It was a season of extremes, but North Canterbury dairy
farmers are feeling confident heading into winter.
Federated Farmers North Canterbury dairy spokesman Vaughan
Beazer said the just completed season was one of ''highs and
lows'', starting with the wind storm in September and damage
to irrigators, the wet autumn and the anticipation of
Fonterra's record payout.
''It's certainly been a challenging season, with the wind
damage and trying to capture as much milk production as
possible to maximise on the high milk price. But that's
become more challenging with the wet autumn.
''Production has tapered back in the last two months or farms
have have to finish early, so it's been quite extreme.''
Mr Beazer said rainfall up to the end of January was actually
lower than last season ''and that's even with the heavy rain
on Boxing Day''. January was also one of the ''coldest and
driest I can remember''.
''When it did rain, we . . . got some very big downpours.''
Mr Beazer said most farmers would welcome Fonterra's forecast
of a $7 payment for next season. ''It's about what most of us
expected, but it's the advance rate which is most important
and that won't be known until July. It gives us an idea for
setting our budgets.''
Fonterra has also offered a fixed price option, which Mr
Beazer said would give some farmers certainty for their
budgets, ''but it's not the one-size-fits-all option''.
''It's a bit like a mortgage - sometimes you're better to fix
your mortgage and other times you're better to have it
floating. With a floating payout, there's always going to be
an upside and a down side.''
Mr Beazer was born and bred in Christchurch and moved to a
20ha lifestyle block at Coes Ford, near Lincoln, with his
family at age 13.
''I grew up in the city, but after moving to the country and
showing stock and doing a bit of hay contracting, I couldn't
imagine going back to city life.
''There are quite a few opportunities in the country for
young people working on farms.''
He was in his second year as a 50/50 sharemilker milking 290
cows nearby in Greenpark and next year he hoped to move on to
a larger operation.
Mr Beazer stepped up as dairy spokesman in September and
planned to stay on until the next North Canterbury annual
meeting, ahead of changeover day. '
'It's been good being able to have meaningful conversations
with politicians and leaders. Someone has to represent us,
but you've just got to get the balance right.
''We are an issue-driven organisation. When there's an issue
everyone wants to stand up, but we need to keep the wheels
rolling the rest of the time,'' he said,
''It's when you sit down across the table with politicians
that things get done, when you say `this is how it will