Back to failed policies of the 70s

March 20, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe made an announcement of forestry yesterday which would take us back to the failed policies of the 70s:

The Labour Party’s desire to turn the clock back to the 1970s is once again highlighted with their grab-bag of ideas for the forestry industry, says Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

“Subsidised loans, expensive tax concessions, preferential treatment, and make-work schemes for young people are all a flashback to a time when governments decided which industries succeeded based solely on political whim rather than competitiveness,” Mr Joyce says.

“This is classic 70s ‘government knows best’ interventionism and we all know how badly that ended.  What next, supplementary minimum prices for wood?

“Why should the forestry industry receive preferential treatment over the high tech manufacturing industry, ICT, the services industries, the construction industry or the farming industry? Or is it Labour’s plan to provide subsidies for everyone so we can subsidise our way to success?

“About the only thing they have got right is suggesting a focus on innovation. However it’s like they have been asleep since 2008 and now woken up ‘Rip van Winkle’ like to say we should do some innovation.
 
“While Labour has been asleep this Government has massively lifted its investment in innovation and helped grow private sector R & D across the economy by 23 per cent in just two years. Total government funding since 2010 for forestry-related science, research and product development alone amounts to over $160 million.

“The only sensible way to run a modern successful economy is to provide a strong macroeconomic base, supported by polices that lift the competitiveness of all firms. Our comprehensive Business Growth Agenda, which Labour has still not bothered itself to read, systematically improves access to markets, innovation, natural resources, capital, skills, and infrastructure.

“The results of our policies so far are reflected in strong growth, lowering unemployment, a much improved trade balance, stronger productivity growth, and real wages rising faster than the cost of living. Turning the clock back to the 70s is an amazingly out-of-touch response to some of the strongest economic data New Zealand has produced in many years.

“New Zealanders know they are just starting to see the positive results of five years of sensible modern economic policies and hard work by New Zealand companies. Turning the clock back 40 years would send New Zealand back to the bad old days of sluggish performance, high current account deficits, low productivity, and high inflation that the Labour Party knows so well.”

Acting Prime Minister Bill English highlighted the flaws in the policy too:

Hon David Cunliffe: In relation to the economics of forestry, is he comfortable that the rate of unprocessed log exports has grown at 10 times the rate of processed logs, given that the export of raw logs is really exporting jobs?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I would need to check the member’s figures, but he may also be interested to know that around 60 percent of all forestry production is currently value-added. It may well be that in the light of a rise in prices for export logs there are more logs being exported, but anyone who has been in the industry knows that those prices can drop as fast as they rise. I am sure that there are many people in the forestry industry taking a longer view and keeping that in mind. . .

Hon Dr Nick Smith: My question is to the Prime Minister and it asks what reports has he received on the recent developments in forest processing in Tasmania, where its Labour-Green Government has fallen apart over the very issues of forest processing and where there has been a huge loss of jobs and confidence in that sector because the—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! You have made the point with your question.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have received the same—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: The question was what reports has he received.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister have received the same reports, obviously, which have been to the effect that the Government in Tasmania has overseen the destruction of the forestry industry by trying to get involved in it.

Hon David Cunliffe: Would the Prime Minister support an accelerated depreciation tax including for forestry processing?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, we are not entertaining that. Those kinds of policies were tried consistently, I think, from the 1970s when they were a bright idea, and they lead to unsustainable industries and unsustainable jobs as a whole lot of Australian workers are now finding out, where industries that were subsidised by the Government there are now closing down. . .

Hon David Cunliffe: Does the Prime Minister support a pro-wood Government procurement strategy to assist jobs and value added in New Zealand, including in those South Otago sawmills; if not, why not?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No. The member should have more confidence in the forestry industry. It has evolved from the time in the late 1980s when sawmillers used to be able to get very cheap logs from Government-owned forests through to a modern processing industry that is internationally competitive and makes very sophisticated decisions about the balance of financial risk, different types of product, and exchange rate and price risk in export markets. The idea that Labour would do a better job of that is wrong, and it would end up destroying the forestry industry if it gets that involved in it. . . 

Criticism of the policy isn’t confined to parliament:

Labour’s “pro-wood” government procurement strategy will create an inappropriate commercial advantage for one construction sector over another, according to the New Zealand cement and concrete industries.

Announced today by David Cunliffe at the ForestWood conference in Wellington, the policy would mandate that “all government-funded project proposals for new buildings up to four storeys high shall require a build-in-wood option at the initial concept / request-for-proposals stage (with indicative sketches and price estimates).”

Rob Gaimster, CEO of the Cement & Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ), believes that policies which appear to be giving preferential treatment to one construction material are misguided.

“It is inappropriate to mandate that those designing new government buildings consider wood as a structural option, and then require an explanation if an alternative material is chosen,” says Mr Gaimster.

“Government should not be picking winners when it comes to the selection of construction materials, which should stand or fall on their own technical, cost, aesthetic and sustainability credentials.

“In addition, the policy does a huge dis-service to the hardworking men and women in the cement and concrete industries. Favouring a single construction material during the design phase of a new government building could seriously impact on their livelihoods and jobs.

“This policy does not create a level playing field for the use of construction materials in government buildings. In fact, materials other than wood will be considerably disadvantaged.

“We are concerned about the wide-reaching implications of this policy and believe it should in no circumstances be adopted.”

Labour’s policy is designed to help one sector but would hurt another.

Gravedodger illustrates other shortcomings in the policy.


Rural round-up

February 27, 2014

Very, very sad and entirely unnecessary – Gravedodger:

Last night on Sky News 10pm nz summer time, a scheduled regular Wednesday Hour featuring resident lefty Graeme ‘Richo’ Richardson and radio jock Alan Jones, Wallaby coach in a previous life, had a harrowing expose on the Bush and its current Drought that has been running over parts of all mainland States for 18 months and continuing.

5000 cattle are dying every day, a grazier/farmer is taking their own life every 4 days, one grazier attempted to sell his last 500 sheep only to be told they were valueless and a sale impossible. He took them back home killed them then took his own life.

Australia is regarded by many, far too many, as too marginal for farming over most of the mainland.
A few salient facts;
Australia currently employs only 6% of the water that reaches the sea.
Immeasurable giga liters are allowed to flow into the Timor  and Coral Seas.
Much water flows from the great divide East while the Bush lies parched to the west.
The town of Cloncurry near Mt Isa was threatened with evacuation until a few weeks respite came in rain that did not solve the problem long term. . . .

5000-10,000 cattle dying in north every day: Katter:

North Queensland MP Bob Katter says anecdotal reports suggest that drought is causing the deaths of between 5000 to 10,000 cattle every day across the state’s north, an area which is home to about one quarter of the national cattle herd.

The Federal member for Kennedy and leader of the Katter Australia Party says $100m in grants, the creation of an Australian Reconstruction and Development Bank and better access for graziers to underground water for irrigation are urgently needed to avert further losses and a dramatic reduction in the region’s future productive capacity.

With producers now enduring their second failed wet season in a row and affordable drought fodder all but impossible to source, many cattle were now dying cruel deaths from starvation, and reports of rural suicides were becoming increasingly prevalent. . .

Mendip fulfilling reverend’s dream - Tim Fulton:

The Reverend Dr Bryden Black is a priest and a businessman. Tim Fulton talks to the vicar about his love for Mendip Hills Station, site of a proposed cadet school.

Mendip Hills Station is being taken by the scruff of the neck, just as the Black family has long hoped.

Bryden Black is keen for his sheep, beef and deer farm near Cheviot to stir young farmers.

His family has been at Mendip since the mid-1950s, either running it directly or under a manager. . .

Family farms are under threat – Stephen Bell:

Family farms will continue to excel as part of New Zealand’s rural landscape, agricultural communicator of the year Doug Avery says.

Passion would keep individual farmers on the land, the Marlborough drylands farmer said.

“You can’t replace passion in anything and people that are working for themselves, with their own vision, have that element that is called passion, which will lead and beat pretty much anything else that corporate structures will throw at us,” he said. . . .

Sheep and beef farmers to vote on genetics investment proposal:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are being asked to consider a proposal that would combine Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s current genetics investments and speed up genetic advances.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Dr Scott Champion said voting packs were out with farmers now and they were being asked to support the organisation’s continued investment of $2.9 million a year, for the next five years.

“This would be matched by the Government which has already said it will invest $3 million a year if the proposal is supported by farmers,” Dr Champion said. . .

Should agribusinesses fix their interest rates?:

Recent low interest rates have encouraged some agribusiness owners to fix their rates, but that can be a mistake, says Hayden Dillon, Managing Principal, Waikato, for Crowe Horwath. Constantly changing market conditions mean it is crucial for interest-rate hedging to be treated as part of an ongoing strategy.

“Hedging is not a single event,” said Mr Dillon. “Very few businesses remain stagnant and the market never remains stagnant. Having an understanding of the impact of likely significant changes in your business is critical to being successful. And having a clear strategy around exactly what you’re trying to achieve is the first and most important step.”

Because there are a number of often complex financial instruments available, Mr Dillon recommended managing interest rate hedging through an independent advisor who specialised in the field, rather than a banker or accountant. . .


Monorail decision a tough one

October 31, 2013

Conservation Minister Nick Smith faces a tough decision over whether or not the Fiordland Monorail goes ahead:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today inspected the site of the proposed Fiordland monorail, met with the applicants, and released official advice recommending he approve the project subject to extensive conditions.

“This ambitious $200 million project involves the building of the world’s longest monorail to enhance the experience of the hundreds of thousands of visitors travelling between Queenstown and Milford Sound,” Dr Smith says.

“I wanted to see for myself the areas affected by the construction of the two terminals and the 29.5-kilometre long, six-metre wide corridor that would be cleared to make way for the monorail through public conservation land. I also wanted to thoroughly scrutinise the impacts on the Snowdon Forest and its wildlife, as well as understanding the effects on the existing recreational users of the area.

“This monorail decision will be no easier than that of the Milford Tunnel. I am very protective of National Parks like Fiordland and this project has the advantage of being largely outside it. However, the monorail still requires clearance of a large area of forest on public conservation land. The submissions process also shows there are strongly held views both in support and in opposition to this project.

“I am releasing the official reports from DOC and the Hearing Commissioner because of the level of public interest in this proposal. I want to be open about the advice I have received and the issues I must consider.

“Today I have inspected the site and met with the Hearing Commissioner and the applicants, Riverstone Holdings Limited. I also want to discuss the proposal with the New Zealand Conservation Authority and consider further advice from DOC on the World Heritage status of the area.

“Over the next few days I will be joining the 125th anniversary walk of the Milford Track and on Saturday opening the new track to the Sutherland Falls.

“I am looking forward to having some time to reflect on my site visit and the hundreds of pages of submissions and advice I have read over the past week. I hope to be in a position to make a decision before year’s end, subject to being satisfied that I have all necessary information needed to make a good decision.”

The Minister turned down a competing proposal for the Milford Dart tunnel.

“I am declining this tunnel proposal because the environmental impacts are significant and beyond what is appropriate in two of New Zealand’s most spectacular National Parks and a World Heritage Area,” Dr Smith says. . . .

The Monorail proposal is not nearly so clear cut.

It goes through conservation land but it doesn’t go through a National Park. The Hearings Commissioner and the Department of Conservation have recommended it goes ahead.

Those recommendations have not been made lightly and are subject to significant conditions, but will give RHL some hope.

Opposition has been vocal and widespread. However, a poll showed public support for the proposal:

A public opinion poll has this month confirmed more than twice as many New Zealanders support the development of tourism infrastructure like the Fiordland monorail than are opposed.

“The Fiordland Link Experience is designed to be a world-class tourism experience. It’s really encouraging that the public recognises the significant benefits it will bring to New Zealand despite some misinformation spread by a small group of vocal opponents,” says Bob Robertson, Director of Riverstone Holdings Ltd.

The Curia Market Research survey found that 58% of New Zealanders supported the development of the monorail outside of National Park land. Only 27% opposed it. When broken down, the results showed there was more support than opposition regardless of gender, age or political leanings. . . 

Robertson has a reputation for carefully and attractively developed urban subdivisions.

Housing developments in town can’t be compared to this proposal for a new tourist route to Milford Sound through mostly undeveloped countryside. But the attention to detail and focus on aesthetics which help the subdivisions fit in with the landscape will be applied to the Monorail project.

Opponents have used the argument the development would threaten Fiordland’s World Heritage status. Robertson describes  that as scaremongering:

. . . These same opponents have lobbied UNESCO and continue to tell anyone who will listen that the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage status of the region will be stripped if the project is approved. The World Heritage area covers 2.6m hectares and includes roads, towns and quarries.

This scaremongering would be laughable if it wasn’t so destructive.

We only need to look across the Tasman to see how a tourism development can be successfully achieved in a World Heritage area.

When the Cairns Skyrail was being proposed for the Barron Gorge National Park in the 1990s there were marches in the street and protesters attempted to block construction.

The same arguments we are seeing now in Fiordland are the carbon copy of those used in Cairns.

Fortunately, the Australian government understood the project and it was approved.

It went on to win multiple tourism awards as best major attraction and for environmental sustainability, including the international Wet Tropics Management Authority Cassowary Award in 1999 for “demonstrating best practice in ecotourism during construction and ongoing operation”.

In New Zealand, there is an elitist sentiment among some that we should lock up our conservation estate for the few who are capable of physically reaching it. They believe business has no place in nature.

In reality, 44 per cent of the South Island is in the conservation estate and hosts about 2800 commercial concessions, including roughly 500 that are tourism or recreation-related.

It isn’t a question of either business or conservation. They can and do co- exist.

We would not be committed to the Fiordland Link Experience if we did not believe the construction and operation could be achieved with only minimal impact on the environment and recreational users.

The reasoning is simple – we want to celebrate our nature and show it off. It is in our interests to protect nature, because that’s the experience we’re selling.

As a hunter and fisher who has spent thousands of hours in the surrounding area, I know there is room for a world- class tourism experience.

It will reinvigorate the tourism market in Fiordland, stimulate the economy, bring jobs and enable us to market the entire region, including Te Anau, to the world. All without a cent of taxpayer money. . . .

This is a big project, a bold project but it has been carefully thought through and planned to tread as lightly as possible in a sensitive area.

It will impact on the environment, as any development does, but I think that can be minimised and mitigated.

It will open a small part of the conservation estate to more tourists without in any way detracting from the wilderness experience for those who enjoy it in the neighbouring National Park.

Bob Robertson has a dream, the Minister has the unenviable task of deciding whether or not it will become a reality.

Apropos of dreams,  Gravedodger has one too over at No Minister which is worth a read.

P.S. The decision to make New Zealand’s Sharpest town, the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown is far easier – #gigatownoamaru is the logical choice.


2012 in review

January 1, 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 300,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 5 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

The top referring sites were:

  1. nominister.blogspot.co.nz
  2. kiwiblog.co.nz
  3. nzconservative.blogspot.co.nz
  4. keepingstock.blogspot.co.nz
  5. asianinvasion2006.blogspot.co.nz (Cactus Kate)

The post which got the most comments (51) was water quality concern for all.

The people who made the most comments were:

Robert Guyton # 1 and # 5 is the same person, I think he gets two spots because some comments are linked to his blog and others aren’t.

Thank you all for visiting, those who link and hat tip from their blogs and those who join the conversation.

I appreciate your comments, whether or not I agree with them. A conversation among several is far more interesting than a one-woman diatribe.

I especially appreciate that almost everyone debates the topic and critiques arguments rather than resorting to personal criticism.

I think I had to delete only one comment last year and only rarely had to take a deep breath.

And thanks to WordPress for the blogging platform and excellent service on the very rare occasions I’ve needed help.

Click here to see the complete report.


Rural round-up

November 6, 2012

Times they are achanging – Gravedodger:

As a child in the 1950s, the Amuri Basin on the northern border of Canterbury  was often almost a desert due to low rainfall, NW winds and soaring summer temperatures, as was the case for much of the east coast of both islands.

The “Red Post”, just north of Culverden Village (which incidentally often rates a mention as a summer hot spot on evening infotainment shows), was in an area of pastoral grazing country that struggled to sustain one sheep to an acre.
Today it stands in a sea of green grass and productive farming that makes my memory seem improbable. . .

Our agriculture’s much more than the sum of its parts – Pasture Harmonies:

Too much, arguably all the time, we look at all the individual components of our farm production systems……and beat ourselves up about them.

We could use less fertiliser, our use of water isn’t that optimal at times, occasionally there’s animal welfare issues, and as for degradation of waterways……

And that’s just on-farm. . .

 

Optimistic signs for coming season’s red meat trade - Allan Barber:

After some harrowing experiences last season for the meat industry, both processors and farmers, 12 months on things are looking up. This sense of optimism hasn’t yet been reflected in prices from the meat companies, but statements from those in the know strike a perceptibly more positive note.

Last year the lamb kill was down by a million, there was drought in significant livestock areas, the dollar was too high and so was the procurement price for lamb. While beef remained relatively unaffected by the hype, the price really not changing much in a year, sheep meat was a completely different story. Driven by the unholy combination of scarcity and tight shipping deadlines for the Christmas trade, the procurement price hit $8 a kilo and struggled to get down from that level. . .

Trading Among Farmers reality at last – Allan Barber:

The day when outside investors can apply for units in the Fonterra Shareholders Fund to be listed on the NZX and ASX has arrived at last. Getting to this point has been a long and tortuous process during which Fonterra has consulted its members, finally gaining the required majority vote in favour of establishing Trading Among Farmers (TAF).

TAF will enable those Fonterra’s shareholders that wish to free up some capital to deposit shares in the fund, provided they retain enough shares to match their milk supply. These shares can either be bought by other shareholders who would like to increase their shareholding or exchanged for the units with rights to dividends and share price value changes.


Rural round-up

April 2, 2012

What is gunna happen – Gravedodger:

In the last month I have been fortunate to access a couple of reasonably inaccessible bits of the SI High Country, The Middle Clarence Valley and last weekend country around the Pahau and Dove Rivers in Nth Canterbury.

The two areas have been or are involved in “Tenure Review”, or as one wag described it Ten Year Review. A process where the Crown negotiates the retirement of some of the land in the CRL, Crown Renewable Lease, and the Leaseholder gains a Freehold Title to some of the more productive areas. One thing that becomes apparent is the retired land is exposed to major problems from weed and animal pests as the control of them exceeds DOC’s abilities and resources and the land that is retained for pastoral use is still being managed and will be kept relatively clear of gorse, broom, blackberry, briar and animals such as possums, ferrets, pigs, rabbits and deer. . .

(He’s got some stunning photos which you’ll see if you click the link above).

Leaving the farm – Offsetting Behaviour:

Bill Kaye-Blake says there’s not much that can be doneabout long-term trends towards rural depopulation. And he puts rural New Zealand especially on the wrong side of broader trends:

Technology isn’t going to be the saviour of rural New Zealand. We’ve been hearing for years that new communications technologies (will) allow us all to work from home, the cafe, and the beach. We do that to some extent. A few people do build business empires on the back of broadband. But we also spend lots of time in our offices, seeing and talking with our co-workers. One of the interesting economic geography arguments I’ve seen is that technology is making face-time more valuable. As a result, work that requires us to spend time with each other is becoming more highly paid, and work that can be made routine and parceled out in bits and bytes is becoming less valuable. New Zealand is on the wrong side of that trend, and rural areas even more so.

Let’s take the agglomeration economic geography arguments as starting point. Tech is more a complement to big cities than they are a substitute for face to face interactions. Who gets the strongest benefit from this in a world that’s mostly free-trading? Big global cities, not Auckland. Our small size makes us, over time, less competitive in sectors that compete with international big-city industries; our comparative advantage then pushes farther towards agricultural production. . .

If dairy farmers want to farm in the black they need to be green – Passture to Profit:

The NZ dairy industry is in a very interesting place right now. On one hand they generate serious export dollars; their contribution to the national income is undeniable. The wealth generated by dairy products means that most New Zealanders enjoy a good standard of living. On the other hand they are viewed by increasing numbers of thinking New Zealanders as exploiting our natural resources to the detriment of the environment. Sir Paul Callaghan spoke at the “StrategyNZ: Mapping our Future conference” in March 2011, pointing the finger at dairy farmers but also illustrating the economic reality.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhCAyIllnXY&feature=related

Dairy farmers have a real challenge: – to produce milk but to reduce the impact on the environment. . .

New Zealand a place where talent wants to live and proudly farm – Pasture to Profit:

“New Zealand…A Place Where Talent Wants To Live” this was the NZ strategic vision that Sir Paul Callaghan(New Zealander of the year 2011 & ex Massey University Scientist) spoke so passionately about before his death last week. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhCAyIllnXY&feature=related  Sir Paul Callaghan was a world class scientist, leader & a passionate advocate for a better more prosperous New Zealand. He was a great orator & he had a vision of a “knowledge driven economy” based on excellence & research & development . . .

Schedule setting process as much art as science – Allan Barber:

The weekly schedule setting process is a hallowed meat industry tradition which determines what farmers will receive for their livestock during the week beginning with the Sunday evening phone calls from buyers.

The process itself remains almost a total mystery to those on the receiving end, but it delivers certainty of livestock value in any given week. It enables a farmer to decide if it’s time to sell or worth hanging on another week or two, provided there’s enough feed and value to be gained from holding on.

The lead up to the weekly schedule is a fairly complex set of inputs to arrive at an assessment of what each species and grade are actually worth to a meat processor and exporter at the moment of purchase. That is the first slightly unusual thing to observe about the process: the procurement price does not equate to the final selling price, which will only be known at a whole variety of different times in the future when the various cuts and components of the livestock have been sold. . .

Dairy restructuring Ammendment Bill attracts differing views – Allan Barber:

Fonterra chairman, Henry van der Heyden, says that monitoring the milk price is not necessary, but “we can live with it”, particularly with Commerce Commission oversight, while Simon Couper, Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chair, believes it to be draconian with the potential over time “to destroyNew Zealand’s biggest, most successful and most important export industry.”

Federated Farmers’ dairy section head, Willy Leferink, inclines more to Couper’s view than van der Heyden’s, stating that Feds look forward to submitting on the bill at the Select Committee stage, because “If the policy settings for milk pricing at the farm gate become arbitrary, then it’ll not only shoot our largest export industry in the foot, it will directly affect the price consumers pay for their milk,” he warned. . .

Otago dairy award judges give winning advice:

Entering the Otago Dairy Industry Awards three times has set James and Helen Hartshorne on a pathway to success – with the couple claiming the region’s top prize, the 2012 Otago Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year.

“The judging feedback showed us that although we were competent at running the practical side of our farm, we would gain huge benefit from a better understanding of and an ability to analyse the financial and business side of our operation,” the Hartshornes said.

“And as a result of contacts made through our judging panels we secured our first 50:50 sharemilking job.”

The couple won $16,600 in cash and prizes at last night’s awards held at Balclutha Memorial Hall. The 2012 Otago Farm Managers of the Year, Gareth and Angela Dawson, and 2012 Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year, Richard Lang, were also announced. . .

Southland dairy winners share strengths:

The big winners at the 2012 Southland Dairy Industry Awards are newcomers to the province, who share common interests and business strengths.

Winton 50% sharemilkers Billy and Sharn Roskam won the Southland Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title and Edendale contract milkers Hannes and Lyzanne du Plessis won the Southland Farm Manager of the Year contest.

The 2012 Southland Dairy Industry Awards were held last night at Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill. The other major winner was Robert Ankerson who won the 2012 Southland Dairy Trainee of the Year title.

Both the Roskams and du Plessis’came to Southland to further their dairy farming careers, and say their teamwork is a key to their farm business success. . .

Small farmers fear squeeze by corporate owners:

Some farmers fear they are being squeezed out of the property market by corporate owners with better buying power.

As dairy farms become larger and more expensive, corporate ownership is becoming more prevalent.

Federated Farmers dairy chairperson Willy Leferink says corporate owners tend to own more than one farm and can use their buying power to negotiate hefty discounts. . .


Rural round-up

March 3, 2012

Mount Linton improves ewes’ genetics - Shawn McAvinue:

Dag-laden sheep should be nervous when sheep genetics manager Hamish Bielski enters their paddock on Mt Linton station.

“I want marbles and handgrenades, instead of slops and plops,” he said.

He looks at the lambs’ faecal consistency twice a year, once in autumn and when they are one year old. . .

Kaiwhakahaere used a “Garry Owen” – Gravedodger:

This week I attended the biennial get together  of the High-Country section of Federated Farmers, this year hosted by the Marlborough area centered on the Middle Clarence Valley.
The commencement was at the Kahautara River on Highway 70 and kicked off by current chair, Graeme ‘Stumpy’ Reid. . .

Investment firms eyes southern dairy farms – Shawn McAvinue and Alan Wood:

 A new investment company is looking to buy “attractive” dairy farms in the south.

The dairy farms would be part of an investment fund that opened to investors yesterday.

Investors can buy into the Pastoral Dairy Investments fund with a minimum commitment of $20,000, plus fees. . .

Pig power proves promising:

There’s a new, unlikely energy source that can power farms while reducing greenhouse gas emissions – pig poo.   

A team of scientists at NIWA in Hamilton has developed a system that stores greenhouse gases from pig manure in a deep pond, from where it can be used as an energy source.   

NIWA research engineer Stephan Heubeck said the system reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere while providing an alternative source of energy . . .   

Protocol frustrates export of apples – Che Baker:

Apple exports from Central Otago to Australia will not go ahead this year after “excessive” biosecurity protocols have made exporting to the country uneconomic.

Pipfruit New Zealand director and Ettrick apple grower Stephen Darling said despite a 90-year ban on apple exports from Australia being lifted in 2010, the fruit would not be exported from the region this year.

Trial supports DCD’s environmental value – Gerald Piddock:

New research has confirmed the effectiveness of the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) as a tool to reduce environmental impacts of pastoral farming.

The three-year nitrous oxide mitigation research (NOMR) trials commenced in autumn 2009.

They were conducted in the Waikato, Manawatu, Canterbury and South Otago dairy regions. . .

Boysenberry growers call it quits after continuing losses - Peter Watson:

The country’s two biggest boysenberry growers have quit the Nelson-based industry after another season blighted by bad weather and a high New Zealand dollar.

Their withdrawal means not only the loss of export income, but the end to hundreds of seasonal jobs which local people, particularly students, relied on to supplement their income.

Both Ranzau Horticulture and Berry Fields have started pulling out about 80 hectares of vines, although an existing grower is to take over 23ha of the Berry Fields’ fruit on McShane Rd and another is interested in running its pick-your-own operation.

Ngai Tahu wants to farm more fish species – Penny Wardle:

Ngai Tahu Seafoods Resources plans to add new species to its 14 hectare Marlborough Sounds mussel farm.

The Christchurch-based iwi-owned firm has applied to the Marlborough District Council for resource consents covering its plans to farm king salmon and hapuku, trial 13 New Zealand fish species and to grow algae and seaweeds at its Beatrix Bay marine farm in Pelorus Sound.

The company intends to grow fish, shellfish and seaweed together to improve production while reducing environmental impacts. Scallops and dredge and pacific oysters as well as mussels are covered in its existing consent. . .

Oysters on lunch menu – Shawn McAvinue:

Skippers say they look great and the first few hundred dozen oysters in from Bluff will be flown up to the Dockside restaurant in Wellington for lunch. And, so the oyster season has begun in what has been tipped to be a bumper year.

The first oyster boat got in to Bluff at 5.05am before heading back out . . .

Dairy Farms could save energy: study:

New Zealand dairy farms could achieve cost-effective annual      energy savings of at least 68.4 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in the dairy shed, the results of a pilot programme show.   

That was a 10% reduction and equivalent to the annual electricity use of about 7100 households. Individual farms could cut milking-shed electricity consumption by 16%, and a      post-pilot survey showed 46% of farmers would adopt savings technologies if their costs could be recouped within three years.  

Rabbits still a problem - Gerald Piddock:

Rabbit numbers in the eastern Mackenzie Basin have increased post-Christmas, the Canterbury Regional Council says.

The concerning area is 12,000ha and encompasses seven adjoining high country properties, Environment Canterbury (ECan) biodiversity team leader Brent Glentworth said.

The increase could have resulted from the high levels of vegetation this season caused by the wet spring and summer. . .


Raise threshold or hurdles

February 15, 2012

The Electoral Commission is urging us all to have our say on the MMP review.

Among the points up for disccussion are:

  • The 5 percent party vote threshold for a party to be eligible for allocation of list seats;
  • The one electorate seat threshold for a party to be eligible for allocation of list seats;
  • The effects of population change on the ratio of electorate seats to list seats;
  • The effect of a party’s candidates winning more seats than the party would be entitled;
  • The capacity of a person to be both a constituency candidate and a list candidate;
  • A party’s ability to determine the order of candidates on its party list and the inability of voters to rank list candidates in order of preference;
  • The capacity of a list MP to stand as a candidate in a by-election;

What isn’t up for discussion is the size of parliament and Maori Seats.

I’ll blog about most of the points separately in the next few days but will start with the threshold.

Gravedodger reckons it should be higher than 5% and I agree – unless the hurdles which organisations must jump to register as political parties are raised.

It’s ridiculous that they need recruit only 500 members.

That’s a tiny number of people to sign up when you look at the potential power MMP gives the wee parties in parliament and even more so in government.

Any other organisation which tried to change the world, or at least this part of it, with the support of no more than 500 members wouldn’t get very far.


2011 in blogging

January 2, 2012

One of the services WordPress supplies for its bloggers is an annual report at year’s end.

London Olympic Stadium holds 80,000 people. This blog was viewed about 330,000times in 2011. If it were competing at London Olympic Stadium, it would take about 4 sold-out events for that many people to see it.

In 2011, there were 2,419 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 8,791 posts. There were 93 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was October 20th with 1,947 views . . .

The top referring sites were:

nominister.blogspot.com

kiwiblog.co.nz

nzconservative.blogspot.com

keepingstock.blogspot.com

asianinvasian.blogspot.com (Cactus Kate).

The most active commenters were: Robert Guyton 1008 comments, Gravedodger 604 commments; Andrei 539 comments; PDM 311 comments and Inventory 2 249 comments.

Thank you WordPress and all readers and commenters.

UPDATE: Open Parachute has December’s sitemeter rankings and Whaleoil is now #1 with  260294 unique visitors last month.


Maybe the end of the beginning

June 22, 2011

Some Christchurch people will find out the fate of their properties tomorrow with a briefing from Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee:

“As part of this announcement, the government will be presenting options for homeowners with insurance in some of the worst affected areas,” Mr Brownlee said.

“This is the next step in the government’s commitment to providing timely and accurate information to the people of greater Christchurch. While we will not be able to provide all the answers to all residents tomorrow, we will continue to provide regular updates to residents on progress over coming weeks.

“This announcement will provide some certainty for residents in the worst affected areas, and will give them options for their immediate future.”

Gravedodger says everyone is a little bit more fragile. That will be putting it mildly for the people living with the ongoing fear and disruption and Ciaron’s comment at Keeping Stock reminds us of the difficulties facing professionals who are tasked with recovery efforts.

Tomorrow’s announcement won’t be the end of the problems for the people affected nor, as Churchill said the beginning of the end, but it might be the end of the beginning.

“We will be releasing the most up-to-date information we have about the state of the land in greater Christchurch.”


Tuesday’s answers -updated

June 29, 2010

Monday’s questions were:

1. Who uses these phrases and what do they stand for:  Dirty Gerttie, Tweak of the Thumb and Red Raw?

2. Name six members of the G8?

3. It’s farfalla in Italian, mariposa in Spanish and papillon in French – what is it in English?

4. Who said: “If you want something said, ask a man . . . if you want something done, ask a woman.” 

5. The first four lines of our National Anthem in Maori are: E Ihowa Atua/O nga iwi matou ra/Ata whakarongona;
/Me aroha noa .
What are the next four lines?

Gravedodger gets the electronic bunch of flowers with 4 right.

Paul got 2 1/2 right  (they are numbers used by housie callers but you forgot to say which numbers they refer to) with a bonus for good try for # 3 and accuracy and humour for #5.

Adam got 2 right. I’m not familiar with Lilo Lil but he can have a 1/2 for her too and a bonus for humour for #4.

PDM got two right, 1/2 for being close and making me smile for #1 and 1/2 for #4 because he may be right.

The answers follow the break:

UPDATE: Bearhunter answered after I’d done the marking this morning and scored 4 1/2 which earns an electronic bunch of flowers too.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday’s answers

February 23, 2010

Monday’s questions were:

1. Who is the patron saint of tax collectors?

2. What is a mast year?

3. Who wrote, ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ – that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know and in which poem?

4.  What is a windrow?

5. Who said/wrote A woman, especially if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.?

Gravedodger got 3 1/2.

JC got two and a bonus for teaching me something else about windrowing.

Andrie got a clean sweep if I accept to rather than on a Grecian Urn and I do. 

Cadwallader doesn’t get the five s/he requested but does get a couple of bonuses for wit.

David got three right and a sympathy bonus for the hay fever story.

Paul got two right – as in his answers matched mine. His answer to 4 didn’t match mine but justifies a point and he can have a bonus for wit/satire and/or desperation for his answers to 2 & 5.

Bearhunter got a clean sweep with a bonus for being word perfect with on the urn (which I wouldn’t have picked up if s/he hadn’t pointed it out).

Rob got 3 1/2

Rayinz got 5 (I let him get away with to  rather than on  too).

PDM gets one and a long-distance bonus since he’s answering from Britain.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break: Read the rest of this entry »


Is this disaster day?

November 25, 2009

When compling the day in history post I don’t always include natural disasters but I did today because there were so many:

1343 A tsunami, caused by the earthquake in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

1703 The Great Storm of 1703, Britain’s biggest windstorm.

1759 An earthquake hit the Mediterranean destryoing Beirut and Damascus.

1833 A  massive undersea earthquake near Sumatra.

1839  A cyclone hit India.

1926 The deadliest November tornado outbreak in U.S. history.

1950 The “Storm of the Century“, struck the northeastern USA.

1987 Super Typhoon Nina pummeled the Philippines.

1996  An ice storm strikes the central U.S. killing 26 people.

2000  2000 Baku earthquake.

The Gravedodgers may well be sensible to delay the erection of their shade sails.


Tuesday’s answers

October 20, 2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. What does fiat panis mean?

2. What is a Kārearea?

3. Who said: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid of misinformed beholder a black eye.”?

4. Where is Timbuktu?

5. Who wrote Beak of the Moon?

Samo is this week’s champion with a clean sweep.

Gravedodger got three right, a half for knowing where the motto came from in #1 and a bonus for extra information in answering 2 & 4.

Lilacsigil got three right and a bonus for getting the whole answer to #1.

Cactus Kate gets a point because it was inevitable someone would make the suggestion she did.

PDM got 2 and a bonus for reasoning, albeit wrongly, with #3.

Paul Tremewan got two, a half for his answer to #2 (not wrong but not the whole answer) and a bonus for remembering school Latin.

The answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday’s answers + correction

October 6, 2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. Who said, “Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different”?

2. Who wrote Agnes the Sheep?

3. What is the most common meter in English poetry.

4. Which river ruled Mona Anderson’s life?

5. What did the Magpies say in Denis Glover’s poem?

In case you’re wondering, I had New Zealand Book Month in mind when setting the questions.

Paul Tremewan regains the winner’s crown with a clean sweep, bonuses for extra info and another point for the poem.

Gravedodger got 3 and bonuses for extra info and another for honesty and Paul L got 1.

CORRECTION:

I overlooked pdm’s valient effort – 1 point and a bonus for being first with iambic pentameter, another bonus for humour in answering 5 and another to compensate for being overlooked, and another bonus because he’s either overseas or just got back which means he’s coping with distance or jet lag – gosh he almost won :)

The answers follow the break: Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday’s Answers

September 29, 2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. What’s a mugwump?

2. Who wrote Book Book?

3. Who said,  “I was only doing my job boss, looking after my mates”?

4. The song is Po Atarau in Maori, what is it in English ?

5. What is paihamu?

Gravedodger got four right, though gave only a partial answer to #1, he gets 2 bonuses for expanded answers to the others, and sympathy on the loss of his dog.

Samo got four right too, and a bonus for the creative answer to #2.

Paul got three right, was on the right track with #1 and earned a bonuse for his creative answer to #2.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday’s Answers – corrected

September 22, 2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. What were the surnames of Peter, Paul and Mary?

2. Who wrote Bums On Seats?

3. Who said: We are human beings as well as women, and our humanity must take precedence of our womanhood . . . We are New Zealanders, and therefore citizens, and whatever affects the well-being of the Commonwealth is our immediate concern.?

4. The Hakataramea is a tributary of which river?

5. Name the vice chancellors of three of New Zealand’s eight universities (the debate on whether that’s too many universities can wait for another time).

Gravedodger got two right and I’ll give him 3 for the last question because it was his answer which made me realise I had to clarify the question. He gets a bonus for extra info on question one as well.

Paul Tremewan got two right, a bonus for imagination (who’s Michael Snelgrove?) and none for the last but I’ll accept that maybe my clarification muddied the waters).

Paul M gest one and a bonus because he was the only one who got Roger Hall.

No-one got Kate Sheppherd – even though Saturday was the anniversary of women’s suffrage in NZ.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break.

CORRECTION:

Cctrfred has corrected me – The Chancellor at the University of Canterbury chairs the Council and it is Rex Williams. Rodd Carr is Vice-Chancellor and appears to be CEO. I’ve done a quick check and think the others are correct, but feel free to put me right if I’m wrong.

If anyone can explain why some universities appear to call the council chair Chancellor and othes call him (their are no hers at the moment) Vice Chancellor, please do.

While I’m correcting myself, Paul Tremewan gets another point. Michael Snelgrove didn’t write Roger Hall’s autobiography (had he done so of course it wouldn’t be an autobiography) to which I was referring, but  he did write a play by the same name.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday’s answers

September 15, 2009

Paul Tremewan wins another electronic bunch of spring flowers with four right and two bonus points for wit.

Kismet got three points and a bonus for ingenuity.

I’ll accept Gravedodger’s word he knew three and he can have an extra point for the extended discussion.

Andrei gets 2 points and a bonus for extra information and because PDM earned a sprig of blossom for one right.

Monday’s Questions were:

1. “Read him for the tittle-tattle. But for strategic analysis find yourself a grown-up.” Colin James said it, to whom was he referring?

2. Who wrote All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?

3. Titi-tea is the Maori name for which mountain?

4. Sheep breeders encourage multiple births, why aren’t cow breeders so keen on twins?

5. Which ship took New Zealand’s first frozen meat exports to Britain?

Tuesday’s answers follow the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday’s answers

September 8, 2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. Which countries formed the South East Asia Treaty Organisation?

 2. Who said I suffer fools gladly because I am one of them?

 3. Who wrote Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less?

4. What is borborygmi?

5. Which is Europe’s only Budhist replublic? (Honesty requires I give the credit for this to Andrei from NZ Conservative who left this question for me. I had to look up the answer).

 

UPDATE: Maybe Gravedodger was right and the degree of diffiuclty in yesterday’s quiz was higher because no-one got all the answers correct.

However, Samo gets an electronic bunch of daffodils  with a score of 3 8/9 (the missing 1/9 was Bangladesh) plus another 1/2  for a good attempt at Kalmykia.

Scoring after that gets complicated because dealing in ninths for question 1 and halves for attempts at others added to the quandry of whether I take off anything for wrong answers defies me.

Let’s just give an electronic sprig of daphne to Ray, Gravedodger, Lilacsigil and Paul Tremewan who made honorable, and sometimes creative, attempts.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday’s answers

September 1, 2009

Monday’s Questions were:

1. Who wrote Among the Cinders?

2. Who said: We are biologically engineered to have the wonder filtered out of out lives, to learn to take astonishing things for granted, so that we don’t waste too much energy on being surpised but get on with the eating and mating, gardening, feeding cats, complaining about taxes or being pleased about economic recovery . . . “?

3. How many NZ Prime Ministers have died in office?

4. Where did the Great Fire of London start?

5. Who invented the cat flap?

Gravedodger and Rayiinz get a bunch of daffodils each for scoring 3/5; Paul Tremewan gets a single camellia flower for two with a bonus for orginality and Paul Corrigan gets a consolatory branch of blossom for trying.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


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