NZ Dairy Summer 2021

| 65 nzdairy “If you have a week of rain you can do your best to manage it but under those rules your best wouldn’t have been good enough.” Running family farm plus two more Virginia Wright DAIRY PEOPLE » Stephen Todd Stephen Todd grew up on the home farm in Murchison where his parents John and Debbie still live. He went back to the farm when he left school and over the last 18 years has worked his way up from farm worker to running that original dairy farm plus two more. They now collectively milk around 1900 cows. Stephen lives with his partner Kim and their five children Elsie (10yrs), Brooker and Lacey (7 yrs), Oscar (5 yrs) and Fergus (3 yrs), on the socalled middle farm ‘Tiraumea’. The home farm milks 450 cows once-a-day, due to the layout of the farm and the amount of walking involved, with a 200 hectare milking platform and 250 hectares of hill country support across a total of 1400 hectares with the remainder a mix of forestry and native bush. Tiraumea milks 430 cows on 200 hectares, and the end farm ‘Tutaki Heights’ is 650 effective from 1170 hectares milking the remaining 1000 cows or so. Stephen oversees them all working with ten staff and his father John who does “whatever needs doing” as Stephen puts it; whether it’s tractor work, stock work, spraying, or giving the staff a hand with whatever they need some help with. It’s a typically busy farming life for Stephen but not so busy that he said “no” when he was asked by his local Federated Farmers group to be the local dairy representative. That was about a year ago and now, as the Dairy Chair for Nelson taking part in monthly meetings, Stephen understands a lot more about the amount of work going on behind the scenes. He sees farmers as under relentless pressure from a constant barrage of new environmental legislation, especially around areas that have caught the public eye that may or may not be problems that need regulations to resolve them. “I’d been a member forever but since I’ve been actively involved I’m a lot more aware of what’s going on. As Federated Farmers we try and lead things from an industry point of view and lead things practically so that they don’t get done through poorly written legislation that won’t work.” The wintering regulations are a case in point where Federated Farmers have been negotiating hard with government behind closed doors to make them more workable from a farming point of view. “So people’s livelihoods can carry on which would have been difficult with the original wording,” says Stephen. He gives the example of the rules around the depth of pugging (no more than 5cm’s deep), to a maximum of 50% percent of the paddock, with some allowance for gates and troughs. “If you have a week of rain you can do your best to manage it but under those rules your best wouldn’t have been good enough. You really can’t have a depth/area ratio across multiple districts, because it depends a lot on soil types what’s going to happen with a solid night of rain, let alone a week. But they’ve modified the wording now and it’s a lot more realistic than what they had before. With the old wording even the best farmers wouldn’t have been able to winter within the regulations.” Stephen would like to see more of his generation step up and take an active role in Federated Farmers, especially with all the current work going on as the government legislate “to tidy up the bad 5% like you get in any industry,” as he puts it. He’s impressed by the amount of work put in by the local teams, especially their local President Martin O’Connor and Secretary Eloise Martyn, and also by the hard-working team in Wellington. Stephen believes representation is key. “Since I’ve been on board that’s what I’ve had my eyes opened to. We need that independent representation from right across the industry, whether it’s sheep and beef or dairy, or arable. We need to be able to advocate on behalf of farmers and aim to lead change rather than it being enforced by people who aren’t farmers. We want to be at the table when legislation is being written so that it’s practical and achieves the end goal that it’s trying to achieve.” Tutaki Heights (above). Kim, Oscar, Fergus and Stephen Todd (below). 24 HOUR SALES & SERVICE • Servicing all types of milking systems • Mobile Shop P: 03 547 3276 Proud to support Stephen Todd