Word of the day

July 21, 2013

 Bushwa – rubbish; nonsense; baloney; bunkum, hooey, bull.


Rural round-up

July 21, 2013

Lamb price tipped to rise – Tim Cronshaw:

The return of $100 lambs for the 2013-14 season will go some way to lifting the spirits of sheep farmers.

Farmer confidence was hard to find during the worst drought in 70 years in parts of the North Island, spreading to a dry summer in Canterbury, and with an average lamb price of $85.

Meat companies believe $100 could be the average price for lamb for the new season starting in October, with industry good organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand setting only a slightly more modest $98.50. . .

Lamb slide “will be bigger than expected” – Richard Rennie:

IDA Valley farmer Rob Gardyne believes Beef + Lamb New Zealand analysts risk significantly underestimating how far lamb numbers will fall this year.

His flock of Perendale stud ewes in Central Otago is expected to deliver a 200% lambing rate, alongside 135% from a mixed commercial flock.

However, he estimated the hit to the sheep sector overall this year would be greater than anticipated.

This was due in part to heavier-than-estimated losses of ewes to slaughter in the drought, as well as continuing conversions to dairying. . .

Optimism on meat progress – Tim Cronshaw:

Sheep farming leaders sense that a group of meat companies are coming closer to announcing a decision on whether they can find a way to work together in reforming the red meat industry.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said he felt talks were “imminent”.

He said he would be surprised if farmers did not see some announcement in the next two to three weeks.

“We are going to have more in-depth industry discussions the next few weeks when the meat company proposal comes out. . . .

Pasture growth exceeds expectations – Tony Bennie:

As a few early calves arrived on Canterbury dairy farms this week, there were positive signs for the new season with good pasture covers throughout the region, says DairyNZ regional leader Virginia Serra.

“When we are talking to farmers, they are feeling quite positive and the main thing you consider now is the pasture cover on the milking platform. Is it where it should be for calving? And yes, in most cases it is,” Serra said.

Pasture growth had exceeded expectations in both June and July.

“The Methven area has been quite affected with the snow and they are perhaps just a little bit below target, but they are still quite happy with the amount of feed on the platform.” . . .

Westland enters infant formula market in China:

Westland Milk Products is the latest to enter the rapidly expanding infant formula maket in China, with the launch of three new products in Shanghai.

The West Coast co-operative is producing infant, follow-on and growing up powders, at a new plant in Hokitika as part of a move to reduce its reliance on bulk dairy commodties.

Westland has also appointed it’s first Chinese based representative, Harry Wang as nutritional development manager for China and is working with Chinese companies to distribute the formula products. . .

Time for an update – Cabbage Tree Farm:

It’s Winter here at CTF, and we’ve had a few frosts, but some lovely fine days too. Fortunately not too cold being at the Northern end of NZ. We don’t get snow here, it’s usually just wet, with a cold southerly wind or else fine and sunny during the day but frosty at night.

I’ve been out pruning our many fruit trees, some of the bigger ones have needed quite a bit of work and that’s very time consuming. I’ve been fairly brutal to them poor things but they did really need to be ‘minimised’ – we don’t want huge fruit trees with inaccessible fruit for one thing! While we may not get such a great crop this next season, I’m hoping the following one will be good. . . .


The youth of today

July 21, 2013

The youth of today is a phrase often employed by older people in sorrow or anger.

But stereotyping a whole generation is stupid and there’s no better proof of the good young people can, and do, do than the man who mobilised the Student Volunteer Army after the Christchurch earthquakes, Sam Johnson.

He was interviewed by Susan Wood on Q & A this morning.

It’s worth listening to/reading in full, but here’s a couple of quotes to give you the flavour of what he said:

. . . The response that students gave to Christchurch is phenomenal, and it only was thanks to a really strong team of people who all were able to bring their individual skills to something.  . . .  just like young people right around New Zealand – all specialising in different areas, focusing on what they’re good at, being willing to be wrong, being willing to ask for help and fundamentally believing that change is possible, that you can look at things in a different way, no matter what level of society you’re on.  It’s our philosophy – the skill of the unskilled.  I sit at a lot of conferences, and I’m the only one without a PhD, but we say, ‘What about this idea?  What about this idea?  Where are we going?  Are we fundamentally doing things that are right and taking our country and world in a good direction?’ . . .

And:

SAM              And of all the different disciplines, why can’t— if you’re learning something, why aren’t you out there doing it and actually learning exactly how the world operates, how the community operates?  And that was the fun thing.  You know, Christchurch is still in a position that it’s hard there for a lot of people, but it’s also— the group of people that I am with every day through Volunteer Army Foundation, the Ministry of Awesome, we are— we love Christchurch, and you couldn’t pay us to move anywhere else, because of the innovation, the excitement.  You know, population numbers are up in Christchurch, and we are going to be a— it’s a strong place to be.

SUSAN          How are you going to keep this enthusiasm?  You know, if you could bottle it…?  I mean, it’s infectious.  I can feel it.  The panel are laughing.  They can feel it too.  How do you keep it, though?         

SAM               I focus on doing things that I love.  I focus on surrounding myself with people much more intelligent than myself and people who can really make things happen, building strong teams.  I think that’s the philosophy we take in Christchurch.  We specialise in different areas with what we’re good at and focus on that.

This example of the youth of today makes me confident the future is in good hands.

The transcript is here.


2/9

July 21, 2013

Worst score ever (or should that be yet?) – only 2/9 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


Leaves of music

July 21, 2013

 

dancing

She seemed to move everywhere dancing & music followed her like leaves on the wind.

Leaves of Music from Story People by Brian Andreas.

If you’d enjoy a little whimsy from Story People of a morning you can subscribe to a daily email here.

 


More wool woes

July 21, 2013

Canterbury Woolspinners’ proposal for 50 redundancies in Dannevirke is sad news for the staff and the town.

It is also concerning for wool producers.

Carpet isn’t the floor covering of choice in many countries and even where it is there are synthetic alternatives which are often cheaper.

There’s an opportunity to tap into the green market  going begging.

If only the strong wool industry could follow merino’s example and sell itself as the natural, renewable, flame retardant material it is.

Jon Morgan reminds those of us who grow it that we should be setting a good example by using it in our homes and clothing.

. . . I’m not throwing off my winter woollies just yet.

And they are wool. The blankets on my bed, the rugs on my floor, the clothes on my back (and front). I couldn’t look sheep farmers in the eye if they weren’t.

But a surprising number of sheep farmers are not wearing wool. Quite often their outer clothing is made from a synthetic fibre.

Which makes me wonder about their carpets . . .

If we don’t use the wonderful fibre we grow we have only ourselves to blame if other people don’t either.


Their problems not necessarily ours

July 21, 2013

Visiting academic Robert Wade made the most of his opportunity on Q&A last week to opine about inequality in New Zealand.

He was alter forced to admit he’d been a bit sloppy and shouldn’t have included New Zealand in his view about the 1% ruling for the 1%.

He was wrong about growing inequality too. Brian Fallow writes:

The idea that New Zealand has become one of the most unequal societies in the developed world is just not supported by the data. . .

A standard measure of income inequality is a thing called the Gini coefficient; the higher it is, the greater the inequality.

Since the global financial crisis New Zealand’s has whipped around – it fell in the latest survey, reversing a jump in the one before – but the trend line through it is flat at a value of 33.

That is similar to the Gini scores of Australia, Canada and Japan, which ranged from 32 to 34, well below the United States’ 38 and a little above the OECD median of 31.

Another way of measuring income inequality is to look at the income of the top decile or 10 per cent of households (when ranked by income) and compare it with the bottom decile’s.

The average over the past four household economic surveys is that the top decile have received 8.5 times the income of the bottom one, after tax and transfers.

That puts us in the middle of the OECD rankings, and lower than Australia and Canada (8.9 times), Britain (10 times) and the United States (16 times).

The definition of income here is household disposable (or after-tax) cash income from all sources. So it includes transfer payments like New Zealand superannuation, Working for Families tax credits and welfare benefits.

The tax and transfer system dramatically reduces income inequality among the working age population compared with market incomes alone, reducing the Gini score by 22 per cent.

Again, this is similar to Australia (23 per cent) and not much worse than the OECD norm (25 per cent). . .

“For many OECD countries, lower income households tended to lose more, or gain less, than high income families,” the report says.

For New Zealand, however, there was a small gain for bottom-decile households of 1 to 3 per cent and a net fall, of around 8 per cent, for the top decile.

These facts don’t fit the narrative of a crisis of inequality which the left keep labouring.

There is poverty here but Rob Hosking points out that won’t be solved by importing solutions to other people’s problems .

Visiting academic Robert Wade brought in all the rhetoric about the “austerity” and “top one per cent” to these shores and imported them, holus bolus, into the New Zealand context.

Professor Wade later backtracked from his comments, but the important point is not a “sloppy” – to use his own description of his language – sermon from a British academic.

Rather, the important point is the way local “progressives”, as they like to call themselves, lap this stuff up. . . .

This goes further than the colonial cringe – it’s a kind of colonial S&M. Oh please humiliate us, the local anti-colonist progressives plead to their lofty offshore masters. Tell us how bad we are. Beat us, hurt us, and make us feel cheap.

Bring in all that guff about austerity measures, the top 1% of the country holding most of the wealth and making all the decisions and we’ll all just pretend we’ve got the same issues as the US or the UK.

It would not matter – apart from perhaps being a fascinating if rather hilarious study in group psychology – if it were not the fact this group then advocate importing their favourite solutions from their colonial, tenured masters northern hemisphere academia.

Fortuitously, the same week Professor Wade was titillating his local progressive followers with how dire New Zealand is the latest figures on inequality here came out.

And New Zealand is pretty well OK. Inequality isn’t growing – in fact, it has shrunk a bit in recent years – and the top 1% here get 8% of all taxable income – comparable with Sweden, Norway, France and Australia, and much lower than the UK (14%) and the US (17%). . .

So our colonised progressive movement is rather off the beam on this one and it is probably why the left in New Zealand is just not connecting with voters at present.

If you want to get elected you need to demonstrate you understand the concerns of the people you want to elect you, and that you have solutions to deal with those concerns.

Pretending the issues here are the same as the UK or the US, and getting academics in to pontificate about the solutions to deal with those other countries’ problems, is perhaps not the best way to go about this.

Nor does it seem particularly progressive.

That the left has to import other countries’ problems and solutions shows things aren’t nearly as bad here as they’re trying to paint them.

If they were they’d have plenty of local examples, supported by facts and figures and wouldn’t have to rely on those from foreign academics who have little knowledge of how things work here.


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