NZ Dairy Spring 2021

| 65 nz dairy A voice for farming from Onewhero DAIRY PEOPLE » Bryce & Rosemarie Costar Richard Loader O newhero dairy farmer Rosemarie Costar de- scribes her three years on the Waikato District Council as a huge learning curve. She put her hand up to be nominated realising that there wasn’t much point in complaining about regulatory change impacting on farmers, without being in the space where her voice, could be heard. “I really enjoyed those years and its amazing what a proactive community can do for itself in terms of assisting positive change.” Bryce and Rosemarie bought their dairy farm from Bryce’s father Bill in 2017 in an unusual process involving agreement to a sale and purchase without a specific date stated. Rosemarie said, with the help of their accountant who did a great deal of research into ensuring the agreement worked in both party’s interests, this process gave both Bill and them certainty. “It meant we could go ahead and make major investment plans.” The farm, situated at Onewhero, 10 minutes from Tuakau, is also in quite a unique situation, located in the centre of an old volcano, in a caldera, formed when a volcano erupts and then collapses. The lovely flat farm is surrounded by the rim of the volcano and makes for quite an exceptional environment. The 115 ha effective property supports a herd of 300 cows with a run-off located 15 minutes away. “We graze all our young stock on the run-off, having been reared on the home-farm till weaning. They grow to 120kg as rising two’s and we do sell some straight Friesian heifers which are quite often in demand.” With a 10-week AB cycle Rosemarie says they haven’t used bulls on the farm for breeding for the past seven seasons. Years ago, when the herd was first established by Bill they were Jerseys, however over a period of 65 years all the ‘girls’ are now Friesian. “Bryce just likes the Friesian and we’ve had them now for 30-odd years.” With an eye to establishing great bones for the farm’s future, back in 2014 all the pumps were renewed and last year during covid lockdown the storage capacity was doubled. And with a nod to sustainability, 60 solar panels to generate power were installed on the cowshed. “We did the numbers and realised this made good economic and environmental sense. The system will pay for itself in 6 ½ years and has a 20 year warranty.” While farm-life keeps the couple busy, Rosemarie has found time to also give back through involve- ment with Federated Farmers, as the Franklin Vice-Chair. She says its an invigorating space to be in, as a passionate farmer, committed to seeing the whole rural sector supported to thrive in the future. “You are working with like-minded people who are progressive and want to do well for farmers and farming.” Top of the list of issues being grappled with by Federated Farmers is access and use of water and changes to environmental legislation as well as the banning of exporting livestock. “Everybody around the table wants New Zealand to have clean water. It is just making sure that the rules that are given out are achievable from a practical point of view.” Rosemarie and Bryce Costar. New pond (below) More close to home is the Healthy Rivers stand- ards enacted by Waikato Regional Council. The long submission and hearing timeframes have also thrown up challenges for farmers who have been operating in an environment of some uncertainty now for years. Rosemarie is a firm supporter of the Federated Farmers model. “If you want to see good change happening then you have to be prepared to get involved and support the governance realm. You have to be at the deci- sion making table.” Rosemarie acknowledges the changing patterns in farming in her immediate district, with less and less dairying activity and lots of sheep and beef in the hills. She also feels the best way forward for farming in general to advance is to adopt a ‘Team Ag’ approach, where the whole sector is understood and supported, not fragmented into farming type. “That’s the real strength of Federated Farmers, in that it’s a forum for all involved in agriculture to sit around the table and inform the decision-makers.” She’s also concerned about the impact of those leaving farming in districts such as theirs. “The more people who get out of farming, the harder it is for our vital small communities to survive.” Along with Bryce, a farm manager completes the labour units working on the property. “It’s just the three of us, but that’s manageable. Bryce has time to help out in the community with Lions and with the balance of Federated Farmers work and farm responsibilities it works out well for us all.” Paul Ingram AGRICULTURAL CONTRACTING Regrassing & Undersowing Silage, Hay & Straw Baling Bulk Grass & Maize Silage Full Ground Cultivation