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By Duncan Coull, Fonterra Sharehold-
ers’ Council chairman, dairy farmer,
THE past two years have been somewhat
challenging for dairy farmers with global market
volatility translating to unsustainable returns.
The impact of this has had a ripple effect with
many of our local businesses having to adapt
to weather the cyclical storm as local farmers’
spending, for the most part, was focussed on the
To our relief commodity prices have recovered
somewhat, on the back of a sharp drop off in
global supply, to now stand at more historically
And when speaking with local business own-
ers, there is a sense of optimism returning as
farmers start to rebuild, cautiously open their
wallets to catch up on deferred expenditure.
Going through a downturn such as we have
over the past two years highlights the importance
and the effect of the dairy industry in communi-
ties such as Otorohanga, Te Kuiti and Piopio.
The efficient and responsible use of our water
resource is a challenge we all need to accept if we
are to ensure we have a sustainable community
now and into the future.
This relates to availability, use, and its effect
on the quality of our waterways.
This journey started in 2012 with the adop-
tion of Variation 6, which required consent for
any off-take above 15m3/day for dairy shed use.
This was on the basis that the Waikato and
Waipa rivers were at their limit or over-allocated
in terms of off-take and that this needed to be
In 2014, the Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora plan
change process was initiated to meet the legis-
lative requirements under the National Policy
Statement (NPS) for freshwater management
and to meet the requirements of the Waikato
River Authority, as the guardian of that Vision
A collaborative stakeholder group, made up of
24 members representing industry and commu-
nity interests, has been developing a plan which
was submitted to the regional council/Wai Ora
committee for consideration in August last year.
The Waikato Regional Council (WRC) voted
to adopt this plan and is now asking for public
submissions which close on March 8.
Given the significance of the rural sector in
our North King Country towns it’s imperative
that we all understand the need for a plan change;
what it hopes to achieve; and how it will affect
our local community.
As I have stated above, the responsibility for
sustainable water usage is a challenge we all need
to accept. My frustration to date is that this plan
has focussed almost exclusively on the effects to
our farmers without taking into account the role
large towns and cities play in terms of their effect
on water quality.
Once again, it is our farming communities
who will have to bear both the direct and indirect
costs in our efforts to give effect to the improved
health of our natural resource – the long-term
benefits of which will be shared by all.
The Otorohanga District Council is calling
for submissions from the public on a resource
consent application from Happy Valley Milk
who are proposing to build a new dairy factory
on the corner of Redlands Road and SH31 in
Otorohanga. Submissions closed on Friday.
As a community member, ratepayer, farmer
and current investor of industry assets via my
shares in a co-operative I have grave concerns.
Collectively the Otorohanga district has about
$300 million invested in stainless steel, route to
market and brand ownership through its farm-
ers’ collective investment in Fonterra shares, the
returns from which come directly back to the
The Happy Valley Milk Resource consent ap-
plication is for two eight tonne an hour dryers,
which will require 30 million kilos of milksolids
or 60% of all milk produced in the Otorohanga
region – and given there will be next to no land
use change and therefore very little new milk
under the proposed Healthy Rivers/ Wai Ora
plan change, it would suggest that any new milk
for this factory would come from existing supply.
A co-operative exists to pay the maximum
milk price and dividend to its farmer owners.
A corporate exists to pay the minimum milk
price it can get away with and generate maximum
returns to its shareholders who, in this case, won’t
be our local farmers.
The New Zealand Institute of Economic Re-
search report for the dairy industry stated that 50
cents from every dollar earned on-farm is spent
in the local community.
This suggests to me that if current co-operative
members from the Otorohanga region were to
divest their share capital in favour of supplying
a corporate, this would lead to a direct loss of
$6 million per year to the local economy, based
solely on the lost dividend stream.
The application also states that WRC consent
will be required for 720m3 (720,000 litres) daily
water off-take with a shortfall to be potentially
supplemented from the Otorohanga District
Council as stated below in the submission:
“Subsequent meetings and discussions have
been had with Dave Clibbery with relation to a
potable water supply for the site as well as waste
and storm water disposal. These discussions have
Given the Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora plan chang-
es, we as a community need to understand what
effect this will have on us.
Wastewater from a plant such as this will
equate to 2.5-4 million litres per day.
Do we have the local infrastructure to cope?
What effect will this have on downstream water
Water, the use of and its effect, will be our
community’s biggest issue over the coming years.
As such we all need to get involved.
A community is a collective of people with
Let’s take that responsibility seriously by get-
ting involved in this process to ensure our region’s
collective best interests are served now to enable
a sustainable future.
Coull urges involvement
THUMBS UP to the local plumber who supplies the residents
of Beattie Village in Otorohanga with beautiful large calendars.
M Staite, Beattie Village
THUMBS DOWN to the person who left broken glass on the
footpath in Lawrence St, Te Kuiti. It was inconsiderate as children
use the footpath.
S Hohaia,Te Kuiti
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