As well as laying out its new strategy, Fonterra should make clearer how it got into this trouble, says Federated Farmers national vice-president and dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard.
Recently in Federated Farmers we got asked to comment on whether we felt there should be any changes to the Statistics New Zealand’s annual production census.
A review is happening and our policy staff wanted feedback as to what farmers thought; some responded asking why they can’t pull the information from somewhere else.
This got me thinking about one of my pet hates: the amount of duplication that is out there with farmers needing to provide data to companies and agencies.
All these organisations that collect data likely think they’re only asking for a little, which will only take a few minutes, but when you add up all those requests for data it becomes a mountain of work.
When I think about the number of organisations or companies that want to know how many cows I have, it is actually quite a list.
My dairy company wants to know so it can plan for milk production and nitrogen recording. NAIT wants that information because that’s what they’re about and Statistics NZ wants to know.
My fertiliser company wants to know for nutrient budgeting, as well as the Overseer computer program, which unfortunately doesn’t inform the dairy company’s nitrogen recording system.
My regional council wants to know for effluent and stock drinking water consents. My accountant wants to know, because IRD wants to know, and so I need to enter it into my accountancy software. Beef + Lamb NZ wants to know so I get my allowed number of votes.
Finally I actually want to know, because it’s a useful piece of information to have for feed budgeting and financial budgeting purposes. So I have to enter it into my herd management software.
Chances are that none of those numbers provided above exactly match and the most accurate one is of course in my herd management software.
There are pan industry initiatives which would make life simpler by ticking a box that would allow information to automatically go to everyone who needs it if I agreed to it.
• Andrew Hoggard is Federated Farmers dairy chairman.