The Weekly Dairy Report: Surplus rain and negative publicity dominate the week

A “leftover Cyclone Debbie” week, saw the country receive plentiful rain and set up pasture growth for the autumn and early winter.

Some regions are however  waterlogged and the next cyclones rains will make soils even more vulnerable to pugging.

Advisers suggest minimising pasture damage by grazing off for as long as practical, and remind managers that cows can be adequately feedonly 6 hours grazing is needed to  cows.

Lowering stocking rate is another method to reduce pasture/soil pressure, and saleyards are filling with cows culled for being dry, poor performance, or age.

Nationally, the recent rains will be positive for production, although this could be a negative for dairy prices, in a market so sensitive to supply.

Last week’s auction produced a positive result for most of the products sold, except skim milk powder which is drowning in a sea of European stocks.

Whole milk powders lifted in price by 2.4% to US$2924 and with the currency easing, analysts are comfortable the payout looks stable around $6/kg ms.

The saleyards are receiving more cull dairy cows as many are close to a month from dryoff, and manufacturing schedules start to ease as volumes build.

Dairy continues to battle a negative public image, and Sunday nights TV programme did little to improve the urban perception of the challenges dairy farmers have to face.

Farmers were irate at how they were percieved in this story, citing the highlighting of below average performance in one of the worst springs recorded, and an unbalanced comparison between dairy systems, one shown only in winter/spring and the other, only in summer.

Also the home kill segment was irrelevant to the story and seemed placed there only for provocative effect.

Interestingly however, most of the reaction from this expose has come from the rural sector, horrified at the poor portrayal that does not represent a good average view of the sector.

Urban reaction has been surprisingly silent, suggesting either a lack of interest on how their food is grown, or an understanding that such programms are made just for a sensationalist response, not to investigate any real issue.

The sector has worked hard on improving it’s image, with the annual Dairy and Environmental awards highlighting managers working hard to farm in a sustainable manner, but these receive little publicity in urban forums.