Word of the day

March 8, 2013

Atavistic – recurrence in an organism of a trait or character typical of an ancestral form and usually due to genetic recombination;recurrence of or reversion to a past style, manner, outlook, approach, or activity.


NZ best place to break glass ceiling

March 8, 2013

The Economist complied a chart for International Women’s Day and found that women in New Zealand have the best chance of equal treatment at work.

. . . Based on data mainly from the OECD, it compares five indicators across 26 countries: the number of men and women respectively with tertiary education; female labour-force participation; the male-female wage gap; the proportion of women in senior jobs; and net child-care costs relative to the average wage. The first four are given equal weighting, the fifth a lower one, since not all working women have children. New Zealand scores high on all the indicators. Finland does best on education; Sweden has the highest female labour-force participation rate, at 78%; and Spain has the smallest wage gap, at 6%. The places not to be are South Korea and Japan, partly because so few women hold down senior jobs (though the new president of South Korea is a woman).

glass ceiling 1

Rural round-up

March 8, 2013

The sheep industry outperforms Fonterra. True or false – MIiking on the Moove:

Sheep farmers receive 44% of the retail price of their products. So if a portion of lamb retails for $100 the farmer will receive $44.

The sheep industry is struggling with low profitability. The last 20 years has seen sheep farms converting to dairy because they offer a higher return.

Among sheep farmers, there seems to be an attitude that their meat companies are doing a poor job of marketing & selling lamb, both domestically and internationally.

There is a cockiness among dairy farmers around the returns the dairy industry are making. They seem to think the reason for the industries success is because they have an outstanding level of awesomeness and that the people running Fonterra posess superior business acumen, compared to the sheep industry.

I often hear both sheep and dairy farmers comment that, if the meat industry could just replicate Fonterra, then the industry would be a success. . .

CPP to bet on NZ dairy?–  Offsetting Behaviour:

This, I like.

Recall that Canada runs a ridiculous dairy cartel. When I teased the Dairy Farmers of Canada about the high price of baby formula in Canada, they said I wasn’t playing fair as Canada doesn’t even produce baby formula; it’s all imported. Meanwhile, Chinese companies are set to invest a few hundred million adding to New Zealand’s already extensive capacity in that area.

But Canada has the world’s best dairy system, if you ask the guys running the cartel.

What happens if you ask the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board?
Mark Wiseman, chief executive of the $A170 billion fund, will visit Australia this month amid the group’s expanding portfolio of interests across the Tasman. …

Canadians look south to invest in agriculture:

Canadian investment funds have big plans to become involved in Australian land, ports and other infrastructure projects, driven by food export potential.

The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board has set up a team to examine opportunities.

Mark Wiseman, chief executive of the $A170 billion fund, will visit Australia this month amid the group’s expanding portfolio of interests across the Tasman.

Canada’s pension system has total funds of $A1 trillion. Other funds have also shown an interest in Australia.

Investors are being forced to search for higher returns outside the old northern hemisphere markets.

Mr Wiseman says he anticipates low growth in Europe and the US for years. He believes agriculture offers huge potential.

“Australia is one of the jurisdictions [where] we’re looking at the agricultural industry broadly, right from land on up through the infrastructure to support it, including things like ports,” he says in the UBS Global Leaders Insights Series on Sky News Business. . .

DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum takes science to the regions:

DairyNZ’s latest research will be showcased at a nationwide series of Farmers’ Forum events during April and May.

The informative and practical seminars will be held in Whangarei, Hawera, Woodville, Invercargill and Greymouth.

DairyNZ chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle, says each year the Farmers’ Forum provides a great opportunity for dairy farmers to see how their levy is invested and to learn about dairy industry research and development work relevant to their region’s farming issues.

“Our Farmers’ Forum has become an annual gathering and every second year we go out to the regions and customise forum topics based on locally relevant issues,” says Tim. . .

New Zealand Employers Commends Solomon Islands Seasonal Workers:

Solomon Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon Clay Forau was pleased to hear positive feed backs and comments from various Employers in New Zealand on the work output and performances of Solomon Islands nationals employed under the Recognized Seasonal Employers Scheme.

‘I am pleased as well as the Government to hear that our workers are doing well in New Zealand’, says Minister Forau. Our workers are settling in well and are adjusting to the New Zealand culture and environment.

On Monday, the Hon Minister and his delegation were in Nelson on New Zealand’s South Island, where they met with two of the employers and both have commended highly Solomon Islands seasonal workers. . .

A2 Corporation added to NZX 50 Index:

A2 Corporation Limited (“A2C” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that the Company will be added to the NZX 50 Index, effective at market open on Monday 18th March 2013.

The Company moved from the NZAX to the NZX Main Board on 7th December 2012, following the successful completion of the December equity raising.

A2C’s Managing Director Geoffrey Babidge said “inclusion in the NZX 50 Index is an important milestone in the Company’s development and over time should help continue to broaden the shareholder base and increase overall investor awareness of A2C. “ . . .


Friday’s answers

March 8, 2013

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said, All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.?

2. Who wrote Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less and why?

3. It’s richesse in French, ricchezza, riqueza in Spanish and rawa in Maori, what is it in English?

4. The following lyrics come from which song from which show?

“Dear God, you made many, many poor people.
I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor.
But it’s no great honor either!
So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?

5. If you won a fortune what would you do with it?

Points for answers:

Andrei wins an electronic basket of stone fruit with a clean sweep.

Bulaman got 2 and a half for the right author (but missed the other half for the reason) and a bonus for added comment.

Grant got four – and reminded me of the quip from a farmer who said if he won a fortune he’d just keep farming til it was gone.

Answers follow the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


Fonterra, DOC partner to clean waterways

March 8, 2013

Fonterra and the Department of Conservation have  announced a $20 million community investment to improve the natural habitats of some key waterways aver the next decade.

As part of Fonterra’s Living Water initiatives, Fonterra Director John Monaghan and the Minister of Conservation Hon Dr Nick Smith officially launched the 10-year investment this morning at Lake Areare, a Peat Lake in the Waikato. The investment will initially focus on five key catchments in significant dairying regions.

Mr Monaghan said Fonterra and DOC will work together to make these waterways living examples of how dairy farming and natural New Zealand environments can work alongside each other.

“Our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands are important to every New Zealander. Today’s announcement is about investing time and resources to improve their quality so that we can all enjoy our natural environment at its best and ensure this can occur alongside a sustainable dairy industry.”

 DOC Director General Al Morrison said quality waterways are pivotal to maintaining the healthy environments which protect native wildlife and also underpin a sustainable dairy industry.

“We all realise that our waterways need ongoing support and it makes perfect sense for DOC to be working with New Zealand’s largest dairy co-operative to improve water catchment health.

“By working together, we can deliver additional conservation gains in some of our most sensitive catchments.”

Initially, Fonterra and DOC will work with local communities to make a difference to the water quality at five waterways:
• Kaipara Harbour
• Firth of Thames
• Waikato Peat Lakes
• Te Waihora-Lake Ellesmere
• Awarua-Waituna

As the expert in conservation and biodiversity, DOC will work with Fonterra, local communities, iwi and farmers to help clean up waterways and wetlands at the five selected catchment areas. This will include planting trees alongside streams and rivers to improve water quality, managing pests and weeds and making sure that the right habitats are in place around farms to enhance biodiversity and provide homes for native fish and birds.

Mr Monaghan said the work with DOC will build on the good progress made by Fonterra’s Catchment Care programme, which has seen improvements to two million square metres of land and waterways through planting, weeding and other volunteer work over the past three years.

“Working together with DOC is part of Fonterra’s Living Water initiative and the long-term commitment we are making to do what’s right for the land and waterways in their communities,” he said.

Mr Monaghan said that while improving water quality and on-farm water management practices has been a priority for Fonterra and our farmers for a number of years, the dairy industry still has work to do.

“This initiative with DOC is part of our ongoing determination through all of our Living Water initiatives to work together, and engage with local communities to make a real difference to the health of waterways.”

Local Waikato farmer, Bas Nelis, said it is great that Fonterra is working on both sides of the farm gate to make a difference to water quality and the environment.

“I believe farming is going to be here for a long time ahead of us, I’m still young so I want to look after this farm for the next generation, for my kids, to make sure it is sustainable for the future.”

Conservation Minister Nick Smith describes this initiative as a major break-through:

“Fonterra’s commitment of $20m is the largest ever corporate contribution to conservation work. It will fund a massive programme to be undertaken with communities to restore wetland habitats, better control nutrients, reduce pests and weeds and enhance native wildlife,” Dr Smith says.

“The investment is important but the partnership is even more significant. The greatest benefit from this DOC/Fonterra agreement is getting conservationists and farmers side-by-side in their local communities doing the practical work to improve waterways. . .

“DOC and Fonterra working so closely together will come as a bit of a shock for some conservationists and farmers who see the two groups as protagonists and not partners. This is DOC wanting to help Fonterra succeed as New Zealand’s largest exporting business and major land user and Fonterra adding its muscle to DOC’s critical work caring for the natural environment.

“This partnership is part of the Government’s Bluegreen agenda of drawing business and conservation closer together to support economic growth and jobs while protecting our natural environment and great Kiwi lifestyle,” Dr Smith says. . .

The Sustainable Business Council says the partnership demonstrates a recognition by business of its dependence and impact on ecosystem services:

“Without fresh, quality water, it’s not just our environment that will suffer, but our economy too,” says Penny Nelson, Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Council.

“Fonterra plays a major role in New Zealand’s primary industry-based economy, and this initiative to improve the biodiversity and water values in some of the catchment areas it affects is exciting. It’s really encouraging to see business’s commitment to conservation partnerships scaling up. We fully support this new partnership and look forward to seeing more New Zealand companies engaging with DOC in this manner.

“Fonterra and DOC are actively engaged in the Sustainable Business Council’s ecosystem services work programme. There are some really useful corporate tools & training that have been developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development which are starting to be used in New Zealand”.

The response isn’t entirely positive though, the Green Party shows its bias against business in general and dairying and Fonterra in particular:

Through budget cuts the National Government is forcing the Department of Conservation (DOC) to rely on handouts from companies like Fonterra, the co-operative behind one of New Zealand’s most polluting industries, Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today. . .

“DOC has a responsibility under the Conservation Act to advocate for nature to protect the rivers, lakes and streams that Kiwi’s love and native fish and invertebrates that live in them. This agreement puts that at risk.

“The continued restructuring and downsizing of DOC with loss of technical and field staff and closure of area offices also risks staff being diverted from other tasks to work on the five Fonterra projects.

“National Government funding cuts mean DOC has to beg for money while environmental NGOs and community organisations attempt to do key parts of DOC’s work.

“The Conservation Department should be funded adequately so it can pursue its own priorities and not be steered into projects that corporates want.

“If Fonterra really wanted to do something for the environment it could work to restrain the growth of intensive dairying and stop dairy expansion in sensitive catchments like the Mackenzie Basin and Southland’s Waituna Lagoon.”

The Green Party is quick to criticise any business for a negative impact on the environment and is incapable of acknowledging the good a partnership like this could do.

It would rather spend taxpayers money than accept help from business but appears not to realise that the money the government gives to DOC comes from taxes paid by businesses including Fonterra and individual taxpayers including dairy farmers.

The party is so blinkered it can’t see past its anti-business, anti-dairying bias  to the environmental benefits from this initiative.

DOC and Fonterra in partnership will do more to improve waterways than either could do separately and at far less cost to the taxpayer.


Would they buy them back?

March 8, 2013

Labour and the Green Party are still wasting their time gathering signatures for their petition opposing the partial sale of a few state assets.

They need to explain if they are going to present the petition and, if it has sufficient signatures, force the expense of their politicians’ initiated referendum on us when it will be too late to achieve anything.

Mighty River Power, is expected to be floated by mid-May, long before a referendum could take place, so why are they bothering to collect more signatures?

Truth points out in its editorial Labour  and the Greens need to come clean on asset sales:

. . . We know what the government thinks. We can all read the prospectus when it comes out for Mighty River Power, but what investors don’t know is what Labour intends as its policy towards these sales.

We know they oppose them, but what is their policy moving forward.

Investors and voters need to know if Labour intends opposing the sales in actions and not just words.

Will Labour commit to forced buy-back of the shares, essentially a re-nationalisation of the asset. Before readers poo-pooh that suggestion remember Air New Zealand.

Helen Clark even flirted with securities laws by advising on national television for Mum and Dad investors to keep their shares in Air New Zealand…that everything would be alright. As we know everything wan;t alright and some weeks later the government forcibly acquired as many shares as it could and left about 25% of shareholder mired without any sort of say in the company.

Would Labour do this again with the listed power companies…and if so how much would they pay for the shares…The listing price? The market price (unlikely)?

Labour and their hangers-on who oppose asset sales need to clarify before even a single share is sold what their intentions are.

I suspect that their policy will be as bankrupt as their position so far has been. Words not Deeds. . .

Winston Peters, a likely coalition partner in a Labour/Green government wants to buy the shares back:

. . . New Zealand First will use its influence on the next coalition Government to buy back our state-owned power companies which are being flogged off by National and we are committed to buying back the shares at no greater price than paid by the first purchaser.

Labour and the Green Party haven’t let us know their plans yet.

If they go ahead with the petition without making a commitment to buy the shares back they are adding yet more proof to the contention they’re after publicity for themselves not a change in policy.

If, however, they plan to buy back the shares they will sabotage any efforts they make to pretend they have any interest in the careful management of public finances and any concern for investors.


Ah ha

March 8, 2013

“Grandpa, what does Grandma mean when she says, ‘ah ha’ when I ask her a question? I said.

“That’s just her way of letting you interpret the answer the way you want to,” he said.

“Is that right, Grandma?” I asked.

“Ah ha,” she said.

“See,” said Grandpa, “Just as I said.”


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