Word of the day

March 20, 2013

Fremdschämen – the process of being vicariously embarrassed by someone else; to feel someone else’s embarrassment; external shame; mutual embarrassment, vicarious shame.

Hat tip: Quote Unquote.


Rural round-up

March 20, 2013

Commercial Partnership Pays Dividends for New Zealand:

An AgResearch-developed wool dyeing technology that bridges the gap between high performance and haute couture is set to shine on a global stage thanks to a worldwide licensing deal.

The revolutionary textile dyeing process is now being commercialised by BGI Development. It enables wool to be dyed two colours at the same time, and graphics and images to be dyed into the fabric. There is no loss of the quality feel of the fabric and the images won’t deteriorate over time.

The technology enables designers to use high performance merino in creative ways never before possible, making merino an excellent choice for fashion active wear. . .

Dairying Women Want Greater ROI From Professional Advisors:

The Dairy Women’s Network will work with hundreds of dairying women across the country in April, helping them to increase the return on their investment on rural professional advice.

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Sarah Speight said dairy farmers spend an average of $4,000 annually for advice from rural professionals (Reference, Ministry of Primary Industries, Farm Monitoring Report 2012 – Pastoral Monitoring: National Dairy) and the Network wants to help ensure this is money well spent.

“Dairying women and their partners want to get the best return possible on the money and time they are investing in rural professional advice. They want to see a demonstrable return on their operation’s bottom line – whether that’s in the short or long term – or it’s money down the drain. . .

Red meat farmers call for industry consolidation – Allan Barber:

Not for the first time, sheep and beef farmers have called for a single processing and marketing company representing 80% of the red meat industry.

At a meeting in Gore on Monday up to 1000 farmers from Southland and Otago, and as far away as HawkesBay voted overwhelmingly for a consolidated structure. The organisers now intend to promote the concept to other farmer groups throughout the country. But the industry has been down this route before without reaching a satisfactory conclusion. So what is different this time?

 In 2006 a group of South Island famers formed the Meat Industry Restructuring Group which called for a merger of the two big cooperatives, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms or PPCS as it then was. In 2008 Alliance Group led an attempt to reach agreement with those companies that made up approximately 80% of the industry which was seen as the minimum level required to achieve critical mass. . .

Drought-fuelled pests threaten winter feed crops:

As farmers across the country grapple with drought recovery plans and dry conditions, Ravensdown’s George Kerse Business Manager Agrochemicals is warning about the impact of insect pests on winter feed.

“As if the lack of moisture was not bad enough, the consistent extremely dry conditions mean insect pests are becoming a real issue for farmers.

The current dry conditions will have already reduced the amount of autumn-saved forage for winter feed, so specialist winter crops are becoming more important ensuring adequate feed for animals to prepare for next season. . .

Deteriorating Conditions Impacting On Farm Sales:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 28 more farm sales (+8.0%) for the three months ended February 2013 than for the three months ended February 2012. Overall, there were 379 farm sales in the three months to end of February 2013, compared with 399 farm sales in the three months to January 2013, a decrease of 20 sales (-5.0%). 1,445 farms were sold in the year to February 2013, 11.6% more than were sold in the year to February 2012.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2013 was $21,951; a 1.43% increase on the $21,641 recorded for three months ended February 2012. The median price per hectare decreased by 8.5% compared to January. . .

NZ Honey Not Always What It Seems: Airborne Honey Urges Kiwis to Buy Fully Traceable Food:

Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s longest standing honey brand, is calling on New Zealanders to be sure that the honey they are buying is what it claims to be and of a sufficiently high standard. According to Airborne Honey data, a large amount of honey on the shelves is heat damaged and labelled inaccurately. This includes Clover and Manuka honeys coming in well under the pollen percentage recommended by published research and derived from applying the Codex international standard for honey.

“The horsemeat scandal in Europe is encouraging more people than ever before to make food choices based on traceability and assured quality. Unfortunately, many don’t realise that there can be such discrepancies when it comes to honey,” says Peter Bray, Managing Director of Airborne Honey. . .

Mobile technology is a game changer for primary industries:

Back in 1990 few people had personal computers, the internet was an unknown and the age of the mobile phones was just around the corner. In a very short space of time these three technologies have fundamentally changed the face of business around the world.

Many of today’s leading global companies, Google, Apple and Microsoft, built their business around these three technologies. The services they provided their customers had a dramatic effect on workers’ productivity and levelled the playing field for many small businesses.

The recent release of smartphones has also been a game changer for many. Businesses now take it for granted that emails can be checked, news read, documents signed or video streamed, all while on the morning commute to work. . .

Babich Wins Trophy for ‘New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year 2013’ in China:

Babich Wines has continued their run of impressive international accolades by winning the Trophy for ‘New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year 2013’ at the China Wine & Spirits Awards Best Value 2013 held in Hong Kong earlier this month.

The Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and Babich The Patriarch 2010 both won a Double Gold Medal. These medals, along with a Silver Medal for the Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2012 helped clinch the ‘New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year 2013’ trophy. . .


DairyNZ has 5 point nitrogen reduction plan

March 20, 2013

DairyNZ  has a five-point nitrogen reduction plan:

DairyNZ Senior Scientist, Pierre Beukes, will share the latest research on how to reduce nitrogen leaching on farm by 40% at the organisation’s Farmers’ Forum events in Greymouth on 12 April and Woodville on 28 May.

Dr Beukes leads a team who have researched a combination of five nitrogen reduction solutions that, when used in combination, can make a major impact on farm.

“When it comes to reducing nitrogen leaching, there is no one silver bullet; it’s a combination of several options that have the greatest effect. We’ve discovered five strategies, in particular, that when used together can create a 40% reduction,” he says.

Pierre says, first off, there are three things farmers can do to reduce their overall nitrogen load: reduce fertiliser use, reduce stocking rates and lower replacement rates. Doing these three things, he says, in the right combination can be a cost-neutral exercise and, in many cases, lead to higher profitability.

“Our research shows just concentrating on these three factors alone can lead to a 20% nitrogen reduction on farm.”

Points four and five of the five-point nitrogen reduction plan both require some investment, says Pierre.

“These include using a stand-off pad in autumn to capture urine and direct it into your effluent pond for spreading on paddocks in the spring, and using a nitrification inhibitor to treat urinary patches in the paddock.

“These two strategies are more costly – estimated to be around $500 per hectare if you implement both.

“But the payoff is that our research shows using a stand-off pad in combination with a nitrification inhibitor can add a further 20% reduction in nitrogen leaching,” he explains.

Although the use of nitrification inhibitors in New Zealand is currently on hold, Dr Beukes said it was his understanding that the current restrictions on nitrification inhibitor usage are likely to be temporary.

Dr Beukes’ presentation is part of the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum events which are being held in Whangarei, Hawera, Woodville, Invercargill and Greymouth during April and May.

The informative and practical seminars will showcase DairyNZ’s latest research projects. Scientists will speak about their work and, at several events, local farmers will share how they are implementing some of the research on farm.

Each of the Farmers’ Forums events is designed by the local DairyNZ teams to address challenges and opportunities specific to each region.

Farmers can view the programmes and register to attend their local event online at www.dairynz.co.nz/farmersforum.

Registration is essential and free to levy-paying farmers and their staff – there is a $50 charge for all others.

Higher productivity and a reduction in nitrogen leaching ought to be attractive to all farmers.


Govt doesn’t give special treatment to drought-hit farmers

March 20, 2013

The declaration of drought and assistance to farmers has led to accusations that farmers get special treatment.

Federated Farmers’ President Bruce Wills says that isn’t so:

Talkback callers say small businesses cannot get government bailouts so why should farmers?  We agree with that statement 100 Percent.

Agriculture had state intervention in the 1970’s and 80’s and not only did it not work, it destroyed lives – something I was reminded of when talking to the Otago Daily Times’ Neal Wallace, who is writing a book on the Rogernonmics era.

It may be the curse of the ‘here and now’ but the late great Sir Peter Elworthy, when President of Federated Farmers, gave Labour the impetus to end subsidies.  This also means we cannot rock up to the Beehive when it stops raining to be given an envelope of cash so long as we give some ‘secret farmers handshake’.  That is fantasy.

It is not hard to Google Rural Assistance Payments via Work and Income and read the criteria. To the credit of most media that is what they have done. 

A RAP is the dole and as such is means and asset tested like any other benefit. For the avoidance of doubt testing includes trusts too.  One member of the media who called our comms team late on Friday believed there had been zero applications.  We will check that out.

Farm businesses are no different to any other so we don’t expect or want government to ‘bail us out’.  If you don’t believe me examine Vote Agriculture & Forestry from Budget 2012.

You will find the budget for Adverse Climatic Events, to provide recovery assistance in the aftermath of adverse events and to assist rural support trusts, is $526,000.  As a point of comparison policy advice to government ‘on the community and voluntary sector’ is some three times greater than the entire budget for Adverse Climatic Events.

This budget is also only unlocked by an adverse events declaration. Sadly it is getting a top-up because the last time drought was this bad was 1983.

Then again the rural support trusts who deliver services are run by volunteers on the smell of an oily rag.  These trusts are about supporting a community to help itself and it was that kind of ethos we bought to Christchurch with the Farmy Army.

As Katie Milne added in her blogger response, “you must be pretty heartless to say that because you are a farming family who has lost everything or pretty much close to it, that you must be banned from our social welfare safety net just because your occupation was farmer”.  The same safety net rightfully is there for Café owners caught out by the economy right through to lawyers falling on desperate times. . . 

The RAP is available only to those in the most desperate circumstance, the ones who’d get emergency assistance if they turned up at WINZ.

Any other help is directed at animal welfare and community assistance.

The latter highlights the fact that a drought hits businesses, not just farms but enterprises which support and supply them, across whole regions.

That is very different from an isolated business failure here or there, which is tough for those directly affected but doesn’t have nearly so wide an impact beyond them.

But this is community support. It is not provide a subsidy or direct financial help for individual farmers or their businesses.

New Zealand farmers were brought into the real world without subsidies in the 1980s and even during droughts they’d be foolish to want to go back there.


Devoy new Race Relations Commissioner

March 20, 2013

A Facebook post from Judith Collins congratulates Dame Susan Devoy on her appointment as the Race Relations Commissioner.


IMF says NZ has right balance

March 20, 2013

The International Monetary Fund has given New Zealand’ policies a tick of approval:

Finance Minister Bill English has welcomed the International Monetary Fund’s conclusion that the Government’s deficit reduction programme strikes the right balance between supporting growth and limiting public debt.

In its Preliminary Concluding Statement the IMF says New Zealand’s macro-economic policy stance is appropriate and that the monetary policy should continue to be the first line of defence against adverse shocks.

And it notes that economic growth appears to have strengthened in the last few months of 2012.

The IMF says: “We regard the planned pace of deficit reduction as striking the right balance between sustaining output growth and limiting public debt growth, and consistent with a policy setting where monetary policy plays a primary role in managing aggregate demand. The benefits of the plan are many.”

Mr English says the IMF’s assessment reflected the balanced and pragmatic approach the Government had taken with its economic programme over the past four years.

“The IMF notes there are many benefits to the Government’s plan. It is withdrawing fiscal stimulus at the right time by making room for private sector and earthquake-related reconstruction spending.

“It has also improved the macro-economic policy mix by reducing pressure on monetary policy. The programme also allows New Zealand to deal with aging and healthcare costs, and to cope with any future shocks.

“Finally, as the IMF concludes, the programme could help to increase national savings, reduce the current account deficit and limit the increase in New Zealand’s foreign liabilities.”

This was the subject of questions in parliament yesterday:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The IMF identifies two main near-term risks to the New Zealand economy. These are potential weaknesses or a worsening in the financial conditions in the world economy. The IMF also identifies risk in the New Zealand housing market, noting that supply bottlenecks persist and prices remain elevated. The IMF notes that New Zealand has room to respond to shocks with its monetary policy, and the level of public debt leaves room for fiscal policy response. The floating New Zealand dollar is also seen as an effective buffer. The IMF also says that our fundamentals have improved since the global financial crisis. Household and business balance sheets have strengthened, and banks have reduced their foreign funding and been assisted by a strong growth in deposits and slower growth in credit.

Maggie Barry: What does the IMF say about the value of the New Zealand dollar?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The IMF shares the Government’s view that the dollar is at a high value, largely because of factors outside our control. In particular, the strength of the New Zealand dollar is determined by the relative weaknesses of other currencies and other economies, many of which are printing money. As it says, if global monetary policy were to become less stimulatory, the exchange rate would likely depreciate over time. The IMF also notes that the Government’s return to surplus is easing pressure on the exchange rate by boosting national savings.

Hon David Parker: Does he agree with the IMF that “… New Zealand has run persistent current account deficits resulting in net external liabilities which are high by international standards. The deficit is expected to widen this year despite relatively strong terms of trade …”?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Yes, and I would note that those were largely due to the previous Government when the balance of payments deficit rolled out to over 8 percent of GDP. I really think the member should stop this line of questioning because all he does is point out that the Opposition are lousy economic managers.

Quite where the deficit would be had a Labour-led government still been in power is a very scary thought.


Dairy prices up 14.8%

March 20, 2013

The trade weighted price of milk increased 14.8% in this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction.

This is the seventh increase in a row.

The price of anhydrous milk fat rose 16.3%; butter milk powder increased 8.6%; butter 11.5%; cheddar was up 13.7%; rennet casein gained 3.1% and skim milk powder rose 7.7%.

The price of whole milk powder gained 21.2%.

Whole milk is the main determinant for the payout.

Various pundits have suggested the payout will increase but it is very late in the season and volume is reduced because of the drought so I think the forecast payout is likely to remain unchanged.


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