New lobby chairman: voice for farmers

Karl Dean
Karl Dean
A new Federated Farmers dairy-farming leader hopes to be a voice for farmers.

Karl Dean was elected as the federation's North Canterbury dairy chairman during the provincial annual meeting at Oxford in April, replacing Michael Woodward, who bought a farm in the North Island.

''It was sprung on me a little bit when Woody got a good opportunity up north.

''But I see it as a good way to get more involved and tackle some of the issues which are going to arise with climate change and make sure farmers are aware of the legislation, and that Feds are fighting it.''

He said he was under no illusions about the challenges ahead for farmers with both climate change and climate legislation.

''We're hoping it doesn't impact too much on farmers and now Environment Canterbury has declared a climate emergency, so it will be interesting to see what that leads to.

''We just have to make sure that any changes of legislation are fair for everybody and Feds is here to get farmer views across.''

Mr Dean has also been involved in the North Canterbury Ospri TBfree committee since he moved from Taranaki six years ago.

He and his wife, Amie, have been variable-order sharemilkers for Chris and Pauline Prattley at Leeston for six years, milking 750 cows.

This latest season they produced 335,000kg of milk solids.

''It's one of our better years on this heavy country. We didn't have the really wet spring we would normally have, so we had a really good peak and we've been able to carry it through with great grass growth through summer and autumn.

''Every year is different. You never know what it's going to throw at you. It's all up in the air until it hits.''

The couple moved to a 50-50 sharemilking position for former Selwyn Mayor Kelvin Coe in June, taking 400 cows of their own.

The farm is near the shore of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, considered New Zealand's most polluted lake.

It presents some environmental challenges, such as protecting whitebait and fish spawning grounds.

''It will require some grazing management at certain times of the year, but with every farm there's always something new and unique.''

Mr Dean said he had set a conservative target of 144,000kg of milk solids for his first season on the new farm.

Going from employing three staff to just one staff member would make a change for the Deans, but he said it was a similar arrangement to the one he had in Taranaki, where they were milking 360 cows.

-By David Hill

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