As NZ Dairy Exporter counts down to its centenary in 2025, we look back at the issues of earlier decades. 50 Years Ago – June 1970.


“The time has come to divorce the local market and the export returns to the dairy industry for butter,” said the Chairman of the Dairy Board Mr F. L. Onion, in a press statement last month.
“For the past 15 years, the return from the local market has been linked with the export return, which has been severely depressed by international dumping,” he said.
“While internal costs have climbed, our returns have been reduced. No other food manufacturers could have remained in business had they been subjected to a price freeze as cruel as this.
“I emphasise that what we are asking for does not necessarily involve an increase in the local market butter price. It is for the Government to make an appropriate credit to the Dairy Industry Account and to decide how this should be financed,” he said.


Pessimism beyond the facts had harmed some of the dairy industry’s markets, the confidence of the community, and the confidence of the dairy industry, Mr I. MacLean said at the Eastern Ward conference at Whakatane.
The meeting in general was very critical of pessimistic statements by industry leaders about problems of disposal of butterfat products, and of the promotion of the dairy beef diversification scheme.
False market pessimism had been built by the dairy industry leaders, including the Chairman, Mr Onion, speaking on behalf of the Dairy Board.
“On his return from this year’s quota talks he was despondent when interviewed about butter prospects, and in August last year he was predicting substantial surpluses,” Mr MacLean said.
“Other industry leaders have spoken of New Zealand being forced to dispose of this year’s surplus butter at any cost, before the drought gave an excuse for an about face.
“The Journal of our industry, the NZ Dairy Exporter” should perhaps now be renamed the “NZ Beef Exporter.”


A number of Consulting Officers feel like saying “I told you so” to all those farmers who stopped milking their cows because they thought production was far too low.
Those farmers who kept milking their cows twice per day despite low production found that they recovered remarkably well when grass growth resumed after the drought.
Of course there are some people for whom drying off was a common sense procedure because they would either not have enough grass in the spring or the cows were getting too thin by continued milking.
When this wasn’t the case cows recovered from as low a level of butterfat production as .2 lb butterfat per day up to .3 – .5 lb fat per day and if you put this in monetary terms the value is considerable.


“With high beef schedules and low cost of replacements there is less point than ever in milking poor stock,” reports Consulting Officer Jim Rotherham from Matamata.
“I anticipate a considerable increase in the number of people testing next year. Especially in big herds there are a number of things that farmers can do to assist the tester.”
Quick, accurate, positive and easy identification of cows by the farmer prevents lost time and mixed samples.
A farmer should be prepared to milk slower while the tester is in the shed.
A farmer should provide some facilities for the tester. For example, a table or a box in the end of a herringbone pit protected with splash guards.
If possible have extra labour in the shed on test days, especially when individual cows are not known or milking is very fast.

Thanks to the Hocken Library, Dunedin.