Just four months into his new role as Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay president, Bridge Pa sheep and beef farmer Jim Galloway talks to Hawke's Bay Today reporter Andrew Ashton about the future of the region's farming industry.
What are the main challenges facing farms as businesses in Hawke's Bay?
Uncertainty is one of the big things at the moment. You have uncertainty with the Government's tax working group, water quality, dairy payouts and obviously income. So there's a whole heap of things there that people are uncertain about.
Is the rise of plan-based proteins a threat or an opportunity for farmers?
Well it's both. Potentially it's a threat to the red meat industry, or part of it. I don't see New Zealand supplying a grass-fed, free range product that can differentiate itself but then there's also the opportunity for potentially growing some of the raw materials for these products. At the moment the Sunfed chickenless chicken operation in Auckland is importing all its peas - and we grow a lot of peas around Hawke's Bay.
What would you like to see happen to boost confidence within the farming community?
I think we need some certainty around the TANK proposals to manage the waterways of the Tutaekuri, Ahuriri, Ngaruroro and Karamu catchments.
That's main Heretaunga plains area that is looking at the water quality, water quality debate. It's a huge working group that has all the iwi and industry interest groups such as Fish & Game, Forest and Bird and the like, and they have been going through this for several years now and they are coming out soon with the recommendations to go forward to council.
Are farmers making the best use of technology at the moment?
There's always room for improvement but there's a lot more coming out, like monitoring your vats and temperatures and quantity, as well as your fuel. Farmers are monitoring those things with an app on their phone and the likes. Certainly, there's also been a lot more pivot irrigators going in, so that makes for far better use of water and better monitoring of water in the soil. So, there's a whole heap of things there that we are making more use of.
What's the local reaction been to the appointment of a Kiwi as interim chief executive of Fonterra?
It's definitely been supportive. The main thing is he the right person for the job, but the reaction has certainly been positive. The payouts are quite reasonable but the dividends has been quite poor, so there's still a bit of uncertainty about the strategy from Fonterra.
As a whole the Hawke's Bay dairy industry is quite positive but there is a bit of uncertainty amongst those down in Tukituki with the Ruataniwha dam not going ahead. So, the minimum flows on the Tukituki River has changed and without the dam, they may not be able to extract the ground water or surface water they have. So that might change how they have to do things.
What innovations would you like to see to help farming diversify away from intensive farming?
The main thing is if you want to diversity, number one is there has to be a market. It has to be market-led and have the industry to do the diversified product. Another thing that could be good is the availability of information about alternative crops and farming systems.
What's your main ambition for farming in Hawke's Bay?
We have to be part of the community, we've got to be profitable, so we can afford to carry out our environmental responsibilities - you can't do anything if you don't have any money to do it with. Also, certainly Federated Farmers has to be a strong voice for farmers and show that we do in a positive light. There is a lot we do on farms that is very positive for the community and the waterways.