Gone and already forgotten


Anyone know what the Growth and Innovation Advisory Board did?

Anyone going to miss them now the government’s dis-establishing them?

Glimmers of hope for dairy industry


Fonterra may not be flavour of the month but that hasn’t put investors off.

The company has raised $800 million in less than a week with a bond offer that was oversubscribed by 267%.

This is a sign that investors have more faith in Fonterra and the dairy industry than the doomsayers who’ve been prophesying disaster by focussing on the difference in this year’s payout compared with last years without pointing out that $5.10 is still the third best payout the company has made.

Those whose glasses are perpetually half empty also don’t take into account that while the figures in the income column are smaller, so are those in the expenditure one thanks to big drops in interest rates and the price of fuel and fertiliser.

We may not be rolling in clover, but we’re still growing grass and converting it to protein and while the world may not be paying as much as it was a few months ago there’s still a market for milk.

Rabobank’s senior analyst Hayley Moynihan  says the medium to long term outlook is still good and that global supply is contracting in Europe and the USA  while falling prices are making dairy products more competive which will increase demand.

There’s another glimmer of hope for us from DairyCo which reports that the British  milk supply is declining.

It’s too soon to break out the champagne again, but there’s enough hope there to postpone the order for hair shirts.

Employment and unemployment up in December 1/4


Employment growth last year was concentrated in service industries, notably education, transport, storage and communications while fewer people were employed in agriculture, construction and manufacturing, government statistician Geoff Bascand says.

I’m surprised by the decrease in agriculture because the December quarter is a busy one on farms and the number of new dairy conversions last year would have created more jobs in that sector than were lost from sheep and beef farms which were converted. This is confirmed by the grapevine which is full of stories about the difficulty of finding staff.

Primary industries in Australia have also been struggling to recruit employees and a prawn fisherman we spoke to when we were there a couple of weeks ago said the announcement of 350 redundancies  at BHP’s Townsville refinery wasn’t all bad news because it might make it easier for farmers and fishermen who hadn’t been able to compete with mining when looking for workers.

The household labour survey showed the number of people unemployed in New Zealand reached 105,000 in the three months to December last year, the highest level since September 2002.

Unemployment rose by .4%, or 10,000 people, to 4.6% in the December quarter.

The number of people employed increased by 21,000 which was a .9% increase and the labour force participation rate increased by .6 percentage points to 69.3% .

On a related matter, Lindsay Mitchell compares unemployment benefits and superannuation in New Zealand and Australia.

Cattle herding all in day’s work for MP


While Paula Bennett created headlines  when she broke up a fight at a mall,  her colleague, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s cattle mustering skills have gone unheralded but she recounts what happened in her latest newsletter:

Being an MP has its lighter moments as I discovered after stopping to check out what appeared to be a solitary steer emerging from the safety of a farmer’s driveway. I soon realised he was only the lookout. On his heels and equally intent on escaping to greener pastures were another 20 or so like-minded adolescents.

Fortunately my truck is bigger than most and proved up to the task of persuading the mob to retreat up the drive. After consultation with the farmer, a paddock opening off the driveway was chosen for their custodial detention while the truck, with doors open to reduce the size of the gap, was positioned part way down the drive as a deterrent should they decide to head that way.

For a brief moment I thought it might be all on but that was until the unsuspecting leader of the pack came face to face with the larger-than-life portrait on the truck door. With a look of horror he turned on his heels, taking the rest of the mob with him, and leaving me with the distinct impression that a term of imprisonment at the farmer’s pleasure was more palatable than a one-on-one encounter with a blown up likeness of the local MP.

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