Election results

September 20, 2014

It’s 7pm, polling booths have closed.

Counting of advance votes started at 2pm and should be announced by 8:30.

My predictions (%):

National 48ish

Labour 22ish

Green Party 12ish

NZ First 5ish

Conservative Party 4ish

Maori Party 2ish

Act 2ish

IMP 1ish

United Future .5ish

Official results can be found here.

Predicted results from the Election Data Consortium are here.


Word of the day

September 20, 2014

Commensalism – an association between two organisms in which one benefits from the relationship and the other derives neither harm nor benefit; a relationship between two species of a plant, animal, fungus, etc., in which one lives with, on, or in another without damage to either;   peaceful coexistence among individuals or groups having independent or different values or customs.


Are you a leader?

September 20, 2014

Are you a leader?

Born Leader

You are talented, confident, and capable. You have excellent communication skills. You know how to delegate. You persevere against all odds. Above all, you are naturally charismatic – and as a result you are able to inspire others to achieve great things.

Hmm, this isn’t the real me, but maybe one to aspire to?


Rural round-up

September 20, 2014

New products to help meet regulations:

Agri-companies are under pressure to come up with innovative new products to assist dairy farmers as they struggle to comply with tough new environmental regulations.

For example, if a farmer fails a water quality test, they face stringent conditions such as wash down before and after every milking, as well as increasing fines.

At present, the most popular method of treating water is to run it through an UltraViolet lamp, but this can sometimes cause problems if it is not cleaned regularly. . .

Kick start your career with Balance:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is calling for applications to its 2015 agricultural and process engineering scholarship programme.

Specialist skills in the areas of engineering, science, precision agriculture and agri-business have been identified, by a Ministry of Primary Industries report, as key areas to support the future of New Zealand’s primary sector. This is a view shared by Ballance.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) released a research paper ‘People Powered – building capabilities to keep New Zealand’s primary industries internationally competitive’, on 6 June 2014, in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ. The report summarises the expected capability needs for each of the primary industries and associated support services. . . .

A market for all except for the roar of the stag:

Pampered pooches in America and pizzle hot pots in China are helping support venison prices to farmers.

While the top priority for the deer industry is building restaurant demand for farm-raised venison, it also caters for customers eager to source every part of the animal except, perhaps, the roar of the stag.

“In the United States, venison and other game meats are now vital ingredients in gourmet pet foods. The inclusion of 10 per cent venison in a chicken-based formula can give it serious cachet, dramatically increasing the price consumers are willing to pay for the product,” says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive officer Dan Coup. . . .

 

Increase in milk production drives additional rail services for Hokitika:

Westland Milk Products has reached an agreement with KiwiRail for an additional daily rail service between Christchurch and Hokitika to meet the dairy company’s increasing freight needs.

Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin says the move will have substantial benefits for Westland, road users and the environment.

“During the last few years Westland’s rail freight requirements have increased substantially,” Quin says. “This has been driven by record increases in production by our shareholders, up nearly 22 percent in the 2013/14 season alone, along with an expanding product range and growing sales success in international markets. When our new nutritionals dryer comes into production in August next year, we can expect our demand for additional freight to increase further.” . . .

 

ASB Farmshed Economics Report

Mixed fortunes for long term commodity prices

• ASB revises its milk price forecast down to $5.30/kg of milk solids

• Beef prices could hit record high by year’s end.

• Lamb price gains running out of steam

The dairy markets can’t seem to catch a break, according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“With bumper production driving down prices, the recent Russian dairy import ban will further add to the sluggish dairy price woes,” says ASB’s Rural Economist Nathan Penny. . .


Stickerless

September 20, 2014

I had to go to town this morning and passed three polling booths on the way.

I didn’t stop at any, instead I detoured out of my way on the return journey to the nearest one to where I live. There aren’t many country booths now and I thought I should use it lest we lose it.

It was busy – three people ahead of me and one behind, which is busy as country booths go.

The process so was easy I had to check my voting form three times to make sure I’d ticked the right boxes, I then folded the ballot paper, put it in the box and walked out stickerless.

I don’t know whether there were no stickers or whether the woman working there forgot to give me one, but I have voted even though I don’t have a sticker to prove it.


Saturday’s smiles

September 20, 2014

An Englishman said to the boastful Scot: ‘Take away your mountains, glens and lochs, and what have you got?’

‘England,’ replied the Scot.

 

Old Sandy was dying. Tenderly, his wife Maggie knelt by his bedside and asked: ‘Anything I can get you, Sandy?’

No reply.

‘Have ye no’ a last wish, Sandy?’

Faintly, came the answer. . . ‘a wee bit of yon boiled ham.’

‘Wheesht, man,’ said Maggie, ‘ye ken fine that’s for the funeral.’

 

It was a terrible winter with three months of unbroken blizzards.

McTavish hadn’t been seen in the village for weeks, so a Red Cross rescue team struggled to his remote croft at the head of the glen.

It was completely buried — only the chimney was showing.

‘McTavish,’ they shouted down the chimney. ‘Are you there?’ 

‘Wha’s that?’ came the answer.

‘It’s the Red Cross,’ they called.

‘Go away,’ shouted McTavish. ‘I bought a flag last year!’

 

It was cold on the upper deck and. the captain was concerned for the comfort of his passengers.

He called down: ‘Is there a mackintosh down there big enough to keep two young lassies warm?’

‘No, skipper,’ came the reply, ‘but there’s a MacPherson willing to try.’

 

An Irishman, an Englishman and a Scot, were walking along the beach one day when they cwme across a lantern, from which a Genie appeared

“I’ll give you each one wish, that’s three wishes in total,” said the Genie.

The Irishman says: “I am a fisherman, my Dad’s a fisherman, his Dad was a fisherman and my son will be one too. I want all the oceans full of fish for all eternity.” So, with a blink of the Genie’s eye, “AlkaZoom”, the oceans were teeming with fish.

The Englishman was amazed, so he said, “I want a wall around England, protecting her, so that nothing will get in for all eternity.” Again, with a blink of the Genie’s eye, “AlkaZoom”, there was a huge wall around England.

The Scot said,”I’m very curious. Please tell me more about this wall.”

The Genie said, “Well, it’s about 150 feet high and 50 feet thick, protecting England so that nothing can get in or out.”

The Scot says, “Ach, fill it up with water.”


Environment first for farmers

September 20, 2014

Lincoln University research shows environmental stewardship is a high priority for farmers:

Farmers on properties with a net annual profit less than $50,000 list ‘minimising pollution’, ‘improving the condition of the property’ and ‘ensuring employees enjoy their job’ as more important objectives than ‘expanding the business’ or ‘making a comfortable living’.

That’s according to the latest results from research conducted by Lincoln University Senior Lecturer in Farm Management Research, Dr Kevin Old, and Research Fellow, Dr Peter Nuthall, who sought opinions and preferences with regard to farm succession and governance.

According to the researchers, the prioritised objectives of less profitable farmers may reflect a mindset which has largely dismissed the idea of achieving larger returns or expanding the business on grounds that these are essentially unobtainable. As such, job satisfaction or meaning comes from notions of environmental stewardship or quality of life.

Interestingly, farmers on properties with lower returns also placed ‘attending field days’ as one of the lowest objectives.

There could well be a link between this apparent unwillingness to learn and low returns. But it could also be that these farmers don’t feel they can afford the time off their farms.

For more profitable farms (those with a net annual profit of $100,000-$150,000) the same objectives appear as top choices, albeit in a slightly different order. These farmers put ‘it is important to make a comfortable living’ at the top of the list. However, the other top ranked objectives are in the same order with ‘minimise pollution’ fitting in after ‘ensuring employees enjoy their job’.

Of great surprise to the researchers was the objective ‘it is important to pass the farm to family’ being placed at the bottom of the list as the lowest ranked objective. . .

I think this has changed after the ag-sag of the 80s when farms couldn’t afford to have adult children come home and they got work elsewhere.

New Zealand has historically had an orientation toward the family farm: ownership systems were simple, and most farms kept one or two people fully occupied. Likewise, objectives were orientated toward farming ‘as a way of life’. The research aimed at ascertaining whether this traditional model has changed and to what degree.

It was found that the average age of farmers in New Zealand in 2006 was 50, but in 2013 this had edged up to 53. The average farm size has similarly increased, from 557 hectares in 2006 to 591 hectares in 2013.

The average number of people working on the farms has also increased. In 2006 it was 2.05, whereas the figure for 2013 sits at 2.76.

The researchers noted that changes in employment levels per farm are most pronounced in the dairy sector. This is no doubt due to growth in the sector which has seen dairy production increase from 951.5 kilograms of milksolids per hectare in 2006 to 1134.3 kilograms of milksolids per hectare in 2013 (compared with a drop in lambing productivity from 130.3 percent to 127 percent).

The South Island in particular has seen a notable increase in average farm size, which has gone some way to contribute to the fact that 3.2 percent of all farms in New Zealand – all of which are dairy operations – now have eight or more people working on them.

Across all farm types, 25 percent are run by a single person. Farms with two people make up a further 41 percent, with three person farms covering an additional 13.5 percent. As such, close to 80 percent of farms in New Zealand are still low labour operations.

Of note, 20 percent of all New Zealand farms are sheep farms and have three people or fewer working on them.

It was also found that sheep farms experience less of a problem finding sufficient labour than dairy operations.

That reflects our experience.

Along with the increasing age of farm managers, the number of years which farmers own their farms is probably increasing. Currently the average length of ownership is 25 years.

Another change is likely to be in the number of farms each farmer has an interest in. While nearly 60 percent of farmers are involved with only one farm, the average across all farm types is 1.75 farms. This number is increasing, however, largely due to the growth in dairying, with some farmers holding an interest in more than seven farms.

It was found that family farms have a variety of ownership systems. Private companies are becoming important, with 14 percent of the respondents noting they have such a company. This might be combined with various other ownership systems, of which a trust could be one. In fact, the results showed that trusts factor into 47 percent of all properties in one form or another. Of the respondents, only 1.24 percent reported a public company ownership model.

Of all partnerships, around 70 percent involve a spouse. An additional 25 percent also involve one or more family members, but partnerships with non-family members are uncommon. A farmer’s spouse is also an important person in the case of trusts.

The researchers found that, on the whole, family ownership systems are such that the farmers themselves make most of the decisions. Indeed, the farmers reported they were the main decision maker on 71 percent of the farms, although they do frequently consult other family members before acting. It is suspected that this has probably changed over the years. Overall, it is likely that family members and other ‘important people’ are increasingly consulted.

All in all, while farms are certainly getting larger and farmers are staying longer on their farms, ownership systems largely remain relatively simple, and farmers continue to make most of the decisions on their own. Likewise, farmer objectives probably haven’t changed much, although the extra emphasis on the environment and sustainability was surprising.

“If you believe all that you read you would get the impression that New Zealand farming is going corporate,” says Dr Peter Nuthall. “But, while it is true that some corporate or quasi-corporate family arrangements exist, by far the majority of farms are simple family affairs.”

Farming doesn’t provide a high return on capital so is more suited to family operations than corporate ones which generally are more focussed on the bottom line over a shorter time period.


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