Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday, January 13: Tumunus Maori Lands Trust North Dairy Farm

We were treated to a unique explanation of a dairy operation between a dairy producer and the leadership of a Maori Lands Trust. The Maori presentation included a detailed explanation of their members respect and love for the land and their interest as stock holders. The dairy herd consists of 2 – 500 head cow herds utilizing pasture as the primary feed. We found it most interesting to hear of the distance the cows would walk to paddocks. The milking parlor was one-quarter open roof and one-third open side. The 60 cow rotary parlor actually floats on water vs. bearings. Won’t work in S.D.!

Bruce Wills farm and Trelinnoe Park (A Garden of Landscape)

Thursday, January 13th we visited the farm of Bruce Wills. Bruce and his family operate a 2,500 head sheep farm along with a beef cow-calf herd. Bruce serves as a National Board Member and Meat & Fibre Chairman of Federated Farmers of New Zealand. Bruce is a former ag loan officer and spoke in-depth about the issues facing New Zealand agriculture, especially from the sheep perspective. New Zealand is one of the few “non subsized” ag countries in the world. He and most New Zealand farmers would not want to go back to a subsidized agricultural system. Their sheep and wool production has been in decline due to lack of profitability. In 1982, NZ had 72 million sheep and they now have 32 million. Bruce and others are attempting to have sheep producers work cooperatively in the marketing of their wool and meat. Two issues make it difficult: 1. Farmers parting with their $ to invest in marketing arrangements. 2. The independence of the farmer. 60% of NZ exports come from grass-based agriculture. Bruce Wills said the first thing he checks every morning is the currency markets. The decline in the U.S. Dollar comparted to NZ dollar is negatively affecting NZ farmers income and is a big concern. A significant quote of the day for me, from Bruce Wills was: “If we don’t invest beyond the farmgate, we’ll forever be peasants”.

The ladies had a wonderful time this afternoon looking at 30 acres of beautiful flowers, plants, trees and lily ponds. The group is staying one block from the Pacific Ocean tonight.

At dinner tonight, Gary Jones visited with the group at a mission winery. He is the manager of pipfruit services, involved in apple business. New Zealand is the 10th largest apple exporter in the world. Royal Gala and Braburn apples are by far their most popular. Market trends include few residues with an emphasis on food safety and sustainable production as it relates to carbon and water. It takes 3-4 weeks for apples from New Zealand to arrive in the US in cargo containers on ships

Report from: Craig Dybedahl and Clark Hanson


Men with Bruce Wills, Chairman of
New Zealand Federated Farmers (front row, cap)

Stephen Pohl, Grant McFadden (Guide) and Gary Cammack
Federated Farmers