Farmers’ trusts must do better

A review of succession and estate planning has prompted a wake-up call for farmers after it was revealed 85% of New Zealand trusts don’t comply with the law.

Moving up in the world

West Otago sheep and beef farmers Emily and Kris Donovan have recently moved from leasing into farm ownership. They have also moved up the hill as Terry Brosnahan found out. Photos: John Cosgrove

After seven years of leasing, sheep and beef farmers Emily and Kris Donovan bought 267ha of her family’s rolling hill farm at Tapanui.

The couple with their 23-week-old baby daughter Hannah and 11-year-old son Zack have also moved from the small farm cottage at the bottom of the hill up to Emily’s parents, John and Lorraine Byars’ house that overlooks the farm.

They still lease another 50ha off the family trust plus another 22ha.

Emily started leasing the farm in 2009 three years before she met Kris. Initially she was working alongside her dad, who was gradually decreasing his workload.

She says it was challenging during calf season, feeding calves and break-feeding. In between she was picking up calves and milk.

Our glass really is half full

Farmers Weekly’s Glass Half Full series showed that despite obstacles facing the primary sector, the glass is indeed half full. Reporter Neal Wallace reports there are ample opportunities to improve incomes and living standards but also some challenges.

More training for deer farmers

The deer industry’s Motivate group and the Ministry for Primary Industries have joined forces on initiatives to empower young deer farmers.

Dairy farm prices, sales down

Dairy farm prices are well down from their latest peaks and just lower than the level five years ago.

Succession, a personal experience

Tauranga valuer and Kellogg scholar Dylan Barrett has been up close and personal with his chosen Kellogg subject, close enough to make the exercise more than simply an academic treatise, he told Richard Rennie.

Dylan Barrett chose the tough chestnut of family succession planning in the primary sector for his Kellogg’s industry applied project.

It was driven in part by his own personal experiences when the untimely death of his father in 2012 prompted him to leave his valuation job in Brisbane and move back across the Tasman.

Farm taken for ‘half its value’

Three years after Blair McCardle agreed under duress to sell his 70ha farm for construction of the Kapiti Expressway, he is still negotiating a final sale price.

Farming outside the square

Fifth-generation farmers Pete and Ally Apthorp are constrained by legacy – their farm will never be for sale – but the young couple are striving to lift the bar by making the most of what they have.

The Apthorps think outside the square and are willing to try new things, an attitude that has helped them win the Tararua Sheep and Beef Farm Business of the Year for 2016.

Innovation and calculation are hallmarks of their semi-finishing sheep and beef farming business near Pahiatua that is a textbook example of farm succession done well.

Recent development includes an irrigation system installed in 2014, subdivision, a water system and plant species improvements.

The farm is 320ha (294ha effective) with a good mix of intensive river flats, and hill-country breeding country. It is classed as summer-wet, with an average rainfall of 1450mm.

Over the past three years they have averaged 8500kg DM/ha harvested over their whole farm, and this year they expect it to be 9.5 tonnes.

Pete doesn’t define himself as a sheep and beef farmer. “I think of it as farming plants and soil and maximising production by growing as much high quality feed as we can and converting that feed into saleable product.”

Fresh thinking needed

Getting the next generation into farming by providing a pathway to farm ownership is an ongoing battle for the industry, central Hawke’s Bay’s Crowe Horwath agribusiness adviser, Sean Bennett, says.

The topic was closely linked with succession, which was a two-part issue.

“You have older farmers seeking to release capital for retirement, while the next generation are often struggling to raise enough to get themselves a foothold in the industry.”

But Bennett reckoned that fresh thinking about some of the lease-type arrangements could help pave the way and that it was up to rural professionals to work together and present “visible and viable pathways”.