Dairy feed dispute heads to court
A dispute between Waikato farmers and one of the country’s largest palm kernel importers is headed for the courts.
Waihou dairy farmer Stuart Husband is claiming Matamatabased J Swap Contractors owes him $156,375 for loss of milk production after the feed-supply firm failed to deliver pre-ordered palm kernel extract during the 2007-2008 drought.
J Swap blamed shipping delays from Malaysia when they failed to deliver some of the contracted 250 tonnes.
Instead Mr Husband was offered Summer Blend tapioca mixed with PKE at almost double the price.
The blend was priced at $450 per tonne, compared with $240 plus GST for the palm kernel extract which Mr Husband ordered in May 2007.
J Swap has issued a statutory demand on Mr Husband’s company, Husband Family Farms Ltd, for $17,878 plus interest after Mr Husband refused to pay for some of the feed.
Mr Husband said the herd took one week to adjust to the blend and combined with the delayed delivery of the palm kernel extract, which he eventually got in March 2008, milk production dropped to drying-off levels.
He dried off his herd two months early and trucked 100 cows to Dargaville to graze when they would not eat the blend.
He said he had tried to contact J Swap over 18 months to discuss the outstanding invoice and replacement feed prices but he felt stone-walled by the firm.
It sent him a letter saying it was over to him to arrange contingencies for feed shortages.
Mr Husband said he preordered maize and PKE as a contingency.
In April 2010 Mr Husband enlisted Federated Farmers to liaise with J Swap for a meeting which was unsuccessful because the contracting company’s spokesperson said the issue had become a legal matter.
A High Court hearing has been set for March 2011.
In a separate case in June 2008, Tirau dairy farmer Ross McQuoid signed a forward contract with J Swap for 360 tonnes of palm kernel extract.
Later that year he also trialled the summer and spring blends on the understanding it would be priced at daily spot rates.
He claims J Swap changed his pre-ordered palm kernel extract contract to the blend without his knowledge.
He was then made to pay for the order.
Mr McQuoid trialled the blend but his farm staff informed him the herd had refused to eat it.
Mr McQuoid refused to pay or take further deliveries of the blend, of which some deliveries were also charged at a higher rate than his original palm kernel extract contract.
Mr McQuoid’s case is going to arbitration next month.
When contacted by the Waikato Times, J Swap, including operations manager Marc McCarthy, would not comment, referring questions to Matamata lawyer Peter Hardie.
Mr Hardie said it was inappropriate for J Swap to comment before legal proceedings.
He said the company valued farmer relationships.
‘‘If any unforeseeable problem should arise, J Swap’s practice is to work in partnership with the farmer to resolve it in a mutually beneficial way,’’ Mr Hardie said.
FEED FRACAS: A dispute over the supply of palm kernel is heading for the courts.