"Having good quality milk is vital to the success of both the farm and the company," said Tony Hasslett Area Manager for Fonterra in Hawkes Bay at the annual Grade Free Awards this year hosted at the Ruaroa Hall.
He was commending the 50 award winners from 200 dairy farms in the Fonterra Ward stretching from Gisborne to Woodville. He said the proportion of grade-free farms was the highest he could remember in the ward which produced 36 million kg of milk solids in the season just ended, the same as last year.
Tararua from Woodville north produced 14 million kg of milk solids.
While quantity is important, quality is also vital, a point reiterated by Andrew Hardie Representative of the Fonterra Share Holders Council who recently visited Massey University.
"It highlighted the great efficiency and quality gains in processing from good milk."
After a meet 'n' greet and barbecue lunch Andrew and Tony Hasslett gave an update on the industry and answered a few questions. Tony discussed the merits of accepting Fonterra's set payout for milk as opposed to that on the NZX 50.
Andrew said Fonterra is selling some of its overseas assets with the aim to focus on adding value to dairy products within New Zealand. He said representations to Government were being made especially on the issue of the carbon tax.
Then the awards were presented for a Grade-Free season. Grade-free means the milk received into the tanker is pure. Assessed almost instantly, the company can know the milk is safe to transfer into its processing plant and so can the farmer get almost instant feedback within minutes.
In addition to the 50 recipients of certificates there were six who received the Gold Award Plaque earned by having more than four consecutive years Grade Free. For the Fonterra Ward: Stuart and Brenda Thirkell (Dannevirke), Keith and Tanya Cresswell (Woodville), David and Tracey Thompson (Takapau), Neil and Marie Paton (Takapau), Stuart and Sandra Cordell (Dannevirke) and Luke and Renee Haye (Norsewood).
Fonterra also recognised the retirement of Steve and Karen Daulton after 50 years in the industry, the last 30 on Tataramoa Road. Tony Hasslett said farmers like Steve and Karen were an essential part of the company farming network and he thanked them for their loyalty and contribution.
Steve reminisced about his early days on Armstrong Road with party lines and good neighbours, briefly tracing a career supplying the Town Milk Dairy Factory and then to Fonterra. His farm has been sold to Aaron and Jo Passey but he will continue to run dry stock on 100 acres along Otanga Road.
A good mix of over 60 farmers, young and old, with youth and experience, owners, sharemilkers and farm managers all met at Ruaroa.
Many of the 50 farmers who received Grade Free certificates at Fonterra's Ruaroa Hall meeting.