PGG Wrightson to take a slice of Meat Industry?

June 29, 2008

My last post is only minutes old and it’s already stale:

The rural grapevine reckons that a deal between PPG Wrightson and Silver Fern Farms is iminent. It is expected that PGGW will do the procurement for SFF, and possibly take a stake in the industry.

All will be revealed at a press conference which has been called for 11am tomorrow in Christchurch.


Meat Industry Disunity Scuttles Taskforce

June 29, 2008

Disappointment but little surprise has greeted the news that the Meat Industry Taskforce  has disbanded.

Taskforce chairman Sir John Anderson said yesterday that consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), which was commissioned to complete an industry analysis, could not get informed consent from all industry participants.

In addition, Sir John said that in the last week one company had announced it was withdrawing its support for an industry strategy, saying it was pursuing its own plans, making it impossible to compile a report.

Meat and Wool New Zealand (MWNZ) established the taskforce earlier this year to create a red meat industry strategy to address international marketing, supplier dynamics and processing.

Owen Poole who chairs Alliance Group said his company supported the taskforce and was disappointed it had failed. 

Mr Poole said the strategy could have been the catalyst for industry aggregation, and the fact PWC was going to seek contributions from farmers, meat companies and unions, would have produced meaningful results.

“I see it as a lost opportunity,” he said.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper said he supported any initiative to create an industry strategy, but the taskforce never released its terms of reference, so companies did not know what it was trying to achieve.

Mr Cooper said Silver Fern Farms (formerly PPCS) was not the reason the taskforce failed.

“In regard to the Meat Industry taskforce announcement, from a Silver Fern Farms perspective, we were never asked for informed consent by PWC on the issue.”

The company supported any initiatives to improve supplier returns.

“Silver Fern Farms supported any initiative about reviewing the industry strategy or structures.”

Anzco chairman Graeme Harrison was also supportive but not surprised it had failed, given the reluctance of the four major meat companies to co-operate on industry issues.

“Unless the four companies were prepared to talk in meaningful ways, then it was never going to happen.”

While he had reservations about the size of regulatory and commercial hurdles the taskforce faced, he said it would have provided an important circuit-breaker for farmer confidence.

Mr Harrison said commercial reality would now play its hand and there would be change.

“Sooner or later, something will happen and it will be a commercial decision.”

The 07-08 season was a very tough one for sheep farmers with falling returns and steeply increasing prices for fuel, fertiliser and other inputs. The outlook for next season’s lamb prices is more optimistic, but even so they’ll be hoping that whatever happens in the industry happens sooner not later.


If there’s no power crisis…

June 29, 2008

… why is Lake Hawea  going to be taken below its minimum level to generate more electricity?

Contact Energy will lower Lake Hawea below its statutorily imposed minimum level of 338m above sea level in the next few days, and says it will use the extra water very carefully.

But that was questioned yesterday by the chairman of Lake Hawea Guardians, who said Hawea and its surrounds would suffer for years if the lake falls to 336m.

The company does have resource consent to take the extra two metres – but only when it’s in the national interest to have reserve capacity. Hawea locals are questioning how this condition can be met if there isn’t a crisis.

Guardians of Lake Hawea chairman Grant Fyfe called on the Government to acknowledge that New Zealand faced a power crisis and to take steps to protect the lake. He said an extra 2m would provide only 20 more days of draw-off.

The guardians vehemently opposed any reduction below 338m, he said.

“Hawea is going to suffer the consequences for months or years to come from having a lower lake, but the country as a whole isn’t making any sacrifice.”

Mr Fyfe said minimum operating levels were introduced in the 1970s when the lake fell to 327m, exposing river deltas and causing constant dust storms that carried as far as Ranfurly.

This wasn’t good for the environment or the people in the area. Nor for stock and the dust lowered the quality of wool on sheep which grazed near the lake.

Energy Minister David Parker said the situation at Lake Hawea was a reminder that the environmental consequences of electricity production were borne mostly by people in small, distant communities, rather than in cities.

We know that – but why is Lake Hawea being sacrificed with the consequent detrimental effect on the environment, people and stock, if there isn’t a crisis?


Maori Party want ag in ETS earlier

June 29, 2008

Tariana Turia said in an Agenda interview that the Maori Party wants agriculture brought in to the emissions Trading Scheme earlier than requried by legislation before parliament at the moment.

Has she considered the impact of that on Maori farmers, farm workers, rural contractors, shearers and freezing workers; and the impact of higher prices  which would follow for Maori who buy dairy products, meat and wool?


Feeling the heat

June 29, 2008

Kathryn Ryan wore a sleeveless dress on Agenda  this morning while I  watched, still feeling cold in three layers of merino clothing.

Is it really that hot under the lights in a TV studio, or could TVNZ turn down the heating and save enough power to let the rest of us choose our own lightbulbs?


Pope’s attack on Bassett’s book reminds me

June 29, 2008

Michael Bassett’s book Working With David, Inside the Lange Cabinet,  is sitting on my books-to-read shelf so I read this attack on the book and its author by Margaret Pope  with interest. It reminded me of an incident after a celebrity debate in Queenstown about 18 years ago.

Garrick Tremain and David Lange were in opposing teams and in ribbing Lange, Tremain blamed him for his (Tremain’s) wife not letting him have a secretary.

Lange took it with a grin but after the debate Pope went up to Tremain and abused him in very basic language for what he’d said.


Did you see the one about…

June 29, 2008

Picks of the week from Homepaddock:

EFA anti-democratic – Clark

It’s not what you say

Feds chief not out to win friends

Ag & science not mutually exclusive

Porn in the paddock 

And from around the blogosphere:

Another ugly view from inside government & Click here to understand the the power of blogs from Show Me The Money.

Good Lord but he’s out to lunch from Dig N Stir

Some questions about unions from Keeping Stock

The Hive in general, and on the ETS in particular eg Every New Zealander should read

And Bullshit detector rings alarmingly from Poneke


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