Rural News 14 December 2021

Page 1




What’s the Govt’s beef with live exports? PAGE 14

New Pumas on the prowl in 2022. PAGE 24

Mapping hill country management PAGE 21


Your move Minister! SUDESH KISSUN

FONTERRA CHAIRMAN Peter McBride was immediately on the phone to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor after the result of last week’s capital structure vote. With Fonterra farmers voting overwhelmingly to support a new flexible shareholding structure, the co-operative now needs O’Connor’s support to facilitate regulatory changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). O’Connor had earlier expressed reservations with the proposal. But McBride told Rural News that O’Connor was pleased with the positive outcome and the strong farmer support. The proposal received 85.16% support among farmer shareholders. Turnout was 82.65%. “The review process we conducted and the turnout was pretty important to the Minister,” says McBride. “The strong mandate from farmers also helps.’’ McBride says the co-operative will now work with Ministry for Primary Industries and O’Connor’s office to help prepare documents for Cabinet. A select committee hearing may also be on the cards. Fonterra Co-operative Council chairman James Barron says farmers have clearly spoken. “Farmers also know that Minister O’Connor has previously lent his support to farmer-owned co-operatives,” he told Rural News.

Fonterra chair Peter McBride has already been on the phone to Damien O’Connor in wake of the strong outcome of the farmer vote.

The consultation process started in May and more than 5000 farmers either made online submissions or gave feedback at meetings. McBride says he is chuffed with the result. “It doesn’t get any better than this, does it.” He says he is a bit worn out after several months of farmer meetings, but enjoyed getting to meet many shareholders. The new flexible capital structure

would reduce the number of shares farmers need to hold to join the cooperative from one share per kgMS to one share per 3kgMS. It would also allow different types of farmers to hold shares in the company, and cap the size of the associated shareholders’ fund to 10% of all shares on issue. The changes were aimed at securing Fonterra’s financial future and retaining farmers, amid the prospects of falling milk supply and competi-

tion from other milk processors that do not require capital investment from farmers. McBride admits he wasn’t very confident at the start of the process. “But as we clearly articulated our position on the 10-year plan and made changes to the proposal based on feedback, I grew more confident. “Six weeks ago, I started feeling pretty confident but you are not sure until the voting results come out.” Barron says a huge amount of work

has gone into the consultation process with farmers. “Farmers are facing other challenges at the moment and this was another challenge on top of those,” he says. “But this was highly important to farmer shareholders and they engaged and provided high feedback to us.” Barron says the work on capital structure doesn’t stop here. “There’s a big job ahead to get the regulatory approval needed.” Bike prices and voucher amounts include GST. *CRF50F $200 voucher, CRF110F $250 voucher, CRF125F & FB $300 voucher. Offer available while stocks last and until 24th December 2021. Honda Santa Dollars voucher must be redeemed before 31st March 2022. Voucher is only redeemable at authorised Honda Motorbike dealers. Voucher not transferable and not redeemable for cash. One T-shirt per bike purchased, while stocks last.





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Nats boost ag line-up PETER BURKE

NEWS ��������������������������������������1-14 HOUND, EDNA ����������������������� 16 CONTACTS ������������������������������ 16 OPINION �����������������������������16-18 AGRIBUSINESS ���������������������� 19 MANAGEMENT ��������������� 20-21

THE NATIONAL Party’s new leader Chris Luxon seems to have placed a bigger emphasis on agriculture with his new shadow cabinet line-up. Main spokeswoman Barbara Kuriger has hung onto the agriculture post she got during the Judith Collins era. However, she is now ranked four places higher at number 10 in the line-up and now sits on the front bench. Meanwhile, Luxon has given seven other members of the National caucus

responsibilities for various areas of the primary sector. Waikato MP Tim van der Molden, a former Young Farmer of the Year winner, has been given an associate role and the horticulture portfolio. Southland MP Joseph Mooney is another associate agriculture spokesman, as is Selwyn MP Nicola Grigg – who also picks up both the rural communities and animal welfare roles. In addition, Stuart Smith picks up viticulture and Ian McKelvie, forestry. Meanwhile, Todd McClay retains trade and export growth, Todd Muller gets oceans and fisheries and Scott

National agriculture spokeswoman Barbara Kuriger jumps to number 10 in the party line-up and on the frontbench.

Simpson gets environment and climate change; all three have close links to the primary sector. The Labour Government currently has Damien O’Connor as Agriculture and Export Trade and Growth Minister, with one assistant – Meka Whaitiri as associate agriculture with responsibility for animal welfare. It has also split out Forestry to Stuart Nash and the Environment and Fisheries to David Parker. The Government has two associates, who are outside Cabinet, for Trade and Export Growth – Phil Twyford and Rino Tirikatene.

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No jab, no entry! SUDESH KISSUN

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: Advertising material: Rural News online: Subscriptions:

UNVACCINATED DAIRY farmers won’t be able to attend in-person events run by DairyNZ. The industry-good body says it is following the guidance of the Government’s Covid protection framework or the ‘traffic light system’. DairyNZ’s general manager farm performance, Sharon Morrell, says this means attendees will need to present their My Vaccine pass at DairyNZ run in-person events. “Since the first lockdown, DairyNZ has also been offering many of our events online, as farmers have told us they like to have a choice whether to attend in person or virtually,” Morell told Rural News. “We will continue to review how we host events over the coming months, should government guidance change.

DairyNZ says attendees will now need to present their My Vaccine pass at its in-person events.

“Like other event organisers nationwide, our priority is providing a safe environment for those attending, and most farmer feedback we have received, so far, supports this approach.” Morell says it’s important that DairyNZ listens to farmer feedback and provides them with different

options to access its services. “We engage with farmers in a range of ways, including in-person meetings, farm visits, emails, phone calls and video conferencing. We provide information and resources, undertake research to provide farmers with solutions, and provide events.”

DairyNZ is developing a new website – its busiest farmer channel. “We are also focused on making our services more accessible to farmers, for example, we now offer regular podcasts and are shifting to make more use of videos and social media, based on farmer feedback,” says Morrell.

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Fonterra gets its house back in order because of this partnerthis position. East. Greater China) and three ship that our co-op could “And these strengths “We did this because channels (ingredients, continue to get prodhave been invaluable as that’s where demand was food service and conAN EFFICIENT New uct to our customers last we’ve faced into the chalthe strongest.” sumer). lenges and flow-on effects Hurrell says Fonterra’s year,” he notes. “This diversification Zealand manufacturing “With all the disrupof Covid.” third strength is its global allows us to allocate milk base, diversified markets tions to the global supply Hurrell says the NZ supply chain – including into the products and and a global supply chain chain, this was something manufacturing network markets that generate the Kotahi, a joint venture helped Fonterra stay our customers didn’t take and team provided a huge with Silver Fern Farms. best overall returns for ahead of the game during for granted and we saw amount of optionality “It’s because of our the co-op,” he explained. the pandemic. this reflected in both milk scale that Kotahi could In 2021, Fonterra alloSoDrsaid chief executive in terms of the products Bert Quin they can make. partner with Maersk ship- price and earnings.” cated 15% more milk into Miles Hurrell at the co“Our people are ping line and the Port Greater China and 6% operative’s annual general @rural_news focused on driving effiof Tauranga. And it’s less into Africa/Middle meeting in Invercargill ciency and improving last week. He claims that, performance at each of as a result, Fonterra got our plants. This continuits balance sheet into a createsform than Surephos. All sustained-release P becomes available healthier position and• 89% ous lessimprovement P in leachable can now look more to the more value, which flows SOUTH CANTERBURY farmer Leonie votes to get elected. through into the farmgate future. - absolutely no Boucraa slimes or manufacturing rock is present! milk price.” Guiney has served twice on the Fon“As an intergeneraGuiney is ecstatic to be re-appointed He claims another terra board – for three years between tional business, that’s for another three year term. Fonterra chief executive Miles form Hurrell for told best the annual ppm (140 mgCd/kg P). Fine coverage. Low huge 11 asset is thecadmium co-op’s incredibly important,” • Only “I’mdust. ecstatic because of what it 2014 and 2017, before returning as an meeting that the co-op had got its balance sheet into a diversification across says Hurrell. means for Fonterra,” Guiney told Rural elected ‘non-assessed’ candidate in healthier position and can now look more to the future. channels and markets. 2018. “We leaned on a News. • Excellent value! Waharoa $278 ; MaungaTapere $299 ; Dannevirke $299 ; Hurrell noted that last ings were “more or less regions (Asia/Pacific, She currently chairs the board’s number of the co-op’s “When farmers in a co-operative year, volumes and earnevenly split” across three Africa/Middle East and strengths to get us to unite behind a board and management safety and risk committee and also • Timaru $329 ; Otautau $362. Prices excl. GST team, any future challenge is surmount- serves on the divestment review comable – provided we hear their message,” mittee, co-operative relations commit• Also available (limited supply): PhoS-eco ‘Triple8’ 8-8-8 NPS $399she + GST tee and capital structure committee. says. Guiney says her priorities as a board “What I hear is ‘move in a direction that builds on the collective strengths member haven’t changed. “The world wants what we have. If of NZ dairy farmers, think long term, Dr Bert Quin we can better connect our customers and we have your back’. “That message should not be for- to our farmers, and farmers to our customers, we have formidable opportunigotten.” Guiney says board chairman Peter ties,” she says. Reactive Phosphate Rock “Our offshore competitiveness McBride deserves a lot of credit for 12.5% P*, 34% Ca, 1.3% S, 0.6 Mg this outcome. McBride and mid-Can- should be our focus; our on farm comterbury farmer John Nicholls were also parative advantages underpin that. (*slightly reduced because of ‘CM’ controlled-moisture anti-dust addition) “We need to enhance, not erode re-elected for another term. that, and bring the New Zealand public On behalf of the re-elected direcScores very well in the Watkinson Dissolution Test tors, McBride thanked shareholders and Government with us.” Low cadmium level of 18ppm (140 mg Cg/kg P) – half the industry maximum Fonterra Co-operative Council for their continued support at the coFine (but low-dust) particle size means maximum neutralisation of soil acid op’s annual general meeting in Inver- chairman James Barron thanked shareholders for the high level of participacargill last week. Optimise production’ minimise P run-off and leaching While the three sitting directors tion in the director elections. “Thanks to all those who voted. 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An eye on costs is key “One thing we are going to see is some varying outcomes from farm to farm, depending on how well people are able to manage costs and keep an eye on that.”


WHILE THE outlook for global food prices is positive for New Zealand primary producers, some challenges lurk in the year ahead. That’s the prediction in the latest ANZ Bank Agri Focus, which provides an insight into the primary sector for the coming months. Author of the report, ANZ agricultural economist Susan Kilsby, says these challenges are a range of rising key farm inputs – especially fertiliser, farm machinery and labour. She says for intensive farming operations with essential inputs, there is little that producers can do to mitigate certain costs other than to shop around and

ANZ’s Susan Kilsby says financial management skills and the ability to manage cash flow will be pivotal to farmers retaining profitability this year.

try and get the best deals possible. “One thing we are going to see is some varying outcomes from farm to farm, depending on how well people are able to manage costs and keep

an eye on that,” Kilsby told Rural News. “While on the income side you don’t have a lot of control over the prices you get paid for your products, you do have a little bit more flexibility

on how you can manage things to make sure you are still making a profit. I think we will see quite a big variance from those who are good at managing costs and those that let them get away.”

Kilsby says financial management skills and the ability to manage cash flow will be pivotal

problem. It points to Zespri’s claims that it will be 6500 workers short – 2500 more than last year. The report also signals another concern about the inexperience of new workers and says labour shortages may also impact on the quality of the fruit picked. Last season it was estimated that only 80% of NZ’s apple crop was picked and there are hints that it could be a bumper year for fruit of all kinds. The sheep and beef sector outlook is promising, with all the usual caveats such as labour shortages in some processing plants. It says the lamb kill has been slower than normal, due to poor pasture growing conditions which hurt feed quality,


continue to be price hikes for exporters – especially small ones – trying to get perishable products to market in time for festivals and important seasonal selling times. She says there are ongoing problems in NZ getting products from small ports to the main ports, especially Tauranga, to connect to ships that take the goods to the main markets.

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LABOUR SHORTAGES HURT OVERALL THE NZ economy has performed more strongly than anticipated, according to the ANZ Agri Focus report. It says consumer spending has helped keep the economy afloat. The report also notes that global shipping costs may have peaked, but it could be another 18 months before these stabilise. It also warns about escalating compliance costs both in NZ and globally, which will impact the sector. The report says the horticultural sector is heading for trouble due to labour shortages. It says the situation will be worse this season than last season; the lack of backpackers, who normally make up 25% of the labour force in the sector, is a particular

to retaining profitability, especially for those with the more intensive operations. She adds that the cost of compliance will be another challenge with costs in this area skyrocketing due to the complexity of the consenting process. The other issue which looms again is that of logistics – getting product to market at key times. Kilsby warns there will

hence fewer lambs were ready for the works. Despite this, it says international prices for lamb are expected to remain firm due to supply issues and high demand from China. ANZ is predicting record average farmgate prices for lamb. International beef prices remain firm, says the report, with the US price for beef close to the high levels of 2019 when both China and the US were bidding for our product. It notes farmgate prices in NZ are high, partly due to limited throughput at the works. As for the deer sector, ANZ Agri Focus says returns at the farmgate were not as low as expected and that demand for frozen product remains robust in our major export markets.

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Levy bodies advocacy questioned DAVID ANDERSON

NORTH OTAGO farmer Jane Smith says she remains concerned that levy organisations appear to have little appetite for gaining full and transparent farmer mandates before taking their advocacy positions. Smith believes a clear example is the looming emissions regulation and targets for the agricultural sector – where she claims DairyNZ took a position of a methane reduction of 10% by 2030, whereas Beef+Lamb NZ and Federated Farmers took the globallyaccepted reduction of 3% by 2030 and 10% by 2050. “This is a totally unacceptable captain’s call by the dairy sector with no science or practicality underpinning it,” Smith told Rural News. “The only ratio-

nale that has been given to me for this was that they would gain ‘credibility’ with the Government. I am appalled that DairyNZ would attempt to grab unquantifiable brownie points, whilst throwing the most methane efficient ag sector in the world under the climate bus.” However, Smith does congratulate the sector for advocating for the split-gas approach (treating methane separately to long-lived gases) and the opportunity to develop a sector solution in He Waka Eka Noa (HWEN). But she adds these in themselves are not enough. “We have failed to articulate the real facts and continue to see emotional headlines based on gross emissions such as ‘Agriculture is responsible for 48% of NZ’s emis-

North Otago farmer Jane Smith has concerns about farm levy organisations advocacy positions.

sions’. Every other sector worldwide is only being asked to be responsi-

ble to ensure ‘no further warming’ occurs, whilst NZ is asking its farm-

ers to go beyond this and contribute to ‘global cooling’ underpinned by these self-imposed targets. Rural News understands that Smith has spent the last six months trying to bridge a gap between elected industry officials and outside advocacy groups – such as Groundswell. She says the process commenced in good faith from all parties, with the goal of getting the independent groups to align with industry representatives – to underpin and strengthen the existing model. Smith acknowledges Andrew Hoggard and Federated Farmers, who have been particularly vocal about asking for a science-based approach. Feds say the proposed emission reductions targets are “excessive” and will simply result in lower

food production and higher food costs. Smith agrees and believes it is unnecessary bureaucratic revenue gathering that will deliver worse environmental outcomes. “I won’t comment on the details of HWEN, which is an issue secondary to the targets,” she told Rural News. “While the concept is good, the options that are on the table have been predetermined and it is disappointing that some more palatable options have already been dismissed before socialising them with farmers,” Smith says. She reckons they may have used the same definition of ‘consultation’ as the Government. “The big picture issue is, of course, that any pricing method and model is only as good

as the targets that influence the outcomes and these are unpalatable,” Smith explains. “Farmers went straight into industry-endorsed roadshows to ‘know their numbers’ before they even knew what they were signing up for.” She likens this to going to a criminal sentencing before you’ve even had a chance to mount a defence – through defining fair targets and acknowledging warming metrics, not gross metrics. “One would hope – given that this is an intergenerational global commitment – that all farmers would be given the chance for full consultation with all options available to be discussed,” Smith says, “not simply present us with two options and a default threat of the ETS.”



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The year in review As 2021 draws to a close and 2022 approaches, Leo Argent takes a look back at the year gone by, reviewing some of the major stories that appeared in Rural News which shaped farming industry news this year. January

DAMIEN O’CONNOR started his journey around the UK and Europe seeking to secure fair trade agreements. Despite initial slow-going as the year wound to a close, O’Connor managed to snag a research deal with Ireland and the FTA with UK in quick succession. Milk and meat prices started strong and just kept getting stronger, reaching record highs by November, signalling good returns for farmers, providing additional financial security in these trying times.


WITH CLIMATE change being one of the main topics of conversation this year, farmers all over the country doubled down on new technologies and methods of production to contribute their part, with methane inhibitors being the most widely reported example. A range of initiatives targeting alternative uses for wool spearheaded by industry and outside per-


Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor managed to secure an agreement for a FTA with the UK, but not the EU.

sonnel alike saw increasing interest in the sector, potentially signalling a revival in crossbred wool’s previously slumping fortunes.


COVID RESTRICTIONS on international travel and shipping meant seasonal workers were unable to enter the country and freight costs soared. As the year went on the situation grew worse, causing a severe

shortage of freight containers, and crops being left unharvested. Beef + Lamb NZ directors attempted to award themselves a hefty pay rise, on top of the disestablishment of the Directors Independent Renumeration Committee, late last year, causing farmers to rebel. With pressure from farmers and shareholders, the proposed pay rises failed to go through in April.

THE GOVERNMENT made the decision to phase-out live exports by sea, causing alarm amongst farmers reliant on this trade, with some industry pundits believing that the change may hurt our trade relations with China, where a lot of live exports went. Drought conditions became extreme in the Hawke’s Bay region, wreaking havoc on crop and stock alike. Although not the first or last of the extreme weather events around the country, it served as a stark reminder of the risk of climate change.


OPPOSITION TO the three waters reform found a united front in the formation of the Groundswell protest movement. Composed of farmers, disgruntled council members and opposition politicians, the movement opposes what they say is poorly thought out legislation and government overreach. Over the year, the movement



Struggling strong wool growers will be hoping moves in the industry during the year will see a much-needed lift in prices.

would take part in several ground-level protests, the most visible being the Howl of a Protest in July.


AT THE Dairy Industry Awards there was an historic moment when two migrant brothers from India earned the coveted Share Farmers of the Year award. Additionally, the Dairy Farmer of the Year award went to a farmer from the Philippines. This night showcased the positive impacts that migrants can and have had on New Zealand culture and society – farming in particular. The unveiling of the Government’s Clean Car Discount package left farmers outraged about the financial pen-

alty on vehicles like utes, the package viewed as unfairly targeting farmers with unavoidable tax. In conjunction with the Groundswell protests, this contributed to

a worsening image of the Government amongst many farmers.


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Rural people took to the streets all over the country during July for the Groundswellorganised ‘Howl of a Protest’ at government regulations.

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Festive Feast Farmers in Mid Canterbury were hit with heavy floods in June, while their counterparts in Buller experienced terrible flooding in July.

levies passed despite low voter turnout. Concerns were raised as to the organisation’s performance in recent years, with the sting of the attempted pay rise in April still fresh for farmers. A shortage of qualified vets was made worse by Covid border restrictions, as foreign vets cut their losses trying to enter New Zealand, instead settling for Australia with its more welcoming border policies.


OVERSEER, THE farm nutrient management software, started facing increasing heat from government and local councils regarding its perceived poor effectiveness. Previously touted as a key environmental management tool, the Overseer debacle illustrates the problems of taking a small-scale tool and attempting to adapt it to a large-scale framework.


A NATIONWIDE study by AgResearch found that 50% of farms and vineyards showed signs of pesticide resistant weeds, far higher than the initially predicted 5%. This

BLNZ chair Andrew Morrison and his fellow directors lost a bid to increase their fees, with farmers rejecting the move.

has put pressure on scientists and agricultural experts to find ways to not only defeat weeds but also work around potential resistance or ideally prevent resistance from developing in the first place. October - Despite significant opposition from groups like Groundswell, Federated Farmers and many local councils, who wanted to pull out of or postpone the three waters reform, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta pushed ahead with the controversial proposal anyway, prompting accusations of overreach.



Police Conduct Authority report found that small rural police stations face a lack of specialist assistance and lack of personal time causing problems of stress and fatigue, threatening to overwhelm officers. Wools of NZ and CP Wool shareholders agreed almost unanimously (99.7% and 100% approval) to a merger into an entity called Wools of New Zealand. The expectation is a united front will lead to more co-operation, shorter supply chains and product recognition. In conjunction with new uses for wool, this could give strong wool a shot in the arm.

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Record milk price holding SUDESH KISSUN

LAST WEEK’S rise in global dairy prices has further boosted the chances of a recordbreaking $9 milk price for the season. Whole milk powder prices –the benchmark for Fonterra’s milk price to its farmer suppliers – broke the US$4,000/ metric tonne barrier for the first time in six months. Westpac has lifted its 2021-22 farmgate milk price by 10c to

$9/kgMS, at the top of Fonterra’s updated forecast range of $8.40 to $9.00/kgMS. Senior agri economist Nathan Penny believes the lower NZ dollar is likely to prove a windfall gain for farmers. “The key catalyst for the forecast revisions is our lower forecast track for NZD/USD,” says Penny. “We now expect NZD/USD to fall to US$0.66 by mid-2022. That’s a whopping 8 cents lower than our previous expectation of it rising to US$0.74 at the

“Expectations of an earlier increase in interest rates in the US have put the US dollar on the front foot.”

further gains against currencies like the NZD over the next six months.” ASB economist Nat Keall says the bank is retaining its forecast milk price of $8.75/kgMS. He adds that at this point in the season, a record-high farmgate price is practically guar-

Westpac agri economist Nathan Penny says the bank has lifted its 2021-22 farmgate milk price by 10c to $9/kgMS.

same stage. “Expectations of an earlier increase in interest rates in the US

have put the US dollar on the front foot, and we expect that it will make


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anteed and every auction where WMP prices simply hold onto the gains they’ve already made supports that prospect. “On that front, there is little to suggest that prices will be correcting in the near future. “Most obviously, the WMP contract slope con-

tinues to point to prices maintaining momentum from here.” Keall admits that ASB is “a little bit more cautious” than the bullish futures market, which sees WMP prices lifting and remaining north of US$4,000/MT over much of the rest of the season. But WMP prices have had a tendency to overcorrect to swings in demand and supply, he says. “Still, there is room for a little upside in our lofty forecast.” @rural_news

IN BRIEF GUN LAWS BACKFIRE! FIREARMS USERS are facing even more delays as the police fall further behind on processing applications,” claims ACT’s Firearms Law Reform spokesperson Nicole McKee. “The waiting times for applications to be processed have extended further and further as the Police have struggled to process the new and more complicated applications that were rushed through last term.” McKee says police have now issued an update, that people will have to wait six months for a renewal and 12 months for a new licence. “Police have been saying for a couple of years now that they are working hard on the backlog but it’s getting worse. We are also heading towards a bell curve where the number of people seeking renewals will increase over upcoming years,” she adds. “People who are applying for these licences just want to gather food for their families, carry out pest control or participate in sport.” McKee claims this will nothing to repair the credibility of the police or the trust that was broken with firearms users after the gun buyback. “Police Minister Poto Williams needs to give an assurance that she’s working to fix this. Both for the safety of the New Zealanders and to increase confidence in the Police.”

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Fert price hikes hurt SUDESH KISSUN

FEDERATED FARMERS vice president Chris Lewis claims farmers won’t be making much money this year, despite a record forecast milk price. He says fertiliser prices have jumped 100%, wage bills are up 20% and hiring tradesmen has become more expensive. Lewis says “market forces” mean farmers must pay more to retain staff in a labour-squeezed market. While the record forecast payout must be celebrated and provides a buffer against rising costs, he doesn’t expect too many farmers to end up with a large surplus this season. He points out that recent surveys found farmer confidence still low. “With the strong payout we should see higher farmer confidence but that’s not the case,” he told Rural News. “Farmers are not thinking about dollars.

While the high milk price is a cause for celebration, high inflationary costs are a major cause for worry for some farmers.” Last month, DairyNZ solutions and development lead adviser Paul Bird urged farmers to use the strong milk price to pay off debt and be better prepared to withstand shocks. Speaking at the online DairyNZ Farmers Forum, Bird noted that while industry debt had dropped to $38 billion, reducing it further would be “a good thing”. “The average dairy farm is still made up of half debt and half equity. That’s still quite a big chunk of debt,” noted Bird. Farms with returns of around 5% would come under pressure if interest rates rose to 5% and beyond. Bird says paying debt puts farmers in a good position to withstand shocks. It also puts farmers in a solid place if they are “looking for the next

FERT PRICES UP, AGAIN! THE COUNTRY’S two largest fertiliser traders have increased prices, for the second time in as many months. Ravensdown and Ballance are blaming global supply and pricing dynamics for the latest price rise. Both have bumped up urea prices by nearly 25% to $1,190/tonne. Potash prices have also jumped by nearly $100/ tonne. Ravensdown is selling potash at $995/t, Ballance at $1000/t. Ravensdown has raised its superphosphate price from $339 to $367 but have told farmers that the new price will be maintained for the next six months.

opportunity to grow in dairying”. Lewis says farmers have been hearing this message for the past five years from the banks.

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Farmers will want to milk it! SUDESH KISSUN

DAIRY FARMERS will be milking cows for as long as they can to capitalise on a record milk price this season. Soaring farm input costs may erode profit margins, but a milk price near $9/kgMS provides farmers the chance to boost income and reduce debt. Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says farmers around the globe are facing inflationary pressures and NZ is no exception. “But I don’t think there will be any adverse reaction to milk production,” says Hurrell. Hurrell points out that the co-operative’s milk supply is down around 3% on this time last season.

However, improving weather conditions and forecast milk collections for the balance of this season are generally on par with last season. Fonterra expects to collect 1,525 million kgMS this season, just shy of the 1,539 million kgMS collected last season. Former Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven agrees that if the current payout forecasts hold true, rising input costs will not affect milk production too much. McGiven believes farmers will instead be keeping a close eye on the weather. “If it gets too dry over summer, farmers will continue to monitor rising feed input costs, along with cow condition to determine what will be their cutoff point for milking,” he

Dairy farmers are expected to continue to milk as long as they can to capitalise on a record milk price this season.

told Rural News. “Most I think will continue to milk for as long as possible to capitalise on the payout.” While feed, fertiliser and fuel prices are rising, McGiven believes the biggest concern for farmers will be the rebound in interest rates. “That may have a significant impact on some farm’s profitability.

“Inflation is the profit stealer from any business and we are seeing this also on most products and inputs, from diesel and petrol through to wages and fertilisers. “At the moment we are lucky to have a good forecast milk price to buffer us from most of these impacts. “I am trying to pay down as much debt as

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possible, also being well aware that we will have another potentially large tax bill looming in the next financial year that we also need to budget for, so I am certainly hoping that these type of milk prices can be sustainable in the short to medium term.” Earlier this month, Fonterra narrowed its forecast milk price range

to $8.40 - $9/kgMS, with a midpoint of $8.70/ kgMS. Updating its milk collection figures, the cooperative says season to date collection, June – October, was 510.9 million kgMS, 3.2% behind last season. “Cold and wet spring with limited sunshine affected pasture growth and collections early in the season,” Fonterra said. “Full season forecast remains at 1,525 million kgMS, down 0.9% on last season – improving weather conditions and balance of this season’s collections being on par with last season supports current forecast.” Global demand for dairy remains strong and Fonterra thinks that will remain the case for the short to medium term. At the same, the cloud

of Covid-19 and new emerging variants cast a shadow over global trade. Hurrell says the co-op is working hard to deliver for farmers, unit holders and customers and supporting employees. “The resilience of our people and our supply chain means we continue to stay on top of the strong demand for our New Zealand milk,” he says. “However, it is concerning to hear about new variants, which are potentially more resistant to vaccines. There is also the ongoing question of whether economies can rebound from the pandemic and then sustain their financial health.” Hurrell says that explains why the co-op has a 60-cent range on its forecast farmgate milk price range.





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What’s the Government’s beef with live exports? DAVID ANDERSON

NEW ZEALAND’S livestock export trade sector is scrambling to fight off government plans to permanently ban the practice. The sector, which earned the country $255 million in exports in 2020, says it was ‘rattled’ by the Government announcement in April that it intended to phase out all live exports by 2023. This came on the back of a pause in the trade in September 2020 after the Gulf Livestock 1 ship sank on a journey to China, drowning 41 crew – including two Kiwis and two Australians – and almost 6000 cattle. When announcing the ban, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor cited reputational risk from poor animal welfare practice. He admitted that public pressure had led the Government to end the live export trade by sea. “We must stay ahead of the curve in a world where animal welfare is under increasing scrutiny,” O’Connor claimed when making the announcement. The live export trade sector was given two years to phase out the livestock exports by sea freight, which will be banned from 2023. However, it says the Gov-

ernment is now trying to pass a bill to amend the Animal Welfare Act, making it harder for any future government to lift the ban. The Animal Genetics Trade Association (AGTA) represents the interests of the livestock export and germplasm industries. Chair Mark Willis says the decision by Cabinet to ban live exports was against the advice of both the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), which had conducted a review of the sector, and the Heron Review into the Gulf Livestock sinking. “These two significant reviews of the industry found no evidence of animal welfare issues, in fact, to the contrary,” he told Rural News. “Animals transported for live export have low mortality, put on weight and go to good homes – and we have proof of that.” Willis says the industry is not against regulation or more oversight of live exports. “We welcome it. The industry has been calling for this for 15 years or more,” he adds. “We want NZ to be a world leader in live exports and offer the gold standard with regards to animal welfare and reputational issues.” In 2020 New Zealand exported $255.89 million

AUSSIE COMPANY RESUMES TRADE AUSTRALIA’S LARGEST live sheep exporter, Emanuel Exports, has had its licence reinstated after a three-year suspension. The company’s licence was cancelled following the deaths of 2,400 sheep aboard the Awassi Express in 2017. The incident also led to a temporary ban on live sheep exports to the Middle East and prompted an ongoing ban on exports during the northern hemisphere summer. The Department of Agriculture and Water gave the green light for exports to resume from December 3, it says the company had now “sufficiently rehabilitated itself so as to resume its status as a body corporate of integrity”. The department also says it had since strengthened regulations by implementing a ban on export shipping to the Middle East during the hottest part of the northern hemisphere summer. It also required heat stress management plans for northern summer voyages, lowered stocking densities for sheep on livestock export vessels, and required automatic measurement and collection of on-deck temperature readings for voyages. AGTA chair Mark Willis (inset) says the live export industry is disappointed the Government has not offered a probation period to allow it to prove it can adapt to an improved regulatory regime.

of live cattle to the rest of the world. AGTA claims that on top of livestock value that farmers receive directly, a shipment of around 3000 animals can return roughly $1.5 million to New Zealand based service providers. “It’s the rural areas and rural service centres that see most of the economic benefits from the trade,” Willis adds. “In the past 10 years, around 5000 farmers have supplied breeding cattle for

export, with an average of 40 animals per farm.” He says allegations surrounding animal welfare during the ship voyage were the Government’s reason for the ban, even though two independent reviews concluded it should continue, with some modifications. Willis is disappointed the Government has not offered a probation period to allow the sector to prove it can adapt to an improved regulatory

regime. “But we were not offered the opportunity despite many stakeholders crying out for more effective regulation and licensing requirements for several years,” he adds. Willis claims pressure from activists for the ban has sped up progress – despite the sector and MPI working closely on a continuous improvement programme surrounding substantive animal welfare improvements over

the years. “Some of which include management before and during the voyage, with veterinarians onboard every vessel,” he explains. “Various requirements have been changed to reduce risks and there are more robust and comprehensive reporting systems and processes throughout.” He says the sector wants to provide assurance of the professionalism and transparency of the export trade. In the meantime,

AGTA has set up a website to help people better understand what livestock exporting is about. Willis is calling on farmers, and others, to directly lobby members of the Primary Select Committee, who he expects to hear submissions on the ban early in the new year. “The industry has made massive advances in welfare and transparency over the years and should be given the opportunity to prove this. • More at www.



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Stronger advocacy! AS 2021 draws to a close, most farmers will be looking forward to it ending and hoping for better things in 2022. Strong commodity prices and good growing conditions, on the whole, have meant a reasonable year for most of the country’s farmers and growers. However, the continuing impact of Covid, soaring input costs, labour shortages and ever growing regulation continued to steal much of the shine off good prices. During the year, for the first time in a generation, farmers and rural people in their tens of thousands took to the streets in towns and cities – not once but twice – up and down New Zealand to express their concerns and consternation about where things are going for people living in the country. All at a time of near record milk payouts, horticulture and red meat returns. Surely this points to something seriously wrong going on. However, those in the Government, bureaucracy and parts of our farming leadership appear either oblivious or downright scornful of this justified farmer angst. Much of the blame for this can be fairly sheeted home to the levy bodies, which seem to have made little to no effort to get proper farmer mandates before taking their advocacy positions. It seems their desire to “be at the table” to share drinks and canapés with current Government ministers has taken priority over properly advocating for their farmer levypayers. These organisations have pretty much ‘lost the room’ with regards to grassroots farmer support and hence the emergence of an outfit like Groundswell. One suspects that the information the Prime Minister is currently refusing to release about that rural lobby group has been garnered from sources within these levy bodies and is highly derisory. It will be interesting to see how those bodies react if the looming carbon emissions regulation and targets for the agricultural sector are roundly rejected by their levypayers during the rounds of consultation early next year. Will they kowtow to the Government – as they have over the past four years – or finally stand up and fight for what farmers demand? Despite this, they have shown some backbone in advocating for the split-gas approach (treating methane separately to long-lived gases) and the opportunity to develop a sector solution in He Waka Eka Noa. Roll on 2022 and better, stronger sector advocacy!


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“Standing your Christmas cake mix in a bowl of water, to stop the ants getting at it, isn’t working!”

Want to share your opinion or gossip with the Hound? Send your emails to:

THE HOUND Sour taste!

Nice lift!

What’s she hiding?

Staying put

YOUR OLD mate is astounded, but not surprised, to learn that the New Zealand Film Commission gave anti-dairy documentary Milked a $48,550 “finishing grant”. The film, currently screening in NZ cinemas, argues that the dairy industry causes climate change, pollutes water, destroys land, abuses cows, and victimises dairy farmers. The dirty little deal was revealed by the Taxpayers Union, with spokesman Louis Houlbrooke rightly saying: “The 40,000 New Zealanders employed in the dairy industry are unlikely to be happy to learn they are funding a film that attacks the source of their livelihoods. And that’s to say nothing of the rest of us, who all benefit from dairy’s enormous contribution to New Zealand’s economy.” The Hound agrees the taxpayer should not be forced to fund political propaganda. The Film Commission decision to back this anti-dairy diatribe leaves a very sour taste in his mouth.

The Hound reckons the country’s hard-pressed wool growers will be pleased to know that rural banking specialist Rabobank has laid woollen carpets in its new Hamilton-based HQ. Apparently, after relocating its head office from Wellington to the third and fourth floors of a central Hamilton building, it was suggested synthetic carpet squares would be more appropriate because rolls of carpet were too big to be carried in the lift. However, Rabobank chief executive Todd Charteris, recognising it would be a bad look, wasn’t having a bar of it. In fact, he was so determined to have wool carpet he arranged for it to be craned in. Rabobank sourced 3000kg of wool from three of its clients to be woven into the carpet. It’s good to see a major rural service company backing the industry. Good work Rabobank!

This old mutt wonders what information Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office apparently “overlooked” in briefing notes relating to Groundswell NZ. Back in July, Ardern was sent an OIA request media asking for all letters, emails, documents relating to Groundswell NZ. Ardern’s office refused the request, saying media advice to the PM was being withheld. However, following a complaint lodged with the Ombudsman, the PM’s chief of staff has now advised that there were some briefing notes provided by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Policy Advisory Group. It’d be interesting to know just what – and from whom – information about Groundswell both Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and PM Ardern are hiding. What’s that about being open and transparent?

Your canine crusader understands calls by the Waikato Chamber of Commerce for Fonterra HQ to quit its Auckland office for the dairying heartland has been rebuffed. Chamber chief executive Don Good said the reason why the dairy co-op has its HQ in the Viaduct, downtown Auckland, beats most people, including their farmer shareholders. “As a cornerstone of Peter McBride (Fonterra chairman) and Miles Hurrell’s (CEO) campaign to reconnect Fonterra with its stakeholders, Fonterra needs to come back home to the Waikato,” Good argued. However, Fonterra is unmoved by his argument and says it’s not shifting its Auckland HQ or the 1221 staff who work there. Ironically, during the 3 month lockdown in Auckland, the co-op’s flash waterfront HQ has been a ghost town, as most people worked from home.

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Have farmers been sold out? STEVE CRANSON

WITH THE emissions pricing options now out for discussion, the fear campaign has begun in earnest. If we don’t hold our collective noses and accept one of the two prescribed options, agriculture will be thrown into the abyss of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The two options, as written, offer no light at the end of the tunnel for agriculture. They provide no certainty for the future and will see the mis-informed criticism of agricultural emissions continue indefinitely. Once the pricing mechanism is established in law the Government is free to increase emissions pricing and force increased reductions at their discretion. The decisions might be made indirectly through an independent panel, but the result will be the same. The Climate Change Commission is also an ‘independent’ body, but they have been notable in their attempts to suppress any reference to methane’s warming effect being allowed to enter the realms of policy discussion. Levy body leaders claim that this discussion should focus solely on the pricing mechanism and should not be linked to the reduction targets, they are being wilfully naive. The price you pay for your emissions is directly related to the reduction target. Agreeing to a pricing mechanism without a clear understanding of what the targets will be and how they will be set in future is akin the writing the Government a blank cheque. HWEN appears deliberately opaque on the targets; their wording on the subject appears to leave the door open for further refinement. If this opportunity is not taken, the Government’s 10% by 2030 methane reduction target will be applied. There remains only one solution to give farmers some certainty on emissions pricing – that is to link the targets to the science. The split-gas approach fails miserably

on this front, it merely acknowledges that methane’s effect on climate is different to that of longlived gases and allows for separate management. It contains no reference to the 0.3% annual reduction (3% by 2030) required to achieve zero warming. Any organisation which tells you otherwise is being disingenuous. Without a science-based reference point, excessive targets will continue to be set, farmers will pay tax on emissions not adding to climate change and it will give a misleading and exaggerated impression of our emissions to global consumers. Not the outcome farmers will be hoping for. The case for agriculture to set a warmingbased target is a strong one, but there lies a roadblock ahead. In their infinite wisdom, DairyNZ submitted in support of the 10% by 2030 target, this will blunt any attempts by farmers to have it revised down. The DairyNZ negotiating strategy seems to be agree first, then argue against what was agreed to at the next review in 2024. The two options have also taken a wide berth around the science of carbon sequestration, this will be of particular interest to Beef+Lamb NZ levy payers. HWEN has selected the arbitrary date of 2008 to pick favourites. If your trees were planted or regenerated after that date you will receive full recognition for the carbon sequestered on your property. Pre-2008 trees get different treatment – only the ‘additionality’ derived from active management will be recognised. Let’s say your regenerating native bush was sequestering CO2 at the typical rate of 10 t/ha/year; you would not get any credit for that sequestration. However, if you fenced off the trees and put out some opossum bait, the new sequestration rate may be revised up to 12 t/ha/year. It’s only this additional 2 tonnes which will count. Incentivising good management is one of the founding principles of HWEN and it is the right approach. However,

there are smarter ways to achieve this without undermining the integrity of the emissions accounting process. How the concept of ‘additionality’ got past Beef + Lamb NZ without them howling out their disapproval to their levypayers is another one of those HWEN mys-

• Steve Cranson is an agricultural and environmental consultant and the director of Hamilton-based Cranston Consulting Ltd.

teries. The process has lacked transparency and any real engagement with the rural community from the outset. The question for farmers to consider is, what influence is government funding having on our levy bodies’ ability to advocate for better policy?

Steve Cranson asks if farmers have been sold out in the He Waka Eke Noa proposals.








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Emissions proposals out for consultation THE HE Waka Eke Noa partners – including Beef+Lamb NZ – have developed two emissions pricing options as alternatives to bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). In 2019, following the passage of the Zero Carbon Act, the Government consulted on bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The agricultural sector, working together, convinced the Government not to do this and to work with the sector and iwi on an alternative approach for managing our emissions – through the He Waka Eke Noa partnership – with a view to introducing the framework in 2025. However, the Government made it clear that if we did not meet certain milestones, it would bring agriculture immediately into the ETS. There is already legislation in place that would allow it to do this – the ‘ETS backstop’. The partnership needs to provide advice to the Government by the end

of April 2022 on an alternative framework. The partners in He Waka Eke Noa (including the Government) have developed two alternative options to the ETS. A high-level explanation of these options has been released, along with an outline of what the ETS backstop would look like. Information is being made available now, so you have time to understand what’s being considered, how the options work and how they compare. There will be a full formal consultation process in February where you can provide feedback (more detailed information will be released in late January ahead of this). B+LNZ has worked to try and come up with a better system for agriculture that seeks to fairly treat different types of farming systems and the different stages of farmers in their development, as well as working for other sectors. We have been part of this

process with other agricultural organisations, including DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, and the Government and iwi. Our key priorities have been: ● de-linking the methane price from the carbon price (to reflect the separate greenhouse gas targets in the Zero Carbon Act) ● getting more recognition of the sequestration happening on farms than currently under the ETS ● the ability for farmers to be recognised for progress on reducing their warming impact, and ● money raised being invested back to agricultural research or on-farm changes that reduce emissions. Our vision is to establish a framework that is separate for agricultural emissions from the ETS and which can be evolved and improved over time. While they’re not perfect, we believe the alternative emissions pricing options have advantages over the


He Waka Eke Noa has proposed two alternative options to the ETS.

ETS for sheep, beef and dairy farmers. We believe they provide farmers with a lot more control and options to reduce the costs they face over time, either through getting their on-farm actions recognised or through better recognition of their sequestration. The proposals are a starting point and will evolve as science, measurement and technology allow more accurate recognition of what’s happening on individual farms. New Zealand is the only country into the world to have taken a split gas approach to methane emissions, through the Zero Carbon Act. B+LNZ does not agree that the methane targets in the Act are justified based on the science around methane’s

impact on warming. However, we can’t change the targets through He Waka Eke Noa and this is a separate process. There will be a review of the targets in 2024 and we are committed to working with Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and others to get the targets reviewed using the latest science. It’s important to note that if we’re unable to reach agreement on a pricing framework and agriculture goes into the ETS, in effect we will have lost the split gas outcome and it won’t matter what the targets are as the methane price will simply be linked to a rapidlyincreasing carbon price. Source Beef+Lamb NZ





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Farming options abound the people they meet bring much to the table.” Growing Future Farmers is an initiative driven by Gisborne couple Dan and Tam Jex-Blake that seeks to meet the critical skill shortage in farming through a programme that creates a career pathway for students keen to work in the beef, lamb, and deer sector. Each student is taken on a fees-free two-year course that will see them gain entry level essential farm skills, followed by advanced skills and then into business management, leaving with NZQA level three qualifications. Students are paid weekly, so graduate with no student loans, and at the end of their two years will also have two trained dogs at their sides. One of the key components is the wrap around pastoral care the programme offers students. Cyn Smith is the GFF general manager and says one of the biggest positives with the programme is that it is employerdriven but industrybacked. “There are so many opportunities within the industry – from agricultural service industries like fencing, shearing, machinery operation and more, to shepherding, or being a stock manager,” says Smith. There was certainly something for everyone. “Due to current shortages of qualified staff in the sector, employment opportunities can sometimes lure students to work before training adequately qualifying themselves long term.” GFF was just one of many cadet schemes and programmes available. She felt government needed to do more. “Their support is for the formal tertiary qualifications, but beyond this there are many areas requiring support as young people transition from school into careers. Funding rural training in remote areas needs to address issues of wellbeing, demographics and costs associated with delivery in these settings.” Smith believes the current Targeted Train-

ing Apprenticeship Fund had been essential in vocational training and needed to continue. Napier Boys’ High School head of agriculture Rex Newman figures there is more opportunity in agriculture now than ever before, with a wide range of choices for anyone

WHAT: East Coast Farming Expo WHEN: February 23-24, 2022 WHERE: Wairoa A&P Showgrounds MORE INFO: moving into the industry. He worked in the industry before moving to teaching and says it is a far cry from those days.

Newman says the opportunities are vast and he is seeing more and more keen to move into the industry.

Growing Future Farmers general manager Cyn Smith. PHOTO SUPPLIED



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THE WORLD is the oyster of those who choose to be part of an industry that contributes to the most important thing in the world – sustainably produced food. Lincoln University Adjunct Professor Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Growing Future Farmers general manager Cyn Smith and Napier Boys’ High School head of agriculture Rex Newman all say there is plenty to encourage a new generation into farming now with good cadet schemes, training partners and opportunity to help them achieve their best. A panel, including Jacqueline, Rex and a representative from GFF will be joined by youngsters who are forging their way in the industry for an onstage discussion as part of a seminar programme at the East Coast Farming Expo in February. Rowarth says choosing a career in agriculture brings with it the ability to make a difference. Plants, animals, soils, computers, mechanics, driving trucks or tankers, or research in the lab, sorting trade deals, creating policies, or even marketing, media and advertising taking New Zealand’s superb product to the world – there is so much choice. Rowarth says the industry is always keen to welcome motivated people into the fold. The industry sometimes suffered through a lack of desire by people not recognising agriculture as an engaging career path. “They don’t want to come so the challenge is great,” she says. “If the world is your oyster, why would you want to come into an industry that is regarded by a vocal subset of society as environmental destroyers?” She would love to see the Government take a lead and ensure the media give more airtime to supporting the farmers and growers who create the economy, than they give to activists. Rowarth sees plenty of value in the many cadet schemes run across New Zealand. “The on-farm work, immersion training and



Winter grazing changes prove good for the environment and the bottom line CHANGES IN wintering practices on Don Morrison’s Southland farm have benefited more than just the environment, they have been good for business. Per hectare performance has trended upwards in recent years after Don implemented practice changes that while initially driven by compliance, are now proving good for productivity and the environment. Morrison has around 13% (more than 50ha) of his farm area in winter forage crops every year: a mix of carbohydraterich fodder beet for adult sheep, and kale and swedes for younger stock requiring higher levels of

protein. Historically, the decision about where to grow these crops was driven purely by pasture performance, so it was the poorest performing paddocks that were selected every year to go into winter feed crops. Through the process, they were addressing nutrient and weed issues and using it as an opportunity to establish new, improved pastures. Morrison says they are now taking a more targeted approach. While the state of the pastures is still taken into account, they are also considering factors such as slope, aspect, soil type, shelter, stock class and management blocks.

From a nutrient viewpoint, rather than a broad capital fertiliser programme, they are testing every paddock on the farm every three years and are applying smaller amounts of fertiliser strategically, which ensures the most efficient and effective use of nutrients. Morrison says they are now at the intersect of animal welfare and minimising soil and nutrient run-off. It requires a wider strategic view and the intersect is around maintaining a high standard of animal welfare on paddocks which meet the requirement for shelter needed on intensive winter grazed areas while still preserving maximum

Southland farmer Don Morrison says changes made to his winter grazing practices have been better for the environment and for his animals.

shelter that can be available for lambing on. “It’s about changing your whole thinking pattern.” Cattle wintering is a challenge too as they only have a limited area of stony free draining soils suitable for wintering cattle. This means cattle are wintered successively on areas where a break of rotation of crops is required to avoid possible crop failure But for Morrison, none of these challenges are insurmountable, it’s just a matter of careful planning. He uses Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Winter Grazing Plan and a Land and Water Plan.

Catch crops are used between the sowing of winter grazed areas and the resowing of permanent pasture. Morrison is also experimenting with some horticultural crops and this year using minimum tillage. This means pastures can be renovated in a straight grass to grass rotation without the need for a break crop. All stock are carefully monitored throughout winter. Sheep are regularly Body Condition Scored and sample weighed. Sound genetic selection and winter feed management mean animals can maintain body condition through the

winter minimising stress and maximising performance. All waterways are excluded with a fivemetre buffer zone between crops and waterways, and photo reference points are used as proof of practice and to monitor changes. “It’s all part and parcel of our winter grazing plan,” Morrison explains. They have and will continue to consult with Environment Southland to ensure that their winter grazing practices meet regulatory and good management practice requirements. He says the changes they have made in recent



years have not been onerous and he is certainly not complaining with animal performance on the rise. “It’s not a cost, it’s just what you need to do in your operation as it is better for the environment and better for your animals,” Morrison explains. “Wintering in Southland you have to expect periods of prolonged adverse weather but using daily, weekly and seasonal feed budgets we have been able to implement a winter feed programme that matches environmental expectation with the best opportunity for our stock.”



Mapping hill country management NEW TOOLS being developed through one of the Hill Country Futures programme aims to help farmers better manage sustainability and production across diverse landscapes within their farms. The micro-scale indicators project, led by Dr Nathan Odgers of Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, is running trials across two South Island and four North Island farms, measuring scale indicators – soil temperature and moisture.

farms, therefore plant conditions vary. “We are aiming to better quantify that. For instance, if we can say, ‘this north facing slope at the back of this farm will perform differently to its south facing slope,’ then you can use different management approaches to measure your sustainability and production,” Odgers adds. “It’s all about producing evidence to help farmers farm more sustainably and precisely than they could if they did not have

“Ultimately, it is hoped the project will support farmers to monitor soil temperature and moisture, to make more effective decisions, leading to improved economic, environmental and social outcomes.” This project recognises that hill country farms consist of diverse landscapes. It is designed to enable farmers to use farm scale mapping to assess which forage mixes are likely to do well in specific areas of their farm. Hill Country Futures is a long-term $8.1m partnership programme focused on future proofing the profitability, sustainability and wellbeing of New Zealand’s hill country farmers, their farm systems, the environment and rural communities. It is co-funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Seed Force New Zealand and PGG Wrightson Seeds. “Ultimately, it is hoped the project will support farmers to monitor soil temperature and moisture, to make more effective decisions, leading to improved economic, environmental and social outcomes,” Odgers explains. He says because soil conditions vary across landscapes and across

farm scale mapping.” The project has been underway for two years and includes setting up wireless sensor networks on the farms, each with 20 sensors. For the past 12 months, these have been monitoring the soil temperature and moisture hourly. “We are using that data to see how it relates to things like the aspect of a slope to see if we can map those soil properties across the farm and link that farm scale information to a crop growth model,” Odgers explains. “We are trying to predict growth of legumes over time. If we can do that at farm scale, we can provide farmers with useful information around growth rates and how they differ, depending on landscape characteristics, and model a map that provides information to help them to manage production more effectively within their farm.” The project is now at the modelling stage, with results expected by spring 2022. “We hope that in 12

months’ time we will have a portal to share this data in real time,” says Nathan. “We are look-

ing at what tools we can build to enable farmers to access and interpret the data we are collecting.”

Landcare Research’s Nathan Odgers is leading the project.

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Checking makes ‘udder’ sense AROUND 5% of ewes in New Zealand have problems with their udders (udder defects). These can lead to reduced lamb survival and growth rates. It’s a good idea to check udders 4-6 weeks after weaning so that affected ewes can be identified and culled. Studies on lower North Island farms have shown that 2-7% (average around 5%) of mixedage ewes have udder defects. The lambs that are born to ewes with udder defects will have a reduced chance of survival – their death rate is 3-4 times higher compared with lambs whose dams had a normal udder. Lambs that do survive grow an average of 25g less per day so their average weaning weight is around 2kg lighter than lambs whose dams had

normal udders. Because of these effects, ewes with udder defects will wean around 11 less kg of lamb compared with ewes with normal udders. Many farmers check ewes’ udders at weaning or shortly thereafter. However, many ewes with apparently normal udders at weaning are found to have udder defects 4-6 weeks later. This is probably due to post-weaning mastitis and possibly also because it is easier to feel some defects once the udder has dried-off. In research studies it has been found that checking ewe udders a few weeks prior to mating (rather than at weaning) is a better predictor of how udders will affect lamb survival and growth for the coming season. It is therefore recom-

mended to check udders 4-6 weeks after weaning in order to find the maximum number of affected ewes but still have time to finalise ewe numbers before mating. Generalised hardness of the udder would often be called mastitis. If the infection is recent the udder will be hot and swollen. However, more commonly, the infection has been there for some time and the udder half or halves will simply feel very hard all over. If the affected udder half is ‘milked’ by gently squeezing the teat, in recent infections the secretion might be watery, bloody or clotted. If the udder has been infected for some time the secretion may be very thick and discoloured or there may be no secre-


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It is recommended to check ewes’ udders 4-6 weeks after weaning in order to find the maximum number of affected ewes.

tion at all. Note that just after weaning the udder is often quite firm as it is full of milk, but an udder half with generalised hardness will be very firm/hard. Ewes with generalised hardness / mastitis in one or both udder halves should be culled. Some farmers wish to treat ewes with generalised hardness / mastitis in one or both halves of the udder. If the infection is in the early stages

(swollen, hot) then treatment may be possible – contact your veterinarian for advice. Ewes with gangrenous mastitis (“bluebag”) are usually also sick and should be humanely euthanised or treated immediately – contact your veterinarian for advice. Typically, generalised hardness / mastitis is not found until after weaning and is usually a longstanding infection.

CHECKING UDDERS TO CHECK udders effectively they must be palpated (felt). Just looking at the udder, during crutching or shearing for example, isn’t effective. It is easiest to palpate udders while the ewes are standing in the race by feeling and gently squeezing both halves of the udder. If it is being done 4-6 weeks after weaning, if possible also roll the teats between your fingers.

Treatment is unlikely to be satisfactory and these ewes are usually best culled. [

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It’s time to keep an eye out for FE in your herd FACIAL ECZEMA (FE) is a disease which causes lowered production, skin irritation and peeling and sometimes death. FE is caused by a toxin (sporidesmin) produced by the spores of the fungus Pithomyces chartarum growing on pasture. The fungus grows in the dead litter at the base of pasture in warm moist conditions. Sporidesmin, when ingested by cattle, damages the liver and bile ducts. The damaged liver cannot rid the body of wastes and a breakdown product of chlorophyll builds up in the blood causing sensitivity to sunlight, which in turn causes inflammation of the skin. Signs to look for: ● a drop in milk production ● cows are restless, seeking shade and lick their udder ● exposed unpigmented or thin skin reddens, thickens and peels Not all animals affected with FE show physical signs (i.e. clinical FE) although liver damage (i.e. subclinical FE) has occurred. It is estimated that for every clinical case there will be 10 cows with subclinical FE. Milk production of animals with subclinical FE can be depressed by up to 50%. Blood tests can be used to monitor the

extent of subclinical FE. Badly damaged liver tissue will not regenerate. Chronic wasting and/ or death may occur at the time of damage or months later when the animal is under stress (e.g. calving). There is no cure for FE so prevention is the only way of protecting animals. To be effective, preventative measures need to be in place before eczema spores are found. Preventative measures include monitoring pasture spore count and either dosing animals with zinc or spraying pastures with a fungicide. Breeding cows that are more tolerant to facial eczema is a solution to reduce the impact from facial eczema in the long term. ● Facial eczema tolerant genetics ● Monitor pasture spore count ● Zinc dosing ● Pasture spraying ● Pasture management Cows showing clinical signs of facial eczema can recover if prompt action is taken ● Dry off affected cows now, to reduce pressure on the liver ● Put zinc cream on white areas of the coat and the udder (if affected) ● Move affected stock into dense shade. Indoors is best (haybarn, calf-rearing and implement sheds) but


make sure there is a good water supply and supplementary feed available for cows Feed cows at night, so they are not exposed to sunlight and stop hard grazing so cows do not graze down into

dead matter where the spores that cause FE live Feeding maize and/ or silage can help, but cows will still tend to graze if they are kept on pasture Make sure the diet is

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New Pumas on the prowl in 2022 MARK DANIEL

CASE IH’S Puma tractor range will see several new features for 2022. With maximum power from 155 to 200hp, the Puma series is available in three versions – the entry level Puma 140165, the Puma 150 and 165 Multicontroller and the Puma CVXDrive. A redesigned cabin entrance offers Magnum-style steps for easier access, while in-cab upgrades include a phone mount, USB power ports and a tablet mount. Interior materials have been upgraded to automotivetype cab trim and a new premium leather steering wheel. On the Multicontroller and CVXDrive models, visibility is improved thanks to a new wider sweeping, low-mounted

windscreen wiper that covers 60% more area. For loader users, a new advanced joystick, with integral forward/ reverse shuttle and gearchanging features, will improve cycle times. At the rear of the new models, top-link stowage is improved, hydraulic connections are more robust, and other improvements include LED marker lights and an air-line connection. The CVXDrive models see transmission upgrades centred around improving the shuttle and acceleration/deceleration behaviour, enhancing the drive pedal and Multicontroller sensitivity. It also has an override capability added to the cruise control pedal, helping turns at the headland. Case says the three new models will make it easier for customers to

Case IH’s Maxxum 115-150 tractor range has also had upgrades and refinements for 2022.

choose their ideal specification. The Selection Package, for entry level Puma 140-165 models, meets basic essential requirements. Meanwhile the Multicontroller and CVXDrive tractors are available with Advanced and Professional packages. The Advanced package offers the most common fea-

tures required for daily operations, while the Professional version is focused on AFS technology, being guidance-ready and includes the AFS Pro 700 display. Elsewhere in the Case IH camp, the Maxxum 115-150 tractor range has also had upgrades and refinements for 2022. At the top of the

range, the six-cylinder Maxxum 150 has gained 5hp in un-boosted rated power to produce 150hp, taking it 5hp ahead of the next model in the line, the four-cylinder Maxxum 145. Maxxum models are now available with three specification packages. Maxxum and Maxxum Multicontroller trac-

tors can be ordered with the Selection package, a set of commonly-sold options covering most customer needs, while Maxxum, Maxxum Multicontroller and Maxxum CVXDrive tractors can be also had with the Advanced pack, a set of technology features which professional customers will appreciate for

daily operations. Lastly, Maxxum Multicontroller and Maxxum CVXDrive models can be specified with the Professional package, providing access to the latest technology features to unlock the full potential of the tractor. Like its Puma cousin, a redesigned cab entrance with Magnum-style steps offers better access, while upgrades include a phone mount, USB power ports and a tablet mount. Also, look out for better visibility, a premium leather steering wheel and new advanced joystick options. On Maxxum CVXDrive models, transmission operation includes ‘clever’ CVT operating features around improved shuttle and acceleration/deceleration response with other upgrades – much like its larger cousin.

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Extra baler should lift output, if the weather gods allow MARK DANIEL

CONTRACTING OVER a vast area from its Mangawhai base, Hilltop Harvesting’s beat covers Whangarei to the north, Silverdale to the south and everything in between. Specialising in crop establishment and harvesting, high quality silage is produced in clamps or chopped round bales. Having previously used a variable chamber baler and standalone wrapper system, Hilltop changed course in November 2020 with the arrival of a McHale Fusion Plus fixed cham-

ber baler/wrapper combination. After successfully producing around 14,500 bales last season, they have bought a second unit. Hilltop owner Wayne Preston says this should take their capacity up to 30,000 bales a year as the business develops. Having already experienced a wet spring, he predicts that crops are likely to be thick and heavy this year. “If the weather gods could see their way to giving us ten fine days, both machines will certainly be able to cover a lot of ground,” Preston says. Powered by 155hp tractors, the Fusion Plus has

The addition of another McHale Fusion Plus fixed chamber baler/wrapper combination will lift Hilltop Harvesting’s output this season.

the potential to put out a bale every minute. “However, there is always a compromise between output and quality,” Preston explains. “We like to produce tightly packed bales weighing around 750kg, so in practice, we typi-

cally deliver around 35 to 40 bales per hour.” Firm, well-shaped bales ensure that air is excluded from the bale, resulting in better fermentation, and bales that hold their shape in the stack, which results in few, if any, effluent issues.

“The McHale certainly has an appetite, so our favoured method is to mow with our triple set up, bring the three swathes together with an 8m rake and offer the baler a wide, flat-topped row that results in a final product with great shape

and high density throughout,” Preston says. Despite weighing around 5.8 tonnes, or around 7.0 tonnes with a bale in the chamber and one on the wrapper, the unit is well balanced, easily towed on its oversize wheel equipment and importantly, safety stopped with the standard brakes, he says. The baler is equipped with a “film on film” wrapping system: After the bale is produced, film is applied instead of net wrap, before the wrapper element applies the final layers. “Film on film has many advantages. Not least, it excludes more air from the bale result-

ing in a better end product,” Preston explains. “If there are any rips in the film after baling, we only see minimal spoilage around the puncture site and, of course, there is only one waste product to get rid of.” He says the Fusion baler is such an easy machine to use, which is great for Hilltop Contracting as they use seasonal workers. “We only need to spend around 10 minutes to get somebody started, then they’re away baling,” Preston adds. He says the other key part of the package is the support delivered by Power Farming Northland.



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Tip Trailers

Rotocart: RC270, RC300 & RC500. 3 sizes, super strong rotationally moulded in our factory.

48 Bremners Road PO Box 333 Ashburton P: 03-308 4497 M: 027-311 9471 E: FREEPHONE: 0800 622 276



Telehandler range gets a lift KRAMER HAS introduced a further two models to its telehandler range – the mini KT144 and the medium-sized KT3610. The smaller machine has compact dimensions and a choice of engines. The standard model is powered by a 25hp Yanmar diesel with the option of a 45hp unit from the same supplier. The smaller motor meets stage-V emission standards without exhaust treatment, while the larger unit requires a combination of catalytic converter and particulate filter to do so. The KT144 has a height of less than 2m and a width of around 1.6m. Its operating weight is approximately 3000kg. This makes it the smallest model in the Kramer telehandler range. The lifting perfor-

Air conditioning is available as an option, as is a cool box, heated cab glass, air sprung seat and extra work lights.

The KT3610 is a model targeted at regular farmers, with a maximum lift capacity of 3600kg and powered by a Deutz fourcylinder engine of 134hp.

mance, however, is not quite so modest. Fitted with pallet forks, it can lift 1450kg with a stacking

height of around 4.5m. The hydraulic pump on the larger engine version delivers 42L/min

with the option of 70L/ min if required. Kramer claims that the cab, while smaller, is still

Call for delivery options

spacious and comfortable. It has ergonomically-positioned grab handles and a low entry height of just 40cm. The larger KT3610 is a model much more targeted at regular farmers. It has a maximum lift

capacity of 3600kg and is powered by a Deutz fourcylinder engine of 134hp. The Kramer KT3610 is said to feature an impressive performance in a compact package The three section boom and other hydraulics are provided for by a 140L/min pump with a max working pressure of 260 bar. Automatic overload protection and bucket return are fitted as standard. Maximum stacking height is 9.5m and it can support the maximum load at a horizontal extension of 1.8m. The stacking height at the heaviest payload is 4.6m. Although it is only available with the one engine, there is a choice of cabs. The standard cabin is suited to low

entrances and passageways. When on the normal 24” tyres, the vehicle has a total height of just 2.31m. If there are no operating height constraints, there is also the option available for a cab raised by 18cm. This is said to improve all-round visibility, particularly to the right hand side. Air conditioning is available as an option, as is a cool box, heated cab glass, air sprung seat and extra work lights, amongst many others. Overall, Kramer is keen to emphasise the compactness of this new telehandler. It squeezes a welcome performance into a small package that is 5.03m long and 2.28m wide, with an operating weight of 7.6t.




+GST delivered

Proven beyo nd do ubt!




“I have no doubt that if I did not have a Quadbar fitted, my accident would have been fatal!” – Rozel Farms “The Quadbar saved our employee from significant injuries.” – Colin van der Geest

Recommended by Worksafe. ACC subsidy available

For a Quadbar, call me, Stuart Davidson, owner of Quadbar NZ, on 021-182 8115. Email or for more info go to

DEVAN • PROMAX • CALPEDA • •PURETEC • OASIS CLEARWATER P: 326 8888 P:0508 0508 326 8888 • A: A: 30 30 Turners RoadRoad – Feilding Turners – Feilding

600 500 400 300 200 100 0

P: 0508 326 8888 • A: 30 Turners Road – Feilding

ONE STOP WATER SHOP 300mm x 6 metre .......................... $410 400mm x 6 metre .......................... $515 500mm x 6 metre .......................... $735 600mm x 6 metre .......................... $989 800mm x 6 metre ........................ $1496 1000mm x 6 metre ...................... $2325 1200mm x 6 metre ...................... $3699 ALL PRICES INCLUDE G.S.T.


New Zealand’s CHEAPEST Culvert Pipes! FREE joiners supplied on request. • Lightweight, easy to install • Made from polyethylene

Check out our NEW website






06 323 4181


0800 625 826 for your nearest stockist

Joiners supplied FREE with culvert pipes





NZ’s finest BioGro certified Mg fertiliser For a delivered price call... 0800 436 566


Get up-to-date news at

tunnel houses MERRY CHRISTMAS

Thank you for supporting our NZ made business!

Grow vegetables all year round Very affordable and easy to install New Zealand designed and made 40 years producing tunnel houses Range of models sized from 2m - 10m t/f

03 214 4262 |



HARDY, LOW INPUT EASY CARE MEAT SHEEP • No dagging • No shearing • No dip, drench or chemicals since 1989

ESCORTED TOURS 2022 "Hassle-free travel for mature travellers’’

• FORGOTTEN HIGHWAY & TARANAKI 6 days, depart 8 February. Travel into the Forgotten World. Sightseeing, activities and Northern Explorer on return. • SOUTH ISLAND RAIL EXPERIENCEE 12 days, depart 10 March. Experience NZ’s three great rail journeys and the Interislander from Auckland to Invercargill. • RAROTONGA ‘RELAXER’ 7 days, depart 24 March & 10 May & 23 August. A leisurely South Pacific escape with great sightseeing, food & entertainment.


Also Tufty (polled Highland) bulls, cows and calves available

Shire® Stud Ram Sire “Silver” progeny for sale

Ph 03-225 5283 •

FLY OR LICE PROBLEMS? The magic eye sheepjetter since 1989

• CHATHAM ISLANDS DISCOVERY 8 days, depart 7 & 28 April & 20 October. A special place for a safe and relaxing close-to-home all inclusive holiday.

Quality construction and options • Get the contractors choice Featuring...


• Incredible chemical economy • Amazing ease 1500+ per hour • Unique self adjusting sides • Environmentally and user friendly • Automatically activated • Proven effective on lice as well as fly • Compatible with all dip chemicals • Accurate, effective application

TOP DOG BOX • Accommodates up to 4 dogs

• In-house drainage

• 6 individual air vents

• Tie down lugs on each side

• Removable centre board

• Fits all wellside & flatdeck utes (2 models)

• 2 lockable galvanised gates

• Raised floor for insulation

Single without tow ball mount ................... $625 Single with tow ball mount ........................ $699 Wellside .................................................... $985 Flatdeck ................................................... $985 ALL PRICES INCLUDE GST

Phone 0800 625 826 •

For full details

Phone 0800 11 60 60

07 573 8512 | –

Free Range & Barn Eggs SUPPLIERS OF:

Rubber Safety Matting • ATV Carrier Mats • Exit/Entry Areas • Calf Trailers • Horse Floats & Trucks • Weigh Platforms • Bale Mats • Comfort Mats for Wet & Dry Areas • Utility Deck Matting

• Nest boxes - manual or automated • Feed & Drinking • Plastic egg trays QUALITY PRODUCTS MADE IN EUROPE OR BY PPP

A trusted name in Poultry Industry for over 50 years ❖

Phone: 0800 80 8570


h c r u h c t s i r h C ll Group Tour E s co r t e d Sm


Stay safe this summer with TRAX QuadGuard®

7 Days, 2–8 March 2022 • Comfortable Central City Hotel • TranzAlpine train trip to Arthur’s Pass • Akaroa Nature Cruise • Antarctic Centre and Vintage Tram Tour • Free time for shopping • Local guide

All your family needs this Christmas is for you to come home safe – every day. Innovative and lifesaving rollover protection that is lightweight, flexible and affordable to keep Kiwi farmers safe.


0800 782 376


ends in stock now 31 dec

175% more crack resistant




valued at $230

100% Waterproof Fleece Collar Hood Visor Flexible PHONE


0800 16 00 24

valued at $160

Acid Resistant Durable Seams


$88 valued at $140

ZIP STRIP quick lacing





valued at $320

valued at $280

STEEL TOE X (with Scuff Guard)

STEEL TOE X (with Scuff Guard)

PLAIN TOE (without Scuff Guard)

STEEL TOE (without Scuff Guard)

Colour = Dark Brown Buffalo Leather Stitched On Soles 175% more crack resistant than normal leather xmas sale 10% off!


PLAIN TOE (without Scuff Guard)

New Zealand owned & operated

sizes: BOOTS 5 - 13 (NZ)


Reliable Trough Valves The proven success of Hansen’s Trough valves introduces a new era of design reliability that cuts valve maintenance overheads considerably. Coupled with a full range of size/flow options, it’s not difficult to see why they are the valve of choice for many farmers.

Super-Flo Valve Slipper Fit Piston helps prevent stuck valves

188 L/min @ 29 PSI

Max-Flo Valve Stock proof & self cleaning

570 L/min @ 29 PSI