Day 3 of the tour started with a visit to the Federated Farmers of New Zealand to meet Nick Clark the Financial and Policy Advisor. Through a teleconference we had Andrew Hoggard, FFNZ Dairy Chairman and Anne Thompson who heads up the Dairy Policy join. A great discussion regarding the similarities and difference in issues faced by both industries, particularly interesting was the consumers perception of both followed.
Lincoln Demo Farm was the second stop. Ron Pellow, Executive Director of South Island Dairying Development Centre (SIDDC) explained the progression of the business from 2002 to current day and the issues they have faced in remaining relevant and profitable (staying in the top 2 – 3% for profitability year on year) while hosting 4000 visitors annually. The last four years the focus has turned to the farms ability to stay profitable while reducing their environmental footprint.
The reduction in cow numbers from 680 to 560 while increasing production from 409kg/MS/cow to 522kg/MS/cow from 2008-2015 was contributed to increased focus on pasture management and manipulation. During this period, in calf rate reduction from 78% to 68% has been identified as an issue of concern.
We quickly learnt our definitions of patchy Rye Grass pasture varied greatly over the ditch, with the general feeling being that we would all gladly take ‘patchy pasture’ of that quality and quantity mid summer!
West Farms Ltd was our final visit for the day with a 900ha cropping property specialising in Rye Grass and vegetable seed production.
A great farm to view to discuss a really interesting succession plan that has included the purchase of off farm assets, the rationalisation of those assets to then be redistributed between family members. The strongest focus on the family/business relationships continuing to be fostered during that process were a fantastic demonstration of succession done well. The prohibitive nature of the current land prices at $48,500 – $50,000Ha is limiting further land purchases.
The introduction of new and advanced technology into the business in the future, including the use of drones, upgrading to robotic packaging and use of auto steer during harvest will be integrated with new regulations regarding the environmental sustainability and the ability to track the farms impact constantly.
Our final stop for the day two was a networking dinner with three local industry leaders, David West from West Farms, Tom Heneghan from Henbook Farms and Willy Leferink from Pannetts Dairies. A lively, informative and entertaining discussion around all thing’s agriculture to end what had been another fantastic day on tour NZ.