Some interesting changes are taking place in the north.

It was only three years ago we had 1035 dairy farms north of Auckland's Harbour Bridge. This season we have 910 to 920 Fonterra suppliers.

We have seen the emergence of Mycoplasma bovis in Northland — almost a 1000km from its apparent source. It is a stressful time for all involved and we are here to assist. Northland is living in a world of fast-moving change.

Federated Farmers has had many meetings throughout the year with the five councils in our region, discussing everything from long-term plans to bylaws on dog control.


You should all care about the role politics plays in your life and be engaged with what councils are doing. Local bodies and Government implement rules and charge you, the taxpayer, to implement programmes and infrastructure, so it pays to watch closely to what is happening in your community.

For those who are not aware — this year is local government election year and next year is the general election. Please consider enrolling to vote. If you choose not to vote, you risk not being represented.

Another issue that has come into my realm is that the overdrafts of many dairy farmers, which traditionally fall during the peak milk months, have increased. The bankers advise us this has come about because farmers have been paying back their Fonterra loans and this in many cases will lead to a very lean winter and spring. Many will have maxed out their overdraft limit.

The bankers expect interest rates will rise because the Reserve Bank is requiring them to hold increased cash reserves. It is my understanding one bank has already written to their farmer clients about this. If you are heading into trouble or you think there is a risk, contact your bank manager early. It's better to be prepared and wrong, than not prepared and in a world of pain.

• Colin Hannah is Federated Farmers Northland Whangarei chairman