Farmers criticise response

Farmers say they have been left to their own devices when it comes to feeding the HT-S57 swede, which was mistakenly sold by PGG Wrightson Seeds instead of Hawkestone yellowfleshed Cleancrop swede.

Talking to Southern Rural Life, southern farmers said there had been no written advice given to them about feeding the swedes, apart from the two-page Cleancrop Feeding and Management Guide.

In the compensation guidance claim form obtained by Southern Rural Life, PGG Wrightson states if farmers did not follow the feeding and management advice provided by PGG Wrightson and/or any other industry guidelines or other advice sought, claims may be reduced or declined.

However, farmers spoken to said there was no written advice and in an attempt to find further information on transitioning to swedes, there was very little available.

PGG Wrightson Seeds general manager David Green said there was some very good advice out there, and PGG Wrightson had visited about 150 farms to work with farmers on the situation.

''No one size fits all. You have to be careful you don't send out one thing. In some cases it won't be right.''

Mr Green said PGG Wrightson was aware of a small number of issues, mostly with dairy cows and photosensitivity.

''What we've put in place with all the vets is a situation [that] doesn't cost the farmer anything.''

If there were issues, samples were being sent to Massey University for testing, he said.

Dominant cows had tended to fall ill, as they tended to be the leaf eaters in early transition.

''There's a few cases but it all seems to be going pretty well.''

The cold winter had proved positive, with some good frosts, which reduced leaves, and the bulbs were reasonably palatable, Mr Green said.

It was up to individual farmers how much compensation they claimed.

''People will pay different amounts,'' Mr Green said. ''The key thing is what people will be able to claim for is out of the ordinary [expenses] to mitigate.''

Farmers could make a claim at any point, but PGG Wrightson expected most after winter. Farmers were advised to document everything.

Mr Green said farmers would be compensated for any costs required to mitigate the use of the swede. All claims had to be lodged by December 1, 2018.

Former Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird said he had heard of some stock deaths around them transitioning on to the swedes.

He was aware some resources were to be developed, but animals were already on crop, he said.

He had spoken to PGG Wrightson about whether the company was responding appropriately.

It was having significant impact on farmers having to buy in more feed and was having serious implications on some farmers' cash flows.

''I've been very disappointed with the compensation process.''

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said a public meeting in Gore on the matter earlier earlier this year had attracted a large turnout.

''Farmers deserve fast and fair compensation from PGG.''

Compensation claims

  • Farmers can only claim valid extra expenses and losses reasonably incurred directly due to the HT-S57 swede substitution over and above any expense which would have been incurred normally from growing Hawkestone swedes.
  • If farmers did not follow the feeding and management information PGG Wrightson Seeds provided and/or industry guidelines or other advice sought, claims may be reduced or declined.
  • Claims will be assessed and some farmers may be asked to clarify aspects of claims or provide further verification.
  • Lodging a claim does not mean PGG Wrightson Seeds will accept the claim nor does it prevent PGG Wrightson from defending the claim.
  • Once a claim has been evaluated, farmers will be contacted to confirm the amount of any settlement offer.If an offer is made, a letter of offer will be sent which must be signed and returned to enable payment.
  • Signing and returning any offer will be full and final settlement of all claims against PGG Wrightson Seeds Ltd and its agents for this matter. No further claim will be considered.

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