Rural round-up

March 27, 2014

Guy prepared to help, but unwilling to interfere - Allan Barber:

Nathan Guy gave a very positive speech to Beef + Lamb NZ’s AGM on Saturday which covered three major points: what the government is doing for farmers, his vision for the red meat sector and thoughts on the discussions about industry structure.

Obviously, given MPI’s bullish view of agricultural exports, the Minister was extremely positive about economic performance. However he was at pains to point out the government’s role as an enabler, citing his focus on biosecurity resources, trade negotiations for market access, and investment in research.

He began by referring to his intention to strengthen resources at the border and to establish Government Industry Agreements (GIA) with various sectors which will ultimately involve the private sector in sharing the costs of biosecurity; different sectors are at various stages of negotiation on this issue. . . .

Project explores the potential of EID:

Warren Ayers farms 890ha of rolling country near Wyndham. The property runs 600 Perendale stud ewes and another 5,700 commercial ewes.

Lambing averages 135 per cent and lambs are finished to 17kg. Two-year-old replacement heifers are bought in annually for the 120-head Angus cow herd. Every year, all but the lightest 10 calves are sold at weaning. The policy is simple to manage and keeps the genetics of the herd diversified sufficiently that the same bull can be used for several years. For the past five years, the property has also wintered 650 dairy cows.

Warren has EID tagged his stud animals since 2006 and the commercial two-tooths have been tagged since 2009. . .

Fonterra begins construction on new IDR357 billion plant in Indonesia:

Fonterra today commenced construction on its first blending and packing plant in Indonesia, which will support the growth of its market leading consumer brands Anlene, Anmum and Anchor Boneeto.

Located in West Java, the plant is Fonterra’s first manufacturing facility in the country and its largest investment in a new manufacturing facility in ASEAN in the last 10 years.

Director General of Agro Industry at the Ministry of Industry, Panggah Susanto, joined Fonterra at an event in Jakarta to mark the official start of construction today.

Pascal De Petrini, Managing Director of Fonterra Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA), said that Fonterra Brands Manufacturing Indonesia Cikarang Plant will allow Fonterra to meet the ever-growing demand for dairy nutrition in Indonesia. . .

Dry conditions in Northland and Waikato remain a big concern:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says dry conditions in parts of Waikato and Northland remain a serious concern.

“Local authorities in Northland have announced the western parts of their region are in drought. This reflects the tough few months they’ve had as pasture has browned off.

“Cyclone Lusi has helped green tinges appear in some places, but the rainfall was erratic and insufficient. Western Northland and large parts of the Waikato remain very dry.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries is keeping a close eye on conditions here and elsewhere. I’ve seen for myself how dry things are on two trips to the Waikato in the last two weeks. . .

West Coast Northland drought declaration a relief:

The adverse event declaration covering drought in Northland’s West Coast the declaration will not provide a lot of direct financial assistance but will provide huge psychological relief.

“New Zealanders will get an inkling of what the guys on Northland’s West Coast have been going through. Not just since November, but since 2012 and even before that,” says Roger Ludbrook, Federated Farmers Northland provincial president.

“The big thing a declaration triggers is the Northland Rural Support Trust, so any farmer can approach the RST for free advice on farm management, or just someone to have a decent chinwag with.

“Beyond this, it doesn’t mean much financially unless the absolute worst happens. There is a safety net, but it is exactly the same as for any other New Zealander and carries the same eligibility rules.

“Then there is Inland Revenue and to be fair to them they aren’t unapproachable. . .

Drought-affected farmers encouraged to talk to their banks

Drought-affected farmers should talk to their banks said the New Zealand Bankers’ Association in response to increasingly dry conditions in parts of Northland and Waikato.

“We encourage any farmers facing hardship as a result of the lack of rain to contact their bank to discuss options for assistance and how they can work through these challenging conditions,” said New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Kirk Hope. . . .

Fonterra profit down but revenue on track to break $20 billion:

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s half year results means it could be back on track to break the $20 billion revenue barrier; corporate New Zealand’s ‘four minute mile.’

“I think the fall in operating profit will grab attention instead of where it ought to be focussed, on revenue,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“This is real money coming into the New Zealand economy.  I mean revenue for the half-year is up 21 percent to $11.3 billion.  While we’ve got close to the $20 billion barrier in the past, this time, we’ve got a real chance of breaking it.

“That said, the declared drought in Northland along with drought-like conditions in the upper North Island could act like a brake.  We’ve also seen GlobalDairyTrade retreat in recent trading events due in part to increased volume. . .

Pengxin picks up former Fonterra executive Romanos for NZ Milk role, report says:

(BusinessDesk) – Shanghai Pengxin has hired Gary Romano, who resigned from Fonterra Cooperative Group last year during the botulism scare, to oversee the Chinese company’s overseas operations including its New Zealand farms, the NZ Herald reports.

Romano’s Linked In profile says he is “currently on the beach before becoming active again in 2014.” He resigned as head of NZ Milk Products at Fonterra last August as the company embarked on a global recall of whey protein concentrate. The bacterium was eventually shown to be harmless.

He will become chief executive of NZ Milk Management and a director of Pengxin’s two farm groups in the North Island and South Island, according to the Herald. Terry Lee, managing director of Pengxin’s Milk New Zealand unit, didn’t immediately return calls. . .

Samoa sheep farming increasing:

Sheep farming in Samoa is growing through a programme funded by the World Bank.

Under the Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project, the World Bank is helping develop livestock, fruits and vegetable farming.

Sheep were introduced in Samoa in 2004, with the flock now grown to 700. . .

Macca’s hits milestone of three million kilos of Angus

AngusPure recognises programme as instrumental to success of Angus demand

McDonald’s New Zealand today announced it has sold a whopping three million kilograms of New Zealand Angus beef since 2009. With today’s launch of the promotional Angus the Great burger, the company expects to continue its contribution to the success of local Angus beef sales

This milestone is acknowledged by AngusPure’s chairman Tim Brittain, who says the ‘McAngus’ programme has been instrumental in helping grow the demand for Angus cattle, and that Kiwi farmers have been well rewarded since the original launch of the Angus burger range in 2009. . .


EU-NZ free trade deal on table

March 26, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has more good news for trade:

New Zealand and the European Union are to pursue a free trade pact – but don’t expect any action until at least 2015.

Prime Minister John Key made the announcement in The Hague after meeting European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy. He described it as “quite an important” meeting

Two-way trade between New Zealand and the 28 members of the EU totals $16 billion a year.

Key said the EU has, for the first time, agreed to consider a free trade agreement.

But he admitted an ambitious EU-US trade deal, as well as a pact with Canada, will take priority for the Europeans. 

Further progress is also not possible until after European Parliament elections this year, but officials will undertake a scoping study.

“We are actually seeing progress and a breakthrough that historically hasn’t been a option available to us,” Key said.

The deal has the support of both the British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who he met on the sidelines of the major international summit. . .

Some of the credit for this must go to the good relationship between them and Key.

Two-way trade between New Zealand and the EU is worth about $16bn a year and has the potential to rise to $20bn by 2020. 

But exporters are hamstrung by hefty tariffs – including 8.2 per cent on kiwifruit. By comparison, Chile pays nothing because it is already signed up to an FTA with the 28-country bloc.

“It is easy to look at Europe and think Greece and Spain and some of the well pronounced debt problems,” Key said. “But sitting in amongst that are hundreds of millions of very wealthy consumers who earn a lot, spend a lot and fundamentally are the target market for what we sell.” . . .

A free trade deal with the EU won’t happen quickly but it would bring benefits for producers and their consumers who are paying far more than they need to for our produce because of tariffs.

The EU is our third biggest trading partner in spite of the handicaps we face from duties imposed on our products.

Spain is our biggest market for kiwifruit, even with that 8.2% tariff. The only other New Zealand produce I’ve seen there was apples.

It’s not hard to find New Zealand lamb in the UK and our venison in Germany.

A free trade deal would make it easier for our produce to compete on price and give people their more choice at a lower cost.

It would allow us to put our trading eggs in more baskets which would give better security and bargaining power.


Added value or commodities

March 24, 2014

If we had the option of producing added-value goods or commodities, the former would be better.

But sometimes the choice isn’t quite that simple.

Keith Woodford proffers a complicating factor – no New Zealand company has the ability to make the necessary investment for a lot more processing.

. . . So the choice may come down to New Zealand owned commodity companies or overseas owned value-add companies.

Either way the land will still be here. And the second option will provide more jobs, more competition, and possibly more taxes. It needs some thought.

He was talking about dairy companies but the premise applies to other businesses too.

The people and parties opposed to foreign investment are the ones calling for more jobs and more tax.

Would knowing the former would generate more of the latter make them reconsider or would xenophobia get in the way of the logic?


Rural round-up

March 23, 2014

Irrigator wins Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

IrrigationNZ congratulates Mark and Devon Slee on taking out the main prize at last night’s Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Mark is a board member of IrrigationNZ with an irrigated dairy farm in Ealing within Ashburton District employing 13 full time and two part time staff.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says Mark and Devon’s sustainable irrigation practices and investment in technology played a large part in their win.

“Mark and Devon are among our top performing irrigators because of their significant investment in technology and personal commitment to reducing their environmental footprint,” says Mr Curtis. . .

PGP Forestry programme takes big step forward:

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew are welcoming commercialisation of new forestry technology this week as a big step forward in improving both productivity and safety.

“The Steepland Harvesting Programme is a very exciting Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project, with $6 million in joint funding from the industry and the Government and a vision of ‘No worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw’,” says Mr Guy.

The new technology involves harvesting on steep slopes using new mechanised technology, rather than exposing forestry workers to risk.

The project was demonstrated to around 55 forestry contractors and company representatives at a Future Forest Research field day in Maungataniwha forest near Napier this week. . .

Minister signs new conservation accord:

An accord between the newly established $100 million NEXT Foundation and the Government was signed in Nelson today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The NEXT Foundation is an incredible deed of generosity which has the potential to deliver huge steps forward for conservation in New Zealand. This Accord is about providing the right framework for DOC to partner with the Foundation and to ensure we maximise the conservation gains from this huge investment,” Dr Smith says.

“There are two key elements to the Accord. The first is in ensuring these funds go to new projects that are out and above the work the Government would have ordinarily done. The second is in providing a commitment that the conservation gains are maintained into the future. . . .

Ministers leading agribusiness delegation to South America:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy are leading an agribusiness delegation to Chile and Colombia from 23-28 March.

“Latin America is a valued trading partner for New Zealand and a fast growing region,” says Mr Groser. 

“Our relationship with Chile is thriving with a high level of engagement in areas such as energy and environment, agriculture and education. They are encouraging New Zealand business to explore future investment opportunities and we hope to build on this.

“In Colombia we are aiming to build a greater understanding of the market, through a range of farm visits and meetings with local Ministers and authorities.” . . .

Arable research body sets strategy:

The Foundation for Arable Research has just launched its next three-year strategy, which aims to keep arable farming a good viable option for farmers.

Chief executive Nick Pyke says the key points include making sure they have the right people doing the research and having leading research that has the ability to make a difference for farmers.

He says arable farming is buoyant at the moment and they want that to continue. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef With Chipotle (Part 2): The Definition of a Family Farmer – Greg Peterson:

Chipotle’s videos depict today’s farmers as huge, industrial farmers, concerned not about ethics and animalwelfare, but motivated rather by greed and money. This could not be further from the truth!

There are over 2 million farmers in this country. Each of whom are working long hours, braving extreme weather, and tirelessly caring for land and livestock. How many of those farmers are family farmers? 96 percent of them, according to the USDA, including the farm I work on with my brothers, my parents and my sister. In fact, I’ve never actually met a farmer who isn’t a family farmer! Have you? I’m sure there are a few out there, but even then, do you really think a farm run by non-family members would operate any differently from those that are? . . .

Rural Women™ International Year of Family Farming Roadshow kicks off next week:

Four South Island towns will be celebrating the International Year of Family Farming next week, as the Rural Women NZ roadshow series gets underway. Three North Island events will follow in early April.

“Rural Women NZ has always backed families working on the land, and in the rural communities that surround them,” says Liz Evans, who is promoting the Rural Women NZ roadshow to be held in Marlborough’s Rai Valley on 30 March.

“For this reason, we were ‘first in’ to initiate a nationwide programme of events to support the UN International Year of Family Farming, a timely opportunity to celebrate the dedication and contribution of farming families, past, present and future.” . . .

Lick block increases lamb survival in triplet bearing ewes:

Significant improvements in lamb survival have been demonstrated by using Crystalyx blocks in a University of Auckland trial in Southland.

Crystalyx Extra High Energy molasses blocks were provided as a supplement to ewes from three weeks prior to lambing through to weaning and resulting in an 11% increase in lambs presented for docking, compared to the control flock.

Barry and Julie Crawford’s Rosebank Farm near Gore was the venue for the trial to determine the benefits of targeted supplementation on triplet bearing ewes. . . 

The Rosebank property is part of the FARMIQ programme. . .

Seed Industry Opens New Office in Templeton, Christchurch:

The New Zealand seed industry is pleased to announce the official opening of its new office in Templeton, Christchurch.

The opening on Wednesday was officiated by the Hon Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries, and attended by over 100 VIPs and guests including Kelvin Coe, the Mayor of Selwyn District.

“It’s a huge honour for our industry to have the Minister officiate and his acknowledgement of the vital importance of our sector to the wider primary industry,” says General Manager Thomas Chin. . .


Wrong side of the line

March 23, 2014

Opposition parties have to tread a fine line between attacks aimed at the government and those which could damage anyone, and anything, caught in the crossfire.

Has Labour got on the wrong side of the line with their on-going fuss over Judith Collins and Oravida while Prime Minsiter John Key ahs been in China?

But the Opposition has been determined to try to ensure Key does not get to politically bank the positives from the deepening bilateral relationship.

This is a mistake, especially given Labour’s own groundbreaking role in forging bilateral ties with China.

Helen Clark – with her profound understanding of international politics and intuitive approach to cementing deals with political leaders of a vastly different ideological mindset – played the diplomatic pathfinder role.

It was Clark’s Government that took the political risk of hurting New Zealand’s relationship with that other great power, the United States, by making significant concessions over China’s “market economy status” to negotiate the free trade deal. Clark Government ministers Phil Goff and Jim Sutton were at the cutting edge. Their negotiations enjoyed bilateral support from then Opposition trade spokesman Tim Groser.

It is a great pity that this “New Zealand Inc” approach has now been deliberately thrown out the window by Opposition politicians out to make domestic political advantage in election year. . .

National and Labour used to have a fair degree of consensus over trade and its importance. In the past week Labour has put political opportunism first.

New Zealand exporters were pleased Key was able to make time after his Xi dinner for photo opportunities with their Chinese clients at Wednesday night’s Celebration of Dairy dinner.

The event kicked on – as they tend to – elsewhere at the Four Seasons hotel and in various nightspots around Beijing.

Here’s the thing: New Zealand exporters are scathing of the Opposition’s timing of the Oravida revelations. Beijing expats retain deep suspicions that in the first place, some “low-level” Foreign Affairs official leaked details of Cabinet minister Judith Collins’ off-schedule meetings with Stone Shi’s Oravida in October, and that the Opposition sat on the issue until the eve of the Prime Minister’s China trip to inflict maximum political damage while he was overseas.

Political foes might be fair game but exporters are not and this timing looks suspiciously like it wasn’t a coincidence.

The upshot is that, yet again, a positive diplomatic foray by Key has been overshadowed by domestic politics.

Collins’ links with the company of which her husband is a director needs to be examined.

But Labour’s decision to rain on Key’s parade is not only short-sighted but mean-spirited.

If Labour wins the next election it will be the beneficiary of Key’s China-related diplomacy in the same way that the Prime Minister has benefited from Clark’s visionary moves.

Reflect on that.

There’s not just political benefits for whichever parties are in government after the election, there’s trade gains to be made with the economic and social gains that come from that which political opportunism from the opposition could have derailed.


Front page news

March 21, 2014

It’s not unusual for Prime Minister John Key to be front page news in New Zealand.

It is something of an accomplishment, and an honour, to be front page news in China, a country with a population of 1.3 billion.
Making front page news in China – not bad in a country with 1.3 billion people

The Prime Minister also had a dinner with President Xi Jinping and the visit has helped strengthen links between our countries:

Prime Minister John Key says agreements entered into with China at his meeting with Premier Li Keqiang highlight the continuing strength of the relationship between our two countries.

Mr Key and Premier Li Keqiang met at the Great Hall of the People. Mr Key’s visit to China marks the third time the countries’ top leaders have met in less than 12 months.

The meeting emphasised the value both countries place on the political, trade and economic relationship which, has continued to grow rapidly.

New Zealand and China are well on track to achieve a shared goal, agreed by the Prime Minister and Premier Wen Jiabao in 2010, to double two-way trade to NZ$20 billion by 2015. Two-way trade is currently worth over $18 billion.

“My meeting highlighted the mutually beneficial nature of the bilateral trade, with China becoming our number one goods export market, and remaining the number one source of imports for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

The Prime Minister said that he was pleased to see the particularly strong growth in dairy exports to China, which reached nearly NZ$5 billion in 2013, an increase of 75 percent.

“My meeting provided the opportunity to brief Premier Li on the outcomes of the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident Government Inquiries, emphasising that they underline that New Zealand is a producer of high quality food, with world class regulatory systems,” says Mr Key.

The Prime Minister and Premier Li discussed New Zealand and China’s shared interest in strengthening financial sector cooperation, as well as cooperation in the areas of agriculture and food safety.

Six new initiatives have been agreed at the meeting, including:

  • The launch of direct trading of the New Zealand dollar against the Chinese Renminbi.
  • Agreement to renegotiate the 1986 Double Tax Agreement.
  • Implementation of an electronic equipment Mutual Recognition Agreement that will enable New Zealand to become the first country in the world to test, inspect and certify electrical products outside of China.
  • Enhanced agricultural cooperation in dairy herd improvement, agricultural management, veterinary training scholarships and professional development exchanges.
  • Improved food safety cooperation including the launch of a scholarship programme in food safety and risk management.

“The financial sector offers great potential for further cooperation between New Zealand and China. Today’s announcements will make doing business with China easier by reducing compliance costs and contribute to the wider expansion of the economic and financial cooperation between the two countries,” says Mr Key. . .

This visit and a stronger relationship will bring benefits to New Zealand:

China is important to New Zealand. We are on track to achieve the goal of doubling two-way trade to $20 billion by 2015. This week President Xi Jinping and I set an ambitious new goal for trade to reach $30 billion by 2020.

Our growing trade with China is a shot in the arm for New Zealand exporters and industry. It is one of several reasons the New Zealand economy continues to grow strongly.

Figures released today showed GDP increasing by more than 3 per cent in the past year – making New Zealand one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

This is great news for families.

A stronger economy means more jobs, higher incomes, and more opportunities for young people. It means we can invest more in important public services like schools and hospitals.

If we continue with National’s successful programme, New Zealanders can lock in the economic gains we’re starting to see.

That if depends on another National-led government because as  Bill English said during Question Time yesterday, the job isn’t finished:

. . . New Zealand’s growth rate is better than that of quite a few developed countries, but, of course, the real measure of its success is whether it is providing more jobs for New Zealanders and higher incomes for New Zealanders. The good news is that forecasters are generally expecting that New Zealand’s growth rate will be maintained through 2014. This, however, is no cause for complacency or for a fiscal lolly scramble. This country has a lot of work to do yet to ensure that every New Zealander who can work can get a job, and that all those New Zealanders who have a job are paid in a manner that they regard as appropriate. . .

The economy is growing and the free trade agreement with China, has played an important role in that.

With growth improvements in other indicators which depend on that including education, employment and health  are following.

But there is more to do.

The government has laid a strong foundation and it needs another term to build on that.


Doing what we can

March 4, 2014

There’s not a lot that a small country like New Zealand can do when a large power like Russia threatens another country.

But we’re doing what we can.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully called the Russian ambassador in over the escalation of tensions.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says the Russian Ambassador was called in to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade this afternoon over the escalation of tensions in Ukraine.

“On my instructions the Russian Ambassador has been called in to the Ministry to hear directly New Zealand’s views on the situation in the Ukraine,” Mr McCully says.

“New Zealand is deeply alarmed at the escalation of tensions in Ukraine over recent days and we condemn the breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“We understand Russia has significant interests especially in the Crimean Peninsula, however they need to pursue these interests in a manner that is consistent with Russia’s treaty obligations, international law and accepted international norms.

“New Zealand calls on the Russian Government to take steps to reduce tensions and to engage in consultations with other affected parties to achieve this objective.”

We’re also using trade as a lever:

Prime Minister John Key ordered Trade Minister Tim Groser home from Russia today, ending for now any further discussions on a Russian free trade deal that has been three years in the making as Russia ratchets up pressure on Ukraine on the Crimean Peninsula.

Groser had been in Moscow for trade talks ahead of a possible visit to the Russian capital by Key in a fortnight as part of a global swing through China and Europe that will take in meetings with senior Chinese leadership and an international Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands.

Key said he was only missing Moscow on the forthcoming trip because suggested dates had not worked for the Russian president Vladimir Putin, although continuing to discuss an FTA with Russia in the present circumstances was not appropriate.

“I don’t think we could seriously, even if Mr Groser could tie up a deal this afternoon, (sign a free trade agreement) at the same time as we are expressing our deep concern about the threat to sovereignty in Ukraine,” said Key. . .

I wouldn’t go so far as this:

But trade, or a threat to it, is the strongest way we can condemn Russia’s actions.

 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

February 20, 2014

4.9 billion reasons why our primary industries rock:

An expected $4.9 billion surge in New Zealand’s primary exports confirms why CNBC labelled New Zealand a ‘rock star’ economy. The announcement came at the Riddet Institute’s Agri-Food Summit.

“It is significant that Riddet Institute’s co-director, Professor Paul Moughan, said New Zealand has great farmers, great processor/marketers and great scientists,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers president.

“Professor Moughan said we stand on the cusp of a revolution and we agree. We now feed an estimated 40 million people around the world and the world is crying out for our primary exports.

“Increasing global prosperity is arguably behind the Ministry for Primary Industries now forecasting an expected $4.9 billion uplift in our primary exports. It is now expected primary exports for 2013/14 will be worth $36.4 billion. . .

Pigging out proves profitable – Jamie Morton:

How do you stop truckloads of unsaleable food from going to the dump – and turn it into something useful? Put a few thousand piggies in the middle.

Each day at the Ratanui Development Company, near Feilding, two trucks deliver around 20,000 litres of whey, to be gobbled up by 8300 pigs.

This by-product of cheese-making – along with other foods such as bread, yoghurt, cheese and dog biscuits – make up about 40 per cent of its hungry hogs’ diet.

“When you drill down on the volume of stuff that these pigs eat, it usually blows people away,” farm director Andrew Managh said.

But more impressive is the idea of what this novel factory-to-farm approach could mean for recycling in New Zealand. The huge piggery is one of 23 farming operations partnered with Auckland-based EcoStock Supplies, which claims its unique business model could dramatically slash the burden on the country’s landfills by millions of tonnes each year. . .

Last stand a fund farewell - Sally Rae:

They’re called simply The Last Stand.

When shearing identity John Hough decided to make his last stand before retiring and contest the national shearing sports circuit, some of his mates decided to accompany him.

Mr Hough, who is soon to turn 70, was joined by Johnny Fraser, of North Otago, Robert McLaren (Hinds), Rocky Bull (Tinwald), Tom Wilson (Cust), Gavin Rowland (Dunsandel), who is also chairman of Shearing Sports New Zealand, and Norm Harraway (Rakaia). . .

Standout season for rodeo rookie - Sally Rae:

Omarama shepherd Katey Hill has had a stellar rodeo season with her young quarter-horse Boots and is leading the national Rookie of the Year title in barrel racing.

But after such a busy season, with a lot of time spent on the road, Miss Hill (22) made the decision, due to Boots’ young age, to ”pull him back a bit” and finish the season on a quiet note.

She said she was heading to the North Island for several rodeos this month, but was borrowing a mount, and Boots was staying at home on the farm. . .

China grapples with food for fifth of world:

Feeding nearly a fifth of the world’s population is no easy feat – and the Chinese government says farming methods will have to be overhauled if it’s going to feed its 1.3 billion people in the future.

A visiting senior Chinese government official and agricultural expert, Chen Xiwen, told a meeting at the Beehive on Tuesday that while agricultural productivity has been increasing, Chinese farming is facing hurdles in producing its own food. . .

A dog’s life focus for photographer – Sally Rae:

Andrew Fladeboe describes working dogs as the ”most noble of creatures”.

That passion for dogs – and photography – has led American-born Mr Fladeboe to travel to New Zealand as a Fulbright fellow.

He was awarded the grant to photograph working dogs and he will work with the University of Canterbury to understand the dogs from social, historical and cultural perspectives.

When it came to selecting a country in which to undertake the fellowship, Australia or New Zealand stood out. . .


Rural round-up

February 18, 2014

Dairy farms set to beat compliance deadline – Tony Benny:

DairyNZ hopes to have all dairy farmers in the Amuri Basin signed up to its Sustainable Milk Plans by the end of the year, meaning they will comply with new Environment Canterbury environmental regulations well before the 2017 deadline.

The plans are based on a voluntary scheme in the Waikato, tweaked to comply with requirements of the Hurunui Waiau River Regional Plan, which came into force in December, under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

“The ultimate goal is this will tick all the boxes so at the moment, as I understand it, it does meet all the requirements of Schedule 2 of the Hurunui plan and Schedule 7 of the Land and Water Regional Plan which are both the farm environment plan schedules,” said DairyNZ catchment manager Canterbury Tony Fransen. . . .

For cows daughters mean more milk - Chris Cash:

The amount of milk a cow produces is affected by the sex of her fetus, a new study reports.

Cows that gave birth to a daughter produced considerably more milk than those that had sons. And back-to-back daughters led to a bonanza of milk from their mothers — over two 305-day lactation periods, nearly 1,000 pounds more milk than from cows that had given birth to sons, an increase of 3 percent.

The study, described in the journal PLoS ONE, could have implications for dairy farmers and for new discoveries about human breast milk. . .

NZ vs Aus – who wins at the farmgate? – Freshagenda:

As the current season has unfolded and payouts have heated up over the ditch, many farmers here  are asking the inevitable question – How do Australian farmgate prices compare to New Zealand’s? 
 
To address this question more fully, we really need to look beyond the current season and examine a long term comparison. Freshagenda’s analysis of payments made by Australian manufacturers compared to Fonterra’s over the past 13 years (including a forecast for 2013/14) show that Australian prices have been ahead by around A$0.19 kgMS on average. This is once adjustments have been made for protein – measured as “crude’ in New Zealand and “true” here, and converting NZ prices to Australian dollars. 
 

What the green and black bars on the chart  indicate (in US dollars this time) is that since 2009, Australian farmgate prices have been more resilient when there have been downturns in the international market, while New Zealand’s prices have responded more quickly and fully when commodity prices head upwards. . .

Increasing your slice of the economic pie:

As a commodity producer of primarily agricultural products, New Zealand is not in a favourable position to dictate what goes on in the global marketplace. However, Senior Lecturer in Supply Chain Management, Dr Mark M.J. Wilson , says by looking at the supply chain as a total system, there is the opportunity for businesses to compete through collaboration.

“New Zealand Inc tends to get buried as a supplier within the supply chain,” says Dr Wilson. “For example, our milk products get wrapped up as supply commodities to major confectionery brands that then capture the benefit of their branding to the consumers. So New Zealand gets paid as a commodity player, while the confectionery giant gets the profit from the brand ownership.

“No longer do businesses compete against businesses; rather we need to think about value chains competing against value chains.. .

Two charts about animal use in research - Thomas Lumley:

Prompted by Siouxsie Wiles’s report of talking to an anti-vivisectionist demonstrator, here are two charts from the annual report of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee. These are the people who monitor the use of animals in research, testing, and teaching in New Zealand.

The first chart shows what types of animals are used and what happens to them afterwards. . .

 

Triple investment property combines business opportunities with rural lifestyle:

A highly successful multi-purpose hospitality and commercial accommodation business being run as a “hobby” by its current owners has been placed on the market for sale.

The Dairy Flat property north of Auckland combines two business operations with a home on a 4.7 hectare lifestyle section, offering potential new owners the best of both professional and lifestyle worlds.

Located at 48 Young Access in the rural community 25 minutes north of Auckland, the property encompasses a boutique bed and breakfast business with a private residence, a purpose-built glass house function pavilion and a smaller dwelling used as commercial accommodation. . .


Protection costs

February 17, 2014

An educational story about the costs of protection:

In 1990, Brach’s Confections Inc. threatened to close a West Side factory that employed 1,100 people. The candy maker said it would move abroad unless the federal government acted to reduce the artificially inflated cost of sugar. Washington ignored the threat, and Brach’s found ways to keep the plant going. But in 2003, it closed the factory and sent much of the work to Mexico.

The reason for the move was a federal undertaking whose entire purpose is to prop up the price of sugar for the benefit of a small number of growers. It does so by restricting imports, limiting how much farmers can plant and guaranteeing them a certain price. These methods work: The price of sugar in this country is usually double or triple the price in the rest of the world.

That enduring accomplishment comes at a cost to companies that buy sugar, like Brach’s. It also burdens a larger group of people: those who eat. In a typical year, the average American consumes nearly 100 pounds of sugar and other high-calorie sweeteners. The total cost to consumers amounts to as much as $3.5 billion a year.

That doesn’t count the jobs shipped to Mexico or Canada. Defenders claim the program saves American jobs in sugar production. But a 2006 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce found that for each job it saves in those sectors, it destroys three jobs in candy making.

It’s not just that protection costs consumers and taxpayers, it costs jobs as well.

But there is an alternative:

For decades, Life Savers were made at a facility in Holland, Mich. But in 2003, Kraft Foods shut it and moved the production to a plant near Montreal.

What does Quebec have to offer that Michigan doesn’t? The Canadian Sugar Institute is happy to explain: “The Canadian sugar industry is internationally unique in that it does not depend on government subsidies. Basing its prices on world raw sugar markets, it sells sugar at prices that are among the lowest in the world.”

Some companies can afford to eat the extra cost of operating in the U.S. But when the composition of your product is 99 percent sugar, it’s not so easy. . .

Given that sugar is now regarded as a harmful substance this might not cause much concern, but it’s not just sugar producers who are protected in the USA and elsewhere.

Growers have been protected by import barriers since 1789, and the current complicated system dates back to the Great Depression.

The country was a very different place then. In 1930, one of every four Americans lived on a farm. Today, it’s one in 50. But the farm bill passed by Congress and signed by the president this month was a missed opportunity to enact changes that would reflect the vast changes over the past 80 years.

The politicians could have started with this system, which bleeds the many to enrich the few. “No industry is as coddled as farming, and no industry as centrally planned from Washington,” writes Cato Institute policy analyst Chris Edwards. “The federal sugar program is perhaps the most Soviet of all.”  . .

New Zealand farming used to be very heavily protected and subsidised.

Producers responded to the dictates of politicians and bureaucrats rather than the market and as a result we produced food no-one wanted to buy.

Farming became very difficult when we were forced into the real world in the mid-1980s but we got through that and now the industry and the country are far better for it.

If the Trans Pacific Partnership succeeds, farmers in the USA and other countries which sign up to it will go through some short-term pain as we did but they and their countries will benefit in the medium to longer term as we did.

Apropos of the TPP – Pattrick Smellie explains 10 things its opponents don’t want you to grasp.


Case for FTAs

February 13, 2014

Trade Minister Tim Groser puts the case for Free Trade Agreements:

Over the last 30-40 years, NZ has suffered grievously, perhaps more than any other developed economy, from lack of trading opportunities. This is the consequence of massive protectionism and subsidies on the products where we are internationally competitive.

This was not an issue for NZ until 1973. That was the year when our dominant market, the UK, which had been completely open to us, joined the then EEC. From that date, protectionism became a huge constraint on our growth and incomes. I have no doubt this is one major reason why NZ was still the 6th richest country in the world in 1975 but then started to slip sideways in the last quarter of the 20th Century. As a consequence, Trade Policy has been a very large part of any sensible NZ economic policy over the past decades. And frankly, to anticipate what I am going to say, we did not need then (or need now) any econometric model to tell any responsible NZ Government that they needed to negotiate new trade agreements to provide our people with opportunities and space to compete.

A simple way of looking at it is that NZ tends to sell what we do best to middle income and high-middle income consumers. In the past, by and large, they lived only in Europe and North America and there we faced historically huge barriers and massive unfair subsidisation, until successful trade negotiations in the last GATT Round, the Uruguay Round, started to chip away at these trade barriers. But NZ is no longer totally dependent on what happens in Europe and North America and thus access to their middle class customers. Today, the middle class of Asia is emerging. It is estimated today around 500 million and as soon as 2030 will be some 3.5 billion. This is simply a phenomenal opportunity and what is driving NZ Trade Policy.

But economic opportunity is one thing. As an exporter you still need access to those consumers and this is about trade agreements.

To the New Zealanders present, I will put it bluntly. We will never persuade certain people who are trying continually to foment opposition to NZ’s participation in these agreements in spite of New Zealand’s demonstrable need for trade opportunities and a fairer deal in world trade. They have been opposed to the GATT and WTO. They opposed the NZ/Singapore FTA, the origin of both TPP and the AANZFTA Agreement which is merging the contiguous FTAs of Australia/NZ with the ten countries of ASEAN. Some of them opposed the recent deal with Taiwan and most of all – because it involves the United States – they are opposed to TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. When they wake up and realise there is another TPP-like negotiation going on – RCEP, or Regional Closer Economic Partnership Agreement which involves 16 countries including crucially China – I am sure they will be opposed to that too.

I am not going to talk about them directly, because they are not my concern. In fact, I can go further: I think they feel the same way about us – we are not their concern either. I don’t believe for a minute that either I, as Trade Minister, or the National-led Government of which I am a part, is their real audience. They are trying to influence other people, and other political constituencies. They are hoping that they would, if given the political opportunity, take NZ in a different direction on trade, when historically NZ has had a strong and highly successful bipartisan approach to trade for at least three decades.

It is not that we, and people with the same pro-trade views, have not thought closely about the issues. Start, not with models, which try to look forward, but with empirical work done on the link between open trade policies and growth, which looks backward to measure practical results.

The Gains from Trade: Empirical Work

The most comprehensive survey of hundreds of scholarly articles over the last decade or two was put together in 2011 in a collective study by the world’s pre-eminent international economic institutions – the OECD, the World Bank, the WTO, the ILO, UNCTAD. It was called ‘Policy Priorities for International Trade and Jobs’.

I only have time to give you their overall conclusion. Their conclusion is dripping in irony, which is rare for such organisations:

“Despite all the debate about whether openness [on trade] contributes to growth, if the issue were truly one warranting nothing but agnosticism, we should expect at least some of the estimates to be negative…The uniformly positive estimates suggest that the relevant terms of the debate by now should be about the size of the positive influence of openness on growth….rather than about whether increased levels of trade relative to GDP have a positive effect on productivity and growth”.
Even that will not stop some outlier academic coming out with a different view. But such views are extreme views. The overwhelming majority of economists support open trade policies. As the OECD caustically said, the debate should be only about the size of the positive gains from trade. . .

This is a relatively small extract from a long speech which concludes:

. . . Trade is vital to jobs, to a growing economy that can provide New Zealanders with a range of good choices. NZ is a country which has suffered grievously from the sovereign right of other countries to cut us out of their markets, to subsidise relentlessly their companies and competitive sectors not just in their domestic markets but in other markets through export subsidies, and to refuse to recognise our technical or quarantine standards as legitimate for sale to their consumers.

Protectionism has been a disaster for NZ over the past 30-40 years. Thanks in part to these pretty well designed trade agreements I am very optimistic about this country’s long term future. We are in a much better space today and I see every reason to believe it will get better still.

Tariffs and other protectionist measures restrict choice, add costs for consumers and taxpayers, reward inefficiency and encourage corruption.

Free trade is fair trade and without it New Zealand’s economy would be stuffed.


Flower growers want us to buy local

February 12, 2014

Imported flowers give consumers choice but increase competition  for local growers:

Kiwi flower growers are coming under increasing pressure as cheap flower imports, mainly from India, flood the New Zealand market, says Flower Growers Association chairman, David Blewden.

Mr Blewden says around 50 percent of the roses sold each year for Valentine’s Day are now imported.

Not only is this affecting Kiwi growers’ livelihoods, it also poses biosecurity risks, he says.

Any imports pose biosecurity risks but MPI has strict protocols to deal with them.

“Imported flowers are usually treated with harsh chemicals like Round Up. This means they don’t last long once you’ve bought them and you have to be careful when handling them if you are sensitive to chemicals.

Any flowers treated with Round Up would be dead.

“But sometimes imported flowers slip through the cracks, don’t get treated properly and come into NZ carrying pests and diseases. We’ve had several instances of this and the risks to our industry, and to home gardeners, are huge.”

The discovery of a single Queensland fruit fly got major attention a couple of weeks ago. Any pests or diseases on imported flowers would be treated as seriously but I don’t recall any news of one.

He says New Zealanders buy approximately 600,000 rose stems for Valentine’s Day and by far the majority are romantic red.

But Kiwi growers account for only about 300,000 rose stems destined for Valentine’s Day. The balance – another 300,000 stems sold for February 14 – comes into the country from India.

“Import volumes are growing each year because stems are massed produced overseas very cheaply. This is putting our local industry under severe pressure.

“Unfortunately, consumers don’t know that most of the roses they buy are imports. Perhaps if they did they’d ask their florist for NZ-grown stems. They’d certainly last longer and be of better quality when you got them home.” . . .

People base their buying on several factors including cost and quality.

Flower prices soar on Valentine’s Day. Some people might prefer to pay a higher price for local blooms but I suspect many would sacrifice quality and longevity for a lower price.

Competition from overseas will make business more difficult for local growers but gives consumers more choice and lower prices.

That’s what free trade does and as many of the growers will be exporters they can’t argue for any special treatment here without endangering their sales elsewhere.

While on the subject of Valentine’s Day, it’s also my birthday.

On my 40th our accountant had stayed the night and presented me with a gift at breakfast. Minutes later my best friend’s mother arrived out from town with a present.

My farmer muttered that they were showing him up and disappeared into the office.

I learned later he phoned a friend who’s a florist and asked for 40 red roses. She pointed out it was Valentine’s day and they would be very pricey.

He said that didn’t matter. She told him what it would cost, he changed his mind and asked about carnations. They were a similar price so he told her he’d call in later and see what she could come up with.

She came up with a beautiful bunch of mixed blooms, the cost of which remains between them and their country of origin never crossed my mind.

 


Don’t need govt to be CoOl

February 10, 2014

The furore over Australian supermarket chains shutting out New Zealand products and produce has refuelled the cries for compulsory country of origin labelling (CoOL).

I like to know where food I buy comes from and it does influence what I buy.

But there’s no need for the government to get involved.

C0OL isn’t difficult for fresh produce and single ingredient products.

The supermarkets I usually shop at already have CoOL for most of their food, where they can.

They’re responding to customer demand and if it’s good for business they’ll keep doing it.

If it’s not good for business they and their customers would lose from government interference.

Agitating for compulsion is just one many examples of where, if the government is the answer, the wrong question was asked.

 


Rural round-up

February 9, 2014

Agribusiness project is a classified success :

When young couple Shane Carroll and Nicola Shadbolt wanted to find equity partners to help them realise their dream of managing a big farming operation they put an advertisement in the newspaper.

“If you’ve got the money, we’ve got the expertise – let’s get together,” they said.

It worked. And 27 years later they are equity partners and managers of a diverse agribusiness in Manawatu’s picturesque Pohangina Valley.

Westview Farm is a combination of agribusinesses shaped by equity partners, farmer-managers and employees on the ground.

Carroll and Shadbolt, his wife and business partner who is well known as a Massey University professor of farm management and a Fonterra director, are the managers and part-owners of an organisation that runs dairy, deer, beef and sheep units. . .

Concerns about over-reliance on China:

A WARNING on heavy reliance on the one market of China has been sounded by Beef + Lamb NZ chief economist Andrew Burtt.

China’s continued growth as a market for New Zealand meat is one of the main trends showing in Beef + Lamb’s export figures for the 2013-14 first quarter, Burtt told Rural News. 

Mutton exports to China doubled in the first three months compared to the same quarter last year. But the continuing growth of China as a market comes with the qualification “about extrapolating that will go forever,” Burtt says. 

The other message is “that New Zealand’s traditional markets are still important to us.

Politically stable, economically stable, and they are wealthy and remain important”. . .

Farmers must look beyond farm on sustainability:

THE DAIRY industry’s contribution to sustainability shouldn’t be confined within the farmgate, says Hauraki Plains farmer Conall Buchanan.

Apart from keeping their farms environmentally sound, involvement in local schools and community projects allows interaction and helps improve public perception of dairy farming and farmers.

Buchanan notes in Hauraki Plains a natural link between the farming sector and the community, high levels of interaction allowing community concerns to be passed to farmers. . .

Women make an impression in dog trialling:

A couple of female dog triallists gave their male counterparts something to think about at the Oxford Collie Club’s Dog Trials.

In a historically male-dominated sport, the top two places in the zig zag hunt, judged by Perry May, went to Nicky Thompson and runner-up Steph Tweed.

The trials have been held by the club for the past 94 years.

This year’s event was held in near-perfect conditions, barring some late southerly rain on day two, when most courses were nearing completion.

Club president Lionel Whitwell said the decline in sheep farming had affected many dog trial clubs, and the triallists were fortunate that good-quality sheep had been sourced from local farmers Alan and Wayne Feary. . .

4 weird things dairy farmers are obsessed with - Modern Milk Maid:

Fat

Nothing to do with their own weight or others. Dairy farmers in Canada are paid based on the “components” of milk-butterfat, protein, and other solids such as lactose. Butterfat is the moneymaker, and every farmer I know loves to compare their results. Fun fact-whole milk is only 3.25% fat! My herd is currently averaging 4.3%. Low butterfat can indicate illness. Diet, genetics, and cow comfort all contribute to how much fat a cow will produce.

Semen 

Bull semen, that is. Choosing a bull that fits with your herd goals-improving looks, milk yield, or health traits is a never ending task. . .

Top German chefs light fire under lamb promotion:

WHEN FARMERS raced Michelin four-star chefs to create the best barbecue lamb dish, the results were mouthwatering. 

The New Zealand Lamb BBQ Masterchef contest  was held at Rob Buddo’s farm, Poukawa, Hawke’s Bay on January 29.

Judges were Black Barn Bistro chef Terry Lowe, Progressive Meats managing director Craig Hickson, Beef + Lamb NZ chief executive Scott Champion and gourmet BBQ chef Raymond van Rijk.

The winning team was Angus Irvine and Sam Morrah, of Central Hawke’s Bay, guided by chef Markus Philippi prompting diners’ satisfaction. . .

 


TPP not plaything of corporates

February 9, 2014

Pattrick Smellie writes on the TPP:

. . . The way the story’s told here, the TPP is a plaything of US corporate interests hell-bent on imposing the very worst of American imperialist views on such important principles as the ownership of patents and copyright, at the expense of supposedly “weak” negotiators like New Zealand.

The implication is that the US political-industrial machine is driving this outcome not just inexorably, but inevitably to a conclusion that will only benefit existing corporate power.

Well, maybe.

But if that’s really the case, why is it that hardly a day passes without coverage in the US media of the mounting trouble that US President Barack Obama faces in getting the permission he needs from Congress and the Senate to agree to a TPP-style deal?

If anything, the political dynamic in the US indicates that vast economy is becoming more instinctively protectionist and unwilling to grant the “fast-track” legislation required to allow the US to be a nimble participant in the TPP negotiations. They now involve 13 trading nations around the Pacific Rim, and perhaps a 14th if South Korea is allowed to join too.

In the last fortnight, Obama has lost support for fast-track legislation from the Democrat Leader of the Senate Majority, Harry Reid, but a swathe of other leading Democrats. On the Republican side, where liberal sentiment towards global trade might have been expected to reign, hard-right Tea Party-ites have further eroded support for free trade.

Indeed, no US President has managed to secure fast-track legislation since 2002. Efforts since 2007 by both the George W Bush and Obama administrations to renew fast-track authority have foundered to date.

So if TPP’s most ardent critic in New Zealand, University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, is right and the Pacific Rim trade deal is a stitch-up between evil US corporate interests and its puppets on Capitol Hill, then clearly the puppet-masters are doing a pretty crappy job.

The recent Wiki-Leaked documents from TPP negotiations suggest much the same thing. They show the US on the backfoot on many of the most contentious intellectual property and environmental issues.

Recent US media reporting suggests the US is facing opposition to proposed environmental safeguards that developing economies regard as trade barriers dressed up as principle.

If anyone is succeeding on Capitol Hill at present, it would seem to be American trade unions, who would much rather kick TPP negotiations beyond the 2014 mid-term US elections later this year because they fear trade liberalisation will cost the Democrats votes. . .

New Zealand has much to gain and little to lose from the TPP thanks to already being an open economy with few restrictions on trade.

Heavily protected sectors in other countries will have to undergo the adjustment to a more liberal trading environment. But any short-term pain will be worth the long term gains for producers, consumers and taxpayers who pay a high price for tariffs and other trade barriers.


Buy local here but not there

February 7, 2014

The chief executive of one of Australia’s big supermarket chains told an agribusiness dinner in Melbourne about its strategy to buy local produce.

It was, he said, a response to customer demand for Australian goods.

The supermarket was also going to go direct to producers, eschewing buyers in between.

It would, he said, be good for customers and producers.

The New Zealanders in the audience saw the danger in this and even the Australians weren’t entirely convinced of the scheme’s merits.

They liked the idea that they wouldn’t be competing with overseas producers but they’d seen how hard dairy farmers had been squeezed by milk wars.

Many of them were exporters and they recognised the risk, and hypocrisy, in supporting buy local at home when they would be wanting customers in other markets to do the opposite.

The Australian-made strategy is now hitting New Zealand producers as supermarkets stop buying are fresh and processed food.

New Zealand products are being stripped off supermarket shelves across the Tasman because of the aggressive Buy Australia campaign, says an organisation promoting local goods.

Buy NZ Made executive Scott Wilson says big Australian supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths are “systematically removing New Zealand-produced goods from their house brand labels simply for being non-Australian”.

Mr Wilson says frozen foods, cheese and fresh vegetables are among products affected.

“We have no intention of taking a protectionist stance by suggesting people avoid products that aren’t New Zealand made,” he said.

New Zealand supermarkets aren’t copying the Australian strategy – and given one is Australian-owned, it’s unlikely to. But there’s a very fine line between saying buy Kiwi-made and don’t buy imported goods.

. . . Prime Minister John Key addressed the issue today, which he says is against the spirit of trade relations with New Zealand.

“Even if it’s legally not [a breach of CER], it’s arguably a breach of the spirit of CER, and we’re going to be raising that with Tony Abbott,” says Mr Key.

“The whole spirit of CER is an integrated Australasian market, and we feel that the big companies in Australia should actually observe that. We can always retaliate but their market’s five or six times bigger than ours, so that doesn’t help us much.” . . .

Labour is huffing and puffing about the issue, but what would they do if Tony Abbott tried to tell supermarkets here what to do?

It is a contravention of the spirit of CER which has created a free market between Australia and New Zealand.

But removing tariffs is a government decision, it doesn’t impose requirements on businesses to buy imported goods or stop them only buying local produce.

New Zealand producers could organise a boycott of Australian-owned supermarkets here but there’s little else they can do.

The Aussie supermarkets are trying to sell the scheme as being better for customers and producers but it won’t be in the long run.

Australian customers will have less choice when they shop and that could eventually lead to having to pay higher prices.

They will  also less certainty of supply when, for example droughts or floods, affect production. When supply drops, prices rise.

Producers will find themselves locked into contracts as the weaker partner which will eventually lead to them having to accept lower prices.

There are good things to be said for buying local, and I do it when I can if there’s little difference in price and quality.

But that’s my choice and the Aussie supermarkets are taking that choice away from their customers.

There are also many good things to be said for free trade, for customers and producers who will be the losers if the supermarkets continue to swim against that tide for their own ends.

There is a lesson in this for the Buy NZ Made campaign too – it’s arrant hypocrisy to say buy local here but not there.


GDT price index up .5%

February 5, 2014

GlobalDairyTrade’s Price Index increased .5% in this morning’s auction.

GDT Trade Weighted Index Changes

GDT 5.2.14

The price of anhydrous milk fat dropped 1.2%, butter increased 2.6%; butter milk powder was down by 1.2%, cheddar dropped 4.3%; lactose was down 2.7%, milk protein concentrate fell 3.3%; rennet casein dropped 3.7%,  and whole milk powder  increased by 1.4%.


No exceptions for tariffs under TPP

January 31, 2014

The Trans Pacific Partnership must eliminate all tariffs on agricultural and seafood products:

A coalition of 18 New Zealand agricultural and food organisations, led by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Fonterra Cooperative Group, has written to the Ministers of Trade and Primary Industries outlining its concern that some TPP members are seeking to avoid tariff elimination on some products.

The letter sets out to Ministers Tim Groser and Nathan Guy that the coalition will not support a TPP agreement that does not include comprehensive liberalisation in the agricultural and seafood sectors by all participating countries.

The group says it is vital that the agreement provides comprehensive tariff elimination as set out in the objectives of the 2011 TPP Leaders meeting in Honolulu. The group is concerned that:

  • If any one country is allowed to claim exceptions for sensitive products, other TPP partners will inevitably demand the right to do the same. This could quickly lead to the unravelling of the agreement.
  • Allowing any one country to claim an exception for “sensitive” products sets a dangerous precedent for other countries in the Asia-Pacific region seeking to join the TPP Agreement at a future date.

A Ministerial meeting to discuss TPP issues is expected to be held in late February 2014.

A little exception for some tariffs would be like being a little bit pregnant – it wouldn’t stop there.

Tariffs protect the inefficient at the cost of better producers .

They also add costs for consumers who pay more and have less choice.

An immediate end to all tariffs might be unrealistic but the TPP must ensure that is the goal that must be reached sooner rather than later.


Rural round-up

January 28, 2014

Synlait hikes annual profit forecast on value-add earnings growth, unsure on Chinese sales target – Paul McBeth:

Jan. 28 (BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the milk processor which counts China’s Bright Dairy Food as a cornerstone shareholder, will beat its annual profit forecast by as much as 77 percent on earnings growth, though might miss its sales target for infant formula into China due to stricter regulations.

The Rangiora-based company anticipates net profit of between $30 million and $35 million in the year ending July 31, up from the $19.67 million forecast in the company’s prospectus when it listed in July, it said in a statement.

Synlait lifted its forecast milk payout to between $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids and $8.40/kgMS from $8/kgMS previously as global dairy prices climbed, but is reaping earnings growth from its value-add products and a favourable product mix, chairman Graeme Milne said. . .

Sheep farming area now a dairy melting pot - Mike Crean:

The old mail box has the name Inniskillen stencilled on the front. Beside it are nine small, modern mail boxes. To Dick Davison, they illustrate the greatest social change in the history of North Canterbury’s Amuri Basin.

It is the change from an aristocracy of established sheep farming families to a multi-cultural society of dairy farmers, managers, labourers and sharemilkers. The change is greater even than the transformation caused by breaking up the large estates a century ago, Davison says.

He and wife Liz bought his family’s farm, Blakiston, across the road from Inniskillen, in 1976. Recently they sold most of it, retaining an elevated block where they have built their dream house. . .

Honey price tipped to rise:

Beekeepers are struggling through one of their most challenging seasons, with cool temperatures and wind significantly slowing honey production.

National Bee Keepers Association president Ricki Leahy said the weather so far this summer had been exactly what the bees did not thrive in.

“We have hives down the West Coast and it has certainly been a miserable summer down there, really,” Mr Leahy said.

“The main problem we have with unsettled weather is the bees need to build up a momentum to get a good honey flow going.

“You also need that constant heat to get the nectar in the flowers … so everything depends on a nice, long stretch of fine weather.” . . .

Little risk in biocontrol insects:

An international study into the use of introduced insects to control weeds has found little evidence of them going wrong.

Dr Max Suckling of Plant & Food Research said there had been concerns about introducing non-native insects as weed biocontrols because of the risk of them attacking non-targetted plants.

But Dr Suckling said their worldwide survey of more than 500 insect biocontrol cases, dating back more than 150 years, had found few examples of them causing serious damage to other plants. . .

China pays up big for Australian cattle – Warwick Long:

Australian dairy and even beef farmers are making the most of Chinese demand for live cattle.

China’s dairy industry killed two million cows last year as smaller subsistence farmers left in droves on the back of high meat prices.

The price of an Australian six-month-old dairy heifer for live export has risen by over $400 in just a couple of months.

Independent livestock agent Darren Askew says farmers are now earning over $1,350 per animal.

The trade of dairy cattle to China is a volatile market, which has been this high before and then crashed. . .

What inspires a young man to become a dairy farmer – Milk Maid Marian:

We received an unusual phone call the other week. A vet student with no family connections to dairy, Andrew Dallimore rang out of the blue saying he was keen to become a dairy farmer and wondered if he could ask us a few questions.

Well, what a series of questions! What were the challenges we faced becoming dairy farmers, why did we choose it, the ups and downs, where we look for knowledge and what are the pros and cons of raising children on a farm? At least, these are the ones I remember. And he took notes.

It felt like being at confessional, somehow. You have to be totally honest with someone so earnestly and diligently researching his future. Wayne and I were both immensely impressed, then gobsmacked when he offered to do a few hours work on the farm with the payment of just our thoughts and a banana! . . .


Free trade for ‘green’ goods

January 27, 2014

Freer trade could be one of the measures used to counter climate change:

The world’s biggest trading powers have unveiled a joint initiative to achieve global free trade in environment-related goods, as part of the fight against climate change.

The United States, European Union, China, Japan and several other developed economies said in a joint statement that the agreement would take effect once there is participation by a critical mass of members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The WTO estimates that the global market in green goods, technologies and services – ranging from solar panels to wind turbines and water recycling plants – at some $US1.4 trillion annually.

The initiative gets round the WTO’s requirement for unanimity on trade deals, and is in line with new WTO chief Roberto Azevedo’s drive to break a decade-old deadlock in world trade negotiations by first tackling the most promising areas for agreement. . .

Any progress on freer trade should be welcome but will the definition of green goods be based on science?

Will it favour goods with a lower carbon footprint over those with a higher one, such as New Zealand meat?

If the proposal is ever put into practice will it make a positive difference to trade and the environment or just be another triumph for bureaucracy and politics which consumers and producers will pay for?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,162 other followers

%d bloggers like this: