In this month's newsletter:
  • New look for Total Ag team.
  • Dealing with Healthy Rivers in the Waikato.
  • Beef prospects promising for season.
  • Dealing with low dairy returns.
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Spring is here with a new look for Total Ag.
The logo may have changed but our commitment has not when it comes to delivering high quality, timely and effective advice for our farming clients.
New website for Total Ag.

To help our new and potential clients better understand the many services the Total Ag team can offer we have worked hard to develop a more user friendly, comprehensive website - it's the first stop for anyone seeking advice from Total Ag consultants - pay us a visit on
Check out our new website  -
New logo, same quality from Total Ag team.

The logo may have changed, but Total Ag’s focus on delivering high quality, timely and practical advice to farmers wanting to get the most out of their farming business, has not.
Now with a team of four consultants, Total Ag is well placed to service the needs of farmers around the country, with input for all aspects of farm businesses. Founded by Rob Macnab and Aaron Baker, Total Ag’s two newest consultants Kathryne Easton and Heather Gilbert complete the team – they bring their own areas of expertise and knowledge, and their hands on farming experience means they can relate to farmers and the challenges they face.
The combined experience and knowledge of the team means we are well placed to meet the increased demands for environmental planning and compliance so new to many farmers.

Kathryne brings years of experience dealing with council regulation and compliance from her time spent with Northland Regional Council as a land management advisor and is already working closely with farmers across the upper North Island helping them develop land management plans.

Heather brings hands on farming experience to her extension roles, and is working with groups including the Agri Women development and Beef and Lamb Farming for Profit groups.
Backed with the established reputation of Rob and Aaron, the Total Ag team has the resources and the depth to help with the most complex and demanding farming challenges family, corporate or iwi farmers may face.
Total Ag’s team are looking forward to expanding their client portfolio across the country, and will happily travel to meet and discuss your consulting needs.
Healthy Rivers Plan to impact Waikato farmers.
The proposed Healthy Rivers plan for the Waikato catchment promises to bring some major limitations upon how farming in the future will be carried out. The implications for the Plan are going to take time to feed through, but one thing is clear it will be more difficult to intensify your farm business, or shift the land use of your farm business in any significant way.

The aim of the Plan is to restore the health of the Waikato and Waipa rivers in a legally binding agreement between the Waikato Regional Council and iwi. It represents a first for catchment plans in New Zealand by having a collaborative stakeholder group formed over two years ago to try and hammer out agreement and action between all key land user and community groups in the catchment.

The aim of this is to avoid dissent at the approval stage, and ultimately ending up in a lengthy and expensive Environment Court hearing.

“Grandparenting” of nutrient losses is the most likely outcome of the plan, enabling farms to retain existing levels of nitrogen and phosphate losses, based on a term average. While that allows dairy farmers to maintain a “business as usual” approach, it will impact severely upon future land use options of their neighbouring dry stock farmers. Dry stock farmers will also be required to fence off all waterways, requiring extensive investment across large areas of sometimes difficult country.

Back in the office, farmers will also be required to complete land use management plans that define specific activities allowable under the plan within different parts of their farm boundaries.
Total Ag consultants Rob Macnab and Kathryne Easton are encouraging their clients to set aside some time to understand the Healthy Rivers Plan, and what it will mean for their farm business, now and in the future.

Kathryne’s time spent as a land management advisor for the Northland Regional Council and her hands on experience farming means she has a holistic understanding of what such a plan aims to achieve, and what it will mean for farmers at the sharp end of its impact.

Rob has been closely monitoring the Healthy Rivers plan development and has been in constant contact with Waikato Regional Council as to the delivery of the proposed plan.

Rob and Kathryne intend to run a series of workshops aimed at educating sheep and beef farmers on the Plan’s implications, and helping them develop farm nutrient plans that will comply with the Plan.
To learn more about the Plan and the workshops, feel free to contact Rob (027) 320- 3185 or Kathryne (021) 285-0663.

Beef prospects positive
Despite a Kiwi dollar that remains obstinately high, prospects for beef prices remain strongly positive as spring starts to kick start the grass market and processors assess overseas conditions for another year. After a dream run of grass growth for many farmers throughout the North Island for the past year now, there will be a few sighs of relief at the positive outlook for prices globally.
The decline in dairy grazing contracts forced many dry stock farmers to re-enter the livestock market, and purchase stock as markets sizzled under strong grass growth and lower stock numbers.
Total Ag farm consultants Rob Macnab and Aaron Baker have been working closely with drystock clients in the past six months, helping them optimise the net returns the high octane beef market can deliver.
Aaron has found clients are keen to make the most of the market’s prospects.
“But they are also very aware of the risks that such a market can bring – we have been blessed with a dream run in terms of the weather, which has pushed up prices just that much more on the back of positive market prospects.
“We have been working with our clients to ensure they don’t over commit on stock purchases, and achieve the highest possible margins from the excellent grass growing conditions.”

Farmers who paid a premium for weaner cattle back in the autumn will be crossing their fingers the markets stay up to retain some margin on those purchases. Locally, feed levels are good on average for much of the North Island, and barring any significant late winter weather events most farms are poised to kick off spring in good form. 

Beyond the farm gate, global prospects for red meat should reinforce this optimism. Supply of beef remains tight around the world, as United States feed lots rebuild their numbers, Australian supplies also remain tight and also focused upon re-stocking.

Brazilian beef suppliers are expected to export 200,000t to China this year, rising to be a major force in export trade there, but even here the threat to NZ is offset by China preferring to have a number of suppliers as its beef source, and demand from there continuing to exhibit healthy growth. New Zealand is now the fourth largest supplier to beef to China, after Australia, Uruguay and Argentina. Interest is also growing in “grass fed” beef as a healthier option for growing middle class of consumers there.
Total Ag consultants Rob Macnab and Aaron Baker are looking forward to even greater contact with dry stock farmers in coming months, and are keen to talk to anyone wanting to optimise the returns these market conditions offer – contact them today to learn more about optimising your beef returns.
Contact Rob on (027) 320 - 3185 or Aaron on (022) 163-0474
Setting your sail to the wind- managing in a low income dairy environment.
Recent lifts in the Global Dairy Trade prices on dairy products has bought some much needed cheer after a bleak year for dairy farmers.
But as encouraging as it is, it takes time for such lifts to feed back down to farm bank accounts, and even the most optimistic forecasts have overdrafts stretched out and even expanding into the red until later 2019.

Even with a budgeted $5.25/kgMS for the 2016-17 season an average farm with an overdraft of $200,000 at the start of this season is potentially going to need another 50c-$1/kgMS of headroom later this calendar year.

This environment brings another layer of stress to the farm operation that is not always easily managed by owners, sharemilkers or managers alone – the demands for tighter financial management are being bought to bear by bankers, with some clients expected to deliver frequent updates on their cash positions, and forward projections.

Total Ag consultants are working hard with their dairy clients at a farm management and financial level to help them reset their farming business to this tough new environment.

 On farm, Total Ag consultants can offer relevant and timely advice on practices that help provide constant feedback on such vital indicators as pasture cover.
At a financial level Total Ag consultants can provide comprehensive advice and input on budgeting, cash flow analysis and cost benchmarking. Full format budgets can be completed for presentation to bankers and financiers, with confidence on how the numbers have been determined and what their impact is likely to be.

Total Ag farm consultants have all worked closely with farmers in many difficult, stressful situations, providing a sounding board for clients seeking a fresh set of eyes experienced in farm business operation who can bring a new perspective to farm operations and finances.

If you feel your operation would benefit from that experience don’t hesitate to call any of the Total Ag consultants today for a comprehensive, realistic assessment of your farm’s budget.
Contact the Total Ag team today for insightful high quality farm business advice:
Rob Macnab -      Email:
                          Phone: 027 320 3185
Aaron Baker -       Email:
                           Phone: 022 163 0474
Kathryne Easton - Email:
                            Phone: 021 285 0663
Heather Gilbert      Email:
                             Phone: 021 979 459

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