Word of the day

August 8, 2012

Vilipend – regard or treat as worthless, of little value or with contempt; despise; speak slightingly or abusively of; vilify; disparage; depreciate.


Shanghai Pengxin has nous to run farms – court

August 8, 2012

The Court of Appeal is satisfied that Shanghai Pengxin has the nous to run what were the Crafar farms.

The Court of Appeal has turned down a bid by merchant banker Michael Fay and two Maori trusts to stop the sale of 16 Central North Island farms, saying it was satisfied with the general business acumen and experience of the Chinese buyer.

Judges Mark O’Regan, Terence Arnold and Douglas White dismissed the judicial review, saying Jiang Zhaobai’s ability to bring himself from humble beginnings to become “a person of some stature in the Chinese commercial world,” would satisfy the minister making the decision in approving the sale of the Crafar family farms.

“The information provided to the ministers was sufficient to enable them to determine that he and the other controlling individuals had generic business skills and acumen relevant to the Crafar farms investment,” Judge Arnold said in delivering the judgment.

“We see nothing in the language, taken in context, to indicate that Parliament had in mind that an investor must have any particular combination of the requisite skills and experience,” the judgment said.

Agri-business experience was only one factor which needed to be taken into consideration.

 “While apparently important, it did not lead to a conclusion that was insupportable or unreasonable in the absence of that experience.”

The judges said even if the ministers erred in accepting Pengxin’s agribusiness investments, “it is unlikely that we would have exercised our discretion to grant a remedy.”

That’s because the ministers decided the foreign investment would have a substantial benefit to New Zealand, the deal hasn’t been settled and creditors are still waiting on repayments, and that the farms are being operated by the receiver in a manner than presumably “involves minimal further investment.”

Those who oppose the purchase forget about the creditors who are owed millions of dollars. The higher the purchase price, the more the creditors will recover.

I don’t think the state should be farming but Landcorp farms are generally well managed. Their experience and Shanghai Pengxin’s money should be good for the farms and the stringent conditions imposed by the Overseas Investment Office will result in benefits for the country too.


Rural round-up

August 8, 2012

Efficiency with farm inputs – a recipe for productivity

An increasingly complex and volatile global farm input market is making it imperative for New Zealand farmers to have in place good purchasing strategies, while focusing on ways to conserve soil nutrients and input use, according to a new industry report.

The report, Efficiency with farm inputs – a recipe for productivity, by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says more efficient use of farm inputs – including fertilisers, chemicals and fuel –will be essential in ensuring profitability, driving productivity growth and improving environmental sustainability of farm businesses into the future.

Report author, Rabobank senior analyst Michael Harvey says, with farm inputs a vital component of modern production systems, all farmers in New Zealand are exposed to the dynamics of procuring farm inputs. “In more recent times these markets have been evolving and becoming more sophisticated, which is altering the business landscape for farmers as end users,”he says. . .

Country life # 4 –  Quote Unquote:

Very late last night – me dozing off to the Economist, my wife dozing off to her novel – we heard a cow mooing, mooing for ages and we knew from which paddock. . .

Welcome to the Hotel van der Bijl – Shawn McAvinue:

More dairy farmers are building wintering sheds in Southland.  Shawn McAvinue  talks to one, who says those building them need to “do it once and do it right”.

The back rubs end abruptly when the music wanes. Then the stampede begins. 

    Car Wash, the 1970s disco hit by Rose Royce is playing to 750 cows and a party of about 20 curious farmers, who have come to see a new $4 million wintering barn in Dunearn, near Mossburn. 

    The $9000 wireless sound system is struggling to stay tuned to The Breeze radio station and the 24 speakers in the shed begin to crackle. Then the music stops. It’s like a gunshot fired in a packed nightclub. The cows get startled then stampede. Then there’s a crackle, the radio reception kicks in and Rose Royce returns: “Talkin’ about the car wash, yeah”. 

    The fickle cows are instantly content and return to chewing on feed or massaging their rumps.

Grand plans for NZ lamb in China – Shawn McAvinue:

The sleeping giant is wide awake and has a taste for our meat, say Alliance Group marketers from Southland. 

  Alliance Group staff went to China for 10 days to meet executives from Grand Farm, the largest single importer of New Zealand sheepmeat in China. 

    Alliance marketing development services manager Gary Maclennan said he was surprised how advanced the Grand Farm processing plant in northeast China was, “and how huge their plans are for target growth. They plan to double in two to three years.” . . .

Waikato cattle farmers at higher risk of fatal disease – Natalie Akoorie:

Waikato beef and dry stock farmers have higher rates of leptospirosis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease passed to humans through animals and infected water, according to a study in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

The farmers were probably more at risk because beef and dry stock cattle were less frequently immunised against the deadly disease, according to the report by Waikato District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Anita Bell and health population officer George Cowie.

The study, done over seven years, found the Waikato has one of the country’s highest annual rates of notified cases of the infectious disease, with the majority coming from the Waitomo district. . .

Online tool could enhance farm compliance –  Shawn McAvinue:

The former head of Environment Southland says new technology can ensure good farmers having a bad day are not unfairly prosecuted by compliance officers. 

    Former Environment Southland chief executive Ciaran Keogh said among the well-attended environmental conference in Auckland yesterday were Environment Minister Amy Adams, Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Nelson MP Nick Smith. 

    Mr Keogh was invited by the Environmental Defence Society to talk about new AG-HUB technology at Aotea Centre. . .

Scott seeks higher honours – Gerald Piddock:

Mid Canterbury arable farmer Andrew Scott is now be turning his attention to the Young Horticulturist competition after being crowned the country’s top young grower. 

    The 29-year-old beat three others to win the Young Grower of the Year title at Horticulture New Zealand’s annual conference in Auckland, 

    He earned his place in the competition after winning the Young Vegetable Grower competition earlier this year. . .

Lifestyle blocks a source of tension – Peter Watson:

Rural subdivision is about to come under the spotlight as the Tasman District Council reviews its rules and research shows the region losing some of its  best land at an increasing rate.   Peter Watson reports on what  is set to be a difficult debate. 

    Tasman and Nelson are losing their most productive land to lifestyle blocks and urbanisation at one of the fastest rates in New Zealand, sparking calls for councils to take a much tougher stance on rural subdivision. 

    Recent research by Landcare shows that 24 per cent of 16,000 hectares of high-class land in Tasman is now occupied by lifestyle blocks – the third highest level among regions and well above the national average of 10 per cent. Another 1 per cent of this land has gone on urban development, double the national rate. . . .

New wine frontman takes pride in region:

Richard Flatman describes himself as a “pretty passionate, outspoken bloke who loves Nelson” and good wine. 

    They are qualities that will come in handy in his new role as chairman of the Nelson Winegrowers Association. 

    The 41-year-old viticulturist at Neudorf Vineyards takes over from Mike Brown, who stepped down last month after six impressive years as industry spokesman. . .

Good Things Come in Eights for Misha’s Vineyard

Cromwell, Central Otago, 8 August 2012 – Misha’s Vineyard has announced a distribution expansion into eight markets around the world. The number eight, a lucky number in Chinese culture, has been an auspicious number since Andy and Misha Wilkinson first planted their vineyard on an old Chinese gold mining site on Bendigo Station, Central Otago, just eight years ago.

In the northern hemisphere the new markets are the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Sweden through Gastro-Wine and across in the important US market, Misha’s Vineyard will be represented by Vindagra USA. . .


Entries called for Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award

August 8, 2012

Rural Women New Zealand is calling for entries for its Journalism Award 2012, which will be presented at the NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists Awards in Wellington on 12 October.

Rural Women NZ began sponsoring the prize five years ago to encourage journalists to redress a serious gender imbalance in the rural media, and turn their attention to the achievements of women living and working in rural communities.

It’s a strategy that’s paid off, says RWNZ national president, Liz Evans.

“At last year’s awards, there were more entries in the Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award category than any other, reflecting much more balanced reporting in the rural media.”

There’s also been a growth in the number of women working as rural reporters. . .

Entries in the RWNZ Journalism Award 2012 must be of two articles, radio broadcasts or television programmes based on the theme of ‘rural women making a difference’.

“This could be in the sense of community involvement, on farm, or in another rural-based business or activity.”

Entries close Monday 10 September 2012.  Any New Zealand-based journalist or communicator is eligible to enter the award. The winner will receive $500.

Clicking on the link above will take you to a link to entry forms.


Don’t pays don’t care

August 8, 2012

Quote of the day:

I used to be puzzled that opinion polls showed more support for increasing government spending than for reducing taxes.  The answer, however, is that most people don’t pay much in tax after adjusting for the various benefits they get from the state. . .

Rob Stock wrote “when it comes to income taxes, New Zealand is something of a tax haven because when Working for Families rebates are taken into account, 40 to 50% of households ‘effectively pay no net income tax, and roughly 40 to 50% of total net income tax is paid by those in the top 10% income bracket'”.

Actually, if one were to do a full analysis, of what people pay to the state less the financial and non-financial benefits they get from the state (taking into account near-free healthcare and education, benefits, New Zealand Super, police, etc), I have no doubt that the vast majority of the population are “net recipients” of state largesse, with a small minority paying the overwhelming bulk of the net taxation.  Why on earth would most people vote to reduce taxation – most people aren’t paying any (net) tax! Don Brash

Of course the don’t pays don’t care if government spending rises, it’s not their money funding it.


99 and waiting

August 8, 2012

Manawatu cyclist Simon van Velthooven won a cycling bronze medal today.

That’s New Zealand’s 99th medal  and now we’re waiting for Nick Willis to run the 1500.

He won a silver medal in Beijing and there’s a lot of talk of him bettering that today.

Do such expectations weigh heavily on athletes, do they help to inspire them or do they ignore them and concentrate on the race in the knowledge they’ve trained and prepared to the best of their ability?

Willis came across as the ideal flag bearer at the opening ceremony, managing the difficult combination of both pride and modesty.

Now we wait in the knowledge he’ll do his best and dare we hope hope that he might do better?

UPDATE: No medal for Willis. In the post race interview he is obviously disappointed but still gracious.


Divided they fail

August 8, 2012

Pundits studying the entrails of recent polls which show National and its leader are still popular and Labour and its leader aren’t have overlooked one significant difference between the two parties.

The National caucus continues to show a united front while Labour looks divided.

Whatever differences might be aired internally – and I know nothing of any – National MPs continue to sing from the same song sheet and in harmony.

Meanwhile, Labour MPs have several different scores and are talking about it, if not publicly at least to the media in the knowledge it will become public.

Duncan Garner made the most of that yesterday in a column which asked why Labour hates David Cunliffe.

. . .  Labour MPs have openly joked with me that Cunliffe, who is  away on a lengthy family holiday overseas, should stay there.

Two very senior MPs have told me they would like an internal  travel fund set up to keep Cunliffe out of the country for as long as possible.  How nasty is this caucus? He is clearly not missed.

But Cunliffe is not only disliked by his caucus – he is not  trusted. So many have told me he never delivers on his promises and is sneaky  and lazy.

Sources have told me Shearer was advised to demote him when  he became Labour’s leader, but Shearer resisted and said he wanted to work with  Cunliffe.

That hasn’t worked apparently – my sources tell me Shearer  is deeply disappointed with Cunliffe and he feels let down. This relationship  cannot last.

According to Shearer’s sources, the Labour leader no longer  trusts Cunliffe. That view is shared by the majority of the caucus. . . .

This is bad for Cunliffe but it is at least as harmful to Labour.

Labour MPs have openly joked with me . . .  two very senior MPs . . . So many have told me . . .  Sources have told me . . .  my sources tell me . . .  According to Shearer’s sources. . .

Each and every one of those phrases is a sign not just of a divided caucus but one in which its members put their enmity for a colleague ahead of loyalty to the party.

When a caucus is divided the rest of the party doesn’t function properly either.

That has an inevitable impact on polls because the public isn’t keen to trust running the country to a party which isn’t able to agree on how to run itself.

While National stands united, Labour is divided and that’s one of the reasons its failing to gain traction in the polls.


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