Page 1

AGRIBUSINESS

ANIMAL HEALTH

Catchment group makes good progress. PAGE 18-19

New Johne’s test unveiled. PAGE 26

MACHINERY & PRODUCTS Changes ahead for NZ tractor market.

PAGE 28

TO ALL FARMERS, FOR ALL FARMERS OCTOBER 5, 2021: ISSUE 736 

www.ruralnews.co.nz

Vets give up! SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

QUALIFIED OVERSEAS vets are giving up on plans to work in New Zealand because they cannot secure MIQ spots. Despite the Government granting 50 border class exceptions three months ago, only two vets have arrived in the country. Two others are on their way and six are awaiting MIQ spots. NZ Veterinary Association chief executive Kevin Bryant told Rural News that others have hit the “pause button”. “The situation is hopeless,” he says. “We have a good process in place with Ministry for Primary Industries and Immigration NZ but the roadblock is MIQ.” Overseas vets need to plan their move to NZ. They have to give three months notice to employers back

home, pack up belongings and in some cases arrange schooling. Bryant says vets are reluctant to plan with no guarantee of MIQ spaces. “Some of them are saying why even apply for visas when there is no MIQ space available.” The delay in arrival of overseas vets is exacerbating the situation in vet clinics around the country. About 50% of the shortage is in rural areas. Bryant says the association has worked well with MPI and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor to get border class exception for an additional 50 general practice veterinarians to enter the country. “But MPI don’t control MIQ, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and

Employment (MBIE) does that,” he says. “There’s a limit to what MPI can do.” Bryant says the NZVA is trying to “lift understanding” within MBIE. Julie South of recruitment agency, VetStaff agrees that securing an MIQ space is the major hurdle. South says it’s clear that the government departments – Immigration NZ, MPI and MBIE – “aren’t on the same page” when it comes to allowing critical overseas workers in. “I would have expected that when one government department signs off on something to do with an essential worker – like getting them here – that

other government departments would all be on the same page to make sure essential workers could get into NZ as soon as possible,” she told Rural News. South says she’s flabbergasted that MBIE won’t set aside MIQ spaces to allow essential workers to get into NZ so they can work here. A survey by NZVA earlier this year showed that 120 extra vets were needed by clinics around the country. The delay in arrivals is making a bad situation worse. Bryant believes the lack of action is jeopardising the wellbeing of animals. He says NZVA are concerned about the possible impact of delaying things any further. • Petition launched – page 3

Breaking the ice! Three enterprising Mackenzie College (Fairlie) students may well have come up with the perfect solution to an age-old problem of livestock accessing water from frozen troughs. Hamish Ryall, 16, Luke Jordan, 15 and Amy Hay, 16, have invented a device that is inserted into water troughs to prevent them from freezing over. The trio’s FrostEase Flexi Mat device is designed to stop water troughs from icing over during winter in the Mackenzie Country and other parts of the country. – See more page 15

Covid impacts GLOBAL UNCERTAINTY caused by Covid and related disruption to supply chains, as well a global shortage of labour, are cited as contributing factors to a forecast drop in NZ red meat export returns. That’s the crux of Beef+Lamb NZ’s (B+LNZ) new season outlook report, which was published last week. Chief economist Andrew Burtt says receipts from red meat exports will be about $8 billion, slightly down on 2020-21. While lamb export receipts are forecast to increase by 2.2% to $3.6 billion on 2020-21. Beef and veal export receipts are forecast to decline by 7% to $3.9 billion, driven by a decline in production and the adverse impact of the high NZ dollar on export values. However, Burtt says the overall outlook is positive, with the fundamentals in key markets seen as solid. He says there is strong demand and tight supply, meaning prices in export markets are forecast to lift for both sheepmeat and beef. On farm, the lamb crop this season is expected to be 22.8 million – up point 9% on last year, reflecting an increase in ewe and hogget lambing percentages. On the beef side, export production is forecast to be down by 5%. According to the report, farmer confidence is mixed. While on-farm profitability is positive, resilience is being tested by the volatility of adverse weather events and the extent of environmental regulation.

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

NEWS 3 ISSUE 736

www.ruralnews.co.nz

Visa changes welcomed PETER BURKE

NEWS��������������������������������������1-15 AGRIBUSINESS����������������16-19 HOUND, EDNA���������������������� 20 CONTACTS����������������������������� 20 OPINION��������������������������� 20-23 MANAGEMENT�������������� 24-25 ANIMAL HEALTH������������26-27 MACHINERY AND PRODUCTS���������������������� 28-30 RURAL TRADER�������������� 30-31

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 Printed by: Inkwise NZ Ltd CONTACTS Editorial: editor@ruralnews.co.nz Advertising material: davef@ruralnews.co.nz Rural News online: www.ruralnews.co.nz Subscriptions: subsrndn@ruralnews.co.nz

THERE’S BEEN a swift and positive response from the red meat and dairy sectors to the Government’s belated announcement to free up visa arrangements for up to 9,000 migrant workers in the primary sector. A much simplified system will be introduced for these people to gain NZ residency – something industry groups have been pleading with Government to do for months due to labour shortages right across the primary sector. It follows an earlier announcement that will see quarantine free travel for RSE workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the announcement will deliver much needed certainty to the industry – especially in respect of halal slaughtermen.

The Government’s belated announcement to free up visa arrangements for up to 9,000 migrant workers in the primary sector has been welcomed.

“Halal processing is a core part of the New Zealand meat processing industry with approximately 43% of New Zealand total red meat exports halal certified for Muslim consumers in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries,” she says. “Without halal

butchers, there is a real potential that plants would be forced to reduce value-add processing or decide to not save certain products.” But Karapeeva says the decision is only part of the solution and the industry is seeking a more permanent

solution that will simplify the entry of migrant halal butchers – such as a special visa. The move has also been welcomed by DairyNZ with chief executive Tim Mackle saying it’s pleasing to see Government acknowledging the pressure farmers are under, due to being short-staffed, and recognise the critical role international workers play on NZ farms. “While this decision is positive, it doesn’t fully address the scale of the staff shortages on farm – dairy farmers are still short of an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 workers,” Mackle says. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor agrees and says immigration is one way to source people. However, he adds there is a need to attract more New Zealanders into life on the land and our primary sector supply chains. @rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews

Petition demands MIQ spaces SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

A WORSENING vet shortage has triggered a petition calling for the Government to set aside two MIQ spaces every week for authorised arrivals. The petition launched on September 21 by Julie South of vet recruitment agency, VetStaff, has collected 302 signatures. The petition closes on October 31. South told Rural News that the situation is “very dire”. She says the 50

overseas vets granted border exceptions in June need MIQ spaces to get into the country. “And where are we at with MIQ dates already – 2022? How crazy is that? The green light was given in June 2021 and we’ll be lucky if they arrive in the New Year.” South says she’s flabbergasted that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) won’t set aside MIQ spaces to allow essential workers to get into NZ so they can work here.

New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) chief executive Kevin Bryant says South was in contact with them before launching the petition. He says since the NZVA is lobbying directly with various government departments on the issue, it decided not to advocate South’s petition. “We appreciate what she’s doing as an individual to help our profession,” he told Rural News. South is pleased with the response to her petition. She says people are surprised that

50 vets were signed off in June and the country is still waiting for them to arrive. “There is also surprise that government departments aren’t supporting other government departments to help get NZ back on its feet again and that MBIE won’t allow just two MIQ spaces for essential worker vets each week.” South warns that animal welfare is being compromised as a result of the vet shortage. Staff working long hours were also coming under pressure.

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

4 NEWS

Fonterra pulls out all the stops to woo farmers SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

FONTERRA’S BOARD is pulling out all stops to get farmer shareholder approval for its proposed capital structure. The co-operative has pushed back its annual meeting to December to allow more time for farmer consultations. Last week, board directors including chair Peter McBride attended farmer meetings throughout the country. The Auckland-based Fonterra management team couldn’t attend due to Covid travel restrictions. Speaking to Rural News before embarking on the farmer roadshow, McBride was confident farmers would back the latest proposal that includes key changes. However, he says the board is open to tweaking the proposal.

“Let’s see how the conversations evolve. We are prepared to tinker with the proposal but it is hard to accommodate everybody,” McBride told Rural News. “The key changes we’ve made strongly reflect on aspects we heard from farmers.” McBride, who attended farmer meetings in the lower South Island, wants to meet as many farmers as he can. “I’m keen to look them in the eye and for them to hear the conviction of my voice – that this is in the best interests of the co-op.” Fonterra’s chair says the co-op’s annual meeting, normally held in November, has been pushed back to December allowing more time for farmer consultations and work on the final capital structure proposal.

Fonterra chair Peter McBride says he’s confident farmers will back the latest proposal.

While no date has been set for the AGM, McBride says it is unlikely to go past December. The revised capital proposal was announced

on the same day the co-operative released its new strategy to focus on New Zealand milk. McBride says the capital structure and strategy go hand-in-

hand. “We are confident that this proposal would support the sustainable supply of New Zealand milk that our long-term strategy relies on.

“One enables the other, and together they give our co-operative the potential to deliver the competitive returns that will continue to support our families’ livelihoods

from this generation to the next.” Key changes in the revised capital structure proposal are that the new minimum shareholding requirement would be set at 33% of milk supply (around 1 share per 3kgMS), compared to the current compulsory requirement of 1 share per 1kgMS and new maximum shareholding requirement would be set at 4x milk supply, compared to the current 2x milk supply. More types of farmers – sharemilkers, contract milkers and farm lessors – will be able to buy Fonterra shares and exit provisions would be extended and entry provisions would be eased. The Fonterra Shareholders Fund would be capped to protect farmer ownership and control.

SYNLAIT’S ROCKY ROAD AHEAD TO RECOVERY SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

TROUBLED CANTERBURY milk processor Synlait has unveiled a roadmap for its return to profitability. However, the listed company’s plan isn’t entirely linked to key stakeholder and customer a2 Milk’s rebound. While Synlait is rebuilding its nutritional business around The a2 Milk Company, it has also announced a new chief executive and a new

organisational structure. Synlait is also taking corrective actions to arrest losses from Talbot Forest Cheese and its liquids business. A new multi-national customer for its Pokeno plant is expected to contribute “meaningfully” from financial year 2024. Synlait reported a $28.5 million loss for FY2021, its first loss after nine years of profitability. Interim chief executive John Penno says the company has built a plan to return to

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

NEWS 5

Flood relief funding turns into political bunfight NIGEL MALTHUS

A WAR of words over flood relief funding following the May floods in Canterbury is “most unnecessary”. Mid-Canterbury Federated Farmers president David Clark was reacting to criticism by National’s Selwyn MP Nicola Grigg. She says the criteria for grants from a $4 million flood relief fund are far too strict and has called for Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor to review these. Four months on, she says the Government has “fallen well short of the promises it made to local farmers – completely leaving them in the lurch”. O’Connor, however, has replied that the criteria and the membership of an independent panel charged with considering grant applications were drawn up in conjunction with industry groups. He has accused Grigg of cheap political point scoring by choosing to ignore the role that key sector groups, including Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, and the Deer Industry Association, played in setting up the fund and its criteria. “Ms Grigg’s criticism does a disservice to those groups who worked hard to establish the fund.” O’Connor claims the independent panel considering grant applications was selected with the help of sector groups and local mayors, and consists of William Rolleston, John Van Polanen, Wayne Allan, Winton Dalley, and Elle Archer. As of September 20th, 109 applicants

Ashburton Forks farmer and Fed Farmers national board member Chris Allen was one of the many Mid Canterbury farmers affected by the May floods leaving much of his property covered in silt and debris.

had received grants totalling $2,135,940, and 24 grants were still being assessed. “Thirty five applications have been declined, and I’m sure the panel considered them very closely,” O’Connor says. The fund was specifically set up to help farmers clear silt, shingle and other debris that escaped from local riverbeds and encroached onto private farmland. Clark says the May flood was much larger than flood protection works on the region’s rivers were designed to hold. He adds that the situation was “peculiar” in that the natural build-up of shingle in the alluvial rivers hadn’t been well managed, so the river beds were full of excess shingle that spewed out onto individual farms. “Effectively it was a failure of a community asset, causing a problem on private land, and that was the basis

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for the fund.” Clark claims there’s no situation in recent New Zealand history, where central government has funded the repair of private land-based assets on private land damaged in a weather event. “The task that we, as the local Federated Farmers leadership, had was to try and get some funding out of central government for the repair of this damage, when there wasn’t an obvious precedent,” he explains. “Central government doesn’t want to set a precedent for being the insurer of last resort of private assets.” Grigg says that MPI had received 168 applications for support, with a total monetary value of $8,029,535. “To put the number of applications into perspective there are over 550 properties in the ArcGIS survey database, suffering varying degrees of damage.”

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The criteria requires 51% of a property’s income to be from primary industry, which excluded 75 lifestyle blocks as well as a number of farms with other income streams such as tourism, off-farm employment or

rental revenue. “In my view, that absolutely stinks. The Government set a criteria that was very difficult for highly-stressed, overworked and exhausted farmers to meet. I have asked Damien O’Connor if he’s prepared to review the criteria and the answer was a flat-out ‘no’,” Grigg claims. “While MPI have accepted 82 applications, they’re only paying out $1,482,964 to those farmers – and have declined another 38, on the grounds they don’t meet the eligibility criteria. “And therein lies the problem – the eligibility criteria is far too strict.” Grigg said she still stood by her call for a review. “I reiterate my call – and this is based on feedback from people on the ground – the criteria is too tight for people to be able to successfully secure some funding.”

SING OUT! DAVID CLARK says the fund is working exactly as designed, with some applications granted, some still being reviewed, and some declined because they didn’t meet the criteria. He adds that because the fund is not fully allocated there is now the opportunity for people to reapply under a broader set of criteria, to help with the repair of other uninsurable land-based assets such as culverts, irrigation dams and stock tracks. “From a Federated Farmers point of view, we want to hear from anybody that has had their claim declined or scaled back, that met the criteria,” Clark told Rural News. “We really want to hear from those people because we’ll be very disappointed if applications have been scaled back that met the criteria – because the Prime Minister did say, very clearly, that there would be more funding considered if the scale of the problem was bigger than the $4 million dollar fund.”

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

6 NEWS

RURAL ONLINE

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Go to www.ruralnewsgroup.co.nz Harry Clark says while reducing synthetic nitrogen fertiliser would lower emissions, the commission is unsure if the impact of this would mean whether farms would continue to be viable.

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CLAIMS BY Greenpeace that the Climate Change Commission ignored internal advice are not what they appear to be, says Climate Change Commissioner Harry Clark. Last month, Greenpeace claimed the Climate Change Commission had ignored internal advice from a supposedly hidden report entitled: ‘Eliminating synthetic nitrogen fertiliser on dairy farms.’ Greenpeace campaigner Christine Rose asked why the Commission was ignoring the report. “Why did it prioritise the maximum of milk production ahead of cutting greenhouse emissions – the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do,” Rose asked. “Who does it work for: New Zealand or Fonterra?” She claimed that when applied to land, synthetic nitrogen fertiliser emits more climate pollution than all of New Zealand’s pre-Covid domestic flights. However, the report is available to the public on the Climate Change Commission’s website.

It states that: “Reductions in synthetic nitrogen fertiliser can be part of the combination of management practices associated with reducing on-farm emissions. These also include adjustments to supplementary feed use and stocking rates, which are tightly coupled to fertiliser use.” This is similar to the advice provided to Parliament in its final report in June. This quotes a study from the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand, which modelled the potential impact eliminating synthetic nitrogen fertiliser from different farming systems. While the study claims eliminating synthetic nitrogen fertiliser would reduce emissions by between 10% and 31%, it would also require a reduction in stocking and therefore milk production. Climate Change Commissioner Harry Clark says the Commission agrees that drastically reducing synthetic nitrogen fertiliser would lower emissions. “But what we can’t be sure of is what the impact of this sort of sudden change would mean for

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people, and whether many farms would continue to be viable,” Clark told Rural News. He says that the agriculture sector, economy, and rural communities and households that would be impacted must be supported through these big changes. “We asked ourselves a series of questions when developing our advice. Is this ambitious enough? Is it fair and equitable? Is it technically and economically feasible? Can it be achieved through policy?” Clark says the Commission’s advice to government is that changes need to be made to the way New Zealanders farm. “We have made recommendations around changing farm practices – this could be changing stock levels, reducing supplementary feed and reducing synthetic nitrogen fertiliser. “Our advice sets an ambitious level of change across every sector – including agriculture. We will continue to look at synthetic nitrogen use in our 2022 advice on progress against pricing agricultural emissions, and in our subsequent budgets.”

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

NEWS 9

Countries race to join CPTTP PETER BURKE

CHINESE TAIPEI is the latest of three countries seeking to join the CPTTP – the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership. Others to recently announce their intentions to join are China and the UK. The CPTTP is a free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam which was signed by the 11 countries in March 2018. If the potential new entrants to CPTTP succeed with their applications, it has the potential to provide new trading opportunities and

Stephen Jacobi says the motivation of the three countries to join the CPTTP is a mixture of geopolitical and economic issues.

in particular reduce tariff barriers to NZ’s primary exports. Britain was first to announce its plans to apply for membership, and just few weeks ago

China proclaimed its intention to also apply for membership. NZ International Business Forum (NZIBF) executive director Stephen Jacobi says the motivation of the

three countries to join the CPTTP is a mixture of geopolitical and economic issues. “The UK is wanting to demonstrate firstly that there is light after Brexit and that it can play a role in the international sphere by presenting its free trade credentials,” he told Rural News. “Its bid to join CPTTP is quite a bold statement, which has a political message but is also economic and, although they are not part of the Asia Pacific region, they are nevertheless reasonably well positioned to join.” Jacobi says China is a little different and he wonders if it is partly about it trying to fill a vacuum left by the USA not joining – a move by China to demonstrate their leadership on trade. He says there is a

If the potential new entrants to CPTTP succeed with their applications, it has the potential to provide new trading opportunities. debate taking place about China’s motivation for applying for membership of CPTTP and while he doesn’t discount the political factors, Jacobi cannot believe they are just flying a kite. “But they may have difficulty when it comes to meeting some of the membership requirements of CPTTP, especially around the rules relating to digital trade, state owned enterprises, intellectual property and labour. If their bid is to be successful they will be required to make some

changes.” Jacobi says if China were to join, NZ should welcome the move because we are trying to find a way to engage with that country in a more positive way. From NZ’s perspective, China joining the CPTTP may help – especially in regard to dairy exports. When the NZ/China FTA was negotiated in 2008, China insisted on safeguard clauses being inserted, which means that once dairy exports to China reach a certain threshold, tariffs kick in.

The problem is these were set at a level which in 2008 looked good for NZ but are clearly out of date given the volume of NZ dairy exports to China today. These are due to expire in 2024. Chair of the Dairy Companies Association Malcolm Bailey says if China wanted to make quick progress to join the CPTTP, he’d like to see the issue of the safeguard clauses become part of that negotiation. “In principle, I am supportive of China’s approach. Every expansion of the global trade agenda is a good thing and there is a strong correlation to opening up trade and welfare of people worldwide,” Bailey told Rural News. @rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

10 NEWS

China’s milk boom bad news SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

MILK PRODUCTION in China is booming and this could be bad news for New Zealand farmers. With demand for some dairy products muted by forced closures of food outlets during the Covid pandemic, China’s growing milk supply means inventory is building. RaboResearch dairy analyst Emma Higgins says the overarching view is that milk supply is outpacing demand in China.

Higgins says, right now, NZ dairy exports to China remain at record levels and this is keeping the farmgate milk price strong. However, she believes things could change in the coming months. As a result, Rabobank has dropped its forecast farmgate price for this season by 20c to $7.80/ kgMS. Speaking at an online seminar hosted by the Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (SMASH) last week, Higgins said everyone was watching what happens in China

very closely. “We’re taking quite a bearish view,” says Higgins. “We have seen a very voracious appetite for our dairy products in China. This is wonderful and has been underpinning commodity prices and our farmgate prices.” But she says demand is muted mostly on the back of restaurant and food service closures brought about by Covid. Higgins noted that China’s largest restaurant company Yum China reported the closure of 500 stores in 17 provinces

at the height of the pandemic. The company expected recovery to be uneven. On the supply side, China’s milk production is soaring. According to Statista, in 2020 China had an output of around 34.4 million metric tons of cow’s milk – the highest volume in recent years. Chinese national milk production volume ranged between 30 and 34 million tons annually in the past decade. With muted demand, very strong exports from NZ and a growing

RaboResearch dairy analyst Emma Higgins says milk supply is outpacing demand in China.

domestic milk pool, the supply/demand balance was changing. Higgins

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“That’s why we have changed our milk price forecast – chopping 20c off.” Higgins believes China will be destocking and reducing its inventory in the coming six to eight months.

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says Rabobank thinks milk supply is outpacing demand in China. “And we think domestic milk production is also adding to the accumulation of inventory that we think is building,” she adds.

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DAIRY PRICES are holding because the global milk supply situation is a mixed bag, says Higgins. Only two of the top seven exporters – the US and Australia – expect milk production to rise this season, she says. New Zealand is looking at flat milk production this season mostly on the back of weather issues facing South Island farmers. Global demand remains resilient, mostly on the back of major food service markets like the US and the EU enjoying the final weeks of summer. While the demand side is looking good, supply is fairly mixed, she says. Higgins believes major disruption caused by Covid is now behind us. “Despite Covid still very much at play globally, we are seeing commodity prices start to rebound,” she says. The last two Global Dairy Trade auctions saw prices rise for most products; benchmark whole milk powder prices are near US$3,800/metric tonne and skim milk powder at US$3,300/MT. “That translates into some very favourable pricing conditions for NZ farmers,” she says.

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

NEWS 11

Will Aussies buy Fonterra? SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

A PLANNED public listing of Fonterra’s Australian business will attract investors, including dairy farmers, claims Freshagenda analyst Steve. However, he believes a buyout by another Australian dairy player looks unlikely due to competition issues. An ownership review of Fonterra Australia is underway as part of the co-operative’s new strategy to add value to its New Zealand milk. Fonterra says any option would need to consider the co-op retaining a significant stake in Australia. Options could include partnering with a strategic or financial investor. The ownership review should be completed by the end of this year but any change to the ownership structure is still 12 months away. Fonterra claims the Australian business is in a strong position, not only in earnings but also reputation with its customers and importantly its farmers. However, Spencer says investors will await the IPO documents to

see how the Australian business gets carved out of the group results. “There is not enough visibility to see that completely at this stage,” he told Rural News. “I think there will be investor appetite – depending on the pricing and performance that is laid out in an IPO. “There are few opportunities for public and institutional investment in the food sector and the growth, depth and diversity of dairy markets is a good story.” Spencer also expects Australian farmers, especially those who currently supply Fonterra, to be interested in buying shares. “I’m sure there will be some interest but that will be clarified by the company in its engagement.” But there will be few options for large players to take out this business without competition issues due to the crossover in product segments. Spencer says Lactalis could be a potential buyer if the business suits their global business model. “They don’t have competing opportunities in other markets – Saputo and Bega would

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change to the ownership structure builds on the partnership between Fonterra Australia and its farmer suppliers,” says Davenport. Fonterra is a market leader in Australia in butter and cheese with iconic brands like Western Star, Perfect Italiano and Bega.

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

12 NEWS

Crossing the border with ease PETER BURKE

SOUTH AUCKLAND dairy farmer Brian Gallagher says the system that allows him and his staff to cross the border from the

South Auckland dairy farmer Brian Gallagher says the system allowing him and his staff to cross the border from the Auckland region into the Waikato is working well.

Auckland region into the Waikato is working, is easy and seamless. Gallagher’s farms at Patumahoe, about 10 minutes north of Pukekohe, where he runs 400 cows on a 125

hectare milking platform with annual production of about 180,000 kg/MS. He needs to cross from the Auckland region into Waikato to get to his run-off blocks at Glen Murray and Mangatawhiri, where he grazes 300 heifers. For Gallagher, the crossing points are at Mangatawhiri and at the golf course at Onewhero, near Pukekawa. Normally, he crosses the border once a week to check on the heifers

to our place and she also has to produce ID.” Gallagher says the system in operation now is seamless and easy compared to the one last year, which was based at Bombay. He says he’s encountered no problems at all and at worst there have just been three of four vehicles in front of him at the checkpoints so waiting time has been minimal. In terms of the lockdown, he says it’s had little impact on

The advent of Covid-19 has changed the way Gallagher and other farmers operate.

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and says the process during Auckland’s level 4 lockdown has been easy. “My good wife did the technology to get the exemption papers and we got these literally overnight. We have also got the Covid tracer app on farm,” he says. Only Gallagher and his immediate family live on the farm – the rest of the staff live locally and commute daily to the farm. His system is unusual in that separate teams do the morning and afternoon milkings and are contract milkers. He was operating this system before the arrival of Covid but admits that now it works well in keeping staff safe because there are two distinct bubbles. “All staff carry the MIQ exemptions in their vehicles because they may need to cross the border. For example, if anyone is coming out of Waiuku at 5am and gets stopped, they have a copy of our exemption letter in their vehicle, which says exactly where they are allowed to go,” Gallagher told Rural News. “We have one staff member who milks at the weekend and she has to go through the border check to come to work. When the bar code on her exemption letter is scanned it clearly states that she can only come

his farming operations. Gallagher says his bulk deliveries come from Mt Maunganui and the people who deliver these are vaccinated, have the necessary exemptions and codes and are tested for Covid as required. “So, we’ve had no problem getting in feed and other supplies. We are pretty lucky as one of our supply merchants is based in Patumahoe and he can drop things off at the gate.” The advent of Covid19 has changed the way Gallagher and other farmers operate. His own family is fully vaccinated, as are most of his staff. He says the emphasis now is on keeping family and staff safe and well. “We have always been good at it this. But going through winter, we told our staff if they had any indication that they were slightly unwell, we didn’t want to see them on farm and recommended they get a Covid test,” he told Rural News. “We have made it very clear to our staff, if they don’t feel safe coming to work on farm for their own reasons, don’t come.” Gallagher admits he’s missed not being able to visit the local coffee shop during lockdown, but says on the brighter side, having a job in agriculture is a pretty good spot to be in.


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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

14 NEWS

Cruel April Fool’s joke! MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

IN AN ironic twist, the Government has pushed back the date of

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ACT Transport spokesman Simon Court described the bill as “virtue signalling nonsense” and said “it will see the Government, yet again, dip into Kiwis’ back pockets”. Court claims that while intended to lower NZ’s carbon emissions, the policy will fail to deliver. The Motor Industry Association (MIA) says the Bill is unrealistic. “By setting standards

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identified by the motor industry and users like farmers and tradies. Many in the vehicle sector also point out that Delta is actually the reason for increased production costs, monumental rises in shipping costs and long delays in product landing in New Zealand. News of the delay comes as the Land Transport (Clean Vehicle) Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament on September 21. This will smooth the way for the clean car standard, alternatively called the fuel economy standard, in addition to clean car discounts. The Bill passed its first reading by 77 votes to 43, supported by Labour, the Greens and Te Pati Maori, while opposed by National and the ACT Party. National’s spokesman for transport David Bennett has described the scheme as a “tax grab” that will hurt the hard working and vulnerable New Zealanders the hardest. “The Bill is just a pipe dream that has illusions how the market works.” Bennet says it adds many costs and details as yet unknown to the motor industry and users.

that are so steep over a short timeframe, distributors of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV’s) are the only ones ever likely to comply, while at the same time putting NZ out of step with comparable countries,” It says. The MIA further claims that the Government appears to have overlooked the fact that manufacturers do not produce models solely for the NZ market, which is relatively small in the case of global volumes. “Rather they manufacture for key markets like North America, Europe and Australia where volumes are much greater and emission standards less oppressive.” The industry estimates that the combined costs of fees and penalties, under the scheme, is likely to add between 15 and 20% to the cost of new vehicles. “This creates the likelihood that people will hang onto older vehicles for longer, suggesting that the Government doesn’t fully understand its own climate change policies, or is just trying to implement another sneaky revenue grab.”


RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

NEWS 15

Ice broken on an old problem Three enterprising Mackenzie College (Fairlie) students may well have come up with the perfect solution to an age-old problem of livestock accessing water from frozen troughs. David Anderson reports…. THE TRIO of high school inventors have developed the FrostEase Flexi Mat device, which is designed to stop water troughs from icing over – a real issue during winter in the Mackenzie Country and other parts of the country. Year-12 student Amy Hay, 16, and her Year-11 colleagues Hamish Ryall, 16, and Luke Jordan, 15 – as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) – have invented the device that is inserted into water troughs to prevent them from freezing over. All three students say they are keen to pursue careers in the agriculture/farming sectors. Hay says the idea for the device came after her father challenged her and

her teammates to come up with a way to stop water troughs freezing over as their YES project this year and it grew from there. The trio did some research and found there were no such products on the market – although they had seen electrical water heaters used by farmers in the United States to prevent freezing. However, they concluded that such a device would not be practical in NZ. “The FrostEase FlexiMat has been especially designed so that animals – cattle, deer and sheep – can push the mat down with their nose, allowing water to come up through the milk bottle lid-sized holes,” Hay told Rural News. “A

A LOT OF WORK! AMY HAY, Hamish Ryall and Luke Jordan are all are studying product design as an NCEA subject and signed up to the YES. The scheme involves coming up with ideas that can be turned into a business while completing five different challenges to get NCEA credits. The trio have a business mentor and say it is a lot of work – on top of their normal school lives. “I can really understand why not many 16-year-olds start a business,” Amy told Rural News. “However, the scheme has given us a lot of life skills, which we would not have experienced.”

number of prototypes are on several farms around the district being tested with different types of animals.” It is a circularshaped bladder, which is constructed out of layers of outdoor grade canvas and plastic welded together. The current prototype is a multilayered mat, made out of an industrial PVC canvas with a weldable bung that allows it to be filled with air. This is currently being made by local firm Kotuku Saddlery in Fairlie. However, the team believes if the product does become a commercial reality, they will then have to find a manufacturer with size and scale to produce the quantities that will be needed. “We would want this to be a local NZ company

as we really want the benefits to come to this country, rather than to somewhere overseas like China.” The product is already attracting attention, with one company expressing an interest in the device as soon as it’s completed. However, the trio believes it will need another season (winter) of testing and tweaking of the design before a final, commercial product is realistically available. While it’s too soon to know what the trough cover will retail for, the team hope it will be under $100 – which they believe is a reasonable cost for a product they expect will last 5-10 years. The trio say they have been surprised and delighted by the interest shown from farmers in their idea. They believe it would have benefits not

Hamish Ryall, Luke Jordan and Amy Hay with a prototype of their Flexi Mat FrostEase device, which is designed to stop water troughs from icing over during the winter.

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

16 AGRIBUSINESS

Fickle weather frustrates contractors Rural contractors say silage making is being impacted by weather in some parts of the country.

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RURAL CONTRACTORS in Southland say the wettest spring in 30 years is impacting on already short supplies of feed. In zone reports at a recent Rural Contractors NZ board meeting, Southland member Daryl Thompson said the constant rain in the deep south was frustrating and challenging. “It’s bloody wet down here and it just won’t stop raining,” the Invercargill-based contractor said. “Our back teeth are floating.” Thompson explained that grass was not getting away at a time when usually the first silage and baleage jobs were starting, with this impacting on an existing shortage of feed. Wanaka-based rural contractor Richard Woodhead added there was no spare feed in the Otago region. His area had experienced a wet winter before an early start to spring, which was now being set back by cold winds. He says the Taieri Plains were especially wet – as is the whole South Island – though the moisture would set things up well for when the sun arrived. “It’ll be a good spring when it does turn up,” Woodhead explained. Canterbury’s Martin Bruce said the region had also had a wet winter and spring – with enough rain to be a nuisance for cultivation and drilling. He added that it had also experienced damaging winds in inland areas bringing down trees and cutting power. Bruce said some silage was now being cut in coastal Canterbury and things were

now starting to pick up. He added that some dairy farmers are short of feed with most high-quality supplements in short supply. However, he believes the wet conditions would set up Canterbury good growth later in the spring, he said. Graham Greer, who operates out of Marton, says the North Island’s west coast had had a pretty mild winter and was looking alright for spring and summer. “The grass is just a bit slow at the moment.” But it was a different story in central Hawkes Bay, which he said while tinged with green had no moisture underneath it. Greer says rural contractors working in that region face a troubling time as drought conditions persisted. Wairarapa-based Clinton Carroll said the weather there had been rubbish and some good early spring conditions had given way to more rain, which was frustrating at a time when there was no shortage of work. He says some warm weather was needed for things to dry out and allow contractors to get cracking. RCNZ president Helen Slattery said it’d been a typically wet Waikato winter and a couple of warm spring days had seen a return of cold, wet weather. Some contractors had started doing baleage and maize-planting had started. Northland’s Ross Alexander says his region had been damp and some sileage was being attempted but the weather was not yet settled enough. “We’ll wait for October and some warmer weather.”

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MPI Update

Milestone for catchment group support The number of farmer-led catchment groups benefiting from Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) funding has passed a new milestone.

support five existing farmer-led catchment groups and enable up to 10 more to be established. “Local coordinators, at a catchment or sub catchment level, will be recruited from within each community and be responsible for the coordination of the catchment group,” said WaiP2K chair Gill Murray.

More than 170 groups nationwide are now receiving on-theground support to improve land management practices. “These catchment groups are providing support to more than 5,000 farmers, helping them access expertise and tools to improve their environmental and economic sustainability, and wellbeing,” said MPI’s deputy director-general of Agriculture and Investment Services, Karen Adair. In the past 18 months, almost $29 million has been invested in catchment groups through MPI’s Extension Services and Jobs for Nature programmes. A further $14.7 million has been allocated through the One Billion Trees programme and the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund. One of the groups to benefit from MPI funding is the Hurunui District Land Group (HDLG) in North Canterbury. It’s been allocated almost $4.4 million over three years.

“Workshops will cover mapping, stream health monitoring and predator control, and individual farm plans will be developed to feed into wider catchment plans.”

The Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance has been allocated $1.1 million over two years to support five existing farmer-led catchment groups and enable up to 10 more to be established. “The funding will see 100,000 native trees planted on sheep, beef and dairy farms across the district,” said HDLG project manager Josh Brown.

“To date, we’ve assisted farmers develop more than 90 Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) and are on track to deliver another 50 by the end of December,” Mr Brown said.

“We have employed three full-time catchment coordinators who are working with 230 farms in eight sub-catchment groups. We’re on track to be supporting 300 farms by mid-2022.”

“The plans are useful to lift farmers’ understanding of the environmental challenges and opportunities on their property.

A distinct part of the group’s work is providing one-on-one support to farmers.

“We’re also helping farmers to produce nutrient budgets, calculate their agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and under-

stand changing environmental regulations.” The number of catchment groups receiving support through MPI funding will continue to grow. In September, funding was announced to support farmer-led catchment groups in the Manawatū, Rangitīkei, and Wairarapa districts in the lower North Island. The Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance (WaiP2K) was allocated $1.1 million over two years to

BACKING INNOVATION IN BETTER BEEF AND ASPARAGUS

MPI’s Ms Adair said catchment groups were an effective way to support farmers to adapt to change. “Farmers’ hunger for knowledge from a trusted source is helping to drive the growth of catchment groups. Our investment includes funding for coordinators, which is the biggest and hardest cost for these groups to cover.” MPI is co-funding a conference organised by the NZ Landcare Trust in Wellington on 9-10 May 2022 (National Catchments Forum) that will highlight the achievements of catchment groups across the country.

MPI directorgeneral praises sector for its resilience

Sustainability and innovation are at the heart of two big investments by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund.

MPI director-general Ray Smith has thanked the food and fibre sector for its leadership and hard work during the most recent COVID-19 outbreak and alert level boundaries.

To boost sustainability in agriculture and support the 10-year Fit For a Better World roadmap, MPI is backing a genetics programme to lower the beef sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by delivering cows with a smaller environmental hoof-print.

“The primary sector has shown a strong commitment to keeping their staff and New Zealanders safe from COVID-19 while providing vital food and fibre for Kiwis and overseas consumers,” Mr Smith said.

Informing New Zealand Beef is a seven-year partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand that is expected to result in more efficient cows within the next 25 years. The programme is targeting a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of product produced.

MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund is contributing $6.68 million to the $16.7 million programme, which aims to create a genetics framework tailored to New Zealand conditions and a competitive advantage for NZ beef. Industry modelling shows introducing a beef genetics programme specific to New Zealand could increase profit by $460 million over a

25-year period. Boosting high-value exports of New Zealand asparagus is behind a $5 million project to develop a commercialscale autonomous robotic harvester. The SFF Futures fund will contribute $2.6 million. Robotics Plus Limited (RPL) will build on a prototype asparagus harvesting robot developed by Waikato University

researchers, and the New Zealand Asparagus Council will develop a marketing proposition for exporting the asparagus. Other likely benefits of autonomous harvesters include addressing a regular shortage of seasonal labour during the picking season, and raising New Zealand’s agritech development and sales.

“Throughout Alert Level 4 and the subsequent regional boundaries we have met regularly with the sector and stakeholders – to help them operate as normally and productively as possible, all while keeping themselves and their staff safe.” Mr Smith said he and MPI were proud to be working alongside industry partners and supporting initiatives that would continue to drive growth and prosperity for all New Zealanders.


RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

18 AGRIBUSINESS

Catchment group making good p Over the last two and a half years, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has worked on a project to improve the freshwater health catchment groups from across the country, with help from the Ministry for Environment’s (MfE) Freshwater Improvement Fund. One of these groups is the Thomson’s Creek Catchment Community Group in Central Otago. THOMSON’S CREEK is situated near Omakau in Central Otago and runs from nearby hills into the Manuherekia River. The Otago Regional Council identified Thomson Creek as having water quality issues due to historical goldmining activities in the area and current land use in the catchment. The Thomson Creek Catchment Group was set up in 2019 to primarily address the

freshwater health and water quality issues identified within the catchment. It was established by local dairy farmer, Hamish Stratford, who had recently moved from Canterbury. “We’re on the edge of the Thomson Creek catchment and we became aware that there were some slight environmental tweaks needed for the area, so together as a community

we worked to do something about it,” Stratford explains. “We came together at the golf clubrooms located in the catchment and set our values which focused on our love of water and the creek being the centre of our community. “We identified what we love about the catchment and what we wanted to improve. It took a couple of years to get to where we are

now, but we’re really pleased with the progress and look forward to the continuous improvement.” In late 2019, four consultants were employed with help from B+LNZ and funding from MfE to work with every farmer in the Thomson Creek catchment to create an individual Farm Environment Plan specific to each farm. The farm plans were used to help each farmer determine the appropriate actions to take on their farm to minimise and mitigate the risks of farming activities on waterways as well as run efficient farming businesses. Nicola McGrouther, one of the four consultants, became the catchment group facilitator working

The Thomson Creek Catchment Group was set up in 2019 to primarily address the freshwater health and water quality issues identified within the catchment.

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

AGRIBUSINESS 19

d progress on improving water alongside farmers to help them understand their stream health and improve the water quality. Prior to the establishment of the catchment group, farmers were already implementing some changes such as using efficient spray irrigation rather than inefficient flood irrigation to reduce sediment and nutrient run-off into the sluice channel and Thomson’s Creek. “Having a facilitator such as Nicola and consultants help construct Farm Environment Plans has meant farmers are able to identify issues and implement changes on their farm that impact the catchment. The formation of a steering group within

the catchment has also helped to drive progress,” says Tom Orchiston B+LNZ’s environment capability manager – South Island. One of the outcomes of the initial project was that the group is in phase one of another MfE funded project to continue to work with farmers to support them to improve freshwater health, build fish barriers to protect native galaxiids and investigate the development an active wetland. Funding from MfE under the Manuherekia Exemplar Catchment in conjunction with the Thomson Creek Catchment is being utilised for this project. “It’s great to see the group building on the success of the pilot project with their active

wetland initiative,” says MfE’s director of policy implementation Lorena Stephen. “I am proud that the ministry can continue to support this important mahi and help the catchment to achieve positive water quality outcomes.” The ultimate goal of the Thomson Creek Community Catchment Group, like many others, is maintain healthy, clean water in catchment waterways. Stratford says they would also like to get a few more people involved in the catchment including people from their township to build their understanding of what farmers are doing to improve their environment and have been doing for a long time.


RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

20 OPINION EDITORIAL

EDNA

Howling in the wind? GRASSROOTS FARMER protest group Groundswell has announced plans for another national protest on November 21. However, holding a second a mass protest feels like a major mistake. A quick look at the comments section underneath Groundswell’s Facebook page shows there is real risk of this second protest demeaning farmers’ genuine concerns and being high-jacked by fringe groups. Groundswell’s ‘Howl of a Protest’ – held in mid-July – was huge success. It was well received by the public and, surprisingly, given even-handed coverage by most media. The group’s effort in sending a strong message to both Government and industry leaders about the plethora of unworkable regulations being dumped on the sector had an impact. However, even then, critics – mainly urban liberals, government apparatchiks and ticket clippers on social media – tried to label it as just a bunch of malcontent, red-neck farmers whining about having to meet environmental standards. That sentiment will only gain more traction this time round. After the July 16 event, Rural News said: “The recent Groundswell NZ protest gained huge support from onlookers and the public. This was a massive turnout that was well supported, well managed and generally respectful (except for a couple of outliers). Fair-minded people saw a group of New Zealanders expressing their utter exasperation and legitimate complaints about the way their sector is being mistreated. That message has been delivered loud and clear.” However, we also warned about the risks of trying to repeat the idea… “There is now talk of another protest… let’s hope that is just talk. A soufflé does not rise twice, and Groundswell NZ needs to ensure the goodwill and support of the country has for farmers isn’t lost by overdoing the protest thing.” The goodwill from the Howl protest is very likely to be undone with the so-called ‘Mother of all Protests’, with any media focus not on diligent farmers with valid concerns, but on those pushing everything from anti-vax theories to ‘global reset’ conspiracy nonsense. Groundswell should take its own advice for now and say “enough is enough” – with its ‘Mother of all Protests’ seriously at risk of becoming the ‘Mother of all Disasters’!

RURALNEWS TO ALL FARMERS, FOR ALL FARMERS

HEAD OFFICE POSTAL ADDRESS: PO Box 331100, Takapuna, Auckland 0740 Phone 09-307 0399 PUBLISHER: Brian Hight ......................................... Ph 09 307 0399 GENERAL MANAGER: Adam Fricker ....................................... Ph 021-842 226 CONSULTING EDITOR: David Anderson .................................. Ph 09 307 0399 davida@ruralnews.co.nz

“It must be an ambulance for injured gang members!”

Want to share your opinion or gossip with the Hound? Send your emails to: hound@ruralnews.co.nz

THE HOUND About time!

Too much sizzle?

Milking it?

Lock him up!

THE HOUND, like many in the agriculture sector, is worried about the growing increase of good farmland being lost to trees – especially carbon sinks – and the negative impact this is having on rural communities. So he welcomes news that Tararua mayor Tracey Collis and Wairoa mayor Craig Little have called on fellow rural provincial councils to contribute to a collaborative study looking at the impacts of forestry on rural communities. It aims to look at the impact of forestry on the four wellbeings – social, cultural, economic and environmental; the effects of forestry on soil and water quality; damage caused to roading; fire risk; and the future of carbon farming. Predictably, this has upset the forestry industry who claim the study is “anti-forestry”. Perhaps the tree barons should put a hold the crocodile tears until they see exactly what this study finds.

A MATE of yours truly asks if the financial pickle that milk company Synlait currently finds itself in is a case of the people supposed to be in charge of the company taking their eye off the ball. The majority Chinese-owned dairy company – once the darling of financial markets – now has analysts saying it will take several years to recover after posting its recent financial loss. John Penno was parachuted in as chief executive again, but his so-called Midas touch appears to have disappeared, with the company now selling assets and culling staff. This old mutt’s sources say while Penno appears to be good at selling the sizzle, there was never much sausage behind this and that is now coming home to roost. They are also questioning the time Penno spent last year spruiking the Government’s hugely unpopular new freshwater regulations when things at Synlait were turning pear-shaped.

YOUR CANINE crusader understands members of the ‘strategic groups’ involved in the Government-backed ‘Fit for a Better World’ programme – grandiosely labelled as: “a roadmap to accelerate the transformation of the food and fibre sector over the next 10 years” are on a pretty good wicket for not doing much. They have been paid more than $77,000 in fees during the past year. These strategic groups include the Food and Fibre Partnership Group and of course two obligatory Maori-focused bodies, The Maori Primary Sector Forum and Te Puna Whakaaronui. All three groups – which includes several high level public servants, industry sector leaders and also share many of the same members (look them up). The three groups have met, since Sept last year, in total about ten times for tea and scones. Nice work, if you can get it!

THIS OLD mutt notes that Geoff Reid, an ‘environmental activist’ – whose activism appears to be limited to surreptitiously creeping around farms in Southland taking photos on the dime of Greenpeace, recently published more of his creepy farm shots. However, it appears the latest photos were taken in early September – when Auckland and the rest of the country were in lockdown. This begs the question: Did Reid – and his financial backers – deliberately break lockdown 4 rules by helping him sneak out of Covid-infested Auckland to take (photo-shopped?) snaps in Southland? Surely leaving Auckland to take dodgy photos for Facebook hardly qualifies as ‘essential work’? Have either the police and/or health officials contacted Reid and his backers to ask some hard questions about his movements during lockdown?

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Rural News is published by Rural News Group Ltd. All editorial copy and photographs are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without prior written permission of the publisher. Opinions or comments expressed within this publication are not necessarily those of staff, management or directors of Rural News Group Ltd.


RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

OPINION 21

The ETS is not fit for purpose! GWYN JONES

TWO AND a half years on from the beginning of 50 Shades of Green and finally New Zealand is waking up to the pending disaster of landscapes covered in exotic pine. Keith Woodford frames it nicely when he says we better understand the ETS, because at current prices of $60/tonne it is enough to change land use right across NZ. The irony of the exchange; export earning sheep and beef industries contributing about $10b in total each year for Carbon Trading contributing zilch in foreign exchange. The reality is, there is a growing acceptance, except by Government, that the ETS needs to be amended. If you want to destroy the regions, allowing the ETS to operate unrestrained as it is, is the fastest way to do that. The effect of carbon farming in the Tairawhiti/Gisborne region is the latest report. This is well worth people reading to see for themselves the facts of the risks and pressure carbon will inevitably have on rural communities. It highlights the need for the ETS to be amended Our view is that we need limits on offsets and finding other ways to manage climate change where environmental considerations on biodiversity, fire risk and communities are not wholly trumped by climate change objectives. It includes the Government counting what can be counted, and urgently funding research around Native Sequestration focusing on natives within farms. NIWA’s preliminary research indicates the sequestration rates of natives is higher than originally thought.   Accelerating this research would further tip the environmental balance towards mitigating the damage of mass pine plantations. It makes no sense to give advantage to one sector (forestry) over another with the inevitable cannibalisation of the export earning sheep and beef sector. An estimated 700,000 stock units are already out of the supply chain in the conversion of hill country to forestry. This should send a warning shot to policy makers and politicians to kiss goodbye the contribution the industry contributes to our economy. How many New Zealanders understand the impact of that loss of income from the sector that helps funds hospitals, schools, roading and much more? • Gwyn Jones is the media relations officer for 50 Shades of Green. info@50shadesofgreen.co.nz

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

22 OPINION

Simplistic water rules not useable WHAT IS simple is always wrong. What is not is unusable. French philosopher and poet Paul Valery wrote those sentences in 1942. We should remember the words in our struggles to find a way forward for agriculture. Around New Zealand the regional and local authorities are dealing with the National Policy Statements, particularly those for freshwater. The goal is to find an indicator of water quality and apply a regulation. It is not an easy task. Soil scientist Emeritus Professor Ian Cornforth, Lincoln University, worked on indicators in the 1990s. He concluded that they need to be sensitive, respond predictably to a change in management and influence the area of

concern in a predictable way (either through a functional relationship or through threshold values). Indicators also need to correlate well with ecosystem processes and be scientifically valid. Correlations are great. The relationship indicates that as one factor changes, so does another. Statistics helps establish validity. The nearer the correlation to 1, the better the cause and effect and predictability. Below 1 the predictability decreases. At 0.5 only 50% of the variability is being accounted for by the factor being examined. Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has been trying to explain these difficulties. In ‘Initial Economic Advisory Report on the Essential Freshwater Package, released in July

COMMENT

Jacqueline Rowarth 2019, its authors stated: “Not only is there little evidence of a causal link, there’s little evidence of a strong correlation between nutrients and the Macroinvertebrate Community Index (MCI). Other factors may be more important in determinants of environmental quality.” Australian and New Zealand researchers quantified the problem this year. Their paper ‘Nutrient criteria

to achieve New Zealand’s riverine macroinvertebrate targets’ derives criteria “to support national aspiration in improving water quality”. However, the relationships explain very little (0.11 for Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN) and 0.10 for Dissolved Reactive Phosphate (DRP)) of the change in MCI. Periphyton (algae) mass is another example. Various reports have failed to produce a convincing relationship between DIN and algal growth. Some have shown that the nature of the river bottom (stony or soft) and magnitude of flow (fast or slow) have greater effect than nutrient concentration. The problem with sorting out cause and effect is that many of

these factors are intertwined – rivers near the source tend to be fast, have stony bottoms and low nutrient concentration. They pick up sediment and nutrients as they flow. Nearer the sea on flatter land, they slow down, and sediment drops, clothing the bottom. In between, different forms of life are supported and the MCI has been modelled as excellent or good for 78% of New Zealand’s total river length (https://www. stats.govt.nz/indicators/ river-water-qualitymacroinvertebratecommunity-index). Less than 1% of total river length had a poor MCI score in the 2020 report. Around 70% of the river length flowing through the native land cover class had an excellent MCI score. Less

than 1% flowing through the urban land cover class (land with urban cover exceeding 15% of the catchment) scored ‘excellent’. Human activities including urban development and agriculture have affected water quality globally. Trying to find a simple solution will not achieve what is necessary and a complex solution will be unusable. Worse, the implications of implementation will be a negative effect on the economy with no guarantees in improvements in water quality. LGNZ has said this: “Since cost-effectiveness is a necessary condition for efficiency, the choice of DIN and Dissolved Reactive Phosphate as policy targets would

be expected to fail the efficiency test for policy if nutrient reducing actions are not cost effective.” Treasury has estimated that achieving nitrogen load reductions driven by the lake nitrogen and periphyton attributes in the existing national policy statement for freshwater management would cost $394 million per annum by 2050. That is a lot of money to forgo with no certainty that doing what is suggested will have any effect at all on water quality. Clearly, more research is necessary. • Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Adjunct Professor Lincoln University, is a farmerelected director of DairyNZ and Ravensdown. The analysis and conclusions above are her own. jsrowarth@gmail.com

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

OPINION 23

Good news stirs the emotions A MATE from Aussie sent me a great story that had been in the press, again, over the ditch recently. So with times being what they are, and ‘news’ being what it is at the moment, I thought I would pass it along. As this is a rural newspaper, I thought it fitting. Let it inspire you, as it has me. How could it ever be possible for an unknown 9-year-old farm boy to capture the attention of his nation, and bring that nation to its feet? The Great Depression years in the 1930s were truly desperate times. Over in Aussie, like it was here I guess, unemployment was rampant. Rural roads were filled with broken men walking from farmhouse to farmhouse, desperate for any menial job and something to eat. On the outskirts of the South Gippsland town of Leongatha, decorated WW1 hero Captain Leo Tennyson Gwyther – who had recovered somewhat from his war injuries – lay in a hospital bed with a broken leg. So his 9-yearold son Lennie stepped up, and with the help of his pony Ginger Mick, ploughed the family farm’s 24 paddocks and kept the farm running. How to repay him, his parents wondered? Lennie had been avidly following one of the biggest engineering feats of the time – the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. With Dad back on his feet, Lennie wanted to attend the bridge’s opening. Reluctantly, his parents agreed he could go. This 9-year-old planned his own trip, packed a few things into a sack, saddled up Ginger Mick and set out on the 1,000-plus km trek to Sydney – alone! This was all before cellphones, social media and GPS. Hmmm, a different era for sure! But the word still got out. Pretty much the entire population of small country towns gathered to welcome him as he rode through. He survived a

shed tears. He finally arrived back home to a tumultuous welcome – a crowd of 800 gathered. Today you can find a bronze

FARMER’S CHAPLAIN

Colin Miller

bushfire, heavy rain and fogs, cold biting winds, and even being attacked by a deranged tramp! When Lennie reached Canberra, he was welcomed by Prime Minister Joseph Lyons. When he finally reached Sydney, more than 10,000 people turned out to welcome him. Autograph hunters wanted his signature and he got to be a key part of the bridge’s opening ceremony. Lennie and Ginger Mick made a starring appearance at the Sydney Royal Show. Even Australia’s biggest celebrity of the time, Sir Donald Bradman, requested a meeting and gave Lennie a signed cricket bat! A letter writer to the Sydney Morning Herald noted that: “just such an example as provided by a child of nine summers, Lennie Gwyther was, and is, needed to raise the spirit of our people and to fire our youth and others to do things – not to talk only.” Author of a book about Lennie’s incredible journey, Stephanie Owen Reeder, said a similar thing: “It was the middle of the Depression. People were looking for good news stories, so it captured the public imagination.” When Lennie saddled up Ginger Mick and left for home a month later, he had become one of the most famous figures in a country desperately needing a lift in spirit. And he had provided exactly that for so many! Large crowds waved handkerchiefs and shouted “goodbyes”. Many even

stature in Leongatha, commemorating this 9-year-old boy and his pony. A good news story. Now where have I heard that before? The

Christmas story, that’s where! Take care & God bless. • To contact Colin Millar email: farmerschaplain@ ruralnews.co.nz

A statute of Lennie Gwyther and Ginger Mick in the South Gippsland town of Leongatha, Victoria, Australia.

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

24 MANAGEMENT

Paddock selection key step WINTERING PRACTICES have changed on Robert Young’s Southland farm over the past 10 years. A continual process of fine-tuning the management of their winter forage crops to protect their soil and water resources is paying dividends, with less mud, reduced run-off and content livestock. Young and his family farm a 970ha rolling to steep sheep, beef and dairy support property near Gore. Winter forage crops,

namely fodder beet and swedes, are an important part of their farm system; both as part of their pasture renewal programme and to grow a bulk of quality feed for sheep and cattle over the depths of winter. Young says runout pasture is the first consideration when selecting paddocks for winter crops. Most of the crops are sown into ex-grass paddocks and very few paddocks are double-cropped. If they are, the second-year crop will only be grazed

by sheep to protect soil structure. Slope and soil types are the next factors to be taken into account. Young says slope restrictions will rule out a small percentage of their land, but most of their country is suitable if soil structure allows. The majority of soils on the farm are rocky and free-draining, but they do have pockets of clay which can get wetter over winter. He will avoid cropping the clay soils, but if they do plant crops into them, they will only

be grazed by sheep or young cattle. After soils, Young looks at factors such as creeks, gullies, critical source areas and shelter and these, coupled with soil type, will determine how the paddock will be cultivated, how it will be grazed and by what class of livestock. This includes planning buffer zones or set-backs and grass strips – the latter are particularly valuable when transitioning cattle onto fodder beet crops. Young says while

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A continual process of fine-tuning the management of winter forage crops to protect their soil and water resources is paying dividends.

fencing off gullies and critical source areas has created some extra work. However, he believes this has been worthwhile and has significantly reduced the amount of mud in the paddocks. The creeks are also cleaner and clearer

over winter. One of the big changes they have adopted this year is a Winter Grazing Plan. While they put one together at the start of winter, Young says they will do that plan in September, before they

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

MANAGEMENT 25

Taking NZ sheep milk to the world SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

THE NEWLY-APPOINTED chair of sheep milk pioneer Maui Food Group says the company is embarking on a new stage of diversification and growth. Patrick English says new products and new export markets are being developed. Over time Maui hopes to help develop NZ’s sheep milk sector into a global trade. “I’m encouraged by the potential of the NZ sheep milking sector,” English told Rural News. “We’re starting from a small base, but our plan is building on the New Zealand heritage around bovine into the ovine sector.” English, a former NZ Trade Commissioner and Consul General in Southern China, was appointed Maui chair after a change in its ownership structure.

Maui Milk Ltd, currently supplied sheep milk by 14 farms, was formed six years ago as a joint venture between Shanghai-based Super Organic Dairy and Maori farming trust Waituhi Kuratau (WKT). However, with WKT unable to fund the growth phase of Maui, Super Organic Dairy bought out all its shares and brought all elements of the business under one entity – Maui Food Group Ltd. English says WKT’s departure was amicable and they are exploring the possibility of the Maori business supplying sheep milk to Maui. He says while Maui Food Group is now fully Chinese-owned, it remains a 100% NZ business with NZ sheep genetics. Previously Maui Milk’s genetics business, the milk production and processing business and the marketing arm were held in separate legal entities. Natalie Dang will lead Maui Food Group as managing director and

shareholder representative, while Maui Milk chief executive Leah Davey remains in her position. Davey says the new corporate grouping provides both the resources and the structure the business needs to build independent milk supply while diversifying products and export markets. “Independent suppliers will produce the milk using our genetics, while our team focuses greater resource on the opposite end of the value chain – opening up new markets and securing new customers,” she says.   “Maui Milk only needs one farm of our own to provide the base for our genetics programme, which is all about breeding dairy ewes for New Zealand conditions.  “We’ve already experienced great results with our Southern Cross breed, and the first wave of third-party farm conversions has demonstrated what our ewes are capable of.”

Maui Milk chief executive Leah Davey.

Davey adds that Maui Milk has been overwhelmed with enquiries from potential farmer suppliers, creating the need for a careful balance between supply and demand.   The company’s supply arrangements with dairy giant Danone remain unchanged, and Davey explains a key part of the company’s strategy is to diversify its products range and markets. She says customers continue to desire its brand based on the propositions of its milk coming from grass fed animals, delivering premium nutrition and being sustainability

managed. She says New Zealand provenance also continues to hold huge value. “Maui Milk’s strategy is reflected in our new structure and new staff positions we’ve created in marketing, supplier support, sales and supply chain management. “We’re delighted with the calibre of our new team members who bring experience working with major international food brands including Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Oceania Dairy and Danone,” says Davey. @rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

26 ANIMAL HEALTH New Johne’s test based on Covid technology

LIC lab technician analysing a farm effluent sample which is tested for bacteria responsible for causing Johne’s disease in cows.

THE SAME technology used to detect Covid-19 in wastewater is now being used to help dairy farmers manage Johne’s disease in their herd. Johne’s disease is a contagious infection estimated to cost New Zealand more than $40

million in lost production each year. It is caused by a bacterium which infects the gut of dairy cows and other ruminant animals. Common side effects include lower milk production, difficulty reproducing and rapid

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weight loss. Herd improvement co-operative LIC has developed a new test which detects whether the bacteria responsible for Johne’s disease is present in a farm’s effluent wastewater. The test is a New Zealand-first for farmers, to help them detect the disease and prevent the spread of it on their farm, protecting the health and wellbeing of their animals. LIC chief scientist Richard Spelman says, similar to Covid-19 wastewater testing, this test is a surveillance measure. “We developed this test because Johne’s disease is common in dairy cows but it can be difficult to detect. Infected animals often don’t show physical symptoms of the disease, meanwhile their milk production can drop and they spread the infection to others,” he explains. Spelman says the new test provides famers with a cost-effective way to screen their herd for Johne’s disease and to use this information to determine whether individual animal testing is required. “It’s important that farmers have a range of tools available to help them produce the most sustainable, productive and efficient animals, and this new effluent test is another tool they can add

to their toolbox.” The test comprises of four samples taken from different areas of the farm’s effluent system. Similar to Covid19 testing, where RNA is extracted from wastewater sites and analysed by PCR (polymerase chain reaction), the LIC test extracts DNA from the effluent samples, which are analysed by scientists using the same type of PCR test. Each effluent sample receives a ‘detected’ or ‘not detected’ result. “If Johne’s disease bacteria is detected in a sample, we encourage farmers to get each of their cows tested using blood or herd test milk samples to identify carriers of the disease,” Spelman explains. If there is no sign of the bacteria on-farm in the initial effluent test, LIC’s research shows the herd is likely to either be currently disease free, or low in disease prevalence. Annual testing is recommended so farmers can identify if or when animals start shedding Johne’s bacteria into the effluent system. Spelman says now is an optimal time for most farmers to consider using the effluent test. “For spring calving farmers, it’s best to test from September to December to help ensure the entire herd is captured in the effluent samples.”

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

ANIMAL HEALTH 27

Fighting antibiotic resistance A BIOLOGICAL product called Amplimune is helping with the worldwide fight against antibiotic resistance in livestock. Antibiotic resistance is an everincreasing problem, according to the World Health Organization. It occurs when micro-organisms change after exposure to antibiotics, becoming “superbugs” that no longer respond to traditional treatments. This can result in prolonged illness, disability and death in animals and people. Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. However, the misuse and overuse of antibiotics is accelerating this process. Agilis Vet Ltd is distributing Amplimune in New Zealand. It is a New Zealand veterinarian-owned company, supplying and marketing animal health products to veterinary clinics throughout New Zealand. Amplimune, a prescriptiononly product sold in the United States and Canada, was approved for sale by ACVM registration last September. The product should be given to calves in a single treatment at four days old and it’s approved for use on organic farms, where antibiotics are forbidden.

“We’re introducing more preventative drugs, trying to keep the cows healthy so you don’t have to use antibiotics or other treatments,” Agilis general manager Ben Lee says. “That’s a win for the farmer because a healthy animal is nicer to manage, it’s nicer for the animal and it’s more profitable. As an example, if we can avoid an animal having mastitis then we don’t get the losses associated with mastitis.” Lee says if farmers want to farm more naturally, they can look at products which are organically registered.

“And one of the good things we’re finding with all the biologicals is that they don’t leave any residue in the meat or the milk, so animals can be slaughtered or milk straight after usage.” Lee reckons Agilis is finding a strong pastoral niche in New Zealand, where farming is mostly based around seasonal production. “We follow the grass growth so all our calves are born in six weeks, whereas on an American farm they’re born over 52 weeks because it’s yearround production,” he explains. “In

HOW IT WORKS AMPLIMUNE IS a potent immunomodulator that is an emulsion of mycobacterium cell wall fractions (MCWF). When injected into the animal, it enhances both innate and adaptive immune responses to fight bacterial infections without the use of antibiotics. The product has previously received regulatory approval in the U.S.A., Canada, and the United Arab Emirates. Amplimune is OMRI listed in the U.S.A. and Canada for use in organic production. Antibiotic resistance occurs when micro-organisms change after exposure to antibiotics, becoming “superbugs” that no longer respond to traditional treatments. This can result in prolonged illness, disability, and death. Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. However, the misuse and overuse of antibiotics (in both animals and people) is accelerating this process.

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Calves should be given a single treatment at four days old and the product’s approved for use on organic farms.

New Zealand we might have 100 calves together, where disease can spread. Because our animals are outside, with less biosecurity, there’s a greater need to have strong immunity in our animals.” Lee says the immune-stimulants distributed by Agilis are complementary to other products, such as vaccines for particular diseases. “An animal can still get sick and will still need antibiotics and drenches and the like. A calf has no immune system when it’s born –a so it needs to get gold colostrum from its mother to develop that immune system over the next few weeks,” he explains. “This is not a silver bullet, but it supports that calf immune system.” He adds that every calf in the coun-

try would have a naturally-strong immune system if it was fed the best colostrum available, but animal immune systems also weaken under stress, just like in people. “And it’s those occasions when you need to augment your immune system.” Lee says Amplimune reduces the clinical signs and mortality associated with E. coli K99 diarrhea in neonatal calves. The product is an emulsion of mycobacterium cell wall fractions (MCWF) that enhances innate immunity to fight bacterial infections without the use of antibiotics. The Government has approved Amplimune for intravenous administration with zero days’ withdrawal for slaughter.

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

28 MACHINERY & PRODUCTS

Major change ahead for NZ tractor market MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

IN A move that is expected to have a significant impact in the New Zealand farm machinery supply sector, CNH is taking over importing and the distribution of its Case IH and New Holland tractor brands. Following the route favoured by other multinationals, CNH has reached agreement with CB Norwood Distributors (trading as Norwood) to relinquish its distributor status following a transition period. The change will come into effect in July 2022, ending a period of 17 years where Norwood has acted as the importer/distributor for Case and New Holland. CNH Industrial Agriculture Australia and New Zealand managing director Brandon Stannett says both companies recognised the benefits of the change. “CNH Industrial and Norwood see this as an opportunity to drive efficiencies in the supply chain and for both companies to focus more on our respective roles in that process,” he claims. “This change draws us closer to the dealer network and of course, to customers.” Stannett says the changes will speed up the time it takes to get product to market, with machines moving direct from the factory to the dealer. On the support front, he says there will be day-to-day parts support from local dealers, an expanded parts supply held in key locations throughout NZ and back up support from Australia. On the product front, Stannett

CNH Industrial Agriculture Australia and New Zealand managing director Brandon Stannett.

adds that there will be appointments made in key areas such as sales, service, parts, product management and communications – with business hubs likely to be established in places like Hamilton and Christchurch. “Norwood is viewing the shift very positively. This change reflects a global trend in how OEM businesses take their products to market,” says Tim Myers, chief executive of C B Norwood Distributors Ltd.

“We will be able to focus on bestin-class customer experiences, using our network approach to allow us to leverage our reach and scale to better serve customers. As well as selling and servicing world-class agricultural machinery, we’re better positioned to front foot the changes in farming with technology-led products and services, so we can be genuine partners that support farmers, in what are frankly uncertain times.”

Myers says Norwood’s retail footprint will remain unchanged. During the transition, both parties say these behind-the-scenes changes will have no impact on operations. Norwood’s sales, parts, service and warranty support for New Holland and Case IH tractors, harvesters and equipment will continue as normal. For suppliers of the Case IH and New Holland network, which are independently owned, existing

agreements and processes for dealerships will remain unchanged during the transition process. CNH Industrial says it continue to work closely with these dealerships. “It’s our intention for a seamless transition with a renewed emphasis for our customers on delivery efficiencies, service, capital, parts supply and support.” @rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

MACHINERY & PRODUCTS 29

Keeping stock and drivers safe MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

LIVESTOCK HAULERS are a crucial link in the New Zealand agriculture supply chain, transporting stock onto or between farms, to livestock markets and processing plants. Throughout their day, stock truck drivers are exposed to the obvious risks of getting injured by the animals, particularly in yards or races. They are also exposed to risks as they move around the livestock crate on the truck. In many cases, drivers must traverse a walkway on the top of the crate to move cattle between pens, and at over 4 metres off the ground, they are exposed to substantial risk. Add in wind, rain and a vehicle being rocked by

Cratesafe’s dual purpose protective screen system protects drivers from falling over the edge of the crate, while also serving as a cover net for livestock.

agitated cattle and the danger is clear. Conventional crate designs are open topped, increasing the risk of animal escapes or animals hitting overhead structures. While there is now a mandatory requirement to use cover

nets, they don’t always work and rely on drivers wanting to use them. Hastings-based Landquip, working with an idea suggested by a stock truck owner and developed by a stock truck driver, manufactures Cratesafe. This is a

modular, dual purpose protective screen system that protects drivers from falling over the edge of the crate, while also serving as a cover net for livestock. Tested and modified over a six-month period, Cratesafe is built locally –

using NZ-sourced, quality materials. It also meets handrail and ladder code AS/NZS1170, while the hybrid design – using high strength fiberglass extrusions along with stainless steel – offers strength, flexibility and low weight.

With minimal moving parts, reducing the risk of malfunction, the units are maintenance-free and close in a downward motion making it easier and faster to close on a full stock crate. The operator can engage/ disengage the screens

from inside the crate – if it is safe to do so. The lightweight, composite design means weight is kept to a minimum. Meanwhile, the modular design means the kit is suitable for fitting to any of the standard crate sizes built in NZ. Installing kits will typically take two people around 2.5 hours per crate. The use of composite materials makes the units non-conductive, so reduces the electrocution risk when maneuvering under electrical cables in yards. The safety screens are easily visible to the operator from the truck cab or ground level if left open, meaning the vehicle will be over-height – so need to be closed to travel legally and keep stock safe. www.landquip.co.nz


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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

30 MACHINERY & PRODUCTS / RURAL TRADER LASER FF95

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MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

AS TRACTORS get larger and front linkage kits become more common, many have started fitting underrun or collision protection systems. In Europe, it is expected that these bumper systems will become mandatory in the not-toodistant future. With a wide range of systems available, most are hung on the tractor’s front linkage in the form of concrete or steel structures. However, because of the distance they are ahead of the tractor and

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their integral strength, these contribute little to underun protection. Agribumper is a patented system that differs from most others because it still allows the use the front linkage – regardless of the weight up to 2 tons. It achieves this by taking up a mounting position behind and under the lower links of the front lift system, offering a variety of base and wing weights. The Dutch company behind the product has also recently introduced its new frontweight/ storage box combination – dubbed the TB ‘Toolbox-Line’ – to meet

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user demand for more storage space. It offers a lockable storage chest with 145 litres capacity, with the system able adjustable between 2.2 and 2.6 metres. It is also equipped with LED daytime running lights, indicators and extremity markers. A large foldout lid can be used as a workbench, or even as a picnic table if the sun is shining. The system is offered in FH and BL versions; the former has a basic weight of 400kg. It can be increased with 200kg of toolbox weights to 600kg, or 300kg of bottom weights to 700kg. The

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RURAL NEWS // OCTOBER 5, 2021

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Profile for Rural News Group

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