Rural round-up

February 2, 2015

Blue River Dairy Sells Invercargill Processing Plant to Chinese Interests:

New Zealand’s leading sheep milk powder producer, Blue River Dairy, has sold its Nith Street, Invercargill processing plant to Blueriver (HK) Nutrition Company Limited (hereinafter referred to as ‘Blueriver Nutrition HK’) for an undisclosed sum.

The deal is effective from 1 February and no jobs will be lost at the plant. Conversely, significant new investment at the plant is planned by Blueriver Nutrition HK with the likely addition of a second drier and up to $40m in new development. This will likely create additional jobs in construction and production, both on-plant and on-farm, over the next five years.

Blueriver Nutrition HK will continue to process Blue River milk as part of the sale with Blue River, who will concentrate on expanding its milk production on-farm to meet growing demand. . .

NZ lamb wool price jumps to 3 1/2 year high on increased demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand lamb wool prices rose to a three-and-a-half year high at auctions this week on increased demand for the fibre used in clothing, as buyers benefited from a decline in the local currency.

The price for lamb wool in the North Island auction jumped 30 cents to $6.40 per kilogram, from last week’s North Island auction, while the South Island auction price rose to $6.25/kg on lower volumes, according to AgriHQ. The prices are the highest for lamb wool since July 2011.

The price for 35-micron clean wool, a benchmark for crossbred wool used for carpets and accounting for the majority of New Zealand’s production, rose to $5.05/kg in the North Island and $5.10/kg in the South Island, from $4.85/kg the previous week. Merino wool didn’t trade at the latest auctions. . .

Fonterra’s US licence blunder human error:

Fonterra has admitted human error has cost the dairy giant its multi-million dollar licence to export cheese to the United States.

In a statement the co-operative said it missed its deadline to apply for the licence, and will now have to sell its cheese to the US by arranging deals with other licenced New Zealand exporters.

“Due to human error, a deadline was missed which meant that Fonterra (USA) failed to apply in time for licences to import New Zealand cheese into the USA in 2015,” said Fonterra director global ingredients Kelvin Wickham. . .

Synlait revises forecast of market milk price to $4.40:

Synlait Milk has today revised its forecast of the market milk price for the FY2015 season down from $5.00 per kgMS to $4.40 per kgMS, along with a corresponding decrease in advance rates to farmers.

Synlait Chairman Graeme Milne said this revision is the result of several factors at play in the global market, which are causing continued downward pressure on milk prices.

“Low commodity prices are persisting as the global market struggles with the current over supply of milk products,” said Mr Milne. . .

 

 

Unless you're in the middle of a blizzard. Maybe wait a bit and *then* plant some trees. But that's totally your call. Thanks for the image, Give A Shit About Nature!

 

 


Rural round-up

June 20, 2014

New Zealand features at “Olympics” of TB control

New Zealand’s expertise in the eradication of bovine tuberculosis (TB) will be showcased in Wales this month at the prestigious international M.bovis conference.

TBfree New Zealand TB Eradication and Research Manager Dr Paul Livingstone QSO will be a keynote speaker at the conference. He is well known for advising other countries, including Wales, Ireland, Chile and the United States, on TB management.

Dr Livingstone has spent his working life managing the disease and has been a key part of TBfree New Zealand’s success. He said it is a privilege to speak in front of such an esteemed gathering of experts from around the world, with about 500 attendees expected at the conference. . .

Antimicrobial resistance worries vets:

Growing resistance to antimicrobials has vets worried.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association at its annual conference in Hamilton this week, regards it as one of the greatest threat to human and animal health.

Bacteria, which is the major cause of disease develops the ability to withstand the antibiotic used to control them.

Keynote speaker at the conference, Australian vet, Stephen Page said that while the problem in animals is not nearly as great as in humans, farmers and vets can’t afford to relax. . .

Rural professionals needed – Vet Assn:

The Veterinary Association says the lack of young people wanting to take up careers in agribusiness and sciences is likely to affect the number of vets being produced in this country.

The Ministry for Primary Industries puts the number of rural professionals currently at about 2000.

Association president Steve Merchant said for this country to achieve an increase in its primary exports at double the current rate, more rural professionals were needed. . . .

Research to focus on environment:

Dairy industry research funded by farmer levies will have a stronger focus on environmental issues.

The industry body Dairy NZ has received strong farmer support for renewing the levies it collects from them for another six years.

That will take effect when the Primary Industries Minister signs a new commodity levies order, which needs to happen by February next year. . . .

HRH The Prince of Wales hosts Campaign for Wool’s 5th Anniversary:

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Campaign for Wool, the campaign’s Patron His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales hosted a major celebration of wool at Clarence House.

Attended by a host of key guests representing brands and fashion designers from the Wool Collection, the occasion was marked with enlightening talks by very special guests including Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chairman of the Campaign for Wool (pictured below with HRH The Prince of Wales). Seeking to highlight two of the Campaign’s most frequently made claims regarding wool’s benefits: firstly, that it is a supremely safe fibre thanks to its natural fire retardant properties and that secondly, wool quickly biodegrades in soil – a key ecological benefit, the day centred around two tests and an immersive wool fashion and interiors presentation. . . .

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Campaign for Wool, the campaign’s Patron His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales hosted a major celebration of wool at Clarence House.

Attended by a host of key guests representing brands and fashion designers from the Wool Collection, the occasion was marked with enlightening talks by very special guests including Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chairman of the Campaign for Wool (pictured below with HRH The Prince of Wales). Seeking to highlight two of the Campaign’s most frequently made claims regarding wool’s benefits: firstly, that it is a supremely safe fibre thanks to its natural fire retardant properties and that secondly, wool quickly biodegrades in soil – a key ecological benefit, the day centred around two tests and an immersive wool fashion and interiors presentation.

– See more at: http://www.campaignforwool.org/news-item/hrh-the-prince-of-wales-hosts-campaign-for-wools-5th-anniversary/#sthash.4Zt2b9RF.dpuf

‘Farming in the Cloud’ online accounting launched by Xero:

Online accounting software company Xero today formally launched its dedicated rural online accounting and farm management solution – Farming in the Cloud – together with key farming solution partner, Figured, at the National Fieldays in Mystery Creek.

Xero also announced that rural services company, RD1 has joined Farming in the Cloud as a partner, and as part of this is working with the wider Fonterra group to explore opportunities for integration.

Ben Richmond, CA, Xero Rural Strategy Lead said: “We are excited to now have all our major rural supplier partnerships in place. Figured has been instrumental in taking Xero to the farming market. Now, having RD1 on board, alongside the likes of PGG Wrightson which is already a partner, really validates the power of Farming in the Cloud as a ground-breaking farm productivity tool, and looking ahead we’re pleased to be broadening our relationship with Fonterra.” . . .

Kahungunu Harvesting Our Future:

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi is hosting a second in a series of Agribusiness Conferences to showcase current farming talent and to provide roadways into the future for landowners and shareholders who in the past leased their land to neighbouring farmers.

This conference is being held on Thursday 26th June at The Hub in Dannevirke.

We will highlight successful business women in farming and successful grouping of Māori interests that take produce from the ‘Nuku to the Puku’ meaning from the land to the tables of the world.
Dannevirke is already a hot bed of energy and innovation when it comes to farming. The success stories from this area will be a good example for other small communities that see the value of cooperation and partnership.

Ngāti Kahungunu is well known in iwi circles for our generous hospitality to visitors. This trait has built lifelong relationships throughout the country and one we want to extend to the world. . .

Fonterra Announces Two Senior Appointments:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced two senior appointments to the Fonterra Management Team.

Kelvin Wickham, who is currently President Greater China, will take up the newly created position of Managing Director Global Ingredients.

Johan Priem, who is currently a member of the Office of the CEO, will become President Greater China, when Mr Wickham assumes his new role on 1 August. . . .

New Zealand Site Dominates U.S. Wine World:

The most influential wine website in the U.S. is not based in Silicon Valley but the Auckland suburb of New Lynn.

The VinePair Wine Web Power Index measures the influence of selected wine websites and mobile apps within the United States and West Auckland-based Wine Searcher is top of the list.

Wine Searcher is a search engine for wine that lists more than 5.5 million wines and prices from almost 40,000 merchants around the world. Master of Wine Jancis Robinson calls it “the most successful, and seriously useful, price comparison website.” . . .


Rural round-up

March 20, 2014

Charmaine O’Shea takes 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year title:

Northland dairy farmer and Chartered Accountant Charmaine O’Shea was named the Dairy Woman of the Year last night at a gala dinner held by the Dairy Women’s Network in Hamilton.

With more than 20 years’ dairy farming and financial expertise, O’Shea has played an important role in improving the profitability of the New Zealand dairy industry through strong financial, environmental and people performance.

She is an equity partner in a Maungatapere dairy farm with brother Shayne. The sibling’s robust environmental stewardship and actions to demonstrate best farming practices were recognised last year when they were named the 2013 Northland Supreme Ballance Farm Environment Award winners. . .

Fonterra Launches China-New Zealand Dairy Exchange Centre:

Fonterra today announced the launch of the China-New Zealand Dairy Exchange Centre in Beijing. The Centre is a joint initiative between Fonterra and China’s National Dairy Industry and Technology System to support the sustainable development of the dairy industry in both countries.

“It is a key priority for Fonterra to contribute to the development of the Chinese dairy industry and we believe there is a lot to be gained by both New Zealand and China through the sharing of knowledge, research and dairy expertise,” said Kelvin Wickham, President of Fonterra Greater China and India.

“Both parties have world-class dairy research and know-how so we are very pleased to be playing a key role in bringing this initiative to life,” he said. . .

Local Government-Backed Website for Water Quality:

The local government sector is leading the way to provide New Zealanders with up to date information about fresh water, with the launch of a new website that makes water quality data public.

The Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website www.lawa.org.nz was created by 16 regional and unitary councils that are Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) members, together with the Ministry for Environment, Cawthron Institute and Massey University with support of the Tindall Foundation.

LAWA provides a rich source of data from more than 1100 freshwater sites local government monitors to give the public easy access to water quality monitoring information. It allows users to see levels of bacteria, acidity, water clarity and other parameters in rivers and catchments. . .

The incredible shrinking current account deficit:

While the value of dairy exports has helped New Zealand record a current account deficit in the December 2013 quarter, $900 million less than in the September 2013 quarter, Federated Farmers knows trade agreements are a must to continue this positive trend.

“Our export performance continues to shine and while dairy is leading, it is a story of our superbly resilient primary industries,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“As Westpac Institutional Bank noted, “A sharp rebound in export volumes, after the severe drought in early 2013, led to the strongest seasonally-adjusted goods balance on record.” . .

High Country innovative leaders:

Federated Farmers High Country farmers are keen to work with Environment Canterbury in making the industry sustainable, so that they can continue improving the land, and keeping the iconic landscape pest free.

“Federated Farmers High Country Field Day yesterday saw 140 industry stakeholders and supporters make a pilgrimage through five of the country’s iconic stations, now a far cry from the barren, rabbit filled desert they once were,” says Simon Williamson, Federated Farmers North Otago High Country Spokesperson.

“There has been an enormous amount of work done to transform some of this barren land into productive pastures. A fundamental part of this transformation has been irrigation, which has allowed this land to generate enough income to support 23 families over eight farms, as opposed to just seven families on six farms nine years ago. . .

Support Trust to highlight farmers’ plight – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland Rural Support Trust has called a meeting of central and local government officials and farmer representatives to help west coast farms gripped by drought.

Former tropical cyclone Lusi turned out to be a damp squib, delivering 20mm of rain at most in the western Kaipara regions of Pouto Peninsula and South Kaipara Head, considerably les than the 50-75mm that fell on Northland’s east coast.

Farmers who attended the Northland Agricultural Research Farm annual field day near Dargaville last week heard of the continuing extreme soil moisture deficit, which has been evident since before Christmas. . . .

Verda Deal Gives New Hope To NZ’s Wood Processing Industry:

 A long-awaited turnaround in the wood processing sector has been signaled today by outdoor wood specialist Verda New Zealand Ltd, who announced they are forming a new entity after a successful capital raising exercise.

Local and international investors have come together to form Verda International Ltd (VIL). VIL has purchased all of Verda New Zealand’s assets, brands and IP, and has taken a 47 per cent stake in the company’s sawmill in Napier.

VIL CEO Grant Butterworth, says the deal is the culmination of 12 months of work to form the new entity, attract new investors and finalise the company structure. . .

Lies, damned lies and statistics (surveys) – Willy Leferink:

What would happen if Federated Farmers put out a survey asking respondents to agree or disagree with broad sweeping statements.  I’m thinking along the lines of, ‘do you feel introduced fish species should enjoy significantly more legal protection over native fish?’ What about, ‘should the trout license fee ($121 for an adult) be abolished, with trout and salmon rules aligned with those for saltwater recreational fishing?’

Something tells me one organisation would cry blue murder before exploding in a rage of apoplexy.  So guess what, I am not going down that line. 

Instead, I am going to respond to what I heard Bernard Hickey and RadioLIVE’s Marcus Lush recently say on radio.  Lush said, “we’re becoming more dairy intensive with these great irrigation projects in Canterbury and to a lesser extent Hawke’s Bay…they are all geared for more people going into dairy.” 

Funny then that the sheep and beef guys in Central Hawke’s Bay are going to use Ruataniwha to part irrigate their farms, just like Federated Farmers’ Mid-Canterbury provincial president Chris Allen. . .

Updated dairy cattle code of welfare to include calf management:

Federated Farmers welcomes the consultation process announced by NAWAC late last week, as it updates the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare.

“There has been a lot of media coverage recently of calves being slaughtered in Chile,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Federated Farmers agrees with most New Zealanders that this sort of behaviour does not belong on New Zealand farms. . .


Rural round-up

August 8, 2013

Fonterra launches probe into food scare:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, has launched an investigation into a food contamination scare after accounting for the potentially tainted product.

Chief executive Theo Spierings told a briefing in Auckland all affected whey protein and its derivatives had been contained internationally, and he was satisfied the contamination scare had stabilised. The dairy company has launched an investigation into the “human error” that caused the failure, and introduced extra testing until the probe is completed, Spierings said.

“An internal investigation has already started and it’s also likely that we will go for an external investigation,” Spierings said. “Fonterra will keep everybody in the loop and informed of our findings.” . . .

Conclusion of NDRC investigation

Fonterra Co-operative Group today confirmed it has been issued with an administrative fine of approximately NZD 900,000 (RMB 4.47 million) following the conclusion of the China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) review of pricing practices in the mainland of China for consumer dairy products.

“Fonterra has been co-operating fully and openly with the NDRC throughout this process. We accept the NDRC’s findings and we believe the investigation leaves us with a much clearer understanding of expectations around implementing pricing policies which is useful as we progress our future business plans,” said Kelvin Wickham, President of Fonterra Greater China and India.

“We understand that a number of companies in the dairy industry were fined, with Fonterra’s fine being in the lowest range.” . . .

To change perceptions farmers need to connect – Milking on the Moove:

It’s a perception Issue

I often hear people in the agricultural sector say things like “We need to remove the emotion from the issue” or “It’s a perception problem”.

We will never remove emotion from decisions, because everybody forms judgments based on their emotions, past experience and prejudices.

People make snap judgements

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called “Blink”. In his book he outlines research that shows people make judgements on a person, product, brand based on very small amounts of information.

He says that once a judgement has been made, a person is unlikely to change their mind. . .

Stress on Rural Business Prompts New Initiative From Business Mentors:

Business Mentors New Zealand has announced a new initiative to increase business mentoring support to rural businesses throughout New Zealand, which are facing increasing levels of stress worsened by the aftermath of the recent drought, tighter regulations on health and safety, and environmental controls.

The new initiative supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment sees the $150 Business Mentors’ registration fee waived for businesses in areas where a medium-scale drought was declared. The country’s 17 Business Mentoring agencies are being encouraged to place greater emphasis on supporting rural enterprises. . .

‘I’d never buy Fonterra milk,’ says man purchasing three bottles of Anchor – The Civilian:

A man at a local supermarket has told a 17-year-old cashier that he would “never buy Fonterra milk,” particularly after this week’s contamination scandal, and said that this is why he’s made the conscious decision as a consumer to purchase Anchor milk instead.

The man, 29-year-old Brandon Gray, said he was “pretty savvy” when it came to selecting his products, and he wouldn’t let Fonterra’s domination of the dairy industry prevent him from expressing his disapproval of their operations. . . .


Rural round-up

July 18, 2013

Big increase in water for irrigation for SC possible – Matthew Littlewood:

The equivalent of nearly 250 Hagley Parks worth of extra land could be freed up for irrigation in the Orari and Opihi catchments, if the right measures are in place.

Environment Canterbury water management scientist Brett Painter told this week’s Orari-Opihi-Pareora water management committee meeting that adjustments to the Rakaia Water Conservation Order could be a “game changer” for sourcing extra water for the South Canterbury Catchment.

Painter said “at the extreme end”, enough water for an extra 42,000ha of irrigation could be made available. . .

Not sure it’s realistic for farmers to own the meat industry – Allan Barber:

There is a lot of noise about the dysfunctional or broken meat industry accompanied by the suggestion it would be solved if farmers owned a bigger slice of it.

The Meat Industry Excellence group has been touring the country since earlier this year, holding farmer meetings and trying to drum up support for fixing the industry’s problems. In total some 3,000 farmers attended meetings from Gore to Gisborne which, even if every attendee was firmly in support, only represents a maximum of 20% of sheep and beef farmers. . .

Farmlets tipped for Glencoe Station – Grant Bryant:

Two huge players in Queenstown’s high finance, development and winery scene are set to carve up a large chunk of Glencoe Station for clusters of two-acre farmlets.

In recent years the area on the Crown Range above Arrowtown has become the home and playground of the mega-rich, with fabulously wealthy and enormously reclusive music producer Robert “Mutt” Lange snapping up 8500ha of the high-country station for an undisclosed amount in 2009.

New Zealand international sailor and prominent America’s Cup captain Russell Coutts is a next-door neighbour to the station, with his holiday home boasting an underground pool and golf course. . .

Forest Levy takes important step:

An application for the introduction of a levy on harvested logs has been lodged with Associate Minister for Primary Industries Hon Jo Goodhew. 

“This is an important step in the process of getting a Levy Order under the Commodity Levies Act and follows a successful forest grower referendum in March,” says Forest Growers Levy Trust chair Geoff Thompson.

“Officials will now take several months to assess the application and all the accompanying detail about levy collection, budgeting and ongoing structure. We are fundamentally on target to introduce the levy from 1 January 2014.” . . 

Bovine bliss in a winter cow house  – Finian Scott:

Numerous South Island farmers have been putting in the hard yards, trekking out into waist deep snow in parts of the Mackenzie Country, firing up bulldozers and snow ploughs in an attempt to set tracks for stock and feed out.

Weather-hardened livestock do their best to hunt out natural shelter belts, prepping for the inevitable mad rush towards the trail of food snaking a path behind the steaming tractor and feed bin.

Meanwhile, as the doors roll up on a Cow House at Studholme, the cows inside look up, lazily, mid-chew, to see who this new “disturber of the peace” may be. . .

Fonterra cuts Anmum-branded product prices in China amid price-fixing probe – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, cut the price of its Anmum-branded products in China as the local regulator looks at potential price manipulation by major foreign firms selling into the world’s most-populous nation.

The Auckland-based cooperative will trim 9 percent from its Anmum maternal health products in mainland China from next month “to better meet consumer needs in light of recent industry-wide price revisions,” Fonterra president for Greater China and India, Kelvin Wickham, said in an emailed statement. . .

NZ Honey Comes under Scrutiny in Hong Kong. New Zealand’s Oldest Brand Says Tighter Export Controls Are Needed:

Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s oldest honey brand, believes the quality control of New Zealand honey export needs to be tighter, following recent feedback from the Hong Kong Consumer Council. On 16 July, New Zealand honey came under scrutiny in Hong Kong after the Hong Kong Consumer Council, a statutory body that protects and promotes consumer rights in Hong Kong, tested a number of well-known brands available in the region. The Consumer Council reports that a quarter of the 55 samples tested (from a number of countries, including New Zealand) have been adulterated with sugar, including Manuka. . .


Organic milk not sustainable

August 23, 2011

Fonterra’s organic milk operation is another casualty of the GFC:

Fonterra’s Group Director Supplier and External Relations Kelvin Wickham says the co-operative remains committed to the organics market but as growth in this market has significantly slowed since the global financial crisis, Fonterra needs to make changes to its organic operations.

Organic milk attracted a premium for producers but enough consumers aren’t willing to pay extra for it.

Mr Wickham says the organics market was hit hard by the global financial crisis and market indications are it will not recover to previous levels.

“All categories felt the effects but particularly the category in which we sell – packaged dairy foods – where prices and volumes are still below 2008 levels.

“Research shows people are now less willing to pay the premium for organic products. In addition, consumers are gaining more confidence that everyday products are being produced more sustainably and are more acceptable so they no longer see the need to pay the premium for most organic products.

When budgets tighten luxury products are the first to go and organic milk is in that category.

A lot of the support for organic products is based on emotion rather than science and if consumers think or feel that ordinary food they buy is being produced in a safe and sustainable way they don’t need to spend more on speciality organic produce.

Fonterra is meeting suppliers this week to tell them its plan which includes:

Concentrating Fonterra’s North Island organic suppliers in one hub around its key certified organic processing site – Hautapu. This will reduce the number of Fonterra’s organic suppliers.
Reducing the amount of product processed at Fonterra’s other two certified organic sites – Waitoa and Morrinsville.
Prioritising the organic product range to focus on cheese which provides the best returns.
Focusing on emerging Asian and Australasian organics markets where there are stronger returns and growth potential.

Mr Wickham says the first two points will mean considerable transport and manufacturing cost savings for Fonterra’s organic business.

“Our organic farmers are currently spread right across the North Island. This means substantial transport costs for the business.

“In addition, focusing most of our organic product through a single site will mean we are able to create efficiencies of scale in processing the milk.

Carting milk the length and breadth of the North Island hardly fits the sustainable model. It’s a waste of fuel and adds substantially to costs.

“We understand the big commitment many of our farmers have made to the organics programme and that this transition will not be an easy one to make. The decision to reduce our organics operation was not taken lightly but we need to get the business back into a break-even situation.

“We will honour all of our organic contracts through to their formal termination dates, which in some cases are four-five years away and we will work with our farmers as they make the transition out of the organics programme.”

This decision will be hard for the farmers who’ve gone to the trouble and cost of changing to organic production but it will be better for the co-operative if the organic operation stops losing money.

It could also provide opportunities for boutique dairy producers who might be able to buy the organic milk and use it as a point of difference in markets which are less price sensitive.

 

 


Good and bad news in clean-stream snapshot

March 18, 2011

A newsletter to shareholders from Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden says there’s good and bad news in the dairying and clean streams accord snapshot: 

  • Good news is we’re making headway.
    • Full compliance with effluent rules up 5% to 65%
    • 99% of farms have nutrient budgets
    • 85% of stock excluded from waterways
    • Less than 2% of farms need crossings bridged or culverted
  • Bad news is there’s been a 1% increase in significant effluent non-compliance from15% to 16%.

Fonterra said  the slight increase in significant non-compliance with regional council dairy effluent rules was unacceptable, but believed its Every Farm Every Year inspections regime was a concerted effort to turn this result around.

Today’s Dairying and Clean Streams Accord snapshot for the 2009/10 season shows significant national non-compliance rose by 1% to 16%, despite considerable improvements in Northland, Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago.

Fonterra Group Director Supplier and External Relations, Kelvin Wickham said Every Farm Every Year was a concerted effort to address non-compliance by identifying farms at risk and ensuring remedial plans were put in place.

“The programme got underway nationally in August so it was never going to change last season’s results. But what is encouraging is that the compliance message is getting through and farmers are taking it seriously. That’s also evident in the snapshot results for full compliance which rose 5% to 65% last season.”

He said Fonterra’s Sustainable Dairying Advisors have completed 1188 consultations with farmers keen to ensure their on-farm effluent infrastructure is able to cope with the year-round demands put on it. Farms are referred to the advisors if the Every Farm Every Year inspection identifies properties at risk of non-compliance, but Mr Wickham said some farmers had also proactively sought advice ahead of their farm’s assessment.

“Our initiative is beginning to have a positive impact with farmers willing to accept advice and to spend the money needed to improve their effluent systems. By the end of this season we expect to have 1,000 remedial plans in place. Since August, 252 farms have already completed their plans and a further 582 are underway. There are no quick fixes but farmers are working hard to get it right and in many cases a significant investment is needed to ensure systems are compliant 365 days a year.”

Mr Wickham said good progress was being made on other Accord targets and Fonterra was this year highlighting the work of five farmers who were contributing to this progress.

Work done by these farmers who have put the Dairying  Accord into action can be seen here.  Their work includes improved fertiliser management, fencing waterways and tree planting.

“Across the country there is a lot of good work going on unnoticed and while we know there’s more work to be done, it’s also appropriate to acknowledge the real efforts being made.”

The snapshot showed 85% of farms nationally now have stock excluded from waterways and in Northland, Canterbury, Otago and Southland 90% have been excluded. Less than 2% of farms required bridges or culverts for waterways. Nutrient budgets had been adopted by 99% of farms but the challenge now was to work towards full management plans where nutrient inputs and outputs are measured and managed.

“The results show a lot of good effort has gone in from farmers, regional councils and organisations like DairyNZ and Every Farm Every Year is stepping up the effort in the key area of compliance.”

Farms working through remedial plans include those which could pass a compliance spot check, but farmers still accepted the work had to be done.

“Every Farm Every Year assesses whether an on-farm system is fit for purpose 365 days a year. This is about risk assessment and mitigation, not compliance monitoring. It’s not enough for a farm to comply 90% of the time. Year round compliance is what we are looking for and that’s where we are heading.”

Mr Wickham said risk factors being identified on farms mirrored those identified in the Dairying and Cleans Streams Accord snapshot.

“We know effluent storage capacity, irrigation systems and feed pads or standoffs are all potential trouble spots. Without adequate storage farmers can’t defer irrigation in wet conditions and Every Farm Every Year helps them recognise that. They are also recognising the value of effluent as a source of nutrients and can see the money spent on upgrading systems has a relatively quick payback through better grass growth and productivity.”

He said new tools like the Massey University effluent pond storage calculator were invaluable for ensuring individual farms had storage matched to soil types, herd size, production days, yard and feedpad areas and irrigation capacity. DairyNZ had also successfully established a new industry code of practice to ensure the design and installation of effluent systems meets set standards. Positive working relationships between regional councils, Fonterra and DairyNZ also meant farmers were getting good information and practical programmes such as open days.

“There is a lot of commitment out there and both Fonterra and our farmers are taking sustainability very seriously. There’s a way to go, but the effort is going in and we are starting to see some promising results.”

Agriculture Minsiter Minister David Carter said farmers are slowly taking heed of the need to lift their game to prevent pollution.

Mr Carter says that while progress could be faster, the message is gradually getting through to those farmers who have struggled with effluent compliance, and are now looking to their industry bodies and regional councils for support

“For example, in Canterbury, the ‘Check it, fix it, get it right’ initiative has been working to provide information and advice to farmers on adopting good effluent management practices.

“In the 2009/10 dairy season, 59 percent of Canterbury dairy farms were fully compliant with their dairy-shed effluent discharge conditions, up from 43 percent in the previous season. Significant non-compliance fell to 8 percent from 19 percent in the previous season.

“This initiative is now being rolled out throughout the North Island, and Southland.

The 2009/10 Snapshot shows progress has been made on four of the five targets set by the Accord.

Mr Carter also notes that Fonterra’s Every Farm Every Year checks of effluent management expects to have about 1000 farms on remedial plans by the end of the current dairy season.

“It’s encouraging that many of those farmers did not wait to be checked, but got in touch with the co-operative to ask for the plan.

“While it can’t be directly attributed to those initiatives, Environment Waikato has reported that significant non-compliance has more than halved in the season-to-date, with just 11 percent of farmers in serious breach of regional planning rules.”

“There is now a good deal of education, training and technological innovation underway in the dairy sector, all aimed at maintaining productivity while reducing environmental impact,” says Mr Carter.

Farmers in our area are taking the Accord very seriously. Most are motivated by the determination to keep the water they drink and swim in clean.

For the few for whom that carrot isn’t sufficient there’s the stick of severe and costly consequences of falling foul of regional council requirements. There’s also the knowlege that Fonterra has lost patience with the minority who are deliberately or carelessly polluting waterways and tarring all dairy farmers with their dirty brush.

The full snapshot is here.


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