Project Uplift provides boost for Pacific women

08/01/2009

Like Busted Blonde I’ve boobed with bra purchases.

Unlike her it happens to me even when I try before I buy. I look, I jump, I bend and twist and decide the bra fits perfectly but when I get home I discover the cup is running over.

I don’t know how to stop making the boob purchases, but Project Uplift does at least provide an outlet for those underworn items of underwear.

It’s an initiative by Rotary and Inner Wheel to provide bras for Pacific Islanders who suffer from skin problems under their breasts.

New Zealand women are being asked to dig out the unwanted lingerie which is languishing in their wardrobes and donate it to their Pacific sisters because giving them a lift lets the skin breathe and prevents absceces and infections.


Mastercan’t

08/01/2009

When we were in Europe 27 years ago my farmer found he couldn’t use his Mastercard in several places which were happy to accept my Visa.

Our daughter and the friend travelling with us found the same problem with Mastercard in Argentina last month.

Another New Zealander we met there said she found she couldn’t use her Mastercard for electronic transactions either and when she’d queried it with her bank had been told she could still use it for manual transactions.

Try explaining that in a shop, petrol station or cafe when neither you nor the people serving you speak the same language.

A card which can’t be used for electronic transactions when and where you need it, isn’t worth having.


White gold tarnished

08/01/2009

At the start of last year sheep and beef farmers looked enviously at the returns dairy farmers were enjoying and aimed to get prices for meat, wool and other by-products which matched those from milk.

The gap between sheep and beef returns is closing on those from dairying but that owes more to the fall in the price of milk than improved prices from cattle and sheep.

Fonterra has already announced a drop from its opening forecast of $6.60 a kilo of milk solids for the season to $6 and is expected to announce a further fall at the end of the month.

The average price the company got at its internet auction  on Tuesday was $US2017 ($NZ3420) per tonne which was 9.3% less than the average in December.

The only glimmer of hope is a small rise in spot prices which might indicate prices are reaching the bottom of the cycle but that’s small comfort when the global price for milk, which peaked at the end of 2007, has fallen sharply  since September last year. 

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The state of global commodity markets isn’t the only problem facing Fonterra which just 12 months ago was being held up as the example the sheep industry should follow as the benefits from the white gold flowed through rural communities and into the wider economy.

The on-going fallout from its investment in Sanlu, one of the company’s hardest hit by China’s poisoned milk scandal continues. Sanlu was declared bankrupt  by a Chinese court on December 24th and the way the company has handled the issue doesn’t give me any confidence that it has learnt enough to ensure success in any future investment in China.

However, the financial losses from the Sanlu investment have already been taken into account and disappointing as Fonterra’s payout is expected to be it’s unlikely to fall as far as that of Westland Dairy Co-operative. It’s  reduced its forecast payout   for the season from the $5.20 to $5.60 a kilo of milk solids announced in November to $4.10 to $4.50.

Making matters worse is Westland’s decision to backdate the forecast meaning suppliers have to pay back money already received.

The reduced payout will mean suppliers will receive $180 million less than expected.

To bring that down to an individual farm: the owner of a 350-cow herd received $90,000 for his milk from Westland last month and had budgeted on getting $120,000 for January but is now expecting just $30,000.

Lincoln University professor Keith Woodford  said that given Westland’s position that Fonterra is unlikely to to achieve a payout of more than $5.

Westpac economist Doug Steel has a more positve view and thinks Fonterra could still achieve a $6 payout.

However, the company could do well to follow the advice given to politicians to under promise and over deliver because a lower forecast might help to stabilise or even reduce some of the production costs which rose further and faster than last season’s record payout.

The whitegold has tarnished but most commentators are still confident that the longterm outlook for dairying is positive for those who are able to farm there way through the current lower returns.

Established farmers with good equity will be disappointed by the drop in income and may have to tighten their belts but it shouldn’t threaten their businesses and they’ll be helped by the fall in interest rates and the cost of fertiliser and fuel.

Those most at risk are the ones who have just converted or are in the process of converting for next season who bought land and stock at peak prices; and sharemilkers who bought cows in the middle of last year when values were highest.

However, while the payout obviously has a big impact on financial performance it’s not the only factor to affect profitability.

A speaker at a SIDE (South Island Dairy Event) conference a couple of years ago said he’d had a better result for the year when the payout fell to $3.60 than he had the previous season when it was above $5 because he’d kept a tighter rein on costs when the payout was lower.

P.S. – Cactus Kate, Macdoctor  and Inquiring Mind have posts on Fonterra and Sanlu; and Fran O”Sullivan  is not impressed by the way the company has handled the issue.


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