Agstaff and Rural Co; Team Effort To Assist Riding for Disabled


Agstaff were excited to share some Christmas cheer with a very deserving cause last Thursday. It all began a couple of years ago when Riding for Disabled chief coach, Maxine Hooper, entered the Agstaff office looking to hire someone to move hay from a property on Maronan Road to Riding for Disabled Ashburton. Maxine was greeted by Agstaff consultant Andrew MacDonald, who is involved with several Ashburton community groups, and received a welcome donation of Agstaff time and resources.

“I felt that this was something that Agstaff could do to give back to the community. Therapeutic riding helps so many people but is not government funded. Riding for Disabled relies heavily on the support of the community and we were happy to help,” explained Andrew.

Rural Co also got on board by donating the use of their large trailer. This was well received by Andrew (ably assisted by his guide dog Carla), Graham Taylor, Lyall Iles and Neil McArthur, enabling them to complete their Christmas delivery of a year’s worth of hay for the horses to the Leeston Street address.

With 55 groups operating across New Zealand Riding for Disabled provides opportunities for anyone with a disability to enjoy safe, healthy, stimulating, therapeutic horse riding and horse-related activities.  These Groups combined provide a valuable service to over 3,000 Riders each year, including Recreational Riding, Therapeutic Riding, ‘Equine-assisted’ or ‘Equine-facilitated’ Psychotherapy and Hippotherapy (which literally means treatment with the horse.  Over 80,000 rides are undertaken each year across the country.

If you would like more information about volunteering for Riding for Disabled, please visit



Agstaff Update

Hi all,
Firstly, we would like to thank you all for your support over the last 10 months. The Agstaff team wish you all the best start to your Spring, and hope old mother nature has some kindness in her over the coming months to set us all up for a great summer.

The first day of Spring has brought a happy smile to most farmers out there! Coming from a very wet Autumn and a wetter winter, into what promises to be plenty of Sunshine would make the grouchiest of farmers crack a smile. Hopefully, the conditions will be perfect for the grass to grow and produce some well needed milk solids and give us all a well-needed pre-season boost before Summer is upon us.
With calving coming to an end, and the tail paint almost ready to apply, we must now prepare to start our cycles again! It makes you realise how fast this year has sped by, with only 3 months until Christmas – bloody heck!!

The winter bulbs season has now finished and working to get all plant stock ready to plant, brings it home how wet it is out there. Still lots of puddles in paddocks, some almost have ponds, at least the ducks love their new found environment! We hope this starts to dry out a bit so we can start getting those crops in soon.
When the conditions are great for grass, they tend to be even better for those pesky weeds! This means our (famous in Ashburton) Agriculture team will be very busy soon!!
And remember, whether you need staff for four hours or four months, give the good buggers at Agstaff a call for all your staffing solutions.

Blair O’Donnell

Wool Prices Gain Ground

Strong wool average prices have risen about 12% in just the last three weeks, sparking hopes they will move steadily off their lows of this year.

The market barometer 37 micron good-to-average full wool sold at $3.52kg/clean at Thursday’s Christchurch sales, a rise of about 40c/kg clean from early August prices, continuing the trend of intervening sales in Christchurch and Napier. While strong wool showed some recovery, finer Merino wool and mid-micron fleece continued to sell at astonishing prices, the best in many years.

Wakanui World Record Holder Crops ‘The Best Land in Canterbury’

Eric and Maxine Watson have farmed in Wakanui for 25 years, growing a range of crops including cereals, perennial ryegrass and fescues, vegetables for seed, and alternative pasture species, depending on what there’s a market and a contract available for.

Though he’s not one to blow his own trumpet, Eric Watson is widely respected for his innovative thinking and knowledge of technology, which he and Maxine harness to improve productivity. Eric was this year named Federated Farmers’ arable farmer of the year.

The Watsons embraced precision farming techniques nearly a decade ago. Their tractor, harvester and sprayer all have GPS-guided auto-steer which, with a base station for differential correction, gives them accuracy to 2cm. Their sprayer has auto-nozzle shut down to prevent any overlap and they use variable-rate spreading of phosphate, potash and lime with the aim of creating a more even fertility across the paddock. These are just some of the contributing factors that allowed the Watsons to take out the world record for wheat yield last summer and this year’s coveted title of arable farmer of the year. Congratulations Eric and Maxine!

Meet one of our good buggers – Blair O’Donnell

Blair has been involved in agriculture since being a wee fella at school. He quickly worked his way through the farming ranks: gaining experience in everything from construction, farm operations, and horticulture through to managerial roles before focussing on share milking full-time. Agstaff were lucky to nab Blair and his extensive knowledge of the industry.

If anyone can hook you up with the right job, it’s this man right here. Click the link to contact him now:

Rugby News – Agstaff Mid Canterbury gear up for South Canterbury Clash

North Otago were too good for the Agstaff Mid Canterbury boys over the weekend, taking out the match 31 to 25. With two of the opposition in the bin in the final quarter Mid Canterbury had their chances but it wasn’t to be.

Agstaff Mid Canterbury A on the other hand were clear winners, taking out North Otago Development 46 to 25. It was great running rugby and an exciting spectacle to watch.

See you at the Ashburton Showgrounds next Saturday, September 9th, when Agstaff Mid Canterbury take on the boys from South Canterbury.



Hi all,

It’s great to see the sun again after a rainfall record was broken for Mid Canterbury. We are looking for brighter skies and some more rainfall for August to set us up for a great spring growth on our farms. Agstaff are busy preparing staff for rouging in the cropping fields again – watch out for our vans which will be hitting the district shortly!

Local dairy farmers are pulling in big numbers after the cold snap as calves start flowing into the sheds. We are looking forward to some more sunshine to finish the calving season. Agstaff always have reliable staff available so give us a call if you find yourself in need of an extra pair of hands to get the job done.

We wish you all a successful lambing and calving season and please remember Health and Safety for you and your workers. Keep safe out there; let’s all get home with a smile to our loved ones.

Whether you need staff for four hours or four months, give the good buggers at Agstaff a call for all your staffing solutions.

Blair O’Donnell

Thicker skins for lambs to boost survival rate

A study showing lambs with thicker skins have a better chance of survival could be huge for animal welfare and the basic economics of sheep farming.

The Massey University study is looking for a way to give farmers a tool to improve lamb survival – lambs with thicker skin do not lose as much heat and in turn, their bodies do not lose valuable energy trying to keep warm nor die as easily after a cold snap. This is the first experiment of this kind anywhere in the world and has already proven that skin thickness is hereditary, which is very exciting for New Zealand. The breeding programme is still in the early stages but has shown promising results, with the thickest skin measured this year being 4.7mm. The study is far from over, but this is a fantastic start and is worth millions to the NZ sheep farming community.

New bobby calves regulation is now in full force

The new rules ban trucking bobby calves younger than four days old, set 12 hours as the maximum journey time, prohibit the shipping of young calves across Cook Strait and forbid ‘blunt force’ (blow to the head) killing of calves except in an emergency. MPI is driving this campaign to hold the “minority” of people accountable who don’t look at the rules, or who ignore the rules and do not consider the rights of animals. Those who breach the regulations can expect a court summons and prosecution.

Meet one of our consultants Andrew MacDonald – Ag guru and all-round bloody good bloke.

Andrew was brought up on a family farm in Geraldine and as such, possesses that special knowledge that farm kids accumulate over the years. He is also a bit of a heavy machinery fiend and owns a number of ploughs and diggers, which he now hires out. Andrew’s intimate knowledge of the industry and his passion for placing the right people in the right job has built him a stellar reputation in the agricultural industry. To talk this recruitment superstar contact us at:

Just because ……..


The Ranfurly Shield Match attracted a big crowd 15 years ago when it was last held in Mid Canterbury, and over the weekend, the majestic Log O’ Wood proved a popular draw card once again. It was fantastic to see so many locals get behind their team, and a credit to the players who produced an entertaining 80 minutes of rugby.

Plenty of school children also made the most of the big occasion, carrying on 84 years of history as a new generation will look back on the day the mighty Red and Blacks came to town.

Congratulations to Canterbury on their 69-7 victory.


Kaikoura Earthquake Recovery Initiative

facebook-agstaff-keq-480x480v1The Government through MPI is funding skilled on-farm workers to assist with recovery from the Earthquake.
Contact 0800 327 646 (0800 FARMING) to lodge requests for help on the farm, or to offer your help as a volunteer or worker. This includes worker contracts, health and safety induction and training, and coordinating travel and logistics.



Assistance and support available for earthquake-affected farmers, growers and fishers in the Marborough, Kaikoura and Hurunui districts.

Press release: kaikoura-eq-mpi-updates-26-jan – Ministry of Primary Industries

The Skilled worker initiative.
Government has provided $600k to fund skilled on-farm workers and volunteers to assist with recovery from the earthquake up to 31 May 2017.
Contact 0800 327 646 (0800 FARMING) to lodge requests for help on the farm, or to offer your help as a volunteer or skilled worker.
Earthquake Relief Fund for uninsurable damage to primary industries.
Government has announced $4 million towards a primary industries earthquake relief fund for uninsurable infrastructure repairs as a result of the 14 November 2016 earthquake. All earthquake affected farmers, fishers and growers in the Hurunui, Kaikōura and Marlborough districts can apply
for a grant, which may contribute towards repairs but will not completely cover costs for:

  • restoring uninsurable primary sector infrastructure
  • re-establishing uninsurable pasture (on cultivatable land only), crops, and forestry
  • initial clean-up of silt and debris (where uninsurable).

This could include: on-farm access roads, tracks, races, bridges without sides, dams and reservoirs, as these are generally uninsurable. Priority will be given to essential repairs to continue farming, such as roadside boundary fencing, boundary fencing, access tracks and stock water supplies.

  • You don’t have to have repairs completed before applying for a grant.
  • Due to the large quantity of damage the earthquake caused, the total cost of repairs is expected to be greater than the $4 million available. People are advised to make any repairs you can afford now rather than waiting and expecting to receive a grant.
  • Any grant will be a contribution towards repairs, up to a maximum of 50% of the cost.
  • Damage must exceed $12,000 in total for you to be considered for assistance.
  • An excess of $5000 will be deducted from the 50% that is eligible for funding. The amount awarded may be adjusted if eligible funding requests exceed the $4 million available.
  • The maximum any one entity could receive from the fund is $50,000.
  • Funding may be available where the cost of repairs (for example to fences, water reticulation) exceeds the limited cover provided by insurance. Applicants will need to deduct any insured amount that can be claimed from insurers.
  • Funding is not available for repairs that can be insured, but were not.

How to apply

  • The application form and more information is available on the Marlborough District Council website. Keep or estimate any evidence or information you have about the cost of repairs, and that they are uninsurable. Fill in the application form and send it by email or post.

Where can I get help with my application?

  • If you do not know if your repairs are insured or not, you will need to talk to your insurer.
  • Workshops are being held to go through the application process. If you have any questions contact your local Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP).

When will I find out if I am successful?

  • Decisions will be made by 31 March 2017 and you will be advised of the outcome of your application shortly after. In some urgent cases you may be contacted before the deadline.

Temporary Accommodation
The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE’s) temporary accommodation service is available for people in both rural and urban areas whose primary residence has been damaged by the earthquake. MBIE uses undamaged private market accommodation and looks at solutions when there is no supply.

Specifically for farmers, Rawhiti Domain Units will be offered for sale to earthquake-hit farmers for their residual book value of around $25,000 (plus costs of relocation, services, consents). Of 20 units, 13 are available now.

Farmers needing any form of temporary accommodation or interested in a unit should register at or call 0800 673 227 as soon as possible.

Flexible tax arrangements
Flexible tax arrangements are available in some cases if you’ve been affected by the earthquake, including:

  • late deposits and early withdrawals for affected farmers and fishers
  • waiving interest and penalties for late filing and payments of tax
  • GST exemption for Ministry of Social Development (MSD) pay-outs to employers.

Talk to your accountant for details, or contact Inland Revenue via their website or phone 0800 473 566.

Road access and travel
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is managing all roads in and around the affected areas. For more information, see the NZTA website or contact the NZTA on 0800 44 44 49 or email

The Earthquake Commission and home insurance
Customers have until 14 February 2017 to lodge a claim with their private insurer which is also passed to EQC. Where customers have already lodged home building or contents claims with EQC, these will be passed onto their insurer by EQC so there is no need for people to make another call.
You can contact the EQC on 0800 DAMAGE (0800 32 62 43).
Other resources available to those who need them

  • Contact your local Rural Support Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP for a free, private and confidential chat. A Trust representative can come to see you and, if needed, point you in the right direction for further help.
  • The Government Helpline is open for calls about all government support available, on 0800 77 99 97 from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
  • If your circumstances have changed as a result of the earthquake, talk to your accountant, bank, and Work and Income to see other help for which you may be eligible.

On-farm earthquake recovery initiative launches

25 JANUARY, 2017

Farmers who need an extra hand on the farm as a result of November’s earthquake and aftershocks can call 0800 FARMING (327 646) and have their needs matched with skilled workers and volunteers.

“As we move from the response to recovery phase, some farmers and growers will need skilled hands to get back to pre-quake operational levels,” says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“For example, many farmers have suffered damage to key infrastructure such as fences and water reticulation systems. This kind of infrastructure requires experienced labour to get back up and running,” says Mr Guy.

The initiative uses the Federated Farmers 0800 FARMING line as a single point of contact. The line has been open to members and non-members since the earthquake and has a comprehensive database of both farmers’ needs and offers of help.

“It’s fantastic to see some volunteer workers and networks have started some of their own initiatives. Officials will be extending a hand to these groups to encourage them to work with this centralised resource if possible,” says Mr Guy.

“All skilled workers deployed will be appropriately remunerated and volunteers can have some costs reimbursed. The initiative will also help ensure that issues such as like health and safety are managed in what is still a challenging situation,” says Mr Guy.

MPI has contracted Agriculture Employment Services Ltd (AgStaff) and Federated Farmers to manage the initiative over the next four months. This includes worker contracts, health and safety induction and training, coordinating travel and logistics, and the reimbursement of fair and reasonable costs for volunteer workers.

All calls for assistance will be managed to either AgStaff (for labour assistance) or other support organisations who are involved. Calls are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Resources available for earthquake recovery assistance:

  • Contact Federated Farmers on 0800 FARMING (327 646) to lodge requests for, or offers of, help on the farm. All requests and offers are being managed through this central system.
  • Calls are answered 24 hours a day.
  • Contact your local Rural Support Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP (0800 787 254) for a free, private and confidential chat. A Trust person can come to see you and, if needed, point you in the right direction for further help.
  • The Government Helpline is open for calls about all government support available, on 0800 77 99 97 from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
  • If your circumstances have changed as a result of the earthquake, talk to your accountant, bank, and Work and Income to see what other help you may be eligible for.
  • Industry groups like Beef + Lamb NZ and dairy organisations are also available to assist with technical advice, such as farm management and land remediation in earthquake-damaged areas.

Nathan Guy Primary Industries

Farmer of the Year 2016 Nominations

Are you, or do you know, a top farmer in the South Island?

Nominations and/or entries are open for the 2016 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year competition which rewards and promotes excellence,innovation, efficiency and sustainability in
farm practices.

Any farmer in the primary production sectors can be nominated including
agriculture, horticulture, viticulture and aquaculture.
The Lincoln University Foundation offers a top prize of a $20,000
travel grant to undertake further farm study or pursue farm business
opportunities, plus four $5000 cash awards for the best performers in
the fields of resource management, consumer awareness, innovation, and
human resource management.

Nominations and/or entries are open now and close on 1 August 2016. See
for nomination/entry forms.

Farmer of the Year Nominations A4 2016