Covid-19 – who’s most at risk?

July 15, 2020

From Information is Beautiful:


Rural round-up

July 15, 2020

Dairy challenges the world over – Hugh Stringleman:

Labour shortages and tougher environmental requirements are the concerns of dairy farmers worldwide, an NZX Derivatives webinar has highlighted.

Three industry leaders were asked to speak on the challenges and opportunities in their countries and on their farms.

Irish dairy farmer Patrick Fenton, Molanna Farm, County Limerick, said there is a looming labour shortage as farms amalgamate, now freed from the shackles of European Union dairy quotas.

“We do have opportunities to grow and there is more land available but labour and environmental regulations have to be reckoned with,” he said. . . 

Gas targets might move – Gerard Hutching:

The targets for reducing methane have been set but the message from the Government is they could be changed next year. Gerard Hutching reports.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has conceded the 24-47% range for reducing methane by 2050 is unsatisfactory and has hinted it might change.

Primary sector groups such as the Meat Industry Association have argued the target, which will affect dairy farmers particularly, has been set too high and the reduction required is only 7%. 

Speaking to a webinar on a low-emissions future entitled Staying the Course, Shaw said the target will be looked at next year by the Climate Change Commission chaired by Rod Carr.  . .

Fonterra warning: Open Country, Miraka fear farmers locked in under new law – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand milk market giant Fonterra is about to get a legislative pass to throw its weight around even more, small dairy companies say.

Miraka and Open Country Dairy are concerned that amended dairy industry legislation is being rushed through that, in loosening the reins on Fonterra’s market power, could lead to milk supply drying up for new dairy processors or those wanting to set up in regions currently only served by Fonterra.

Their chief executives fear that a surprise clause introduced in the Dairy Industry Amendment Bill (No. 3) after lobbying by Fonterra will allow it to deny farmers a previous basic legislative right – to buy back into the big co-operative after exiting for whatever reason. . . 

Māori farming businesses flourish: ‘The world has to eat’ – Susan Edmunds:

Māori farming businesses are booming, and Covid-19 is unlikely to have taken off much of the shine.

Stats NZ data shows that profits for Māori authority farming businesses hit $97 million in 2018, almost double the year before. That is the most recent year for which the data is available.

The role of Māori authorities and their subsidiaries is to receive, manage, and/or administer assets held in common ownership by Māori.

More than 200, or around one-sixth, of Māori authorities are in agriculture. . . 

BVD stealing dairy herd profits:

While M. bovis and Covid-19 may be competing for farmers’ attention this winter, another equally infectious disease that has lurked in the background for years poses at least as big a threat to farm profitability and livestock health.

Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) is estimated to be costing the New Zealand dairy industry at least $150 million a year in animal health costs and lost production, yet experts agree with a focused campaign it could potentially be eliminated in a matter of months, not years.

Greg Chambers, Zoetis veterinary operations manager has been working closely with vets and farmers this year to help raise the profile and understanding of BVD. . . 

Trio team up to trial innovative hemp based food products:

Greenfern Industries has partnered with two other New Zealand companies to commercialise an innovative new hemp meat substitute and hemp snack products.

Greenfern Industries, Sustainable Foods, and the Riddet Institute (Massey University) are working together on the initiative that will see them develop the hemp-based food products and ingredients for both the New Zealand and export markets.

While Greenfern’s primary focus is medical cannabis and wellness products, co-director Dan Casey said it made sense to partner with other relevant industry leaders to utilise the products of Greenfern’s hemp crops.

“We have an abundance of high-quality hemp from which we obtain seed, cake and oil so we partnered with the Riddet Institute to work on background research and hemp product development. We’ve spent 12 months working with Riddet Institute on the product and, after several iterations, we’ve produced some very valuable shared IP.” . . 


Do they think govt would spend their money better?

July 15, 2020

Eighty three of the world’s wealthy are asking governments to tax them more:

Businessman and philanthropist Sir Stephen Tindall is among the world’s richest people urging governments to raise taxes on the rich, as the world grapples with the economic impact of Covid-19.

Tindall is one of 83 millionaires who signed an open letter which said “today, we, the undersigned millionaires, ask our governments to raise taxes on people like us. Immediately. Substantially. Permanently”.

“As Covid-19 strikes the world, millionaires like us have a critical role to play in healing our world,” it says.

“So please. Tax us. Tax us. Tax us. It is the right choice. It is the only choice.”

Are they saying this in the knowledge that they have been and are paying all the tax they should, that they haven’t arranged their affairs to minimize their personal or business taxes?

Oh and how many of them have applied for government subsidies? If they have, would they like to start by repaying at least some of that?

The letter says: “No, we are not the ones caring for the sick in intensive care wards. We are not driving the ambulances that will bring the ill to hospitals. We are not restocking grocery store shelves or delivering food door to door.”

But we do have money, lots of it. Money that is desperately needed now and will continue to be needed in the years ahead, as our world recovers from this crisis.” . . .

They do have lots of money and they’ve got that through hard work and shrewd investments. Do these people really think the government would spend their money better and do more good with it than they can?

If so they are free to give the national coffers a lot more money than they owe in tax at any time.

But there aren’t very many really rich people in New Zealand and governments aren’t as good at using other people’s money as successful people are at using their own.

If they really want to make a positive difference the wealthy would be better to invest their money themselves in businesses that would increase or create jobs, preferably ones that would also earn export income to replace at least some of what we’ve lost from international tourism and education.

These successful businesses would then contribute to the tax take without the need for the punitive tax rates the wealthy are suggesting.

If they prefer something more philanthropic they could build and run charitable hospitals and schools to reduce the burden of providing health and education services publicly.

Either way they would waste less and achieve more than the governments they are so eager to give more to would.


Judith Collins National leader Gerry Brownlee deputy

July 14, 2020

Judith Collins is National’s new leader.

Gerry Brownlee is her deputy.

 


Word of the day

July 14, 2020

Perdure – to remain in existence, continue to exist; endure; last indefinitely or permanently.


Sowell says

July 14, 2020


Rural round-up

July 14, 2020

Urban spread: farmer accuses councils of economic vandalism – Tom Kitchin:

A small group of Hawke’s Bay landowners are fighting to ensure what’s described as “a cancerous” spread of urban development doesn’t destroy quality crop lands on the Heretaunga Plains.

Councils agree that something must be done, but say it’s not an overnight fix.

Most days for the past 25 years, Richard Gaddum has gone up into the hills on his cattle farm above Havelock North to take in the view.

It captures the vast plains with the hills and mountains beyond. . . 

Wool report: on ‘cusp of renaissance‘ – Sally Rae:

A wool working group has finally released its long-awaited report, saying it believes natural fibres are “on the cusp of a renaissance” and a new approach is needed.

The Wool Industry Project Action Group was established in 2018 to look at opportunities to improve returns for the beleaguered crossbred wool sector.

New Zealand was one of the world’s most significant producers of strong wool; it produced around 10% of global wool of all micron types and around 20% of the 500 million kg of strong wool produced globally, the report said.

But increased competition from synthetic fibres had reduced demand for strong wool and led to a long-term contraction of the sector. . . 

Action now needed for wool say industry leaders – Sally Rae:

National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests chairman Craig Smith says the big thing missing from the wool working group’s report is an action plan to deliver the recommendations.

Mr Smith, who is general manager of Devold Wool Direct, was part of the working group in the early stages when it was set up in 2018.

“We all know the wool industry is in a bloody tough space but we didn’t want it to be just another report.”

But the report that had been produced reiterated the industry was in a bad place, and something needed to be done about it — “and here’s a few ideas”, he said. . . 

Night Shift – Milk Truck Driver – Andrea Vance:

Throughout the night, a fleet of tankers is on the road collecting milk from all over the country. Meet a man behind the wheel of one of them.

In the silent, starless night, Darren Mason’s enormous truck thunders off the state highway and onto a country lane, churning up a cloud of dust.

Sleepy cows rise onto their knees in fright, frozen breath suspended in the chill air. A lone dog starts to bark somewhere in the distance. 

The tanker rolls into the yard, its headlights illuminating two huge stainless steel milk vats. . . 

Courgette shortage sees record high prices:

Courgette prices jumped 74 percent to an all-time high of $21.42 per kilo in June 2020, as imports from Queensland continued to be barred, Stats NZ said today.

Overall vegetable prices were up 7.6 percent in June, also influenced by seasonally higher prices for tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and courgettes. These rises were offset by typical falls for winter crops including potatoes, onions, and carrots.

Both tomatoes and courgettes are more expensive than usual at this time of the year. . . 

The art of Michelle Clarke – Cheyenne Nicholson :

A Canterbury farmer who is a self-confessed creative type says it hasn’t been the easiest of roads turning a passion for art into a fully-fledged business but she has done just that and is drawing inspiration from rural life. Cheyenne Nicholson reports.

CANTERBURY farmer Michelle Clarke has trod a rather wobbly career path and even when she settled on art it very nearly didn’t happen. 

But now she has forged a successful art career that has grown her business, The Art of Michelle Clarke, into a full-time job. Her photographs and artwork grace the pages of magazines and walls all around the country and more recently she has turned her hand to writing and illustrating a children’s book. 

Michelle and husband Stephen Tuck manage on a 224-hectare dairy farm at Hororata where they milk 750 cows. . . 


Average deaths per day

July 14, 2020

From Information is Beautiful:


Muller resigns – Updated

July 14, 2020

NewstalkZB has just announced breaking news that Todd Muller has resigned as leader of the National Party.

Update:

Todd’s statement reads:

I have taken time over the weekend to reflect on my experience over the last several weeks as Leader of the Opposition.

It has become clear to me that I am not the best person to be Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the New Zealand National Party at this critical time for New Zealand.

It is more important than ever that the New Zealand National Party has a leader who is comfortable in the role.

The role has taken a heavy toll on me personally, and on my family, and this has become untenable from a health perspective.

For that reason I will be stepping down as Leader effective immediately.

I intend to take some time out of the spotlight to spend with family and restore my energy before reconnecting with my community.

I look forward to continuing to serve as a loyal member of the National Party team and Member of Parliament for Bay of Plenty.

I will not be making any further comment.

Please respect the privacy of my family and me.

This is a bombshell but the right decision for him and one that took a lot of self knowledge.

Leading the Opposition is a tough job at the best of times and he didn’t have any of the honeymoon new leaders usually get.

The caucus now has the job of voting in a replacement and then uniting behind the new leader.

There is no time for internal strife, the country needs a strong and united Opposition and one that is capable of becoming the government in a very few weeks.

 


Labour under SFO investigation

July 14, 2020

The Serious Fraud Office has announced it is investigating the Labour Party over donations in 2017:

The Serious Fraud Office has commenced an investigation over donations made to the Labour Party in 2017.

The SFO said in a statement this afternoon that it is presently conducting four investigations in relation to electoral funding matters.

A fifth matter that the agency investigated relating to electoral funding is now before the courts.

“We consider that making the current announcement is consistent with our past practice in this area of electoral investigations and in the public interest,” the SFO”s director Julie Read said.

In the interests of transparency and consistency, the SFO announced the commencement of all these investigations, she said.

However, the SFO said it had no further comment to make on the Labour Party investigation.

The department’s ongoing investigations include one into the New Zealand First Foundation and two other separate investigations into Auckland Council and Christchurch City Council mayoral electoral funding.

The fifth relates to donations paid to the National Party, which has led to criminal charges Independent MP Jami-Lee Ross and three other businessmen.

The SFO has not laid charges against the National Party, its staff or members but that distinction might be lost on anyone not into the minutiae of the case against Ross and the three businessmen.

The Serious Fraud Office says it is on track to make a call before this year’s election on whether to lay charges in relation to the New Zealand First Foundation, which has been bankrolling the New Zealand First Party. . . 

David Farrar says the charges probably result from an art auction:

If I am correct that this is what the is investigating, then it will come down to whether Labour valued the artworks fairly. That determines who get listed as the donor.

Let’s say a painting went for $25,000. Now if the painting is worth $20,000 normally then the artist is deemed to have made a $20,000 donation and the bidder a $5,000 donation as they paid $25,000 for something worth $20,000.

And only donations over $15,000 get the identity published, so the person who paid $25,000 for it, has their identity hidden.

But what if the painting wasn’t really worth $20,000. Let’s say that is a nominal value but in reality it is only worth $7,000. Then the donor has made an effective donation of $18,000 and should have been disclosed. . . 

Having Labour, the NZ First Foundation, two former Labour MPs who are now mayors and donors to the National Party under investigation isn’t ideal. But it’s better than suspected transgressions of Electoral Law and political donations being swept under the carpet.

However, even political tragics might be tempted to say a plague on all their houses and calls are already being made for public funding of political parties.

That is not the answer to the problem of breaking the law.

The answer is good law that people follow with good processes for ensuring they do and strong consequences if they don’t.


Word of the day

July 13, 2020

Argent – silver; silvery white; silver as a heraldic tincture; of the tincture or metal silver; silver coin; money.


Sowell says

July 13, 2020


New Zealand’s Tahr – They Are Us

July 13, 2020

Why is the Tahr Foundation fighting to keep them in New Zealand?

The Tahr Foundation has released a short video that shows just what Himalayan tahr mean to Kiwis and why so many people are fighting so hard to maintain them in New Zealand.

The video is a powerful reminder of the extent that tahr are now woven into the fabric of everyday New Zealand life.

New Zealand’s Tahr – They Are Us is available at https://youtu.be/SQyEwlgYSB4

“From people that work in the hunting industry and make a living from these animals to those from all other walks of life that just love spending time in the mountains amongst them, this video shows just how much tahr mean to so many Kiwis,” says Tahr Foundation Spokesperson Willie Duley.

“For the professional and recreational hunters, climbers, trampers, school teachers, sportsmen, helicopter operators and families that appear in this video, tahr not only enhance their experience in the mountains but in many cases are the reason for it.”

“We also want to see tahr properly managed and our alpine flora and fauna preserved because those of us who love the mountain environment and spend so much of our time there have the greatest stake in looking after it.”

“Despite our win in the High Court which confirmed DOC had not properly consulted with us, it is still extremely disappointing that they have been allowed to carry on in the interim with 125 hours of culling and the eradication of all tahr including bulls in Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks.”

“This interim culling still has the potential to decimate the tahr resource and the livelihoods of thousands, which is exactly what we have been fighting against and will continue to do so until an agreement is reached” says Duley.

“We feel the Minister and DOC are riding rough-shod over those of us with an interest in tahr, and the people that appear in this video and the near 50,000 others that have signed our petition are asking that their voice be heard.”

“It’s time this almost annual conflict was ended, and we’re given the opportunity to sit down with all stakeholders and constructively work together.”

“The Tahr Foundation wants to work with DOC and the Game Animal Council to come up with an enduring management strategy that fits with the realities of modern New Zealand and will work for both recreation and conservation. This is neither impossible nor too much to ask.”


Rural round-up

July 13, 2020

IrrigationNZ pleased to see Government expenditure on water services across the country – but calls for joined-up approach to all water:

IrrigationNZ believes Government investment in the water sector is a step in the right direction – but calls for a broader strategy to encompass all water infrastructure, including storage and policy development.

Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the Government will invest $761 million for a much-needed upgrade to water services across the country.

IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Elizabeth Soal says the proposal to reform water service delivery into large-scale multi-regional providers(for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater)will provide greater opportunities for investment in water infrastructure (such as water storage) that will improve outcomes beyond three waters, to include water for irrigation, reallocation, and the environment. . . 

Potatoes NZ anti-dumping tariff application:

On 3rd July 2020 Potatoes NZ submitted an application to Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment for anti-dumping duties on frozen potato products originating in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The application is based on the real threat of material injury to the New Zealand potato industry. 

The threat is a result of huge surplus inventories of frozen potato products and processing potatoes in Belgium and the Netherlands. 

This situation has arisen through the impacts of the Covid-19 global pandemic causing supply chain disruption in hospitality industries worldwide.  . . 

Quality beef bulls wanted:

Making quality beef genetics easier for dairy farmers to access is the aim of a new industry partnership.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics and LIC are collaborating to help fulfil growing demand for beef genetics suitable for New Zealand dairy cows.

The collaboration has seen the creation of the B+LNZ Genetics Dairy Beef Progeny Test, devised to identify quality beef bulls and help enable their widespread use for dairy beef.

Beef breeders can nominate their best bulls for consideration for the programme, with successful bulls then becoming part of the progeny test scheme. . .

Hunting guides welcome High Court decision on DOC’s Tahr plan:

The Professional Hunting Guides Association is welcoming the High Court decision on DoC’s controversial tahr campaign.

The High Court in Wellington was asked on Wednesday by the Tahr Foundation for a judicial review of DoC’s plan to kill thousands of Himalayan Tahr in the Southern Alps.

In a decision released this afternoon, the court ruled in the Tahr Foundation’s favour over the lack of consultation with hunting groups.

Professional Hunting Guides Association president James Cagney says the decision is a huge relief. . . 

High Court decision a win for hunters:

A High Court decision has stopped this clumsy and incompetent Government from destroying a $17 million industry and hundreds of jobs, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage gave permission for a large-scale cull of tahr to start on July 1st. The High Court decided to halt the controversial plan to kill thousands of tahr through the Southern Alps, which is not only a win for hunters, but for the many New Zealanders whose jobs were on the line.

“Eugenie Sage has made this brash decision before where she tried to enact a large-scale cull unsuccessfully. She must go back and consult with hunters and key stakeholders. . .

Welsh govt confirms farmers will adopt green farming:

The Welsh government has confirmed that sustainable farming will remain at the heart of future agriculture support post-Brexit.

An official response has been published to last year’s Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation, which received over 3,300 responses from farmers and landowners.

The consultation proposed that future funding should support farmers who operate sustainable farming systems and protect the environment.

NFU Cymru replied to it by urging the Welsh government to be ‘careful, considered and measured’, and to develop future policy through a ‘process of evolution rather than revolution’. . . 


Covid-19 activity risks

July 13, 2020

From Information is Beautiful:

 


Power for the south

July 13, 2020

Love many fat royal people today.

That’s the mnemonic by which I can still recall sixth form geography’s lesson on the six factors which affect the location of industry – labour, market, finance, raw materials, power and transport.

When it comes to power, the market in New Zealand is distorted by averaging of transmission costs across the country. That is one of the major reasons Rio Tinto has decided to close the Tiwai aluminium smelter next year and Richard Harman points out it is Auckland votes that did the damage:

. . .Opposition from the city, and particularly its business community, to proposals, put up in 2016 to change the way consumers paid for the transmission component of power pricing killed off what could have been a $20 million cost-saving for the smelter.

That might have been enough to save it. Rio Tinto’s loss on the smelter last year was $46 million. . . 

NZAS has argued that it is forced to pay for investment in the country’s power supply network that has no relevance to it, such as upgrades in the North Island when it is based at Bluff.

In 2017 a company press statement said NZAS paid  around nine per cent of Transpower’s transmission charges to consumers, “including paying towards the $1.3 billion spent on upgrading the grid in the upper North Island since 2004 without receiving any additional benefit to its business.”

“When it comes to transmission charges, we believe you should pay for what you use,” said then-CEO   Gretta Stephens.

“This isn’t what is happening now, so we are committed to working with the Electricity Authority and Transpower to achieve a more sustainable method of pricing transmission services.”

Stephens was therefore ready to endorse an Electricity Authority proposal in May 2017 to radically overhaul the transmission pricing regime and essentially make it a user-pays system. The further a consumer was from their power generator; the more they would be likely to pay.

The smelter uses only about 40km of Transpower lines because the main transmission lines from Meridian’s Manapouri power station to the northern outskirts of Invercargill are owned by Meridian.

The total length of all transmission lines owned by Transpower is 12,000km.

So in proposing that this imbalance be addressed, NZAS, told the Electricity Authority in 2017 the smelter had been located in its current position to allow for port access and to minimise the need for transmission.

“Auckland, by comparison, grew organically because of the natural advantages the location has for residential living,” the company said. “These advantages did not include nearby economic energy resources.

“As a result, considerable expense has been, and continues to be, applied to transporting electricity to Auckland.

“Because of these characteristics, the economic cost of providing transmission services for NZAS is considerably lower than the economic cost of transmission to Auckland”.

Southern individuals and businesses have been and are continuing to subsidise those in the north.

The Electricity Authority then produced a new transmission pricing proposal which would have seen NZAS’s transmission costs drop by 34 per cent to $40 million a year. But to help pay for that, the Authority proposed increasing the transmission costs to Vector, the former Auckland Electric Power Board, by 44 per cent or $50 a household a year.

There was an immediate uproar. . . 

The uproar came from a much bigger voting block than the one in the south and the north won.

Steven Joyce is one northerner who understands this:

Nearly 5 per cent of the Southland workforce will likely lose their jobs — a massive body blow. For Aucklanders having difficulty comprehending what that means, a shock of a similar magnitude in that city would be 40,000 people losing their jobs at once.

The Finance Minister is conveniently trying to hide behind the skirts of Bill English, reminding everyone that Bill said “no more” to Rio Tinto after 2013, and as current minister he’s just sticking with the line. It’s weird how trapped he feels by an 8-year-old decision.

If it helps at all, the Bill English I know wouldn’t have handed out $10 million to a bungy jumping company in Queenstown. If desperate times warrant that much being handed to a single private tourism company, or a ludicrous $280m to support New Zealand Post, Southlanders will legitimately ask why not $30 or $50 million for 2600 jobs in their region?

A very good question and if the smelter was in Northland does anyone doubt that it would get the money?

The smelter has as good a case as the tourism or film sectors, and a considerably better case than what has become a glorified courier company. The international market for aluminium has crashed as a result of Covid-19 decimating the car- and plane-making industries.

More egregiously, the electricity for this and other Southland businesses comes from just up the road at Manapouri, yet Southland is made to pay to have power circulated around the rest of the country. The request for help is more a case for stopping an unfair levy than for a fresh subsidy. Southland is not the only region, and aluminium not the only regional industry that is up against it. . . 

Some people see a silver lining in the smelter closure in the potential for cheaper power. But the electricity the smelter uses is generated in Southland, upgrading transmission lines to get it to the northern North Island would cost many millions of dollars.

If those costs were averaged over the country it would be rubbing very expensive salt into the wounds the smelter closure will inflict on Southland, its labour force and economy.

But it’s not only Southland that is facing big jobs losses.

The Marsden Point refinery bankrolls a similar proportion of high-paying jobs in Northland, and the refining company is making near-identical noises about closure.

Meanwhile, Taranaki is continuing to come to grips with the Government’s pre-Covid oil and gas exploration ban placing an artificial sunset on its biggest industry, and associated companies like Methanex and the ammonia urea plant.

Outside of heavy industry, the Covid-19 border controls have put on ice a series of other sectors that normally contribute to New Zealand’s wealth and jobs.

The $5 billion we earn annually from international education is dwindling to nearly nothing — and that leaves schools, universities and other providers short $1b a year for tuition fees alone.

Tourism limps along on one domestic cylinder, which sparks up in the school holidays but is insufficient to sustain many of the companies reliant on it.

The tech companies that succeed in the world despite our isolated location are wondering how long they can operate from their New Zealand base while being physically cut off from their customers.

And the foresters are suffering from whiplash, feeling alternately loved and loathed, sometimes almost in the same press release, as the Government has somehow got itself to the point where it will decide when forests are planted and where they can be sold. No wonder politicians were belatedly cuddling up to the farmers this week. Food is in danger of becoming our only export sector, so let’s call a truce in the regulatory hostilities and pretend all that talk about the need to diversify away from agriculture was just a bad dream.

The more other export industries falter, the more important agriculture becomes.

Which brings us to the bigger problem that the smelter closure underlines. Exactly how do we plan to make money to pay off this huge debt the Government is running up on our behalf?

How will we fill the massive hole in our exports left by tourism, education, aluminium and oil and gas? And exactly how do we plan to magic up 2600 replacement high-paying jobs in Southland?

Our economic response to Covid-19 is looking ridiculously haphazard. If the Government likes you, you get a bucket of money. If they don’t, then tough luck.

We first need a level playing field, and then we need to focus on increasing the competitiveness of all our businesses. We also need, to paraphrase a certain Australian Prime Minister, to get out from under the duvet and start re-engaging with the safer parts of the world again.

Right now we are being way too cavalier with our whole economic fabric. We could wake up and find whole regions permanently crippled — the ultimate irony for a Government that claims to “champion the regions”.

And, given that our biggest power consumers will have gone, and taken with them their outsized contributions to the costs of the electricity grid, we may not even have cheap power to make us feel better.

Taking big electricity users out of the market won’t make power cheaper. If the big users who contribute most to the energy companies’ coffers go, the cost will be spread across fewer, smaller users including households.

Given the fall in the price of aluminum, even a lower power price probably wouldn’t save the smelter.

But the smelter’s closure should provide the impetus to stop the southern subsidising of the north’s power.

Finding new businesses to soak up the people left unemployed when the smelter closed won’t be easy.

But it could be less difficult if everyone paid the actual cost of getting power which would make Southland much more attractive than Auckland to any enterprises where electricity costs were significant.

Southland has the labour, a variety or raw materials, good transport options and finance is reasonably mobile. It might be further from many markets but much cheaper power could well compensate for that.

So much power is generated in the south, far less will be needed down here without the smelter. This is an opportunity to ensure it stays here and southerners get lower prices to benefit households and the businesses that could soak up at least some of the workers left jobless when the smelter closes.

But what’s the chances of cheaper electric power for the south when political power is in the north?


Word of the day

July 12, 2020

Wreathe – to cover, engulf, surround (especially of vapour or fire); to twist in coils; writhe; to take on the shape of a wreath; encircle or adorn with or as with a wreath; to move or extend in circles or spirals.


Milne muses

July 12, 2020


Rural round-up

July 12, 2020

Farm owner rejects carbon bids to buy East Coast station – Tom Kitchin:

A Gisborne farmer is ecstatic that a large sheep and cattle station in Tolaga Bay – which has just changed hands for the first time in nearly half a century – will not be turned into forestry.

Earlier this week the Labour Party announced plans to introduce legislation limiting forestry conversions of the most productive land, if it wins re-election.

Annette Couper is saying goodbye to Mangaheia Station, a farm that’s been in her family since the 1970s.

She said selling up was tough, but none of her daughters were farmers. . .

Shortage of skilled operators – Yvonne O’Hara:

Invercargill agricultural contractor Daryl Thompson is more than “extremely worried” about finding enough skilled and experienced staff to operate his expensive equipment for the coming season.

“On a scale of one to 10, ranging from not worried to extremely worried, I am sitting at a 12.”

Mr Thompson, of DThompson Contracting, usually employs 50 to 60 people in Southland during the season, including trainees and retired farmers. . .

Tahr Foundation welcomes landmark High Court decision on DoC’s controversial extermination plan:

The Tahr Foundation is welcoming the High Court decision halting DOC’s controversial plan to kill thousands of tahr through the Southern Alps.

The Foundation asked the High Court for a judicial review of DOC’s plan to exterminate all Himalayan Tahr in national parks and sharply reduce tahr populations in other areas.

The application was heard in the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday and Justice Dobson has just released his decision this afternoon.

In the decision, Justice Dobson says that DOC is to reconsider its decision to proceed with the 2020-2021 plan after consulting with interests represented by the Foundation and other stakeholders. . . 

B+LNZ’s Economic Service celebrates 70th anniversary:

This month marks the 70th anniversary of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service, which was initially set up in 1950 to help a struggling post-war sheep sector.

The Service was established as a joint venture between the Meat Board and Wool Board after a 1947 Royal Commission study recommended establishing a Sheep Industry Board to collect and document factual information about farm production and economics.

This continues to be done today, as it was back in 1950, through the Economic Service’s Sheep and Beef Farm Survey.

As well as giving insight into the state and financial health of New Zealand’s agricultural industry, the information gathered through the Survey is used to inform local, regional and central government policy, underpin forecasts and trends in meat and wool production. It also enables farmers to benchmark their own businesses against others in their cohort. . . 

Property sales to finance wool :

Plans to sell and lease back its portfolio of properties are part of a range of ways Cavalier is financing its natural fibre strategy, chief executive Paul Alston says.

Alston said listing the firm’s three industrial sites in Auckland, Napier and Whanganui is about transforming the company into a high-end, premium flooring brand rather than strengthening the balance sheet.

“We are comfortable with current debt levels,” he said, referring to the sale and lease back plans and noted the firm can access more bank funding to cope with any covid-related impacts. . . 

£2m grant to help Scottish farmers create more woodland :

Over £2 million is being made available to Scottish landowners and farmers to help them play their part in creating more woodland.

The support is part of Scottish Forestry’s Harvesting and Processing Grant, which will help farmers and foresters buy specialist woodland equipment.

This could range from poly tunnels, seed trays through to mounding equipment, work site welfare units and small scale sawmills for wood processing. . .


The Unwelcome Party Guest

July 12, 2020

A metaphor for Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT).

You can learn more about ACT here.


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