Latest season 'one of the best'

Oxford dairy farmer Grant Evans says the latest season has been ''one of the best''.

While he acknowledges the season has been disappointing for many farmers, and in particular arable farmers, the Federated Farmers North Canterbury vice-president said he is feeling confident going into winter.

''Grass-wise and feed-wise, this season has to be one of the best in memory, setting us up very nicely for winter. Our pasture bases are looking very good and the crops are catching up well with the autumn growth.''

Mr Evans said the season had been one of extremes, with the storm in September and the wet autumn - ''but no drought''.

''We've had moments of dryness and a few weeks of using alternative irrigation systems, but you expect that.

''Nature came in and gave us a hand just at the right times, so it didn't get too dry. Droughts are always worse if you're a dairy farmer with no contingencies - there's no milk cheque.''

Mr Evans said the key was to have strategies to mitigate for whatever the weather. ''It's easy to say that, but it's about having feed on hand for adverse events.''

Mr Evans said regulations around Environment Canterbury's land and water regional plan was causing the most concern for dairy farmers.

''We are looking to work through it with the regulators, but we're not going to go away. We accept we may need to adapt. It's a matter of making it work.

''We live in the area and we don't want to pollute our land. We want to be sustainable and to be green, but we have got to make a living.''

Mr Evans has two dairy farms, one with his son sharemilking 1200 cows and a second 500-cow farm.

He said Fonterra's announcement of a $7 milk price forecast, after this season's record high of $8.40, was ''well on the mark''.

''We are bound by a volatile market. The volatility has always been there, but I think most farmers would be happy with it.

''I expect that they would have a pretty prudent attitude towards spending after such a high price this year. The chequebooks will be put up a little higher in the shelf next season.''



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