Friday, 17 May 2024 14:17

A rollercoaster ride for Waikato dairy farmers

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Mathew Zonderop. Mathew Zonderop.

The 2023-24 season has been a roller coaster ride for Waikato dairy farmers, according to Federated Farmers dairy section chair, Mathew Zonderop.

He told the Waikato feds annual meeting in Hamilton today that it was one of the wettest winters the Waikato has seen for a long time.

“Despite us all wanting the long-anticipated rainfall it turned out as our mothers used to say, ‘be careful what you wish for’ and that certainly rang true,” he says.

“The water tables were well and truly full by June 1 and unfortunately it didn't stop there, it just kept coming and there was very little respite from the rain until late October.

“Many of us were quite severely impacted by this weather resulting in herds at peak milk opting for a once-a-day milking regime.”

Zonderop says the much anticipated El Nino weather pattern had little impact in the Waikato.

“We had a bumper summer with rainfall in the right amounts and at the right time, maize and crops grew exceptionally well, and grass silage harvests exceeded expectations.

“But it’s fair to say and I'm sure that you would agree it's been a long time coming for the Waikato, 10-12 years of summer droughts and often little rainfall until May and June we did deserve a little bit of this for a change, but my thoughts are with those further down the line in Taranaki, Wairarapa and the South Island whom have really copped the brunt of this El Nino this season.”

Commenting on the milk payout, he noted that while the season started optimistically, but declining GDT prices spooked many farmers.

He says the cost creep and high interest rates, many farmers had not experienced before, took its toll.

“Budgets were tightened and costs were cut all to get us through to the seasons end, and around Xmas there was a glimmer of light from of all places the Middle East, Algeria of all places were buying our milk powders, what a relief and this rallied the GDT auction prices and our farmgate milk price lifted bringing us out of the doldrums and into somewhat of a profitable state and here we are at season’s end, new pastures established, herds are being dried off and heifers are returning home.”

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