Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective
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Dear <<First Name>>
It's been a busy month for the Collective. The Executive reflected on our progress over the last year and take on board where we could do better.  As a result we developed a Draft Strategic Plan to guide our work programme over the next two years. We invite your feedback on our direction.

Last week we held our we held our 4th AGM. Attendees were inspired by John Ford's presentation that showed us why he and Catherine were the supreme winners of this year’s Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards. We also elected our two new Collective chairs - yes it takes two to replace the work done by our outgoing Chairman Stuart Morrison! Together our new co-chairs, Gisele Schweizer and Neil Heather, bring a wealth of experience and expertise to negotiate the challenges that lie ahead of us. Happy reading!
Remember, everything you read here is on our website -
From the outgoing chair
I would like to congratulate the Collective’s new co-chairs, Gisele Schweizer and Neil Heather. Neil has been a local Fed Farmers president and Gisele brings a keen legal mind to the leadership. This new co-chairing approach highlights that the Collective aims to represent both dairy and drystock sectors around Lake Rotorua. It is also a practical step as the Collective’s activities will need to expand in response to the imminent nitrogen rules and the new Collective Strategy. We discussed the Collective Strategy at our AGM and it will help us to focus our efforts and be much more pro-active in advancing solutions for farmers and the catchment.

I still will be keeping a close eye on the evolving lake and catchment science. This includes participating in the Land Technical Advisory Group which recently met on 6th May. I’m also very interested in the lake modelling report from Waikato University which is expected to cover various nitrogen and phosphorus loads, with and without alum dosing. We had a presentation on this in December 2013 but we need to see the formal report and get an independent review of it.

Farmers and the wider community need to be prepared to adapt to the way we do things based on sound science. That might mean things stay pretty tough for farmers. Or it might mean that we need to re-look at the 435 tonnes nitrogen target, and whether it really is the best way of getting decent lake water quality. Watch this space. Finally a big thank you to everyone who has supported me in my role as Chair, particularly our secretary, Christine Paterson.  
From Stuart Morrison, Ex-Chairman, Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective
Meet our new Co-Chairs – Neil Heather & Gisele Schweizer
With the resignation of Stuart Morrison, two new chairs were elected at the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective AGM on 4 May.  Neil Heather and Gisele Schweizer will share the role of chairperson.

Neil Heather is no stranger to the political landscape. He was the chair of Rotorua-Taupo Federated Farmers for 4 years (2008-12).  Neil believes the Collective plays a critical role in ensuring that proposed solutions for mitigating nitrogen loss into the lake are fair and that local drystock farming has a sound future.

Dairy farmer and criminal lawyer, Gisele Schweizer has also been very involved with the political issues faced by farmers in the Lake Rotorua Catchment. Her involvement began in 2002 with the notification of Rule 11.  Gisele’s legal training and experience will be hugely beneficial in the Collective’s response to the draft nitrogen rules.

Lachlan McKenzie was elected Deputy Chair. Other returning members of the Collective Executive are: Christine Paterson (Secretary), Shelley Butterworth (Treasurer), Wendy Roe, Murray Scott, Tony Cairns, Sarah Coatsworth, Robbie Moore, Stuart Morrison, Hera Naera and Jo Carr. 
Our new strategic plan
The Collective Executive has developed a draft Strategic Plan that will guide our work programme over the next two years.  Given that we are all busy with our farm businesses, this plan needed to be short, sharp and doable. An overview of the plan was presented at the Collective’s AGM last week.  Overall we received a positive response to the plan, as well as some constructive feedback that will be incorporated into our actions.
We’ve identified five key priority areas that we will focus on:
  1. Influencing decision makers – working with others to get good outcomes for farmers and the wider community
  2. Lake catchment knowledge – accessing and using existing social, economic and scientific knowledge to inform farmers and others
  3. Promoting  Good Practice – identifying  and promoting good nitrogen and phosphorus management practice
  4. Research – identifying new research to inform Lake Catchment solutions
  5. Marketing & Sponsorship – engaging support from the wider community
We welcome feedback from members on this plan.  You can view the draft overview here. Please send your feedback to
Update on the draft nitrogen rules
The draft nitrogen rules for the Lake Rotorua catchment are still being developed by BOPRC staff with input from the Stakeholder Advisory Group. A core part of the rule system is the allocation of nitrogen to different properties in the catchment. BOPRC intends to get the new rules publicly notified in August as a plan change to the current Regional Water and Land Plan. The timeline for submissions starts with formal notification of the plan change. After that comes a period for further submissions (e.g. disagreeing with other submissions!) and then Hearings where submitters can put their case in person. It is a complicated process and you can see a general overview from Ministry for the Environment here. A further rules update will be provided next month. Read more
By Simon Park, BOPRC funded Collective support person
Te Taru White - New programme director for the Lake Rotorua Incentives Scheme
The $40 million Incentive Scheme was recently established to permanently remove 100 tonnes of nitrogen from entering the lake. Te Taru White has been appointed  as the Programme Director and was interviewed by the Rotorua Daily Post about this new role and his aspirations for a cleaner lake. 

"When I was interviewed by the panel they asked me what I thought the lake would be like if we were successful in our endeavours noting that the purpose of reducing nutrient discharge into Lake Rotorua is to get it back to early 1960s condition. To answer this, I recalled childhood memories. I can remember paddling around Okawa Bay in an inner tube and I could see down to the bottom of the lake and there were no weeds. I can recall gathering a bucket load of inanga (freshwater whitebait) with my family from the Ohau channel. That was my sense of what I thought the lake would be like if we were successful. This may not have been a technical answer but I believe it was the right answer"  Read more.
Fulbright Scholar Christina Walker: sharing stories of Rotorua dairy farmers.
Christina Walker arrived in New Zealand from Nashville, USA on a Fulbright Scholarship in February 2015. It is Christina’s mission to research how dairy farmers in New Zealand adapt amidst the anticipated environmental regulations while remaining economically sustainable.

Some of you may have had the pleasure of meeting Christina through the first phase of her research. She is currently interviewing Rotorua farmers, gathering their stories and experiences of farming in the catchment. The second phase of her research will utilise Christina’s skills in journalism and videography. Once she has completed her fieldwork in November she plans to release a documentary film to the wider Rotorua farming community. Read more
On the farm
Meet Gisele Schweizer
Gisele Schweizer, the newly elected Collective  co-chair, is not your typical dairy farmer. She has journeyed a long way to where she is today; both physically from the United Kingdom as well as figuratively from her old life as a lawyer in London.
When asked about her new position as co-chair (alongside Neil Heather) Gisele admits “I am nervous about my new role as I have big boots to fill following on from the amazing job that Stuart Morrison did last year as the sole chairperson. I will be happy if I can get somewhere close to his level of contribution to the farming community.”

“As a child I had a love of acting and arguing; I was never going to make an actress but I was pretty good at arguing, so law was the next best thing! Seriously though I always had a strong desire to see justice done and have fought hard for what I believe to be right. I believe it is this desire to see the right thing done that drives me in continuing to fight these battles against unfair and unreasonable rules, on behalf of the Rotorua farming community,” says Gisele. Read more
In the news
Will the downturn in dairy sector profitability lead to land use change?
Previous downturns or relative changes in sector profitability have generally led to a change of land use. Think forestry in the late 80s and 90s, dairy since the early years of this century, horticulture, grape growing and rural subdivision for lifestyle blocks since the 1980s. Now the dairy payout has almost halved in 12 months because of global overcapacity and weaker economic conditions, the question arises whether there will be a flight from dairy. Read more
Latest fertiliser review  
The Autumn 2015 edition of “The Fertiliser Review” reports on several unconventional fertilisers and whether the science backs up the claims made for these products. Renowned soil scientist Doug Edmeades also comments on interpreting soil test histograms. Read more
Rotorua farmers up in arms over rates increase
Rotorua farmers claim their industry is being unfairly targeted by the Rotorua Lakes Council for high rates increases. Neil Heather said the proposed increase in farmers’ rates was “totally unreasonable”. ”We don’t mind paying our fair share to run the council, the library, the Aquatic Centre … but it is a disproportionate amount that farmers need to pay...” Read more
Biggest export markets put the brakes on NZ sheep meat
Sheep meat prices have fallen by about 10 per cent over the past two months, driven by a drop in demand in China and difficult conditions in another important market – Britain. Murray Brown, general manager of marketing for New Zealand’s biggest sheep meat exporter Alliance Group, said conditions in trade had been difficult over the past two months, following a “reasonable” season in 2014. Read more
Federated Farmers AGM
Rotorua / Taupo Provincial are hosting their AGM with guest speakers Warren Parker from Scion and Liz McGruddy.  More info
Thursday 14th May 2015
Venue: Rotorua's Copthorne Hotel.
DairyNZ -Tactics for tight times fielday
Gauge where you are at for next season and update your plan.
Thursday 14 May, 10:30- 1:30pm
Nick and Bec Simmonds. 1557 State Highway 30, Horohoro, Rotorua.
Stakeholder Advisory Group (StAG) April
For StAG meeting agenda minutes, reports and documents click here.
Thursday 21 May, 10am - 3.00pm
Venue: Rotorua Lakes Council (aka RDC)
Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Strategy Group
Read the RTALSG minutes - 10th March 2015 . The agenda is available 2 days prior to the meeting on the Regional Council website All welcome! 
Friday 22 May, 10:30am - 1.30pm
Venue: Rotorua Lakes Council (aka RDC)
Land Use Opportunities Symposium - Register Now
A  two-day symposium to explore sustainable land practices and land use  opportunities for the Lake Rotorua catchment. Free to attend, but places are limited. Register now.
16-17 June,
Venue: Rotorua Energy Events Centre


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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