the bale transfer system, Lely says.

“The wrapping system is good and quick. It’s got a solid ring on the back and I’m quite impressed with it.” The transfer table folds up out of the way, reducing risk of damage. “The wrapping system is good and quick. It’s got a solid ring on the back and I’m quite impressed with it. It doesn’t seem to leave big tails on the bales. When it cuts the wrap off it leaves them tidy. “I was making 1.4m bales and they were big bales. It was on a hill block and they were popping out and hitting the

ring and I was impressed with the robustness of the machine.” The Tornado suits experienced operators, he says. “It’s not a machine you would put the new kid on the block on because you’re not just operating one machine, you’re operating two. But... once you get your head around all the electronics and computer it’s easy to operate.” Tel. 07 850 4050

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Rural News // may 1, 2012

machinery & products 41

Kuhn extends precision drill range EXTENDING ITS range of precision drills, Kuhn has released its latest Maxima 2 TRX model, capable of working to 12m wide and working 16 or 18 rows with spacings 700-800mm. With a folded width of 3.5m, it is transportable by road and will just fit through a 3.6m gate. Equipped with Maxima 2 seeding units, the drill caters for maize and sunflower cultivation. Being equipped with large diameter discs, it will select seeds one by one and place them in the furrow with high accuracy along the

line, with an optimal seeding speed of 8km/h, Kuhn reports. It can seed at least 100ha per day, the company says. The pressure of the seeding units can reach 150kg, avoiding slippage and also enabling seeding into soil with plant residues, even at higher speeds. Fertiliser capacity is 4300L. A fluted metering unit makes for accurate application rates and the fertiliser is distributed in each row via a distribution head and placed close

to the seeding line with a double disc drill. Using Kuhn’s patented parallelogram attachment system, the outer seeding units will adapt to changes in contour, ensuring a con-

stant seed depth in the soil. The seeding units are mechanically driven from the frames central wheels. Tel. 0800 585 007 or





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Rural News // May 1, 2012

42 nz ploughing championships

Horses pull crowds at ploughing TO N Y HOPK I N SO N

Having had a few problems on the way, the Waikato Ploughing Association had a fantastic two days hosting the finals of the New Zealand Ploughing Association’s 2012 New Zealand finals. Blessed with perfect weather and a site right on the edge of Cambridge, the crowds for the April 14-15 event were well up on expectations. The Rural News Horse Plough competition was a big crowd pleaser with six horse teams competing. Among the South Island teams was a team of six huge Clydesdales from Erewhon Station at the head of the

Rangitata River high in the Southern Alps. The winning team, however, consisted of four smaller Morgan horses from Winton Southland, worked by father-and-son team Peter and Jason Robson, who won by a margin of 10 points with a total of 185 points. This is the fifth time the Robsons have won the event. Peter attributes much of their success to Jason who has “a good eye for ploughing”. The Morgan horse breed is famous in western movies for pulling stagecoaches and for heavy work on farms. The ploughing competitions were accompanied by the largest vintage machinery displays recently held;164

vintage tractors of all makes and models, 41 stationary engines, old style shearing plants, 63 vintage cars, a display of 21 vintage ploughs, two built in 1890, and a 1913 Reid and Gray that had won a New Zealand Championship. Alongside were trade displays, craft stalls and plenty of food for the many punters. Two ploughing winners came from the host ploughing association, Waikato. They were Paul Houghton in the vintage section and Malcolm Taylor in the reversible plough section. Top: Peter (right) and Jason Robson, Winton. Below: The standard of competition was extremely high.

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Rural News // may 1, 2012

nz ploughing championships 43 Fred Pilling, Hamilton, with horses Bonnie and Janet.

All the way from Erewhon Station, Colin Drummond and his Clydesdales.

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

44 motoring

Make or break for Wairarapa rally EMMA GILMOUR has her sights set on taking the lead in the 2012 New Zealand Rally Championship when the series visits the Wairarapa this weekend for the second of five rounds. The Dunedin-based Vantage Team Subaru driver will start the Wairarapa event placed second in the series after being one of the pacesetters at the season-opening Rally of Whangarei. At that event she entered the record books as the first woman to win a leg of a New Zealand national rally championship round on day one, before getting a flat tyre. “There is a sense of unfinished business heading for the Wairarapa,” says Gilmour. “I was pleased with my pace in Whan-

garei and, with a couple of suspension and engine tweaks since then, the aim will be to go faster again this weekend.” Gilmour has been seeded fourth for the Wairarapa event behind national Emma Gilmour showing her champs leader pace on the recent Rally of Alex Kelsey Whangarei. (Subaru), defendchampionship lead and an outing champion Richard Mason (Subaru) and right round win,” says Gilmour, former champion Chris West whose comeback drive after early problems was one of the talking (Mitsubishi). “That should be an ideal posi- points of last year’s Wairarapa tion on the road to push for the event.

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She says that her confidence for this weekend has been boosted after a successful debut with her new codriver Anthony McLoughlin at Whangarei. This year’s Wairarapa event will be over 16 high-speed special stages: eight on the Saturday and a further eight on the Sunday. The first car is expected to reach the finish at Masterton’s Copthorne Solway Park Hotel soon after 3.30pm on Sunday.

JAGUAR’S XF sports sedan has been judged the most secure vehicle in the large car category by Australia’s expert body on vehicle crime, the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC). “Experience has shown the level of secure design applied in the manufacturing process is the single most important factor in determining the theft rate of a particular model,” says David Morgan, chairman of the NMVTRC. The Jaguar XF range, available in New Zealand from $90,000, has the same security features as the XFs sold across the Tasman. Each of the winning vehicles had been assessed against

its leading market competitors in relation to the security of its entry systems (such as door, ignition locks, alarms, rear seat/boot access and glazing); engine immobiliser (higher technology immobilisers attracting higher scores); and vehicle identification (body stamping, security labelling and microdotting). The technical assessments were done by NRMA Insurance’s research centre in Sydney. The security features of 70 current model vehicles were rated against a comprehensive scoring matrix to determine the class winners. A full list of all vehicles and their scores is available from the NRMA Insurance web site.

‘Magic eye’ helps drivers THE SUBARU EyeSight driver assist system has won a Japanese government science and technology award. The five Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) engineers who developed EyeSight received the prize for Science and Technology 2012, development Cctegory, from Japan’s Minister of Science and Technology, for “noteworthy contribution to the research and development of science and technology, and to its public understanding.” It is the first time Subaru has won the award. The FHI representatives work in the vehicle research and experiment department, Subaru engineering division. EyeSight uses stereo camera technology to help drivers in a variety of conditions. Its features include pre-collision Braking that can stop the vehicle if it detects the risk of frontal collision. FHI developed EyeSight to use one sensor to control the driving support system and to measure the distance, speed difference and the relative positions between the front of the vehicle and another car. Since its launch in Japan, it has been praised for a good balance between its affordable pricing and utility. In New Zealand, EyeSight will be introduced late 2012 on 2013 Legacy and Outbacks.


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Rural News // may 1, 2012

vintage 45

Faithful family hack brings home the bacon TO N Y HOPK I N SO N

ALL THE stars lined up for Paul Houghton when he won the Mainland Minerals Vintage section of the New Zealand Ploughing Championship on April 14-15 at Cambridge He was driving a 1949 David Brown Cropmaster – a tractor his father had bought second hand in 1951, using it to develop the family farm at Orini. Houghton has since restored it. He used it to pull a Reid and Gray 1954 plough that he had acquired in 2004 and had also fully restored. Houghton has had a life-long passion for

motors and machinery, qualifying as a diesel mechanic after his schooling. When Paul and wife Deborah began sharemilking in 1977 the tractor was derelict, so he partially restored it for use until they could afford a newer machine. They dairy farmed for 25 years, meanwhile starting a sideline mechanical business, for nine years servicing and repairing forklifts, trucks and Caterpillar loaders for the nearby New Zealand Timber Processors Mill, and doing outside work. Following his father’s death Houghton fully restored the tractor as a

memorial to him. “This gave me a lot of satisfaction and pleasure because I grew up on it.” He had first ploughed with it at age 10 when his father allowed him to plough ground for a summer crop. “Ploughing always coincided with the second week of the August school holidays.” He and Deborah sold the farm ten years ago and moved to a lifestyle block on Gordonton Road near Hamilton. Now he is busier than ever trucking silage, gravel and fertiliser for local farmers, and helping his son who runs a shelter belt trimming business. He also

helped prepare the ground and roading for the nearby Zealong Tea Estate, New Zealand’s only such business. A relative discovered Houghton’s Reid and Gray plough in a neighbour’s garden, there 20 years as an ornament and a nuisance to mow around. “It was in bad shape” but restoration and minor tweaking has seen it work well ever since. When he joined the Waikato Vintage Tractor and Machinery Club he had his first introduction to competitive ploughing at their annual ploughing meet. He has won this con-

Paul Houghton, winner of vintage ploughing section at the recent NZ Championships, with wife Deborah.

test eight years in a row. He has competed at five New Zealand Ploughing Association finals, gaining a highest placing of third until this year. This was the first time a hydraulic plough had won the vintage section; all previous

winners used trailed ploughs. His combined points over the two days ploughing gave him a winning margin of 15 points. “The first day was not easy but after viewing the other competitors’ plots I realised we all had had

a trying day. I was much happier with my effort on the Sunday.” He won the Jordan Family Challenge Trophy for his efforts. This was donated by Ian (Chiefy) Jordan, the patron of the New Zealand Ploughing Association.

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Rural News // May 1, 2012

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rural trader 47 DOLOMITE



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Rural News 1 May 2012  

Rural News 1 May 2012

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