Rural round-up

June 11, 2014

Sector in good heart – judge – Sally Rae:

After travelling 3800km in nine days, visiting 27 farms throughout New Zealand, Preston Hope is heartened by the state of the sheep industry.

Mr Hope, who farms with his wife, Tori, at Deep Stream, between Middlemarch and Outram, was one of three judges for the final round of the New Zealand ewe hogget competition.

The couple won the competition in 2012 and it was an honour to be asked to officiate, he said. . . .

2014 New Zealand wine vintage to support export growth:

The 2014 New Zealand grape harvest has been completed with high quality grapes picked across the country.

“All grape growing regions experienced very favourable growing conditions through the summer and into the early autumn. 2014 is set to be another memorable, high quality vintage which will provide a further boost to growing wine exports” said New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Officer Philip Gregan.

According to the 2014 Vintage Survey, 445,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested. The 2014 crop is up 29% on the harvest last year and will position the industry well for the continuing consumer demand for New Zealand wine. Virtually every region has achieved production growth and for the first time Nelson, Waipara and Central Otago have exceeded 10,000 tonnes. . . .

Skilled and off-farm jobs the growth areas for agriculture – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Support services will be the biggest source of job growth for an increasingly sophisticated agricultural sector, a report on the future workforce needs of primary industries concludes.

Projections for the Ministry of Primary Industries, published today, forecasts that some 140,000 primary sector support services jobs will be required by 2025, compared with around 105,000 now, making it the fastest area of job growth and the largest source of employment in the primary sector, which covers sheep, beef, dairy and other animal farming, horticulture, fishing, and forestry.

Sheep and beef farming shows the largest fall in projected workforce size will be in the sheep and beef sectors, where jobs are expected to shrink to around 70,000 by 2025, from around 95,000 in 2002. The booming dairy sector shows hardly any job growth in the next decade, settling at around 50,000. . . .

Accommodation shortage of Fieldays - Susie Nordqvist:

It might be the biggest event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere, but Fieldays management says the event’s future growth could be threatened by an accommodation shortage in Hamilton.

So canny locals are cashing in and renting out their homes.

“I’m renting out my house to exhibitors who are exhibiting over the week of Fieldays, and I’m going as far away from here as I possibly can,” says homeowner Sam Ward. . .

Forest owners want people to speak up

The sponsors of the Independent Forestry Safety Review welcome the public consultation document issued by the review panel on Friday.

”It poses a series of questions which will provide a useful structure for the public consultation meetings that begin on 12 June. We strongly encourage forest owners, contractors, workers and anyone else with an interest in improving the safety of people working in forestry to go to one of the meetings, or to make a private submission,” says Forest Owners Association (FOA) president Paul Nicholls. . . .

New Zealand Avocados Achieve Record Sales For 2013-14 Season:

New Zealand’s avocado industry today announced it has more than doubled its sales from last season to $136m, setting new records in both export and New Zealand markets.

This stunning return eclipses the previous sales record of $84.1m set in 2009-10 and is far in excess of the $60.4m worth of avocados sold last year.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, says this season’s success is due to a number of reasons including initiatives which are transforming the industry into a more cohesive and competitive sector. . . .

B+LNZ Sheep Industry Awards 2014:

Help us recognise the best of the best in the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards. Nominations close 30 June.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is excited to be hosting our annual showcase for sheep farming excellence in Napier this year, the first North Island venue for the event. . .

Search for top NZ rural consultants gets closer

Nominations for the annual Consultant of the Year Awards have closed and Farmax is one step closer to announcing this year’s top New Zealand dairy, sheep and beef, and emerging rural professionals.

Farmax general manager, Gavin McEwen, said the awards were developed last year to recognise the expertise and value agricultural consultants and rural professionals provide to the New Zealand pastoral farming industry, which often goes unnoticed.

“On a regular basis we see first-hand the invaluable service that rural professionals provide farmer clients with. The feedback we receive from farmers about their consultants is really uplifting. It shows just how much of a difference consultants can make to their clients’ businesses,” Mr McEwen said. . . .


Rural round-up

June 9, 2014

Review Panel releases consultation document and plans for travel:

The Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel released its public consultation document today. The document can be found on the Review’s website at www.ifsr.co.nz.

WorkSafe New Zealand statistics showed that between 2008 and 2013, there have been 967 reported instances of serious injury related to forestry and logging. In this time 28 workers died in accidents. That is just one person fewer than were killed in the Pike River mining disaster. The Review is being undertaken to address this very poor safety record.

Panel Chair, George Adams commented that “Forestry in New Zealand is far too dangerous. Everyone in the industry recognises that fact and that’s why the Review has been established. It is clear change must occur to prevent injuries and save lives. The consultation document provides an opportunity for everyone in the industry and the public to have a say in what those changes should be”. . . .

Forestry industry leaders need to own, manage and measure contractor health and safety:

Forestry industry leaders need to make themselves accountable for the health and safety of their contractors if the industry’s poor safety record is to improve, the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum says.

“They need to own this issue, and they need to manage it and measure how well they and their contractors are performing on health and safety,” says Forum Executive Director Julian Hughes.

A consultation document released today by the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel highlights that there is no simple fix to forestry’s safety problems, Julian says. . .

Time for Silent Majority to be heard:

Forest safety is something that many of the leading forest contractors take seriously. So the next step in the forest safety review process is being welcomed by Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and the many forest workers their members employ.

Several industry associations have a keen interest in ensuring that as many workers as possible get their voices heard by the panel members as they move around the country to discuss forest safety and how it can be improved.

One of the groups, the Forest Industry Contractors Association, represents over 55% of the companies providing forest operations and harvesting services. With staff numbers in the thousands it is important that they find their voice and make sure it is heard by review panel members. . .

TPP to live on in other acronyms even if it fails: Groser – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – The negotiated positions of parties to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement will be crucial in developing other free trade pacts that are either emerging or on the table now, even if the current negotiations fail, says International Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Speaking in the Philippines as part of a business delegation in the capital, Manila, Groser said the TPP negotiations were now “at a crucial stage”, but that if the talks were to fail, the developments they achieved would still prove useful for the ultimate liberalised trade zone, the Free Trade Area in the Asia-Pacific, otherwise known as FTAAP. . .

Spider venom may hold key to saving bees:

Researchers believe spider venom may hold the key to protecting bees from harmful toxins after finding a bio-pesticide made from a combination of plant proteins and the arachnids poison is harmful to pests but not honeybees.

It is thought that neonicotinoid pesticides are behind the dramatic decline in honeybee populations, and this catastrophe could spell disaster for humans as food production greatly relies on pollinators such as the bees.

A team of Newcastle University scientists tested a combination of natural toxins from the venom of the Australian funnel web spider and snowdrop lectin bio-pesticides and found that it allowed honeybees to forage without harm even when exposed to unusually high doses. . .

Agricultural Fieldays keeps growing:

The sprawling national agricultural fieldays site at Mystery Creek near Hamilton has been a hive of activity as exhibitors get ready for the biggest annual event on New Zealand’s rural calendar.

Most of the major structures are up, but preparations and fine tuning will continue into the late hours on Tuesday night, before the gates open on Wednesday morning.

The exhibition area covers about 50 hectares with more than 900 exhibitors on 1380 sites. . .

Top NZ dairy technology goes on show in China:

For dairy operators in China looking to build new dairy complexes, leading dairy technology innovator Waikato Milking Systems and herd management technology company Afimilk offer total milking solutions.

Whether dairy companies in China’s growing dairy industry want a whole new large-scale milking system, or high-technology products to get more out of their existing milking system, these two companies have the expertise to deliver results. The companies will have a joint display at the World Dairy Expo in Xi’an in China on 13 to 15 June 2014. . . .

Commission begins process for the 2013/14 review of Fonterra’s milk price calculation

The Commerce Commission today released a paper outlining the proposed process and timeline for a review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2013/14 dairy season. The base milk price is what Fonterra pays the farmers who supply them milk.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year and 2013/14 is the second time the Commission will undertake a calculation review. The review will assess the extent to which Fonterra’s approach provides incentives for it to operate efficiently while providing for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk. The scope of the review is to only look at the base milk price, not the retail price that consumers pay for milk. . . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Primary Sector Future Capability Report:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says it’s important to have an understanding of the sector’s workforce requirements, to be well placed to take full advantage of the opportunities ahead.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Hon Nathan Guy, has today launched the ‘Future capability needs for primary industries in New Zealand’ report that forecasts the future workforce needs of the primary industries.

The report says that for red meat and wool, the challenge will be in training and retaining people with market and product-oriented skills as well as cultural and language capabilities. This is because over 90 per cent of the sheepmeat and beef produced in New Zealand is exported to overseas markets. . . .

Applications Open for Fonterra Farmers to Lock in Guaranteed Milk Price:

Following last week’s announcement of the 2014/15 forecast Farmgate Milk Price, applications are now open for Fonterra farmers to lock in a price for a percentage of their milk.

Building on the success of the Guaranteed Milk Price (GMP) pilot in the 2013/14 season, Fonterra has further developed the programme to give farmers even more flexibility to help manage the effects of commodity price volatility and give greater income certainty.

There will now be two opportunities in the 2014/15 season to secure a GMP on 60 million kgMS – up to 40 million kgMS is available in June, and up to 20 million kgMS is available in December. There is also a new approach to determine each GMP and allocate the available volume. . . .

Leading New Zealand wine brand celebrates a new beginning:

Matariki, one of New Zealand’s most prestigious wine brands has formally announced its return to market with the launch of its ultra-premium 2009 wines.

Now under the ownership of Taurus Wine Group Limited, the wines remain under the stewardship of John O’Connor and the watchful eye of the mother and her six daughters that form the visible stars in the Matariki constellation, appropriately re-appearing in the night sky on June 28 heralding the Maori New Year.

Matariki is marking its new beginning with the release of its flagship red blend, Quintology and single varietal range Les Filles (The Daughters), all from the 2009 vintage. . .

SATO Signs Master Service Agreement with Fonterra:

SATO, a leader in barcode printing, labeling, and EPC/RFID solutions, announced today that it has signed a Master Service Agreement (MSA) with Fonterra Cooperative Group Limited, a leading global dairy company based in New Zealand, to provide supplies, services, and support for barcode systems in Fonterra’s factories and distribution centers worldwide.

SATO has been working closely with Fonterra in New Zealand and Australia, playing an instrumental role in standardizing their barcoding systems and configurations. Furthering this partnership, SATO Holdings Corporation and Fonterra have signed an MSA which will cover all countries Fonterra operates in, allowing SATO’s global subsidiaries to better offer localized services matching the requirements of Fonterra operations in each country. Key applications that can be provided under the agreement include product traceability solutions, product anti-counterfeiting solutions, label management and printing solutions, wireless infrastructure solutions, and many more. . . .

Grand Final tickets selling out:

The showcase event of the rural community is just weeks away and tickets for events are selling out fast.

New Zealand Young Farmers members, supporters and competitors will descend upon Christchurch for the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final, 3-5 July.

Over a demanding three days the seven Grand Finalists will be put through their paces in a number of challenges, tested on all facets of New Zealand agriculture and farming.
Lincoln University Library will play host to the Official Opening, Thursday 3 July, 4.30pm, as the Grand Finalists come together for the first of two head-to-head challenges. Free for spectators. . .


Politics Daily

June 7, 2014

John Key in the Pacific

Claire Trevett @ NZ Herald – Key’s Pacific visit an election entrée

John Banks

Brook Sabin – PM to consider refusing Banks’ vote

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Don Brash on John Banks

Liz Banas @ RadioNZ – Power Play

Fran O’Sullivan @ NZ Herald – Act needs to move on and Banks needs to do the decent thing

Tracy Watkins @ Stuff - Farcical options for Banks

Scott Yorke @ Imperator Fish – Move along please, sir.

IMP

Matthew Beveridge – The Internet Party candidates on Twitter

Internet Party – Internet Party candidate shortlist

Ian Apperley – Mana and Internet Party unholy alliance is an insult to all NZ ICT workers

Election

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog - Labour candidate seeking a poor person

Taxpayers’ Union – Election funding for satire no joke

Abbie Napier @ The Press – Electoral commission grant to ‘fun’ political party criticised

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Broadcasting allocations

John Armstrong @ NZ Herald – Right-left jockeying real news of the week

Verity Johnson @ NZ Herald – Make politics sexy

Other

Pattrick Smellie @ NBR - TPP to live on in other acronyms even if it fails: Groser

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Sledge of the day 7 June 2014

Dominion Post – Today in politics: Saturday, June 7

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Can you name the politician?

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – A bit of a history lesson

Matthew Beveridge - Twitter Stats : 6 June


Rural round-up

April 7, 2014

Understanding Fonterra gets even harder – Pattrick Smellie:

Ask anyone with half an eye on the New Zealand economy what’s leading its current recovery and they’ll tell you two things.

First: the Canterbury rebuild.

And second: the extraordinary boom in both the price and volume of dairy industry exports.

The dairy boom being what it is, you’d think the country’s only multi-national company with global scale, Fonterra, would have produced a stonking half-year profit result last week.

Not so.. .

Pukeuri meatworks still waiting for China go-ahead - Daniel Birchfield:

A resolution to the ongoing certification issue surrounding Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant looks no closer to being resolved.

The plant’s certification for China was suspended by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in July, after incorrectly labelled product was shipped to China.

Alliance Group general manager of processing, Kerry Stevens, said at this stage there was “no change” to the current situation.

Stevens declined to comment on how the issue at Pukeuri was affecting Timaru’s Smithfield plant in terms of staffing. . .

Farmers walk the environmental talk – Alan Wills:

. . . In a nut shell farming has a great future in New Zealand. We have our challenges but the long term future in my opinion is better than just good.

Why? We are naturally good farmers.  We have the climate and water availability in some areas to take the vagrancies out of seasonal production.  Globally this is called the ‘pastoral sweet spot’ and there aren’t too many countries in the world in it.

We have very good infrastructure here and abroad to effectively market what we produce. We have very focused research and development supporting us to stay on the front foot.  Politically, our Westminister type democracy provides stability and stability begets confidence.  I can think of one country that is like our twin except for politics and policies that shoots its economy in the foot.  Here, nothing is going to fall over by revolution or in a coup. 

Finally, we can produce food products in particular that the rest of developing world wants.

All of these attributes are vital in any successful production and marketing process. . .

If the IPCC backs adaptation, political parties should too:

The release of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report’s chapter on Australasia, reinforces science, research and water storage are fundamental to New Zealand’s adaptive response.

“The IPCC report contains both good and bad news for the New Zealand farm system and New Zealand as a whole,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President, who has recently returned from the World Farmers Organisation’s General-Assembly.

“The report predicts that New Zealand will likely become drier in the northeast of the South Island as well as the east and north of the North Island.  On the other side of the ledger, it will likely become wetter in the south of the South Island. 

“This will change pest pressure and biosecurity risks and the effectiveness of biocontrols. . .

Tikorangi dairy farm takes top Taranaki award:

A TIKORANGI dairy farming operation is the inaugural winner of the 2014 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

It was described by judges as an outstanding example of best dairying practise.

The region’s first Supreme title was presented to Gavin and Oliver Faull, Faull Farms, and their sharemilkers, Tony and Loie Penwarden, at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards ceremony on April 3. . .

Precision farmers feature of Fert and Lime Conference:

THE WORD improvisation can conjure images of ad hoc solutions and a slightly less than professional approach, but when it comes to precision agriculture, it’s not a dirty word: in fact, it’s exactly what’s needed, says one of New Zealand’s leading academics on the subject.

 Out of necessity, New Zealand farmers have become inherently good at improvising over the years and that background will stand them in good stead with the growing array of precision farming techniques becoming available, says Professor of Precision Agriculture at Massey University Ian Yule. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

March 30, 2014

Deutsche Bank keeps ‘sell’ rating on Fonterra, seeks more transparency – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group needs to make it far clearer to farmers and other investors how its business model operates, says Deutsche Bank after the dairy exporter shored up a slump in half-year profits by intervening in the regulated price it pays for milk at the farm gate.

Deutsche Bank retains its ‘sell’ rating on Fonterra Shareholders Fund units, with a 12-month target price of $5.64. The units slipped 0.2 percent by mid-afternoon to $6.08, and have fallen from a closing price of $6.15 on March 26, when the result for the six months to Jan. 31 was declared.

Fonterra posted a 53 percent fall in first-half net profit to $217 million, a result that would have been far worse if the cooperative had not taken the unprecedented action last December of deciding to reduce the regulated Farm Gate Milk Price (FGMP) to farmer-shareholders by 70 cents per kilogram of milk solids. . . .

New Zealand dairy farmers are responding to high prices by cranking the handle on their production to cash in on record payout – Jeff Smith:

Our dairy farmers are “cranking the handle” on production in response to high prices they are receiving for their milk.

As a result nationwide dairy production is expected to be up by 11% this current season.

Strong dairy prices have “handed the baton” to strong dairy volumes, ASB says in its economic update released today.

Volumes would be higher than normal this year as farmers had bought extra feed to increase milk production in anticipation of higher prices, ASB Bank rural economist Nathan Penny told interest.co.nz today. . . .

Farmer lands $30,000 in prizes - Elliot Parker:

Hard work has its merits.

Hinakura farmer Donald McCreary can attest to this after winning the award for the Beef and Lamb Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year and in the process scoring himself $30,000 in prizes.

McCleary has been farming in Hinakura, east of Martinborough, since 2004 on a 1375 ha property which is predominantly steep, hill country.

The property contains 6700 ewes and 225 breeding cattle.

McCreary says his approach to good farming is to be well versed in all areas of farm management. . .

Meat industry on the rise - Carmen Hall:

Higher lambing percentages and export carcass weights are helping offset a dramatic drop in sheep numbers.

Numbers have almost halved since 1991, but the amount of product being exported has remained stable as farmers focus on improving their systems.

Negative publicity has overshadowed the fact farmers have made significant gains in productivity and the industry has the potential to cash in on future growth, industry leaders are saying. Beef and Lamb New Zealand chief executive Scott Champion says the organisation focused on “best practice behind the farm gate”. . .

Finance support adds up for farmers :

Tauranga HR company Teaming Up hopes to connect accountancy firms with farmers in an economic development project that could generate millions of dollars.

The company spearheaded the Beyond Reasonable Drought inaugural road shows in the Bay of Plenty and East Coast last month, which attracted nearly 1000 people.

Marlborough sheep and beef farmer Doug Avery, who was on the brink of disaster 15 years ago after consecutive droughts, presented the seminars. He overcame adversity by adopting a scientific approach to agriculture and introducing deep-rooted, drought-tolerant lucerne. He employs six full-time staff, including son Frazer, and his business is a profitable operation that promotes high-reward, low-impact farming. . .

Honey lovers could get stung:

Honey prices could rise as much as 20 percent due to one of the worst seasons in decades.

Beekeepers say lower than usual temperatures in January meant the insects stayed inside their hives during the peak season and produced less honey. . .


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.


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.


Rural round-up

August 21, 2013

NZ reputation will bounce back –  Pattrick Smellie:

Honest disclosure of the Fonterra infant milk botulism scare will stand New Zealand’s reputation as a food producer in good stead in the long run, although the country’s reputation for safe food has taken a short term hit, says ANZ Bank’s chief economist for Greater China.

Speaking to BusinessDesk in Hong Kong, Li-Gang Liu described the impact of the incident, and the subsequent discovery of raised nitrate levels in lactoferrin produced by Westland Milk, as “a temporary scare.”

“Most Chinese consumers still trust the goods provided by New Zealand producers,” he said. “I don’t think that has changed fundamentally, especially how this case was handled. . .

NZ scientist wants ploughing outlawed:

A New Zealand soil scientist is campaigning to outlaw the plough and to have a warning on it.

Dr John Baker said ploughing or conventional tillage contributed to global warming, crop failure, soil erosion and eventually famine.

He said the single greatest challenge facing the world was feeding the extra 50 per cent population by the year 2050.

“We can get away with conventional methods in New Zealand because we have rich soil and rotating pasture, but other countries don’t have that luxury. Instead they’re turning their backs on ploughing and adopting no tillage as the only way to feed the population.” . .

Reduced volatility critical for long-term sheepmeat sector viability:

Representatives of the sheepmeat sectors from the United Kingdom, France and New Zealand met last week and have agreed that the volatility of returns is negatively impacting the long term viability of their respective sheepmeat sectors.

They agreed that the roller coaster ride of good years followed by poor years saps the confidence of sheepmeat producers, resulting in a decline in production in most sheep producing countries and a sector that has difficulty attracting and retaining good young people.

A cross-sector group from the UK and France came to New Zealand on a fact-finding mission to better understand the current outlook for New Zealand sheep farmers and to identify and discuss common challenges. They met with representatives from key industry organisations, farming groups and the meat processing and exporting companies. . .

Views differ on effluent threat to marine farms - Peter Watson:

Farmers and the Tasman District Council are confident increased monitoring and a lot of on-farm work have reduced the risk of dairy pollution again threatening marine farms off the Collingwood coast, but marine farmers say more still needs to be done.

In November, 2011 and May last year high E coli readings in marine farms near the mouth of the Aorere River caused alarm within the export industry, sparking fears the spikes may halt harvesting and prompting complaints to the council about outdated dairy practices, weak rules and a lack of oversight.

It sparked tension in Golden Bay as one heavyweight export industry was seen to take on another. . .

Wineries suffer further damage from latest quake:

Marlborough wineries have suffered more losses and damage from Friday’s magnitude 6.6 earthquake than they did from the 21 July event.

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens says a number of wineries in the region closed after the big quake struck on Friday afternoon and structural engineers will be assessing the damage during the week.

He says there has probably been some wine loss, although how much is not really known at this stage.

“I think a number of the tanks, the way they behave would have spilt wine out the top … and those wine losses are financial losses as well.”

Mr Pickens says wineries are reporting minimal damage to bottled wine stocks. . .

Dairy Awards Plan 25th Anniversary Celebrations:

The 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the sharemilker competition with a special launch event and celebration ball at its annual awards dinner.

National convenor Chris Keeping says the milestone anniversary creates an opportunity to delve into the sharemilker competition history and to celebrate its success.

“It’s pretty amazing to think that over those years thousands of sharemilkers have participated in the competition, relishing the opportunity to have their business analysed and enhance their progress in the industry while having some fun and meeting lots of people.” . . .


Rural round-up

November 16, 2012

Chinese interest in Fonterra fund ‘predictable’ Feds say:

Chinese interest in investing in Fonterra’s Cooperative Group’s shareholder fund was predictable once the scheme was approved and underlines the need for constitutional protections for the Trading Among Farmers scheme, says the main farm lobby group.

China’s sovereign wealth fund, the US$400 billion China Investment Corp, is in talks to buy units in the $525 million fund with an investment smaller than US$100 million, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing people with direct knowledge of the plans.

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund aims to raise as much as $525 million selling shares in an indicative price range of $4.60 to $5.50 apiece, giving outside investors exposure to up to 7 percent of the dairy cooperative’s equity. The final price will be set by a bookbuild among institutions and NZX firms on about Nov. 27. . .

Huge bio-fuels opportunity for NZ from forestry: Pure Advantage -  Pattrick Smellie:

New Zealand’s plantation forestry estate represents a major opportunity for New Zealand to become more self-sufficient in transport fuels, says the latest report from the Pure Advantage business lobby group seeking support for a “green growth” push in New Zealand.

However, a “crisis of faith” in the forestry industry could stymie the newly emerging potential of forestry – a sector that has long confounded attempts to add value beyond the export of raw logs, mainly to Asian markets.

Pure Advantage trust chairman Rob Morrison told BusinessDesk the fragile state of the forestry industry is a major issue for realising the largest economic opportunity identified by a study conducted by London economic consultancy Vivid Economics and the Business School at the University of Auckland. . .

Icebreaker launches online shopping:

Icebreaker, the iconic merino clothing brand, will launch an online store in New Zealand today, at icebreaker.comin time for Christmas shopping.

“It’s no secret that online shopping is the fastest growing channel in retail today, with clothing showing some of the highest growth,” says Jeremy Moon, Icebreaker CEO and founder.

“We’re a multi-channel business, and our new eCommerce site in New Zealand will complement our presence in retailers throughout the country and in our Icebreaker TouchLab retail stores in Wellington and Auckland. Our customers are increasingly demanding choice – they want to be able to choose to shop either directly from a brand, or from a retailer with a wide variety of brands.” . . .

Prince Charles inspects the Glacial Wool rug bearing his coat of arms:

New Zealand Wool Services International is pleased to make available the attached photographs of the Prince of Wales inspecting a unique six square metre Glacial wool rug bearing his coat of arms during his visit to the New Zealand Shear Brilliance wool exhibition at The Could in Auckland on 12 November. The rug has been commissioned by New Zealand Wool Services International to honour the Prince and recognise his role as a champion and patron of the global Campaign for Wool.


Golden rule

May 21, 2012

Quote of the day:

While it rankles to be beholden to the opinion of the same financial markets as caused the global financial crisis, the fact remains that we’re debtors, and the rules about what happens to those who don’t pay their debts haven’t changed. Pattrick Smellie

The golden rule still applies – those with the gold make the rules.

As long as we’re heavily indebted we’re at the mercy of those to whom we owe money.


The real threat

April 21, 2012

Quote of the day from Pattrick Smellie:

To the Greens and an increasingly hysterical band of Labour MPs with economic portfolios, this will be evidence of our capitulation to the wily Orientals. 

Sorry guys. The real threat is that China has plenty of other options.  It’s a big world out there, and Beijing is the most powerful economic force in the world today. 

As the Chinese Embassy’s urbane political counsellor, Cheng Lei, put it at a press briefing timed just before the Crafar announcement this morning, Fonterra is a big investor in China and is welcome.

The two countries could even grow two-way trade to $20 billion before the 2015 target formally set this week during the visit of fourth-ranked Communist Party official Jia Qinglin.

But only if we want to.

Trade is a two-way street. If we expect the Chinese to take from us we must also be prepared to give a little.

There are advantages to China in dealing with us. It enables them to dip their toe in the water of free trade with a country which doesn’t offer any threat to them.

But there are plenty of other countries they could buy from, it would take a lot of other countries willing to buy from us to replace the exports we send there.


Is Key a Level 5 leader?

January 10, 2010

. . .  there is in Key’s style – humble, gentle, willing to be wrong, but absolutely certain that New Zealand is a country that, in Jim Collins’s words, “deserves to last” because of all that it has built already – something of the Level 5 leader lurking.

This comes from Pattrick Smellie, you can read the rest of his column at Scoop.

My blue bias provides plenty of reasons for wanting Key to be a great leader.

But the benefits to New Zealand from great leadership are far more important than politics.


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