Thursday, 02 July 2020 09:14

Farm Debt Mediation a useful backstop — Feds

Written by  Staff Reporters
Federated Farmers president and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard. Federated Farmers president and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard.

Farmers are throwing their support behind the Farm Debt Mediation Scheme.

The scheme requires creditors to offer mediation to farmers who default on payments before they take any enforcement action.

Federated Farmers says the scheme is one farmers would hope to never have to use, but it’s a useful backstop if a farm’s finances do go pear-shaped.

"We strongly supported this legislation as it was shaped and debated by the select committee and Parliamentary processes over the last year or so and we’re glad it’s now in place," says Federated Farmers president and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard.

The Federated Farmers May 2020 Banking Survey showed more than 80% of farms carry a mortgage and overdraft.

While 69% of the 1,400 farmers who responded were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their banks, 19% felt ‘under pressure’ from their banks, rising to 28% among arable farmers.

"It’s an uneven playing field in terms of available resources when a farmer and bank are in dispute. This legislation provides a platform for mediated communication," says Hoggard.

"Although we hope it won’t have to be used very often, it will have done its job if it helps banks and farmers find enduring and sustainable solutions before it is too late."

Farmers wishing to access the scheme should visit the MPI website.

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Lely offerings for the future

Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

Horizon is also able to connect and combine data from non-Lely sources into a complete solution for the farmer removing the need to enter the same data twice, while scrutinising individual data streams in different applications will no longer be necessary. Currently, connections with farming applications such as Dairy Comp, Uniform-Agri, CRV and Herde already enable farmers to synchronise information about calving and inseminations between applications. Lely’s ambition is to connect with more partners over time, to hand the farmer more smart data.

To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area.

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