Dairying just keeps on growing

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 02/08/2014

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Dairying in Southland continues to grow despite tougher environmental restrictions.

The latest DairyNZ figures, released this week, show slight increases across the board for dairying in Southland, resulting in a $1.7 billion value for the Southland economy.

Some of the figures relate to the 2013-14 year while others relate to 2012-13.

Southland dairy cows produced 218 million kilograms of milk solids in the 2013-14 season, up 14 million on the previous year.

Federated Farmers Southland provincial president Russell MacPherson said that was because of a favourable last spring.

The high payout the season before also played a part as farmers were able to use supplementary feeds such as grain and kernel.

However, Fonterra's announcement of a low payout for the coming season would pull things back, he said. "Nobody likes a pay cut, but that's what farmers deal with on a day-to-day basis."

The production increase was good news as it showed that even with added environmental restraints, such as plan change 13 for new dairy farms, farmers were producing more product and having less impact while doing it.

Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips said the council had been working hard with the dairy industry to ensure increasing emphasis on environmental matters.

It was now part of the way the council did business, rather than just an added extra, he said.

The Southland Economic Project, launched yesterday would develop tools between agencies to better understand how future policy changes could impact the economy and community.

Other areas of growth included the percentage total of national dairy land. In 2012-13, 12 per cent of the national total was in Southland compared with 11.3 per cent the year before.

Eleven per cent of New Zealand's dairy cows are in Southland, as are 8 per cent of New Zealand's dairy herds, which is on par with last year.

The total number of herds in Southland increased from 904 in 2011-12 to 929 in 2012-13 and the average herd size increased from 559 dairy cows to 573.

Farmers are also spending more on average per cow than previous years. Variables such as feed, vet costs, fertiliser and dairy shed supplies meant farmers were spending about $1747 per cow in 2013-14, compared with $1633.

The figures are compiled from the annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics.

SOUTHLAND SNAPSHOT

Total number of herds: 929

Average herd size: 573

Cows: 532,000

Farm operator/owners: 566

Number of sharemilkers: 362

Average farm size: 209 ha

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Average cows per ha: 2.7

Value of milk production to the regional economy: $1.7 billion 

- The Southland Times

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