Elections, run-off and winter mud

Richard Strowger is continuing to lead North Otago Federated Farmers.

He was re-elected for another year as president at the annual general meeting on May 15.

Dairy section chairman Lyndon Strang was also re-elected and has become the provincial vice-president.

Greg Ruddenklau is the meat and fibre chairman, with Hayden Williamson and Christopher O'Malley helming the sharemilkers' section.

Clare Easton is secretary-treasurer.

Mr Strowger said branch membership continued to grow.

''It is good to see farmers supporting Feds, not just for contracts and what they think they might receive but understand the bigger picture that the unseen sometimes holds the greatest risk to our business.''

In his annual report, he said North Otago farmers have had to develop new skills to handle wet conditions.

They would now need to meet new regional council water quality regulations.

''I believe it is in our own best interest to do some testing ourselves and track trends on our own properties.

''The wet conditions we are experiencing this autumn have the ability to have a major effect on water quality through the winter period. Please take the time to work through ways to reduce run-off of nutrient as the plan sets clear requirements for us to achieve.

''Some of our past methods will no longer satisfy the requirements of [Otago water plan] 6A.''

Mr Strowger was concerned that Environment Canterbury's approach favoured those who had already developed their farms, while others could no longer do so.

''It also appears to push cows to be wintered higher up the catchment in areas where nitrogen levels are lower, but of course that nitrogen will then flow down the catchment and into the lower catchment where nitrogen levels are already of concern.''

Some people from both regional councils seemed to think the answer was simply putting cows on to concrete, he said.

''While it may appear to answer some questions the cost of production, animal welfare and long-term sustainability are yet to be answered.''

Mr Strang said the Otago water plan ''seems to be workable for most farmers'' and the council ''open and willing to work with farmers to get to the desired results''.

The challenge for the coming winter would be dealing with mud, he said. It could not be discharged directly into waterways, nor could sediment from worked or pugged ground.

''Mitigation measures need to be in place and a decent attempt made to remove or reduce the problem,'' Mr Strang said.

''Our industry has entered a period where we are under a lot more scrutiny both nationally and internationally. It is important that our fellow Kiwis are proud of our industry and support its controlled growth and value our contribution to the national economy.

''To do this we must continue to make advances in the areas of environment, animal welfare and food safety, constantly looking for ways to improve systems and offer our customers the highest-quality product with a great New Zealand-made story to back it up.''