Gisborne farmers deering to be different. PAGE 21
Promising early results for facial eczema test. PAGE 23
Ag man bags top science role. PAGE 10
TO ALL FARMERS, FOR ALL FARMERS JULY 13, 2021: ISSUE 730
Crisis coming! PETER BURKE firstname.lastname@example.org
NZ’S MEAT processing industry could grind to a halt in the next six months unless the Government acts to allow Muslim slaughtermen to come into the country. More than 90% of New Zealand meat is slaughtered by the halal method and this can only be done by people who are fully qualified to undertake this work.
Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva told Rural News the situation is not great. She recently made an impassioned appeal to Parliament’s primary production select committee in a bid to prod the Government into progressing the issue. About 250 halal slaughtermen are employed in the meat industry, almost all of them from overseas. But half of them are on visas which are due to expire in the next six or so months and
Karapeeva says when their visas run out, there is no certainty that replacements will be allowed in. “This is what we are most worried about because halal processing is so critical to what we do and so we are not in a very good position,” she says. The reason that most of the animals are slaughtered by the halal method is to give the meat exporters the flexibility to sell their meat to any country in the world. The halal cut is a critical part in the killing process Karape-
eva says. “Once the animal is deemed to be slaughtered in the halal way, then it can continue through the chain as a halal carcass and can be broken down into various bits and pieces for export,” she explains. “If the animal is not slaughtered in the halal manner there is absolutely no way in the ongoing process to designate it halal.” In the past, Muslim slaughtermen have come from places such as Fiji and TO PAGE 3
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WAIKATO REGIONAL COUNCIL.
TE POI School, in rural Waikato at the base of the Kaimai Ranges, students, teachers and their families recently took part in a planting day, where 500 plants went into a wetland on a neighbouring farm. The project is part of the Upper Waiomou Stream restoration scheme, which has $1.74m in funding from the Jobs for Nature programme and $74,500 from Fonterra’s environmental partnerships programme. This project is about removing and managing overgrown willow and poplar trees along the upper Waiomou Stream and tributaries. Over four years, 48km of riparian margin will be retired and planted out (128,000 native plants). The council is currently working with seven landowners to deliver this project. Te Poi School principal Linda Larsen says the Enviroschool had been planting wetlands on the farm since 2013.
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HONEY IN STICKY SPOT APICULTURE NZ says the future focus of the industry is finding markets for what is seen as a glut of honey. Chair Bruce Wills says the industry’s recent three-day conference was a mixture of positive news and challenges. But it was honey exports that took centre stage. In the year ended 2020, New Zealand earned $505 million from honey exports, but the outlook for this season is not good. In MPI’s (Ministry for Primary Industries) latest report on the state of the primary sector, the bad news is spelt out with honey exports predicted to be down almost $1 million by 2025. However, the problem is worse, with an estimated 20,000 tonnes of unsold honey being held in beekeepers’ sheds around the country. This honey mountain is equivalent to about a year of production. Wills says this all goes back to the controversy over what is and isn’t mānuka honey. “The price of the honey that didn’t meet the mānuka criteria crashed and a bunch of beekeepers have said they will keep this in their shed because they are not prepared to sell at the low price.” Wills says the mānuka boom also saw a dramatic rise in hive numbers and these now stand at about 900,000. The value for pollination and other bee products is estimated at about $5 billion. – Peter Burke
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
Peak dairy processing?
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HEAD OFFICE Top Floor, 29 Northcroft Street, Takapuna, Auckland 0622 Phone: 09-307 0399 Fax: 09-307 0122 POSTAL ADDRESS PO Box 331100, Takapuna, Auckland 0740 Published by: Rural News Group
GLOBAL FOOD company Olam International is setting up a milk processing plant in South Waikato but there are questions about whether New Zealand dairy needs more stainless steel. One farmer leader is warning that with NZ milk production flattening, overcapacity could eventually lead to factory closures and pain for rural communities. Olam International vice president Naval Sabri told Rural News that a formal announcement on the new plant is planned in the coming months. The Singapore-based conglomerate is no stranger to the NZ dairy industry. Until recently it held a cornerstone stake in NZ’s second largest milk processor, Open Country Dairy. It is also a major buyer of dairy products from Fonterra and other processors. Sabri says Olam has enjoyed a long and successful history in New Zealand through its previous investment in Open Country Dairy. “There is strong and growing demand from our global customers for high quality, New Zealand dairy products,” he says. “To be able to meet this demand and offer more customised solutions for our customers, we are progressing with plans to directly invest in our own dairy processing facility in New Zealand.
Former Fonterra Co-operative Council chairman Duncan Coull warns that rationalisation will have to occur at some point.
“The plant development is in the early stages and a formal announcement is planned in the coming months. “Our priority at the moment is to meet with, and listen to, the views of farmers first. This will ensure we deliver on our commitment to develop milk supply partnerships in a way that best meets local needs.” Industry sources say Olam plans to build the factory at Tokoroa and has started recruiting key staff. It will be the second major greenfield dairy project in the Waikato region. Earthworks have started for Happy Valley Milk’s $280 million plant in Otorohanga. Synlait and Open Country have also
recently built new processing plants in Waikato. Former Fonterra Co-operative Council chairman Duncan Coull finds it “somewhat surprising that there is a continuum of new investment in stainless steel given that production has plateaued or is in decline”. “Competition for milk at a farm gate level has always been touted as a positive but given the construct of the milk price setting mechanisms set by Fonterra, competition has generally followed, not led,” he told Rural News. Coull warns that overcapacity will lead to inefficiency at processor level and ultimately affect farmers nega-
tively as processors try and deal with a lower return on their own capital. “Rationalisation will have to occur at some point to deal with this. The effect on rural communities at this point can be devastating.” Open Country Dairy chief executive Steve Koekemoer told Rural News that there’s no question that competition for milk is getting tougher in some regions. “We have no problem with competition, we have always been pro competition, but surplus stainless steel could bring a bit of a challenge for the industry overall and certainly for any new entrant bold enough to enter the sector. “Once capacity exceeds supply then I assume that some older milk plants in the industry may have to be retired or these plants won’t be operating efficiently and that won’t be ideal.” Approached for comment, a Fonterra spokesperson referred Rural News to its submission on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) around overcapacity, in which the co-op warns that industry-wide overcapacity could lead to industry-wide low returns as milk growth drops. Fonterra says that this could lead to a long period of stagnation in the sector, as seen in the red meat industry. “Eventually players might capitulate and close plants,” Fonterra’s submission said.
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Meat sector faces crisis
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FROM PAGE 1
Rural News online: www.ruralnews.co.nz
Malaysia. The MIA also ran a training course for men in Indonesia before the advent of Covid. Karapeeva says she’s been at pains to impress on politicians and officials that the case of the halal slaughtermen is a unique situation and not a
Subscriptions: firstname.lastname@example.org ABC audited circulation 79,553 as at 31.03.2019
case of money or training. “Ultimately, there is a religious component in this that we can’t do anything about,” she adds. “We are not going to be setting up a conversion centre to convert good kiwi blokes into Muslim slaughtermen.” Karapeeva says with the meat
processing season just a few months away, meat companies are deeply concerned about the uncertainty of not having Muslim slaughtermen for the full season. Karapeeva says she’s talked to politicians who claim they understand the problems the meat industry is
facing, but they don’t seem to be able to get their heads around what to do. “The MIA was very clear and specific about our one request of the Government. Hopefully, that will encourage the select committee to put forward a strong case to government and move this along.”
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
Shipping delays expected to continue to hit exporters PETER BURKE email@example.com
A RETURN to normal is still a long way off in terms of global shipping, according to a recent report by the ANZ Bank. It says the time when global shipping routes and freight costs might return to pre-Covid levels are being continually pushed out. The report says shipping companies are making abnormally high profits and have lots of work, so have no incentive to reduce their prices to gain market share. ANZ Agricultural Economist, Susan Kilsby, told Rural News that the high freight costs and shipping delays are directly impacting producers’ returns. Some primary products are being
downgraded because they slow getting to market and have a lower shelf life when they do get there. She says this applies particularly to chilled products. “NZ has always had a really good reputation for delivering and getting goods to the market and it is just making that very challenging for our exporters to do that at the moment,” Kilsby says. The ANZ report says disruptions continue to plague the global shipping industry. It notes, for example, that the port of Yantian in southern China, which is the world’s third largest port, was closed for several days in late May due to an outbreak of Covid. This closure had a domino effect on other
ANZ says disruptions continue to plague the global shipping industry.
ports around the world and it will take about 80 days to clear the backlog. Kilsby says that as a result of the disruption and uncertainty with shipping, many exporters and importers are holding
more stock than they did pre Covid. She says the world previously had very reliable supply chains, but exporters now have to be more proactive and creative to get their goods to market at key times.
She adds that the problem is compounded by people who are unable to purchase services such as holidays instead spending on goods, driving predictions that global trade will lift by
8% this year and a further 6% next year. The other problem for NZ exporters, according to Kilsby, is the trend towards larger container ships. “All the investment in the global shipping industry in recent years has been in the bigger ships which are more efficient, but NZ has a limited number of ports that they can call at.” The report notes that Tauranga is the best equipped port to take these larger vessels. In 2020, 42% of all containers went through that port. The report says a decade ago it was about half that volume. Kilsby says with the larger ships heading for the main overseas destinations, NZ has to rely on
feeder ships coming into some of the other ports and then into Tauranga. “It also means that the shipping is a bit more lumpy, because if a feeder ship misses the larger ship, there could be a wait of several weeks before another one arrives,” she adds. “That creates some real challenges for those chilled exports such as apples and the like.” While Tauranga is the beneficiary of Covid and the trend towards larger ships, container movements through the ports of Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin have declined. Kilsby says it doesn’t seem like the situation is going to change anytime soon with the challenges of congestion in some of the overseas ports.
Zespri puts on a brave face PETER BURKE firstname.lastname@example.org
ZESPRI SAYS it will continue to look at ways of controlling the illegal growing of its SunGold kiwifruit in China. This is despite the fact that it failed to win grower support for a one-year commercial joint venture trial with China, designed to grow G3 legally in that country. Zespri estimates that there is about 4,000ha of its patented G3 being illegally grown in China after rootstock was stolen from NZ. To get approval for the new trial, Zespri was required to get 75% sup-
port from its growers, but instead only managed 70.5%, which scuppered the trial. Chief innovation and sustainability officer, Carol Ward, says Zespri has been concerned at the level of spread of unauthorised Gold 3 in China for some time and have been looking at ways to stop this, including discussions with Chinese officials. Ward told Rural News that while they had a good engagement programme with growers in the leadup to the referendum, in the end, some growers had legitimate concerns about the trial. These included fears about whether, the Zespri brand
could be protected, and the quality of the fruit grown in China would be up to scratch. “It’s been tough putting the trial forward in the Covid environment because we haven’t been able to travel. It’s also been quite disappointing that we haven’t been able to take a number of key NZ industry leaders to see the production and understand at first hand the size and scale of the problem in China.” Ward says they are still able to do R&D in China and will be doing some monitoring and research so that they can inform themselves on the quality of the fruit that is being produced.
“We will also continue to hold discussions with the authorities in Beijing and the provinces about plant variety rights and protection. We know that in China they are looking at how they could strengthen their intellectual protection of plant varieties. We would like to be a part of that because we have got some common goals there,” Ward adds. NZ sends about 20% of its kiwifruit crop to China, and Ward says the illegally grown kiwifruit in that country could have repercussions for our growers. She points out that about a third of our kiwifruit is sold on the Chinese market in October, Novem-
ber and December – the same time as local production hits the supermarkets and competes with Zespri’s kiwifruit. “We have concerns about the impact this has on retail shelf space and retail value for our product and we will be monitoring the situation,” Ward says. “In the meantime, we are not only working to build the strength of our brand position in China but also to develop our other markets for the remaining 80% of our kiwifruit through North America, Asia and Europe.” China remains an important market for Zespri and has the biggest consumption base for kiwifruit.
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
New kids on the block’s woolly solution JESSICA MARSHALL email@example.com
THE WOOLLY Wedge, a new product created using kiwi ingenuity and New Zealand wool, will hit shelves in Mitre 10. The Woolly Wedge was created by Under the Door Enterprises, a group of 10 students from Kavanagh College in Dunedin, as part of a Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) project. The Woolly Wedge is a door stop made from New Zealand wool supplied by local farmer Tokofarms, recycled bicycle inner tubing, and wood. “We study agribusiness and recognise the value of wool, both historically and for today and the future,” says Under the Door Enterprises chief executive Hayley Anderson. “We know the wool industry is really struggling… with the price of wool falling right
now from $5 per kg in 2017 to $2 per kg now due to global oversupply and changing consumer demand for wool. “So, that kind of inspired us to make some type of product that was integrated with wool. “We’re using the social enterprise Cargill Enterprises to make our products, which is essential to us as a YES business because we value community and keeping production locally.” Anderson says the group was also inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic and the precautions that have come with it. “…during Covid-19 alert level two, it was necessary to keep our classroom doors open for hygiene purposes, and we realised that the standard door stop that we had for the class just wasn’t really doing the job,” she says. The product has been endorsed by big names in agribusiness like the National Council of New
Zealand Wool Interests, Federated Farmers, and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. “I think we as a class are just a little shocked because it’s kind of taken off,” says Anderson. Kavanagh College Agribusiness teacher Jill Armstrong describes the experience the students are having as “incredible”. “They deal with top business people, they sit round the table to negotiate with Mitre 10 to get the deal and I’m so proud of them, they’re an incredible bunch of young people,” Armstrong says. “The future’s in good hands if we can get young people like this who are prepared to take a few risks.” Anderson says Under the Door Enterprises will continue to build their product line with the Woolly Mask, which aims to prevent sliding doors from closing on people’s hands, the Woolly Wind Stopper, and the Woolly
From left to right: Emmeline Taimalie, Josh Forrester, Lachie MacArthur, Te Kahui Mariu-Boreham, Lewis Chinula, Mitchell Stewart, Hayley Anderson, Kahlia Pulham.
Shield which is designed to prevent scratches on car doors. She adds that a portion of the profits from Under the Door Enterprises will go to rural mental health programme Farmstrong. “We are keen to give back to society from our profit,” she says.
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
MPI admits to blunders early on in eradication programme SUDESH KISSUN
M. BOVIS BY NUMBERS
THE HEAD of the Mycoplasma bovis programme, Stuart Anderson, admits things were hard on farmers in the early days. However, he claims, since a reset of the programme in 2019, big improvements have been made. “We acknowledge that the experience farmers went through in the early days was hard on them,” Anderson told Rural News. “But we have learned a lot and the programme is completely different today.” M. bovis was first detected on a farm south of Timaru in July 2017. Since then, beef and dairy farmers have had to cull over 172,000 animals. While the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has paid out $207 million in compensation, some farmers are still negotiating a payout. Anderson says since 2019, MPI has worked really hard to support the wellbeing and recovery of those impacted by M. bovis. He claims that since 2019, compensation is getting paid more quickly. In May 2021, it took on
Programme head Stuart Anderson says, since 2019, MPI has worked hard to support the wellbeing and recovery of those impacted by M. bovis.
average 12 working days to pay a non-complex claim, in comparison to an average of 37 working days two years ago. Anderson also claims that testing is quicker and that MPI has brought the wait-time down on test results to on average 14 days or less. “And we work closer on the ground, supporting affected farmers, their whanau and workers,” he says. “We will continue to work with our partners, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ to make improve-
ments where required. “We know the eradication effort has been challenging for the farmers involved and even when the process goes as intended, it is tough for those affected.” Commenting on a recent University of Otago survey of M. bovis-affected farmers, Anderson says the study authors have not provided a completed report of their work to MPI. “This is disappointing. When they do, we will be keen to look at it,” he adds.
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As of July 2, 2021, MPI had received 2,903 claims from 1,174 claimants. 97% of all compensation claims have been resolved. Total compensation paid $207 million: Beef farmers paid nearly $50 million or 24% of total compensation paid. Dairy farmers nearly $130m (63%). Others (grazing, calf rearing, lifestyle farmers) $28m (13%) The total estimated cost over 10 years to eradicate M. bovis is $870 million. Government funding 68% or $591m, Beef + Lamb New Zealand 2% or $17.4m and DairyNZ 30% or $262m. Over 172,000 animals culled to date.
The survey found that a poorly managed government response to the 2017 Mycoplasma bovis outbreak inflicted significant and lasting
trauma on Otago and Southland farmers whose stock were culled, Farmers from Canterbury contacted Rural News last week, claiming
they had a similar experience with MPI. Lifestyle block owner Robin Wilson says 15 calves were taken from his property by MPI for culling and he is still awaiting compensation. “The amount MPI offered to me as compensation is too low,” he says. Wilson says he tried unsuccessfully many times to speak to M. bovis managers in Wellington. “I even approached the Agriculture Minister once, but he did nothing. It all seems in the toohard basket for them,” Wilson says.
NEW SUMMERFRUIT NZ CHAIR SUMMERFRUIT NZ’S new chair says the biggest problems facing growers are the ongoing labour shortage and the difficulty getting produce to overseas markets due to the logistics crisis caused by Covid-19. Roger Brownlie took over from Tim Jones at the organisation’s recent AGM. He hails from Hawkes Bay and runs an orchard in partnership with his wife. They grow a range of summerfruit including apricots, nectarines, cherries, and a few apples. At the peak of the season, they employ about 30 staff to pick and pack their crop. Brownlie says at some time in the near future there will be a
bumper season for summerfruit out of the South Island, which will need extra labour and good logistics to get to market. He says the
sector will be focusing on working collaboratively with HortNZ to get a positive response on these issues from government.
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
Bovis farmers felt like ‘guinea pigs’ SUDESH KISSUN firstname.lastname@example.org
THE FIRST farmers to notify Mycoplasma bovis disease in 2017 blame the Government’s poor response for their business woes. South Canterbury farmers Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen say, four years on, they are still fighting the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for compensation, running into millions of dollars. An arbitrator has been appointed to rule on their compensation claim in August/September, after months of meetings and assessments by both parties.
The Van Leeuwen Group, which was placed into receivership with many of its farms sold earlier this year, had to cull about 4,000 animals since first reporting M. bovis on one of their farms in south Timaru. Aad van Leeuwen told Rural News that MPI’s handling of M. bovis on his farms was appalling and has left them millions of dollars out of pocket. “We did the right thing by notifying the disease on our farm, yet four years on we are still fighting for our compensation.” Apart from financial loss, van Leeuwen says the mental anguish faced by farm owners and staff
Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen say four years on from being hit by M.bovis they are still fighting MPI for compensation, which runs into millions of dollars.
was enormous. After notifying MPI of M. bovis, the Van Leeuwen Group was ditched by its trading bank and had to make other more expensive financial
PROTEST AIMS TO BARK BEFORE UTE TAX BITES DAVID ANDERSON
FARMERS ARE being encouraged to take their utes, tractors and dogs to town this Friday (July 16) to protest against government regulations. Groundswell NZ is organising ‘A Howl of a Protest’ in town centres from Gore to Kerikeri. The group says it is for “farmers, growers and ute owners who are fed up with increasing government interference in your life and business, unworkable regulations and unjustified costs”. Last October, Groundswell NZ organised a tractor protest in Gore where more than 100 tractors were driven down the town’s main street to protest against new winter grazing regulations. Spokesperson Bryce McKenzie says farmers are frustrated by new government regulations. He says they are facing new freshwater regulations, winter grazing rules and indigenous biodiversity regulations. “This is important because there is a lot of anguish out there, there is a lot of tension and this is a way people can get together and show that they’re not happy,” McKenzie says. “We want farmers to gather up a
few of their neighbours and go to town in their tractors or utes. A statement will be read from Groundswell at each centre and then there will be a bark up, or a howl up, from the dogs.’’ He is also encouraging tradies to also join the protests because they are being penalised as well if they wanted to upgrade their utes. Last month, the Government announced a new rebate scheme, which will make lower-carbon-emitting cars more affordable for New Zealanders and will see a fee placed on higheremission vehicles – such as utes. “Tradies are also being penalised – their utes are just as essential for them as they are for farmers,” McKenzie adds. “We’re being penalised for living in a rural area, or for having a practical work vehicle.” Groundswell is also encouraging people taking part in the protests to have lunch in town afterwards to support local businesses. So far, protests have been organised for Gore, Mosgiel, Oamaru, Greymouth, Blenheim, Thames, Hastings, Palmerston North and Kerikeri. Further towns could be added to the list. https://groundswellnz.co.nz
arrangements. Van Leeuwen says he felt MPI wasn’t prepared to deal with farmers impacted by the disease. “I felt they were learning on the job at our expense; we were being used as guinea pigs to the detriment of our business.” He gives an example where MPI insisted
on one occasion that his cows must go to a particular meat works to be culled. “This particular meat works was paying us much lower than what our meat works would pay us – a difference of about $800,000,” he told Rural News. “MPI’s excuse was that it could be claimed under com-
pensation, which was taxpayer money anyway. It was only after we threatened to go to the media about wasting taxpayer money that MPI relented.” Van Leeuwen says a recent University of Otago report on the impact on MPI’s handling of M. bovis is “on the mark”. “A lot of what they talked about is true but it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “On our farm, MPI spent $100,000 emptying an effluent pond and there were guys sitting in the milk sheds, with toothbrushes cleaning our water connections and being paid $40 an hour,” he adds. “It was sheer stupidity. One of our sharemilkers went into a cordoned off area to turn off a running water hose that MPI had
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left on after 5pm. Someone dobbed him in and he was taken to a hotel room in Timaru and was subjected to police-style interrogation by MPI officials. “It was like the wild west.” Van Leeuwen has also taken aim at Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, saying he has failed to look after the interests of farmers. “I feel the minister is sitting on his hands and not doing enough for the rural community he represents,” van Leeuwen claims. “We are not asking for any special attention as the Biosecurity Act states that an affected party should be no worse off and no better off. We notified the disease yet we are still fighting for what we rightfully deserve.”
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
Govt out of touch with hort PETER BURKE email@example.com
Nadine Tunley is concerned about the Government’s lack of understanding about growing and providing food for domestic consumption and export.
“I have been hearing for months that horticulture will be NZ’s saviour in terms of economic recovery, as well as in terms of signifi-
cantly assisting with climate change mitigation for our protein-based colleagues. At a very basic level, horticulture and its success are determined
by a well-balanced supply and demand requirement, solid central and local government policies, significant levels of capital investment, and good
HORTICULTURE NZ’S new chief executive says she’s floored by the number of wellbeing issues the sector is currently facing. In a letter to members of the industry-good organisation, Nadine Tunley says horticulturalists work incredibly hard, often under very trying conditions. She says, at the moment, there are just too many things being asked of growers. “My plea is that we take a breath, and industry and the Government work together on how we
keep all of our businesses contributing to New Zealand’s social and economic recovery,” Tunley says. “My impression is that the Government does not understand the depth of our industry’s problems.” She says that mental health is of deep concern to New Zealanders at the moment and the horticulture industry is no exception. “However, my concern is the Government’s lack of any real understanding about what is involved in growing and providing food for domestic consumption and export, in a post-Covid world,” Tunley adds.
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supply chain facilities, from field to fork.” However, Tunley adds that horticulture is a far more labour-intensive product to produce than NZ’s other protein producing counterparts. She says technology and automation are still very limited in most areas of horticulture, but notes that if it were a more advanced and genuine solution, growers would
be using it without question. “The irony is that we are being asked to provide employment for New Zealanders. The areas of our industry where this is most possible are the areas we will automate first because current policy is forcing us to do this,” Tunley says. “Once those jobs are automated, they will never come back.”
SOLUTION NEEDED! THE LABOUR shortage in the kiwifruit industry is crying out for a solution, according to the organisation that represents New Zealand kiwifruit growers. New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) chief executive Colin Bond says there is a need to have certainty for the coming season and RSE workers from the Pacific Islands are critical. Bond says that would be a boon for the island economies, which are struggling due to the massive impact of Covid-19 on tourism, and for the New Zealand primary sector. “We see kiwifruit, along with the other horticultural crops, needing certainty of labour supply and one way we can encourage this is by supporting employment of a workforce that can be on the orchards almost year-round.” Bond says NZKGI will continue its labour attraction strategies from previous years. He says this is based on getting good information on the work available to potential workers via collateral and a range of media, including a strong social media programme. “One development that was expanded this year was to raise awareness of the career possibilities and long-term work available in the industry,” he says. “We don’t just need workers for the harvest, we need them for crucial winter and summer maintenance work, to ready the vines for the next year’s crop.” Bond says in the longer term, the industry is also looking at automation –innovating and expanding into this area. He says NZKGI will be closely reviewing and evaluating its 2021 recruitment programme and assessing the new challenges to identify how the labour uncertainties could be reduced in 2022. – Peter Burke
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
NEWS 9 Open Country Dairy says it is investing in green technology at all its four plants around NZ.
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THE COUNTRY’S second largest milk processor has been quietly upgrading processing plants to further improve its environmental footprint. Open Country Dairy (OCD) has put in a new electrode boiler, the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, to run its new Awarua spray drier plant in Southland. Traditionally, dairy factories would look to coal as an energy source. However, OCD has investigated alternatives over the past few years. “The electrode boiler wasn’t the lowest cost option, but we have got a model that works, and our supporting partners have made the option viable,” chief executive Steve Koekemoer explains. “Using a 100% renewable electricity source in Southland to generate steam is a good thing” he told Rural News. “We aren’t aware of an electrode boiler running a spray drier globally, but we’ve managed to prove that it runs very well. Electricity prices will be a barrier to entry for others but hopefully at some stage in the future we will see many more of these options used in the industry.” Open Country is also converting the two boilers at its Waharoa plant in the Waikato from coal-fired to wood pellets. This process is currently underway and
when completed will remove a significant amount of CO2 release to the atmosphere. Open Country says it has also spent significant capital on a new state of the art wastewater treatment plant at Waharoa plant. As a result, the treated water, which is now discharged into farmland or waterways, is virtually at drinking water standard. “It is truly an impressive plant and we have once again broken from tradition to design and use technology that futureproofs our business,” Koekemoer says. “We are focusing on delivering an outstanding result for both the environment and community.” At the Awarua plant, a new water recycling system means the plant now has the capability to reuse water evaporated from milk and make the site self-sufficient throughout most of the year. Koekemoer says OCD and other milk processors have been quietly investing big on sustainability in recent years. “Other processors are going down a similar path and sometimes this story isn’t told as well as it should be,” he adds. “The NZ dairy industry is doing a lot of work on sustainability, which is impressive to see.” Koekemoer says this bodes well for the industry and means a strong future for dairy out of NZ. “I think NZ is on the road to becoming a centre for excellence in dairy processing,” he says.
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
Ag man bags top science role PETER BURKE email@example.com
WELL-KNOWN PLANT & Food Research soil and environment scientist Brent Clothier is the new president of the Royal Society, Te Aparangi. The society’s role is to recognise, promote and support excellence in science, as well as encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. Clothier’s appointment is for three years and he is only the third president, in about 40 years, to be elected to chair the Royal Society with an agricultural background. He told Rural News the appointment is a huge honour and responsibility. “The society is very keen to build a connection with the CRIs and
Clothier believes his appointment indicates the Royal Society would like to engage more with the knowledge systems around primary production and also the humanities of rural and Maori communities.
independent research organisations and also into the applied research and primary production research,” he says. “This is because there is a huge amount of research, innovation, science and technology that goes on in NZ that comes out of our primary production systems. “Think of Gallagher electric fencing and what they have done, and now the massive amount of innovation in robotics in
Tauranga.” Clothier believes his appointment indicates the Royal Society would like to engage more with the knowledge systems around primary production and also the humanities of rural and Maori communities. While Clothier says he has no specific plans to play an advocacy role for the primary sector in his new role, he does want to broaden the reach and connectedness of the
Brent Clothier is only the third president, in about 40 years, to be elected to chair the Royal Society with an agricultural background.
Royal Society into the science and innovation being undertaken in the primary sector.
“After all, 65% of our export revenue comes from agriculture which is unusual within the OECD
countries.” Sixty-nine-year old Clothier is still working full time for Plant & Food
Research based in Palmerston North. He began his career as a mathematician and had planned to do his PhD overseas. However, love intervened when he met his wife-tobe and he stayed in NZ, switching to becoming a highly-regarded soil and environment scientist. Clothier says a lot of his work is now focused on environmental issues as they impact on primary production systems. “This is becoming more important with national policy statements on water and productive soils,” he adds. “It also impacts on what I call the ‘eco credentials’ of our products in international markets. We gain money in the market by having evidence-based eco credentials about our environmental performance.”
RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
Vets may choose Oz over NZ JESSICA MARSHALL firstname.lastname@example.org
BORDER RESTRICTIONS are putting a roadblock in the way of getting more veterinarians to New Zealand and some are even choosing to go to Australia instead, a recruitment consultant says. Julie South, talent acquisition consultant with VetStaff, told Rural News that while many overseas vets are keen to work in New Zealand, some don’t mind where they end up. She says prior to the Government’s announcement that 50 vets would be granted border class exceptions, she’d been working with vets who were considering both Australia and New Zealand as potential places to work in. “However, because the Australian government made it super-easy for them to work in Australia, that’s where they opted to go,” she says. “For those who don’t mind – because they’ve never been here, they therefore don’t realise there is a difference between the two countries… but to them it doesn’t matter. “If your dream is to emigrate down under or do your OE down under,
of course you’re going to go to the country that makes it easy and welcomes you the most.” South says that although these Australia-bound vets are in the minority, the numbers are increasing. Helen Beattie, chief veterinary officer for the New Zealand Veterinary Association, says that anecdotally, she has heard of similar stories. “Australia has recently removed some visa requirements, so it is much easier for up to 800 veterinarians to enter the country – this places us in direct market competition for recruitment of overseas veterinarians, and our visa requirements are more difficult to meet, meaning we are at a disadvantage.” She says that typically approximately 60% of vets are recruited from offshore annually. Beattie adds that while animal welfare is currently well-protected by the Veterinary Council of New Zealand’s Code of Practice and veterinarians are making enormous efforts to protect the animals under their care, the ongoing welfare of veterinarians has become the real issue. “Already we know that some veterinarians are seeking exemptions
and some relief from the codified requirement to respond, due to the stress of the veterinary shortage and the ongoing impacts on their wellbeing,” Beattie says.
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
Mayor slams Shaw’s SNA claim DAVID ANDERSON
GREY DISTRICT’S mayor is unhappy at the lack of response from government ministers about concerns from West Coast leaders and iwi on Significant Natural Areas (SNAs). Tania Gibson is seeking the support of all rural and provincial mayors around New Zealand in the battle to protect landowners from having their land locked up by the Government’s proposed SNA process in the new National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB). In a letter to her fellow mayors, Gibson lambastes the attitude and response of Environment Minister James Shaw to opposition to the SNA process and the rural sector in general.
She told her fellow rural mayors that Shaw’s comments – “It is only a few Pākehā farmers down south whipping this up, spreading misinformation because they have always pushed back against the idea of any kind of regulation of protecting environmental conditions on their land...” – have angered and disgusted her. Gibson asks if this is the view and attitude of central government. She has urged all mayors to write to the relevant government ministers about this “theft by regulation that is eroding our relationships with our ratepayers and forcing large costs on to our councils and our constituents” Meanwhile, Gibson says the three mayors of the West Coast – Westland, Grey and Buller
INVITE EXTENDED MEANWHILE, JAMES Shaw has been invited to visit Southland and meet the farmers he vilified. MP for Southland Joseph Mooney has extended an invitation to Shaw following his outburst about Groundswell NZ, which he called the organisation “a group of Pākehā farmers from down South who have always pushed back against the idea that they should observe any kind of regulation about what they can do to protect the environmental conditions on their land”. Grey District mayor Tania Gibson is calling on the support of all rural and provincial mayors around New Zealand against the Government’s proposed SNA process.
as well as the Westland Regional Council chair and its two local Rūnanga chairs Ngāti Waewae and Makaawhio – had written to Shaw opposing the SNA process. “We have not received a reply of any substance
apart from a generic response letter sent saying that once the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) is gazetted, the implementation will focus on supporting councils and basically that the process will be continuing.” Gibson says she has discussed the issue with
other mayors from the rural provincial sector and they also are not happy with the SNA implementation and its process. “I consider Minister Shaw’s comments disrespectful and I think he needs to be held to account,” she says. “Our letter to the Minister represented owners of a significant portion of land area in the South Island, not just ‘few pakeha farmers from down
Mooney says if the Greens Party co-leader had bothered to visit his electorate and had met with Southland farmers, and seen the extensive and positive environmental work they are doing, he wouldn’t have made such a tone-deaf outburst. “Minister Shaw hasn’t bothered to come south, so he hasn’t seen the incredible work that our farming community has been doing to look after the environment,” Mooney says.
south’. The blatant disregard and way that our rural sectors and primary industries are being treated is appalling.” Gibson says the primary industries and rural communities helped build New Zealand, and kept the country running throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. “They are feeling undervalued and are facing new legislation that is making industry and small businesses
harder to function and I know my community is feeling angry and frustrated,” she adds. “With government ministers making this type of comment and providing no answers to the questions they are being asked, I can see why.” Gibson says she would have thought Shaw would have been trying to bridge the urban-rural divide. “However, comments and attitudes like this further widen that gap.”
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Schering-Plough Animal Health Ltd. Phone: 0800 800 543. www.msd-animal-health.co.nz. NZ-NLV-210500001 NZ/NLX/0518/0003e © 2021 Intervet International B.V. All Rights Reserved. 1. Baron Audit Data. March 2021.
RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
Change of guard at rural contractors DAVID ANDERSON
A CHANGE of the guard has taken place at Rural Contractors NZ as challenges mount for the sector. A new president, vicepresident and chief executive are all now in place, following the conclusion of the organisation’s annual conference, late last month. Waikato contractor Helen Slattery replaced former president Southland’s David Kean after his 12 years on the RCNZ board. Wairarapa spray contractor Clinton Carroll became vice-president at the Rotorua conference. Meanwhile, Andrew Olsen recently joined RCNZ as its first full-time chief executive, with the retirement of the long-serving Roger Parton. Slattery says the con-
ference reinforced the intense challenges rural contractors are facing, as well as identifying new opportunities. She says some of the stresses rural contractors are enduring are largely due to the ongoing shortage of skilled staff, particularly experienced machinery operators. “We all work hard in the season, but these shortages are pushing some contractors to breaking point.” Economist Tony Alexander told the conference of increasing labour shortages and competition for talent. “His advice was for rural contractors to focus on their businesses and really consider their capacity to service customers, review pricing and how to train and retain good workers,” Olsen says.
New RCNZ president Helen Slattery has her pulse taken at the organisation’s recent annual conference.
This may include factoring in that pricing of farm machinery and wrap film that will rise next year by as much as 20%plus in some cases. Olsen says rural contractors also heard that farmers are increasingly
less interested in applying their own chemicals, opening up new customer opportunities for spray operators. Meanwhile, Slattery believes the key issue for rural contractors is the minimal allowance
for 125 skilled machinery operators to come in for the next season, when a survey of rural contractors showed 400 or more were needed to keep up with farmer demand. “We accept that as a
quid pro quo, we have to continue lifting our efforts to train more Kiwis,” she says. However, Slattery points out that while these trainees emerge with tractor-driving skills, it takes a lot longer to
get them to the point they can operate complex machinery. Olsen says he will be pushing the Government for more experienced machinery operators to be allowed in from overseas. “Or we face crops left in the ground, jobs and export dollars being lost as well as increasing health and safety risks and stresses for farmers, contractors and their staff.” He says he will also be asking for an exemption to the “unfair tax” contractors face when they need to replace their ute. “Sure, we heard at conference of the recent launch of the electric Ford Lightning, which saw 44,500 pre-sales in two days in North America,” he adds. “But it’ll be years before we get them here.”
Update from Beef + Lamb New Zealand By Andrew Morrison, Chairman
changes in soil sequestration and the science on this is still in development. As better sequestration data becomes available, we will use this in the calculator. The calculations are also based on GWP100 rather than GWP*. B+LNZ strongly supports the use of GWP* for the setting of methane targets and for reporting on warming at a sector level, but it is not necessarily the right measure to use at an individual farm-level. Knowing your numbers will give you extra data to base your business decisions on. It will help you build a resilient, futureproofed business and it will give our customers and the public confidence that we’re taking responsible action on climate change.
Voting in the Beef + Lamb New Zealand referendum has now closed and I want to thank those farmers who had their say. B+LNZ has just launched a free Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Calculator and I encourage you to give it a go by visiting www.beeflambnz.com/ghg-calculator-info. The calculator, which has been developed with input from farmers and meat processing companies, takes information about your farm and your stock and applies science and data about average emissions at national, regional and farm system level to calculate your on-farm emissions. It also allows you to measure the sequestration happening on your farm from woody vegetation. You can do a simple calculation using your existing farm and stock number information. This will give you ‘emissions numbers’ to get you started. You are able to add further summary information about livestock purchases, sales and grazing, fertiliser use and woody vegetation cover to give you a more complete picture of your farm. At this stage, the calculator only looks at sequestration from woody vegetation, not soil. While there is fairly good information about soil carbon stocks, there is not good data about yearly
Increasingly consumers are interested in the carbon footprint of their food and this will help us tell our story. By the end of next year, (2022) we also have to show that all New Zealand farms know their numbers. And by 2025, we have to show all farms have a written plan to measure and manage their GHG emissions. These targets are part of the He Waka Eke Noa partnership agreement that puts management and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in farmers’ hands, instead of a $70 million tax per year at processor level being imposed by the Government. The calculator has been independently assessed as meeting the requirements for calculating emissions under the He Waka Eke Noa programme. If you already know your numbers, for example from your farm management software such as OverseerFM or FARMAX, then you’re all set and don’t need to do another calculation. While we are providing this tool to farmers, I want to make it clear that we will still be advocating on behalf of farmers for sensible climate change and environment policy outcomes that among other things recognise the work that farmers have already undertaken.
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
global agribusiness research analysts sharing market outlooks
16 MARKETS & TRENDS
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Will NZ prices heat up in July? Dairy
DAIRY COMMODITY prices were mostly softer through June 2021. Falls were minimal across the complex and prices are still trading at elevated level when compared to year-ago levels. The NZ dollar was weaker in June compared to the month
prior – good news for dairy exporters. Markets are awaiting the New Zealand season to get underway over the coming months. Final NZ milk production numbers are in for the 2020/21 season. May 2021 milk flows bounced 7.6% higher than last year
as African Swine Fever drives demand for alternative protein. Global beef supplies have been limited with a 30-day Argentine export ban only adding to the tightness stemming from herd rebuilding in Australia. Domestic beef prices have been edging higher and are at a solid level.
on a tonnage basis, driven by a combination of high milk price forecasts, supportive weather and low comparables from last year’s drought in the North Island. This brings the full season production through to 31 May 2021 to 22.3m metric tons – a lift of almost 3% on the prior season and the highest volume of milk produced in NZ. Rabobank forecasts milk production for the new 2021/22 season to be marginally higher on the assumption that Q4 2021 milk flows will surpass 2020 volumes.
RABORESEARCH EXPECTS farmgate prices to lift over July, with a strong US market helping to drive returns at the farmgate. However, shipping
firmly remains an issue and is taking some of the shine away from historic high imported beef prices. Records continue to be broken across the ditch in Australia, with cattle prices remaining exceptionally strong and
the EYCI rising to a new record in late June 2021. These dynamics have flowed through to higher farmgate price movements here in New Zealand. US beef prices have extended gains over
recent months, as demand improves with economic reopening. Food service continues to pick up in the US and expectations are positive and have lifted further over recent months. Chinese demand continues
RABORESEARCH EXPECTS continued demand from key markets as we move through the winter months here in New Zealand, and we anticipated this will lift prices through July. Farmgate prices have seen a jump over the month, in line with seasonal tightening of product availability. Domestic lamb prices have lifted over recent months. Some of this
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
MARKETS & TRENDS 17
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is seasonal, but there is more to it than that. International markets have improved, with buoyant demand from China and more interest from the UK and Europe. Fewer NZ lambs has kept the supply side tight, while recent weather raises questions around this year’s lambing. International prices have lifted while the NZ dollar has remained reasonably contained. There is growing optimism for higher average prices next season, although supply chain challenges and rising
costs need navigating.
NIWA IS forecasting above-average temperatures for most of the South and North Islands across the winter months. Rainfall levels are anticipated to be near-normal for the top of the North Island, and the north and east coast of the South Island. The east of the North Island is likely to receive either near normal or above-normal rainfall. The west of both Islands are likely to receive
below-normal or nearnormal rainfall levels through the winter period of 2021. NIWA is forecasting near-normal or below-
normal soil moisture levels in both the north and east of the North Island, as well as most of the South Island. The rest
of the country is forecast to have near-normal soil moisture levels through to August 2021.
DESPITE THE relatively hawkish sentiment of the RBNZ, the NZ dollar was not immune to the midJune FX market shakeout. The New Zealand dollar lost 2.5% against the US dollar over the month, trading at USc 70.07 on June 28. However, the shakeout for the NZ$ would likely have been greater, without key hawkish announcements from the RBNZ during June and better-than-expected domestic GDP data. RBNZ resumed
publishing its Cash Rate forecasts this month, which showed a first 25 bp hike in Q3 2022. This was coupled with the release of much stronger than expected Q1 GDP data for New Zealand at 1.6% QOQ vs. a median expectations of 0.5% QOQ. Rabobank’s outlook remains unchanged, with expectations for the New Zealand dollar to recover to the USc 74 range over the six-month outlook, where we expect it should remain on a 12-month view.
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
18 OPINION EDITORIAL
Anyone listening? THE COUNTRY’S farmers are feeling disregarded, discontented, disrespected and disgruntled. On July 16, in more than 40 towns and cities (at the time of writing) around NZ, farmers will descend on to their main streets in their utes and tractors to express their utter exasperation with government, bureaucrats, mainstream media – even their own sector leadership. This farmer angst has been building for more than a year, so the aptly-named Groundswell protests could well be the biggest show of farmer discontent in this country since the protests held at the height of the economic reforms of the 1980s. How has it come to this? One would have thought that with record dairy prices, a strong red meat outlook and a booming horticulture sector, those on the land would be happy. However, that is far from the case. In the past couple of years, an avalanche of regulation has been, or is about to be, dumped on the sector, including freshwater reforms, climate change legislation, biodiversity rules, a lack of access to overseas workers and most recently the ute tax. Despite claims by the Government that they “value” the primary sector and how it almost single-handedly helped the country pay its bills in the aftermath of Covid, many farmers find this hard to reconcile this with the extra redtape, costs and regulation it keeps imposing on them. There is also considerable disquiet among farmers about their industry leaders continually acquiescing to government. These same farming bodies’ dismissal of long-held farmer concerns – while they talk behind closed doors in Wellington – has left a vacuum for groups like Groundswell to fill. Already, government apparatchiks, mainstream media and so-called farming leaders are either dismissing this angst and upcoming protest as misguided or labelling it as farmers not wanting to play their part on environmental issues. One can guarantee that on July 16, every TV news camera will focus on the one abusive placard in the crowd, or a yokel who makes an outrageous non-woke statement, rather than covering the real reasons behind the protests. Organisers need to ensure that these protests are clear, concise, respectful and that any silly signs or plonkers are kept well away from sight. Is anyone listening?
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“So Doc – what would you diagnose if I told you old Blue also has to get up several times in the night to go to the loo, and only ever gets a trickle?”
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THE HOUND Deluded? This old mutt’s mate attended one of the recent Beef+Lamb NZ roadshows held in the lead up to its recent referendum. Your canine crusader understands there was great nervousness among the Beef+Lamb people about the outcome of the upcoming vote. There were lots of fancy presentations by directors and executives telling farmers what a wonderful job the organisation was doing on their behalf. This was in spite of the running feedback during the meeting about how ‘let down’ and ‘weak’ farmers thought it had been in sticking up for them. The meeting finished with a slick video featuring ‘random’ farmers saying how wonderful Beef+Lamb is. However, the Hound’s mate says at least 4 or 5 of the featured people were either Beef+Lamb council members or had been recipients of its funding for various things. He reckons the video reminded him of one of those North Koreans productions about its glorious leader.
Thanks – not!
The Hound hears the supposed new collegial working arrangement between Fed Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and Dairy NZ is off to a rather rocky start. With the ink barely dry on a recent announcement lauding how the three groups were now taking a closer approach to how they ‘work together’ on issues affecting farming – there is already major tension. Apparently, the socalled ‘entente cordiale’ (as it was so eloquently described by a mate of yours truly) between Feds, B+L and DairyNZ is under threat due to B+L’s response to the Greater Wellington Regional Council Plan. Feds and Dairy NZ’s submissions said there should be no farming limits, however the submission by their good mates at B+L took the same lines as Forest and Bird, Fish and Game and DoC saying there should be limits, which will mean no more dairying in the region. Gee – with friends like that who needs enemies!
A mate of the Hound’s reckons the PM needs to be a bit careful about who or what she claims is legitimate or not. This comes in the wake of the ‘Cuddler in Chief’s’ royal visit to this year’s Fieldays. Ardern was questioned on her Government’s plans to add a tax on utes – which will be used to help subsidise rich townies to buy EVs – and why farmers and tradies would not be exempt from paying this new tax. She, rather unconvincingly, claimed that the reason for the ute tax was because too many people were buying utes who did not have a ‘legitimate’ reason for doing so. However, as the Hound’s mate pointed out, the PM’s own Auckland-based partner – whose career is split between being a glorified nanny and TV show guest star – drives around in a sponsored, carbon-spewing ute. Hardly ‘legitimate’, one would have thought!
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Your canine crusader reckons one of the few things you can guarantee in farming – a bit like rates and taxes – is that input prices will always go up! The latest example is the rocketing price of fertiliser. A mate of yours truly reckons that while he was not surprised by news of fertiliser price increases, he was somewhat stunned by the claim from his fertiliser company that it was ‘giving him plenty of warning’ about prices going up. Apparently he was sent a message from said company on June 25 saying prices for all its fertiliser range were going up – some by more than $100/ tonne – effective from June 26! Already reeling from this news, his jaw dropped when the same message unbelievably said: “We wanted to give you as much time to plan ahead for your fertiliser requirements…” Wow, a whole 24-hours in advance, thanks – for nothing!
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
Who speaks for the New Zealand farmer? DOUG EDMEADES
THERE WAS a time when to be a public servant, or to be in the public service, was something honourable and noble. In those halcyon days, government departments were apolitical. From the farmers’ perspective, government agencies like the Department of Agriculture, and its research and extension service, were held in high regard as the arbiters of the truth. But the reforms over the last 30-40 years have changed all that. Who does the farmer turn to today to get sound, independent, objective advice, untainted by commercial or political considerations? And the problem is broad: the technical advice that farmers need – whether fertilisers, seeds or animal health products – is tied up with marketing and advertising. This is confounded further these days by changes in the values and purpose of some important institutions that traditionally farmers were entitled to rely upon. There was a time when the media provided the balance of opinion on matters of public importance. Integrity was their treasured value. This is no longer the case, at least on some issues. Many in the press have decided, for example, that on the issue of climate change they will be the sole arbiter of what is right or wrong. For example, New Zealand has set sail towards Zero Carbon by 2050. The costs of doing so are enormous ($28b to $85b annually) and will cripple the NZ economy. Surely every citizen, irrespective of where they sit on the climate change continuum, should be made aware of these huge costs and their likely crippling effects they will have on our economy and society. But it is not just the media who is letting the farmer down. There was a time when we could rely on the government research scientists to pro-
vide independent, objective advice. This is no longer the case. DSIR – formerly a government department well respected for its scientific output over many years – was commercialised into the CRI “Landcare” in the early 1990s. The recently released “White Paper” on Regenerative Agriculture (RA) from Landcare is an example of the distortion that this causes. It is an appalling document. It is so bad that a group of us from the NZIAHS put out a newsletter exposing it for what is “mumbo-jumbo, pseudoscience”. The moniker ‘Ministry for Primary Industries’ implies, does it not, that it will speak up for the farmers on matters of public importance. This may well be the case on some issues but when it comes to the current ‘topic of the day’, RA, it’s not speaking up for science or the farmer! MPI has just spent $1.8m funding the Quorum Trust to promote RA and a further $0.4m to Beef + Lamb to investigate the possible role of RA in promoting export activities. This is simply a waste of money and will not – cannot – improve agricultural productivity. This is happening at a time when bona fide agricultural research is slowly dying through lack of funding. But there is an irony here. It is my understanding that some agricultural scientists from both the CRIs and universities, rather than dismissing this nonsense, are lining up expecting a RA bonanza. As the saying goes, “no one speaks the truth when there is something they must have”. And where are the levy bodies – DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb and Federated Farmers – when it comes to the meaty matters? Acquiescing to government policies appears to be the price they must pay to be ‘at the table’ of political discourse. Regretfully, the belief in the importance of evi-
dence, rational thinking and science has been, and is, being eroded. The open-mindedness of the enlightenment, so essential for science and prog-
ress, is being replaced with environmental dogmatism. • Doug Edmeades has more than 40 years’ experience as a soil scientist. After
working in governmentbased science organisations for 20 years, he established his own science consulting business in 1997, which has evolved into agKnowledge.
RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
We all make mistakes! NEARLY 50 years ago, back in the early 70’s, a passenger plane went down shortly before midnight, crashing into the Florida everglades. Flight 401 was en route from New York’s JFK International to Miami International in Florida. All the flight
crew were well trained and experienced with the aircraft. All was routine on board, until it came landing time. On their approach into Miami, the first officer noted the green light that indicates the landing gear had been locked in the ‘down’ position
had not illuminated. They cycled the landing gear again, still no light. They obtained permission to fly a holding pattern over the swamps of the Everglades, while checking to see if the landing gear had deployed or not. Meanwhile, the Flight Engineer tried to remove
the light assembly unit to check on the bulb. It just wouldn’t cooperate. All three of the flight crew then got involved with trying to free-up the light assembly unit to get at that bulb! In doing that, they failed to notice the plane was slowly losing altitude. Nobody
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because I am human.” Yes, moments of brilliance can be followed by moments that almost defy any logical explanation! One of the contemporary terms for this stuff is a ‘brain fade’. It is rather amazing too, don’t you think, how the little things, the ultimately unimportant little things, can grab our attention and captivate us so easily. Sometimes there are no real consequences to this, we can easily move right on. Other times we are just not that fortunate. Road accidents happen for this very reason. I personally know of a family where Grandma/Mum got distracted by some little thing in her car. Giving that little unimportant thing her attention, she strayed over the centreline into an oncoming truck. Sadly, she took her eyes off what truly mattered most. I encourage you today to grow some roots down deep into the soil of things that truly matter. When it comes time to leave this planet, nobody ever regretted driving a Ford Ranger instead of a Colorado or Navara! That image you projected of how you wanted folks to see you won‘t count for zip either. The person who helps you prepare for what matters most, is a true friend. Take care and God bless. • To contact Colin Millar email: farmerschaplain@ ruralnews.co.nz
had noticed either that the plane’s autopilot had somehow been inadvertently disconnected. Sadly, the three flight crew, two of the flight attendants, and 96 of the 163 passengers on board, didn’t make it that night. Think about it for a moment; a tiny inexpensive light bulb captured the flight crew’s attention. They became totally preoccupied with something where other options were available, and it got their eyes off what truly mattered most. The official inquest settled on the verdict of human error, and loss of what they termed ‘situational awareness’. Personally, I find these type of ‘it never should have happened’ stories incredibly sad, and all the more so when many innocent folks lose their lives. It does clearly illustrate yet again that which I mentioned in a previous column; what I call the ‘human being factor’. We all suffer from it! All of us humans make mistakes. Even the best trained and most experienced among us cannot somehow eliminate all human error and misjudgements. Rugby fans will well remember the 2017 drawn series between the AB’s and the Lions. I recently read in the media that French ref Romain Poite admitted and regrets that he made a mistake in changing the very kickable penalty he awarded the AB’s, to a scrum. I quote Poite: “I am happy to say I made a mistake
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RURALNEWS TO ALL FARMERS, FOR ALL FARMERS
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
Gisborne farmers deering to be different DURING THE past 20 years Malcolm and Caroline Rau have quietly built-up the Gisborne region’s largest deer herd. It has given their operation another layer of resilience in a very changeable market, as well as other benefits associated with diversification. The Raus farm, Puketia Station, is nestled in the misty foothills of Te Urewera. It has an even split of sheep, beef and deer – a deliberate strategy aimed at providing resilience to market fluctuations. Like many farmers, they were passed the baton by the previous generation – initially leasing Puketia from Malcolm’s parents in 1999, before buying it from them in 2006. A year later they expanded, leasing the neighbouring 400ha Manakotahi Station to make a total of 1,000ha effective. Their work over the past two decades was recognised last year when they were named Federated Farmers’ Wairoa-Gisborne-East Coast Farmer of the Year. Their three-year average surplus per ha of $695 certainly played a part in that. Sheep and beef are the cornerstone of many Kiwi farms, but Malcolm Rau
exporters,” she says. “European markets remain relatively slow to recover, but they should improve with lifting vaccination rates as the year progresses. This, in turn, should increase demand for venison in Europe towards the end of this year – when venison consumption tends to peak.” Industry bodies like DeerNZ are also continuing to focus on improving the reputation and
Malcolm and Caroline Rau have spent 20 years building up the largest deer herd in the Gisborne region.
says having deer in the mix has more than one advantage. “There are definitely benefits to having that third stock species in the mix – pasture-wise and also parasite-wise – it actually benefits all the stock,” he adds. “One class or one species will consume the worms or larvae from the other one, but it won’t affect them - they’re not compatible. So, they’re taking out each other’s worm burden as they go, with a little bit of stock management;- you put the right class of stock, at the right time, in front of the next class of stock.” Rau also reckons that having different classes helps manage the weeds, so they don’t need to spray anything. Despite a few “stitches, broken bones and hospital visits” from
ill-tempered stags in his early days, Rau loves working with deer. “I grew up on a deer farm and always worked on deer farms, so it was a natural fit,” he says. “At the time, when I really started building up in deer in the early 2000s, the industry was extremely low. I started out with a small herd of about 120 hinds. We have a few thousand deer now, so we’ve come a long way.” Genetics and feed are important factors in any deer operation, but Rau puts another one above them all – temperament. “It’s me and them, all the time – so temperament is number one and goes ahead of production.” The biggest challenge, day to day, is still price fluctuations. Since the Covid-19
demand for New Zealand velvet and venison globally. Inevitable price fluctuations give rise to a need for lending, and Rau says his bank has stepped up whenever needed. “The first 18 years weren’t much fun financially, but the last five years have been a bit more enjoyable because the pressure’s not as high as it was,” he explains. Rau says their banker
– who’s been with them for 14 years – knows the business really well – he was part of the excitement of the ‘Farmer of the Year’. “But he’s also been there for the tougher times too.” Rau believes the secret to their success all comes down to persistence. “We felt like we were treading water for years and years, and it’s just starting to work out now.”
pandemic began, venison prices have dropped around 50%, with premium New Zealand venison less in demand from overseas restaurants, many of which cannot open. Velvet sales remain steady, adding another income stream to the operation. “Velvet dropped a small amount, but nothing too much,” Rau adds. “Maybe 10%. It normally fluctuates that much year-to-year anyway.” ANZ New Zealand agricultural economist Susan Kilsby says while deer farmers may be struggling now, prices are set to improve. “Venison prices remain subdued for now, and while velvet has managed to largely maintain its value through the pandemic, freight issues have been challenging for both venison and velvet
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earlier and free up valuable feed for fattening lambs.
RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
Realising potential of hoggets Hogget breeding has the potential to improve farm productivity but they take careful management according to Professor Paul Kenyon of Massey University. Peter Burke reports. KENYON, AN internationally recognised expert on sheep, recently gave a presentation on the results of a research project into breeding hoggets being undertaken by Massey in conjunction with Beef+Lamb NZ. He says the decision on whether to mate hoggets is one that needs to be taken carefully and for the right reasons. It also needs to be done within certain strict parameters and knowing that managing these young stock through their pregnancy will require extra time and effort. Simply, Kenyon says, not all farmers should
mate all their ewe lambs every year. A flexible policy is what’s required. He says on some farms it may be more economical to work on raising the overall lambing percentage of the mature ewes, rather than opting for hogget mating. On the other hand, he points out that if conditions are right, mating the better ewe lambs is an option. He says a couple of simple rules of thumb are that the hogget should weigh 45kg when she mated and be 64kg the day before she lambs. The latter is based on the fact that the lamb will weigh
10kg. Kenyon believes this is a minimum, if the animal is to get to 65kg when she is mated the following season. “Regularly tracking of the weight from mating to lambing is critical and they should be growing at 130 grams a day from the day the ram goes out to the day she lambs,” he explains. Kenyon adds that the key to a hogget producing a healthy lamb is feeding good quality herbage and that farmers should not be concerned about a pregnant hogget being too well fed. “The traditional approach for a mature
Paul Kenyon says breeding hoggets has the potential to improve farm productivity but it takes careful management.
ewe is that you can shut her down on feed a bit to a maintenance level and then feed her up for the last few weeks of pregnancy and lactation,” he explains. “You can’t do that with a hogget because, in human terms, she’s a teenager and she has to structurally grow – so throughout pregnancy you have to allow her to grow and, at the same
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time, meet the requirements of her pregnancy.” Kenyon says in the last weeks of pregnancy, it’s important to ensure that the hogget is not being fed bulky feeds – such as brassica bulbs or poor quality herbage. This is because the unborn lamb will be putting pressure on the rumen. He adds that during pregnancy, pasture covers should not
fall below 1200 kgDM/ha. He adds that the feed demands of lactating hoggets are higher than mature ewes and farmers may have to drop their mature ewe numbers to accommodate the younger stock. “You have to pay more attention to your hoggets than your mature ewes because you want them to grow. If they don’t grow, they will be stunted for life,” Kenyon explains. “A number of studies have shown that if a hogget lambs too light, not only will the survival of her lamb be poor but she will go on to be a poorer two tooth. “There is also greater chance of her being dry and that her longevity on the flock is decreased too. You really have got to be feeding them well as hogget to make sure
they become decent two tooths,” he adds. However, once the hogget has lambed she can be treated like other ewes in the flock. According to Kenyon, the same guidelines for feeding a mature ewe now apply to a hogget. That means not allowing covers to drop below 1200g DM/ha and not restricting their feed intake. He adds that herbclover mixes and lucerne have shown to increase the growth of lambs born to hoggets at weaning. The study on hogget breeding is about three years into its six year programme. Kenyon says they looking to see if a heavier hogget breeding weight means she is heavier for life and potentially less efficient and whether the progeny born from hoggets make suitable replacements.
RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
ANIMAL HEALTH 23
Promising early results for facial eczema test EARLY RESULTS from a pilot study investigating the potential for a laboratory test to determine facial eczema (FE) tolerance are positive, paving the way for more detailed investigation. The research project is being funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and conducted by AgResearch. Dan Brier, B+LNZ’s general manager farming excellence, says the ultimate aim of the study is to produce a fully validated, high through-put commercial test which is readily available for breeders and commercial farmers. “Initial results look promising with the estab-
lishment of a cell culture method, using sheep and cattle blood, to demonstrate sporidesmin (the toxin that causes facial eczema [FE]) toxicity,” he explains. “This indicates that animals could be tested for tolerance without needing to be exposed to the toxin.” Brier says saliva tests also showed some promise and may be explored further to form the basis of a diagnostic test. “Put simply, the overall results of this pilot study were positive and build a strong case for progressing to the next phase in the development of a commercially available test for farmers.”
B+LNZ’s Dan Brier believes a simple laboratory test would revolutionise FE testing in New Zealand.
Brier believes a simple laboratory test would revolutionise FE testing in New Zealand. Currently, the only method of testing for
FE tolerance involves exposing a ram to the toxin and observing the toxic effects. The challenges of using this test have led to low
numbers of rams being assessed every year. “FE is estimated to cost the New Zealand livestock industries up to $200 million per year,”
Brier says. “A simple lab test would give both breeders and commercial farmers the ability to select animals that are genetically more tolerant to the toxin and therefore carry on producing in the face of a seasonal challenge.” FE causes damage to an animal’s liver and the secondary effect of the
liver damage is photosensitisation leading to skin lesions. The effects of FE can include poor lifetime performance, reduced fertility and fecundity and increased culling. Brier says, in a bad season, FE can have a significant impact on farm productivity and profitability, potentially undermining farmer well-being.
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
24 MACHINERY & PRODUCTS
Tags just got a whole lot smarter MARK DANIEL email@example.com
RELEASED IN May 2021, the Ceres smart tag is the world’s first direct-to-satellite tag for agriculture. This removes the need for any costly on-farm infrastructure – such as towers, transmitters or battery packs – to go ‘live’. It works instantly after being installed in the animal’s ear using the specialised applicator. Positioning data from the animal is transferred via satellite to ground stations, through the Amazon Web Service cloud and back to the
farmer. The tags require a full constellation of low orbit satellites in order to work. The farmer is then able to use the information provided from the tag for on-farm solutions such as positioning, monitoring for biosecurity, health and welfare, while also overseeing the performance and traceability of the supply chain network – including theft detection. In New Zealand, for example, as farmers recover from the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak and the apparent misgivings of a RFID-based traceability system, the Ceres Tag would offer
The Ceres smart tag is the world’s first direct-tosatellite tag for agriculture.
instant traceability of any animals fitted with the device. This would provide safeguards to the
wider agricultural sector during outbreaks or events of national significance – such as M. bovis
or foot and mouth. Designed to last for the life of the animal, the tags have a battery that
can last for more than 10 years. The tags are currently fitted to more than 3,000 dairy, beef and more exotic bovines like bison around the world. There have been no reports of any tag losses, despite the very challenging terrain some of these animals roam on. Part of the package includes an accelerometer and temperature analytics, the former monitoring animal movement and relaying information on activity or inactivity, while the latter provides alerts to inform of oestrus, sickness or calving. Meanwhile, in the near future, the Australian agency Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIRO) e-Grazer add-on will also deliver information on feed intake. Animal welfare data will in due course offer farmers proof of production parameters. Additionally, the device can also be used to accurately position any stolen or missing livestock. Independent research, carried out by PWC, suggests a return on investment that outweighs the initial purchase cost. Typically, farmers would tag around 50% of a herd to receive quantifiable data. www.cerestag.com
NEW BRAND ON THE BLOCK A NEW name was on show at Fieldays in the shape of Solis Tractors. Imported and distributed by Atlantic Tractors – based in Te Puke, Bay of Plenty – Solis falls under the umbrella of International Tractors Limited, probably better known for its Sonalika brand, formed in 1968. Today, the business is said to be the third largest tractor builder in India, while also having production facilities in places such as Brazil, Turkey and Algeria. A tie-up with Japanese company Yanmar provides a source for engines. Meanwhile, a joint venture with the European-based ARGO Group includes the supply of six models badged as Landini tractors. On display at Fieldays, the range encompassed a broad spectrum: from the Model 26 compact tractors, offered in mechanical or hydrostatic
drive configurations, through to a 90hp agricultural spec ROPS tractor and 110hp cabbed units. The latter machine, priced at a tantalising $66,000+gst including a frontend loader, features the company’s own four-cylinder engine. This comes with mechanical fuel injection, to Tier 3 emission standards. Looking heavily-built, with a 4,550kg tare weight, the 110hp machine uses a 75l/minute fixed displacement hydraulic system. It has a lift capacity of 4,500kg and is also free from any electronic functions, so could be a hit with livestock enterprises. Currently establishing a nationwide cadre of service dealers, sales are for now being taken care of by the Te Puke operation. This is while the company expands to local supply – as dealers around the country are established.
The Solis 90hp agricultural spec ROPS tractor on display at this year’s Fieldays.
It’s time to and secure your delivery
SOUTH ISLAND www.cochranes.co.nz Call Alastair Robertson | 027 435 2642 AMBERLEY | LEESTON | ASHBURTON | TIMARU | OAMARU | WEST COAST
NORTH ISLAND www.gaz.co.nz Call our Imports Specialist 027 203 5022 CAMBRIDGE | OTOROHANGA | ROTORUA
RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
MACHINERY & PRODUCTS 25
One-pass cultivator moves 70% less soil Within the cultivated row, which only represents 30% of the field area, trash is removed leaving a fine seedbed offering ideal conditions for young plants to establish.
The one-pass cultivator KultiStrip system comes in various widths with both rigid and fold-out format options.
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ACCORDING TO Kverneland distributor, Power Farming, the KultiStrip system will bring opportunities to farm environmentally, while improving yields and profitability. It says the technically unique, one-pass cultivator-fertiliser machine – which encompasses a strip-till system to reduce cultivation costs – helps aid plant establishment, improves soil condition and ensures yield. Strip tillage, used for more than 20 years in North America, is a method of preparing the soil for row crops such as maize, beet, sunflower, canola, sorghum, soya, vegetables and hybrid corn. Only disturbing the soil where the crop will grow, the uncultivated soil between the strips and the layer of residue that remains helps to prevent erosion. This is said to increase both water
absorption and retention in the soil, while creating a significant reduction in tillage costs. Within the cultivated row, which only represents 30% of the field area, trash is removed leaving a fine seedbed offering ideal conditions for young plants to establish. When creating the
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seedbed, fertiliser can also be placed near the plants for best utilisation. With less of the paddock being cultivated, there is more chance of completing work during poor weather conditions and/or planting earlier in the season to help bring harvest dates forward. Looking at the
machine in more detail, the rigid 3000, 4500 and 6000 models have working widths of 3, 4.5 and 6 metres and feature a heavy-duty mainframe. Alternatively, the 4500F and 6000F models have hydraulically folding frames, which bring the units down to 3m wide and 4m high to meet
transport regulations. Both the rigid and folding designs of the KultiStrip can be fitted with an even or uneven number of rows, with a row width of 45-80cm. The 3m unit can be configured with up to six rows, the 4.5m up to 10, and the 6m unit up to 13 rows.
Up front, 520mm cutting discs slice through crop residues and open the soil to a pre-set depth before adjustable trash wheels remove any plant residues from the cultivated strip. Next, tines work to a maximum depth of 30cm, while an adjustable strip limitation disc determines the width and shape of the cultivated strip – which helps keep loose soil within the ‘worked’ strip. Finally, a press wheel consolidates the soil using a rubber Farm Flex wheel or optional cage roller or V-press wheels for varying soil types. Fertiliser is placed in the lower levels of the pro-
file by the fertiliser coulter, allowing the soil to be worked in a single pass. Alternatively, the KultiStrip machine can be used in conjunction with an effluent tanker to place liquid fertilisers in the soil profile at a predetermined depth. Given the increasing awareness of the need to improve the quality New Zealand’s waterways, and the implementation of specific regional schemes, the KultiStrip should offer growers and contractors a tool that can help limit erosion – particularly on sloping ground, which should keep the regulators happy!
RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
26 MACHINERY & PRODUCTS / RURAL TRADER
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Trimax Made in New Zealand looks at the wealth of design and manufacturing ability we have in New Zealand, creating productive and cost-effective products for the agricultural sector. This issue, machinery editor Mark Daniel takes a closer look at Trimax Mowing Systems, catching up with owner and founder Bob Sievwright. Q - When was the company founded, by whom and why (was it to solve a problem or market a product)? Trimax was formed in 1981 from two Bay of Plenty mower companies that I purchased to market the Gamma Flail that I had developed. Its design reduced power consumption and delivered a better cut than any other flail on the market. So much so, that most flails today are modelled
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A LOOK AT HOME-GROWN COMPANIES
on the original Gamma Flail design. Today in 2021, we’re celebrating 40 years in business. Q - Where are you located? Is it single or multiple sites and how many people are employed? Our main office and manufacturing facilities are in Tauranga. We also manufacture in the US and the UK and have a distribution hub in Australia. Globally we have around 130 employees, the majority are based in New Zealand. Q - What are your key products and which markets do they serve? Trimax specialises in commercial mowing equipment to suit a variety of applications. This includes lifestyle blocks, orchards, municipals, golf courses, sports fields and turf farms. Our versatile and innovative range of rotary and flail mowers deliver a high-quality cut, even in the most challenging environments. Q - Are your products unique? If so, what are the four key benefits? If not unique, what are the four unique selling points? Trimax has worked closely with customers to
Trimax founder Bob Sievwright detailing the benefits of the Trimax Snake S2 at this year’s Fieldays.
develop new innovations, many brought about to directly contribute to our customers’ bottom line to reduce maintenance and increase productivity. Our mowers are renowned for having a long commercial life; with 35-year-old Trimax mowers in the field that are still delivering a great cut! Alongside the low cost of ownership, our service back up is second to none with local support staff and parts warehouses in each of our key markets – with next-day despatch on parts orders. We are a truly New Zealand company, that since 1981, has carried out all our R&D and most of our manufacturing in the Bay of Plenty – and will continue to do so. Q - Looking at an everevolving market, what changes have you made over recent years, or what will you have to do moving forward? Our team is remarkably agile, working hard to position ourselves at the forefront of product design and business practices. Currently, we’re watching the growing trend towards auto-
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mation and investigating ways to bring this into our products and processes. We’re also looking at our environmental sustainability as we anticipate its increasing importance to our industry. Q - What has been the company’s greatest success since its formation? We really value our achievements in establishing an international presence, thanks to our local teams, who develop close relationships with our customers. A standout was breaking into the US market and establishing a manufacturing facility in the state of Georgia. It can take years of trial and error to gain a foothold in overseas markets, and we’re very proud of the growth we’ve seen. Q - In contrast, what has been the biggest “Oh Bugger” moment or the steepest learning curve? We have had to learn to adapt to each specific market, with the need to design products to meet market-specific needs and preferences – all the while, relying on our technical expertise and pillars of culture to guide
our connections to our customers. The steepest learning curve to date has been in the US, when we finally realised that that the Americans ‘do it their way’. Q - If you were approached by someone looking to start a business, what would be your three key pieces of advice? Keep a narrow and intense focus and become the best in the world at what you do. Think globally, always considering your international opportunities. Importantly, embrace your mistakes as learning and growing experiences. Q - Where do you see the company in the next three, five and ten years? What changes do you foresee to keep relevant and grow your business? Over the next three to five years, we will invest heavily in our development capabilities and customer relationships to support the growth of our business. We’ll also have a special focus on growing our international markets. As for the next ten years – we have a plan, but that will have to be a surprise!
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RURAL NEWS // JULY 13, 2021
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Rural News 13 July 2021