Bill Webb – the end of a 48 year era

with Bill Webb
Bill Webb Feed Solutions

 The weather picture has changed with drier conditions which has been good for farmers during calving and is the first signs of the El Nino weather system which will affect New Zealand.

Some farmers have reported more frosts than previous years with Ruapehu’s heavy covering of snow which is effectively a freezer, in the middle of the North Island, affecting the temperature when winds blow from the south.

Rainfall statistics for September at the yard at Paengaroa are as follows:

Rain Sept 1 2023 to date = 73mls

Rain Sept 2022 = 217.5 mls

Rain Jan 1 2023 to date = 1188 mls

Rain Jan 2022 to Sept 2022 = 1410mls

Avg Soil Temp for 2nd week of Sept 2023 = 12.75*C

Avg Soil Temp for 2nd week of Sept 2022 = 10.12*C

Feed and banks

Feed is a topic foremost in farmers’ minds right now with many struggling to feed stock and hoping for more sunshine hours to promote growth.

Everyone is tight. Some cows appear to be light and struggling to achieve optimum body condition score for mating imposing a real predicament for many farmers – borrow to buy in supplements or try to ride it out.

It’s a predicament which is exacerbated by banks. Too often, we hear of banks raising interest rates and telling farmers to cut back on feed costs. It is an approach which beggars belief on the back of banks recently announcing record profits and causes one to ask who they are there to serve – their shareholders or their customers.

It used to be that banks worked with you as a business partner, but now it seems they work with little or no appreciation for the fundamentals which underpin the agricultural industry, the economy and, for that matter, their profits. They just don’t seem to give a S#!T anymore! They talk about price gouging when it comes to businesses charging excessively and trying to take advantage of a situation but the banks are interest gouging which is not helping this economy to recover from a recession at all.

Advice to farmers

My advice to any farmers who find themselves faced with the predicament of taking on more debt but needing to buy in feed, listen to your hearts and past experience. Now is one of the most crucial times on farm – midway between calving and mating – and stock health has to come first so you need to talk to your bank in the hope that they will recognise that they are a business partner and will agree to negotiate interest rates which allow you to operate to the farm’s potential.

The potential for El Nino to deliver an extremely dry summer, potentially drought conditions on the east coast, adds another level of urgency to factor into your feed budget – and is a consideration banks should take into account.


Cultivation and planting of crops should be well underway by the end of September. On the farm we took advantage of early planting to get better yields with spraying-out in the third week of September and planting at the end of the month.

If you are planning to buy in feed, my advice is to get those orders in early so you have the reassurance of good quality feed when you need it.

Wool industry

The New Zealand wool industry is recognised around the world for producing a product without equal and one would expect the biggest supporters of the industry would be our own Government Ministries, but not so. The Ministry of Education recently announced that it would import petrol-based floor coverings for schools in preference to investing in a natural, NZ home grown fibre which has the qualities needed for our environmental and health standards. 

That’s it from me

I have enjoyed doing these editorials and sharing my opinions with the Coast & Country News readers. As we have sold our farm and business of 48 years. We wish Andre Lietze and Rick Henderson, the new owners, all the best in their new adventures.

It’s been great dealing with my past and present clients and wish you all the best for the coming season. Good luck with the weather and your banks!

Got to go, the boat motor is running, but not the tractor’s.


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