Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective
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July 2015
Dear <<First Name>>
It was great to see a few of you at the Land Use Opportunities Symposium. Collective members have been active in the Rotorua Lakes District Council's Ten Year Plan submission process, voicing their concerns on the the proposed rates hike for Rotorua farmers. Stuart Morrison and Lachlan McKenzie fronted up to BOPRC Councillors to promote an alternative approach to managing Lake Rotorua water quality.  Farming under restrictions and nutrient management have been popular topics in the media over the last month. 

Happy reading! Remember, everything you read here is on our website -
I’ve been in the co-chair job for about two months now and I am enjoying the challenges it brings. Things are about to get very busy on the farm but also on the rules front.The Regional Council is likely to “notify” the new nitrogen rules in September and we’re still trying to influence those rules before the ink dries. As soon as the rules are notified, we will organise some farmer meetings to help us make effective submissions and we’ll guide you through the next stages of the process. Remember, democracy is not a spectator sport – we all need to get involved. 

In the meantime the Collective continues to ask important questions about the science  behind the development of the tough nitrogen rules. Professor David Hamilton’s latest report clearly identifies the critical role alum dosing has played in getting Lake Rotorua to its target water quality over the past three years. Alum dosing was always pitched as a “short-term” intervention but this doesn’t make sense given that it will take many decades for farm nitrogen reductions to reach the lake through the slow-moving groundwater. No-one expected alum to be so successful. But it has worked brilliantly, and intensive monitoring in the lake has shown no problems so far. 

I've also been out and about recently, getting to know the new Regional Council staff as there have been quite a few changes over the past year. I believe that good relationships are critical to mutual understanding and progress, so this is an important part of my new role.

From Gisele Schweizer, Co-Chair of the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective
Winning Rotorua farmers reflect on their success
Drystock farmers, John and Catherine Ford won the top prize, the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. They have the distinction of being the first North Island entrant to win the pre-eminent national award since its establishment five years ago. John and Catherine now reflect on their win and what it means to their business.

The Fords said the application process was easy and found the Ballance Environment Award Trust people very helpful. The whole procedure was highly beneficial and they would recommend farmers entering the competition not only for the free advice from the judges, but the chance it gives to stand back and evaluate your business. “Our team here on the farm got right behind us and it would have been a great team building exercise even if we had not won”. Read more
Collective promotes dual nutrient approach to maintain lake water quality
Stuart Morrison and Lachlan McKenzie posed two key questions to BOPRC Councillors on the 2nd July. What farmers want to know is this:
  1. What combination of on-farm reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus losses, and hopefully a lower alum dosing rate, will keep our lake clean with the least economic harm?
  2. Is there a chance that we can work with Council to achieve a catchment P target that contributes to lake P management and a less crippling final N target?
Of course alum dosing has some unknowns – but so does forcing down farm productivity for an environmental result decades into the future. We are also seeking further studies into alum to check out its long term viability.

Here is the paper Stuart and Lachlan tabled at the Council meeting, setting out the Collective’s view on the 435 tonne nitrogen target and the important ongoing role of alum dosing and on-farm phosphorus mitigation efforts.
Partial win for Rotorua Farmers over District Council rates increases 
Hearings on submissions on Rotorua Lakes Council’s Ten Year Plan (2015-2025) were held on the 8th and 9th of June. Collective Co-chair Neil Heather and John Butterworth gave verbal submissions at the hearing, voicing their concerns on what the proposed rates increases would mean for Rotorua farmers.

As a result of these submissions and wide scale opposition by other farmers, Councillors voted to amend the ratings framework and cap large rates rises for Rotorua farmers relative to the capital value increase of their properties.This amendment ties the percentage rates rise to the percentage capital value increase for farmers facing rates hikes of more than $1000. Neil Heather commended Council for taking note of farmer concerns but was keen to stress the financial implications of high rates increases on farmers. "It's probably one of the biggest expenses on the farm," he said. Read more
Land Use Opportunities Symposium
The Land Use Opportunities Symposium was held on 16th and 17th June 2015 at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre with around 200 attending. The symposium content was intentionally broad in scope to present the various options for mitigating nutrient loss, land use change and the support available for landowners. 

Day one of the two day symposium provided an overview of the Integrated Framework for improving water quality in the catchment as well as ideas on how to mitigate N leaching. One idea that was a little outside the square was a study presented by Brendon Welten from AgResearch on feeding dairy cows salt to mitigate N. Land use change was the topic for day 2 of the symposium with a range of different case studies and ideas put forward. 

Landowners are encouraged to engage further on topics that were of interest at the symposium. To make contact with any of the speakers at the symposium, please email to express your interest. If you were unable to attend you can view or download the powerpoint presentations on the Lakes website 
Meet Lachlan McKenzie
Lachlan McKenzie is well known in rural political circles as being an impassioned advocate for the rights of farmers. Unafraid to ask the difficult questions, Lachlan is adamant that any decisions   that impact on farms and their communities should be based on sound economic principles and good science.

Lachlan and his wife Heather purchased their first farm in the King Country in the early 1980s, just before the rural downturn in agriculture. “Seeing farming families leaving their farms in the 80s with little more than a deposit on a house has left a lasting impression on how rules and controls outside of the farm can have devastating consequences. I find it disappointing that people outside farming continue to make rules without understanding the unintended consequences,” Lachlan says. Read more
Our social license to operate
While at Beef Australia Sarah Crofoot from Federated Farmers had the privilege of listening and talking to Bruce Vincent a logger from Montana. He spoke about the American timber industries of how they lost, but are now regaining their social license to operate. The wisdom he imparted has key learnings applicable to our agriculture industry so that we don’t suffer the same fate. Read more
"We’re not alone!"
Overseer, like it or hate it, Canterbury farmers are required to record an estimate of their nitrogen losses using Overseer. Personally I don’t have an issue with that.What I do have a problem with are the rules which require farmers to redo their Overseer assessment every year. Then you keep that filed away in case the council ever wants to see it. Sounds like a dolly - until you start looking at the cost. Read more
Ballance Farm Environment Award goes to John and Catherine Ford 
John and Catherine Ford have won New Zealand’s pre-eminent farming prize, the Ballance Farm Environment Award for 2015.The judges said the sheep and beef property had the “wow” factor and had been chosen from out of 10 regional supreme winners. It stood out in terms of environmental sustainability and impressive production and performance figures, Read more
Farmer formally warned over Lake Taupo nitrogen breach
A sheep and beef farmer has been the first to receive a formal warning for breaching the Resource Management Act under the Waikato Regional Council’s Variation 5 consenting regime.The farmer exceeded the nitrogen discharge cap on properties in the Lake Taupo catchment over a two year period. Read more
Rotorua Farmers express anger over plan to council
Members of Rotorua’s rural community descended on the Rotorua Lakes Council Chamber yesterday to express their outrage over its proposed Long-term Plan. A submission campaign co-ordinated by Federated Farmers had managed to bring significant numbers of farmers out in force, meaning the third day of public hearings was dominated by protests over rates hikes and spending projects. Read more
DairyNZ Rerewhakaaitu Discussion Group – July
This Whole Farm Assessment group discusses and investigates the farm system on the host farm. Discussion on current issues and upcoming seasonal topics.
Date: Wednesday 15 July, 10:30am - 1pm
Location: 105 Tawa Road, Rerewhakaaitu
Collective Executive Meeting - July
The Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective invites members to attend the monthly Executive meetings.
Date: Monday 20 July, 7-9pm
Location: Barclay House A&P Showgrounds
Stakeholder Advisory Group (StAG) July
For StAG meeting agenda minutes, reports and documents click here.
Tuesday 21 July, 10am - 3.00pm
Venue: Rotorua Lakes Council (aka RDC)

Would you like to become a member of the Collective?
Three reasons to get involved!

 1. Influence policy that will affect your farm business
 2. Learn about on-farm nutrient management solutions
 3. Get support from fellow farmers and industry bodies

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