Word of the day

September 25, 2014

Delphic – of or relating to Delphi or to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi; oracular; obscure; ambiguous.


Rural round-up

September 25, 2014

ECan commissioner vents spleen at nutrient meeting –

Environment Canterbury commissioner David Bedford lost his cool at a packed zone committee meeting in North Canterbury.

Trying to resume the meeting after a short tea break, Bedford used several expletives suggesting he was sick of farmers who turned up to meetings for just a short time.

His outburst reflected the often tense tone of the meeting, which drew several hundred dryland sheep-and-beef farmers to the small Waikari hall.

They came to express their concern at nutrient regulations that would leave many low-emitting dryland sheep-and-beef farmers unable to increase their lambing percentage, plant a stand of Lucerne, or grow an extra feed crop. . .

Agri-food opportunities in China – Keith Woodford:

Over the last two years I have written, together with my colleague Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock,  a series of six articles on various aspects of China’s  agri-food industries. They have been published in the Journal Primary Industry Management, which is the quarterly journal of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management.

The first article, attached at the bottom of this post, was written in late 2012.

Some things have moved on since then – for example we reported in that article that New Zealand’s exports to China in the year ending 30 June 2012 were $NZ6.1 billion, which was a three-fold increase in only five years. In the two years since then to 30 June 2014 they have almost doubled again to $NZ11.6 billion. However, the key drivers of change as we set out in that article remain the same.

These key drivers are increasing wealth, urbanisation, changing cuisine, food safety, agricultural production constraints, and associated food security issues. . .

Sheep meat in China and the opportunities for NZ – Keith Woodford:

This is the second of the “China series’  that Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock and I wrote for the journal  ‘Primary Industry Management’. It was written in December 2012 and published in March 2013.

As with everything relating to China, the statistics do not stand still.  In the year ending December 2012, 13% of New Zealand’s sheep meat exports income came from China. Move forward six months, and in the 12 months ending June 2013 this had risen to 21%. Then in the 12 months to June 2014 it rose again to 30%.  On a monthly basis, the latest statistics for March 2014 show the China component of New Zealand’s sheep meat trade was 31% by value and 44% by volume. . . .

Doing Agri-business in China – Keith Woodford:

This is the third of a series of six papers written for the journal ‘Primary Industry Management’. This one was published in June 2013.

For this paper we had three authors: Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock, Malcolm Cone and myself. The work was led by Sharon and formed the first part of her PhD studies.  It is based on case study work undertaken with New Zealand firms operating in China.

The focus of the work has been on cultural differences and how they affect business practices and relationships. About half the interviews were with Kiwis and undertaken in English. The other half were with Chinese and mainly undertaken in the Chinese language. . . .

Venison finishing margin better – Joanna Grigg:

Daniel Stack puts it bluntly.

“If venison prices are the same as last year venison farming will struggle to be both sustainable and competitive with alternative land uses, like dairy grazing.”

That said, he is poised to increase deer numbers if things come right. The Canterbury Plains venison finisher and dairy grazer hopes that indications from some venison exporters of the October schedule peak reaching $8/kilogram (kg) for 55 to 60kg AP stags will bear out. This would put returns at a level seen in 2012, when the average published schedule peak was $7.95/kg. It is also up on the past season’s $7.40/kg peak.

Stack said that to increase the number of deer weaners bought in, back to his typical 500 a year, he would need to see the schedule price at eight dollars. . .

 Take a long, hard look at your farming systems:

Industry body DairyNZ says the latest drop in Fonterra’s forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season is a signal to farmers to reassess the costs of their farm system.

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today reduced its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season from $6.00 to $5.30 per kg milksolids (kgMS). It also increased and widened the estimated dividend range from 20-25 cents per share to 25-35 cents – amounting to a forecast Cash Payout of $5.55-$5.65 for the current season.

DairyNZ’s general manager of research and development, David McCall, says most farmers should cope with lower prices this season, provided another drought doesn’t hit the country. However, around a quarter of the country’s farmers, those with a lot of debt, may have difficulty meeting their farm working expenses and interest payments. . . .

 Cattle and dairy lead rise in exports:

Goods exports rose $227 million in August 2014 compared with August 2013, to $3.5 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Live animals led the rise in exports, due to live cattle. Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports also contributed to the increase, led by higher quantities. The 16-percent rise in milk powder, butter, and cheese was led by milk fat and cheese.

“Cattle, milk fat, and cheese contributed to the rise in exports,” international statistics manager Jason Attewell said. “It is the first time in three years that a rise in dairy was not led by milk powder.” . . .

Award winner becomes Dairy Women’s Network Chair:

Dairy Women’s Network has appointed one of its past Dairy Woman of the Year winners as incoming chair.

Incumbent network chair Michelle Wilson has announced 2013 Dairy Woman of the Year winner Justine Kidd as the organisation’s new chair; a role she will assume following the organisation’s annual general meeting on 22 October.

“It is a credit to the Dairy Women’s Network board to have a person with Justine’s knowledge of agriculture and governance experience at the helm,” said Wilson.

“As outgoing chair I take a lot of comfort in knowing that the organisation will continue to grow from strength to strength with strong leadership at the board table.” . .


Thursday’s quiz

September 25, 2014

1. Who said: A leader is a dealer in hope.?

2. What is the source of this sentence: Where there is no vision, the people perish. ?

3. It’s too easy in French, guida in Italian, liderazgo in Spanish and ārahitanga in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Who wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People?

5. Which three qualities do you require in a leader?


Rural contractors need migrant workers

September 25, 2014

Rural contractors want changes in immigration rules to allow them to employ migrants:

Rural Contractors New Zealand has congratulated Prime Minister John Key and the National Party for its success in this year’s general election.

RCNZ President Steve Levet says a clear-cut result is good for both the country and our economy, but the rural contracting sector would now like to see some action from the new government in a couple of key areas .

“There is no doubt the agriculture sector is an important and valuable part of New Zealand’s economy – and rural contracting is a vital and important component of that,” he explains.

“However, as RCNZ has been saying for some time, we really need some changes in the rules around migrant workers in the rural contracting sector – as there is a huge gap between rural contractors’ needs for trained, agricultural machinery operators and unemployed New Zealanders who can do this work.”

The imperative to employ local people before migrants is sensible but only if the locals have the skills and attitude required.

Mr Levet says the rules around employing temporary, skilled people from overseas prepared to work for 6-8 months each year must be simplified – as do the regulations restricting people who have previously worked here in past seasons coming back to New Zealand to work.

“Contracting is a seasonal business and one that uses sophisticated machinery that requires technical skill to operate productively,” he explains. “Part of this shortfall is met by bringing in skilled operators from overseas.”

Mr Levet is urging the new Government to seriously look at these regulations and how the process can be streamlined and simplified.

He adds that RCNZ is also keen to work with opposition political parties to help them better understand the needs and issues of the rural contracting sector.

“It is clear from some of the debate we heard during the election campaign that many parties are not aware of the dire shortage of suitable agricultural machinery operators,” Mr Levet explains. “It is apparent many politicians are completely ignorant about this problem and how rural contractors actually rely on employing skilled people from overseas on a temporary basis each season and have done so for many years.”

Mr Levet also points out that many of the applicants Work and Income NZ (WINZ) tries to fill these vacancies with; either do not have the right skill-set and/or attitude to be successful.

“We are talking about operating highly technical and very expensive pieces machinery. It is unrealistic, unsafe and impractical to expect unemployed people to walk off the street and successfully take up these positions.”

Mr Levet says his organisation will continue to work closely with the new Government, opposition political parties and officials too both ensure that locals have the best opportunity for employment in the sector – as well as continuing to lobby for changes to the rules around engaging overseas seasonal workers for the benefit of the rural contracting sector. . .

Rural contracting is largely seasonal with a high demand for staff when work needs to be done and periods where there is little to do.

This makes contracting unattractive to people who need full time permanent jobs and more suitable for people on working holidays or other migrants who are happy to work when and where there’s work available and then go somewhere else.


The sky isn’t falling

September 25, 2014

The cut in Fonterra’s payout isn’t good news but it isn’t the disaster that many are proclaiming.

Nor was the timing the political conspiracy that Winston Peters suspects:

Just four days after the General Election the true state of the dairy industry is revealed – returns for milk that the New Zealand economy is reliant on have slumped.

“Questions need to be asked by New Zealand voters on why they were not informed about this serious decline before Election Day,” says New Zealand First Leader, Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The drop in payout is a $5 billion hit to the New Zealand economy and 2 per cent off nominal GDP.

“It appears the government and Fonterra joined forces to keep the facts hidden from voters? . . .

Fonterra makes announcements on its previous season’s final payout and any revision to the current one at this time every year.

The record final payout for last season was no surprise. Nor was the cut in this season’s forecast.

Anyone with even cursory knowledge of the global milk market was expecting it after successive drops in the GlobalDairyTrade price index and with the knowledge that the milk supply here and around the world was outstripping demand.

Lower income will impact on farmers, those who service and supply them and the wider economy but the news isn’t all bad.

The value of our dollar fell after Fonterra’s announcement which will help all exporters.

And while dairy prices are falling, demand and prices for sheep meat and beef are improving:

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the softening in overall rural confidence was clearly a reflection of the impact of the bearish global dairy outlook and lower milk prices on dairy farmer sentiment.

“Falling dairy commodity prices are the overwhelming factor at play here. At the time of the survey being taken, the globalDairyTrade auction prices fell six per cent, taking them down 45 per cent from their February peak,” Mr Russell said.

“And with global dairy supplies continuing to increase from all key exporting regions, a significant price recovery is not imminent.

“That said though, farm commodity prices move in cycles and, clearly, dairy commodity prices are entering a lower part of the cycle right now. While this is always a difficult time, the important thing to remember is the medium to long-term picture for the dairy industry is strong.”

Mr Russell said dairy farmers were also cautious with the dairy industry approaching a critical time in the year, with the peak production and selling period for New Zealand milk just weeks away.

The dampened confidence among dairy farmers was reflected in their business performance expectations in the coming 12 months.

Dairy farmers had the most pessimistic outlook of their own farm business performance. However, Mr Russell said, it should be noted this was coming off record highs for business performance expectations among dairy producers over the past 12 months.

The latest survey found almost half of dairy farmers surveyed (47 per cent) expect the performance of their own farm business to worsen in the coming 12 months, up from 30 per cent with that expectation in the previous quarter. Just 20 per cent expect an improvement in performance, compared with 27 per cent previously. A total of 32 per cent expected performance to remain stable.

While there was also a tempering in sentiment among beef and sheep farmers, after reaching three-year record highs in the previous survey, confidence in this sector remained at overall strong levels.

Mr Russell said lamb prices were up on the previous season and beef prices were currently hitting record highs due to tight global supply.

In terms of expectations of their own businesses, the number of beef and sheep farmers expecting improved performance declined from 57 per cent last quarter to 48 per cent this survey. However, the percentage expecting their farm business performance to worsen remained stable, at just seven per cent. A total of 42 per cent anticipated business performance would remain at the same level.

Despite the decline in overall confidence, New Zealand farmers’ investment intentions were overall stable, the Rabobank survey showed.

Sheep and beef farmers increased their investment appetite – with 43 per cent indicating they intend to increase investment in their farm businesses over the next 12 months, up from 37 per cent previously. Only six per cent intended to decrease investment (compared with four per cent in the past quarter).

For dairy however, investment appetite had waned, with 21 per cent intending to invest less in their businesses (up from just seven per cent with that view in the previous survey) and 20 per cent expecting to increase investment (down from 27 per cent). This was the lowest level of dairy farmer investment intentions in more than five years (since August 2009).

Mr Russell said this change in sector investment dynamics may be an early indication the decline in the national sheep flock and the rate of dairy farm conversions were slowing. . .

Federated Farmers says farmers will be down but far from out:

Fonterra Cooperative Group farmer shareholders will welcome confirmation that the 2013/14 season has ended exactly as promised with a total payout of $8.50 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS).  That good news is balanced by a sharp revision downwards in the 2014/15 forecast.

“The 2014/15 season which offered so much has turned into a breakeven one for not just Fonterra suppliers but the entire industry,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Like Synlait’s revision this week, there is a ‘good news and bad news’ dimension in this.   The good news is that we take the 2013/14 confirmed payout and the lowest revised forecast for 2014/15, we are talking an average total of $7kg/MS across the two seasons.

“A $5.30 kg/MS milkprice is also a lot higher than some commentators had expected if the forecast sticks.  If being a little word with a big meaning.

“Losing 70 cents kg/MS on the milkprice is really going to hurt.  Farmers will be kicking capital works into touch and will be pruning herds to rid themselves of any passengers.

“Speaking to DairyNZ, farm working expenses this season, before depreciation and interest payments, are expected to be around $4 kg/MS this season.  Feed, fertiliser as well as repairs and maintenance are going to be cut back.  We’ll only do what needs to be done.

“What we know from DairyNZ is that two-thirds of dairy farms have working expenses of between $3.25 and $4.75 kg/MS.  Of course when you start paying back the bank manager, the average cash costs on-farm head up to $5.40 kg/MS.

“As you can tell from what the forecast currently is, the current surplus is a wafer thin 15 to 25 cents kg/MS.  Expressed as retail milk, that’s about 1.25 to 2 cents a litre this season.

“It means that upwards of a quarter of our guys will be making a loss this season. 

“We also believe that unlike the Global Financial Crisis, dairy farmers have been listening and have focussed on building financial freeboard.  Sadly for some farmers, they’ll have to dip into that big time.

“Federated Farmers’ advice is to watch costs but to keep your bank, farm consultant, accountant and family fully in the loop.  Take a no surprises approach to get through.

“This season has been a perfect one for global milk with ideal conditions everywhere compounded by civil unrest in the Middle East and dislocation of European milk due to what is happening in Eastern Ukraine.

“We can only hope there is no more bad news but I am optimistic we may be back above $6 kg/MS for 2015/16,” Mr Hoggard concluded.

Agricultural prices are always cyclical.

Dairy farmers creamed it last season, now it’s sheep and beef farmers who have a brighter outlook. Both know that what goes up comes down and what comes down goes up again, sooner or later.


Governing for all

September 25, 2014

National will continue to work hard for all New Zealanders.

One of the accusations thrown at National from the more rabid elements of the left is that it is only interested in helping the wealthy.

It is certainly the party which wants the country and its people to be wealthier but that won’t be achieved by policies which help any one sector at the expense of another.

And the aim of increasing wealth isn’t an end in itself but the means which provides us with more and better opportunities.


September 25 in history

September 25, 2014

275  The Roman Senate proclaimed Marcus Claudius Tacitus Emperor.

303 On a voyage preaching the gospel, Saint Fermin of Pamplona was beheaded in Amiens.

1066  The Battle of Stamford Bridge marked the end of the Viking invasions of England.

1396  Ottoman Emperor Bayezid I defeated a Christian army at the Battle of Nicopolis

1513  Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean.

1555 The Peace of Augsburg was signed in Augsburg by Charles V and the princes of the Schmalkaldic League.

1690  Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick, the first newspaper to appear in the Americas, was published for the first and only time.

1694 Henry Pelham, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1754).

1725 Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, French steam vehicle pioneer, was born (d. 1804).

1764 Fletcher Christian, English Bounty mutineer, was born (d. 1793).

1775  Ethan Allen surrendered to British forces after attempting to capture Montreal during the Battle of Longue-Pointe. At the same time, Benedict Arnold and his expeditionary company set off from Fort Western, bound for Quebec City (Invasion of Canada (1775)).

1789   The U.S. Congress passed twelve amendments to the United States Constitution: the Congressional Apportionment Amendment (which was never ratified), the Congressional Compensation Amendment, and the ten known as the Bill of Rights.

1804   The Teton Sioux (a subdivision of the Lakota) demanded one of the boats from the Lewis and Clark Expedition as a toll for moving further upriver.

1819 1819 Samuel Marsden planted what is believed to have been the first grape vines in New Zealand.

NZ's first grape vines planted?

1846  U.S. forces led by Zachary Taylor captureed the Mexican city of Monterrey.

1862 Billy Hughes, seventh Prime Minister of Australia, was born (d. 1952).

1868  The Imperial Russian steam frigate Alexander  Nevsky Neuski was shipwrecked off Jutlandwhile carrying Grand Duke Alexei of Russia.

1889 C. K. Scott-Moncrieff, Scottish writer and translator, was born (d. 1930).

1897 William Faulkner, American writer, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1962).

1906  Leonardo Torres Quevedo successfully demonstrated the invention of the Telekino in the port of Bilbao, guiding a boat from the shore, in what is considered the birth of the remote control.

1911 Eric Williams, first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, was born (d. 1981).

1912  Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism was founded in New York.

1915   World War I: The Second Battle of Champagne began.

1916 Jessica Anderson,  Australian author, was born (d 2010).

1921 Sir Robert Muldoon, New Zealand Prime Minsiter was born (d 1992).

1922 Hammer DeRoburt, first President of Nauru was born (d. 1992).

1929   Jimmy Doolittle performed the first blind flight from Mitchel Field proving that full instrument flying from take off to landing was possible.

1929 English comedian Ronnie Barker was born (d. 2005).

1929 US broadcaster Barbara Walters was born.

1938 Jonathan Motzfeldt, first Prime Minister of Greenland, was born.

1942  World War II: Swiss Police Instruction of September 25, 1942 denied entry into Switzerland to Jewish refugees.

1944 Michael Douglas, US actor was born.

1944  World War II: Surviving elements of the British 1st Airborne Division withdraw from Arnhem in the Netherlands, ending the Battle of Arnhem and Operation Market Garden.

1946 English actress Felicity Kendal was born.

1952 US actor Christopher Reeve was born (d 2004).

1955  The Royal Jordanian Air Force was founded.

1956   TAT-1, the first submarine transatlantic telephone cable system, was inaugurated.

1957  Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, was integrated by the use of United States Army troops.

1959 Solomon Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka was mortally wounded by a Buddhist monk, Talduwe Somarama.

1962  The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria was formally proclaimed. Ferhat Abbas was elected President of the provisional government.

1969 English actress Catherine Zeta-Jones was born.

1970 Cease-fire between Jordan and the Fedayeen ended fighting triggered by four hijackings on September 6 and 9.

1972  In a referendum, the people of Norway rejected membership of the European Community.

1977 About 4,200 people took part in the first Chicago Marathon.

1978 PSA Flight 182, a Boeing 727-214, collided in mid-air with a Cessna 172  in San Diego, resulting in the deaths of 144 people.

1981  Sandra Day O’Connor became the 102nd person sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and the first woman to hold the office.

1983  Maze Prison escape: 38 republican prisoners, armed with 6 handguns, hijacked a prison meals lorry and smashed their way out of the Maze prison.

1996 The last of the Magdalene Asylums closed in Ireland.

2002 The Vitim event, a possible bolide impact in Siberia.

2003 A magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck just offshore Hokkaidō.

2008  China launched the spacecraft Shenzhou 7.

2009 – U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a joint TV appearance for a G-20 summit, accused Iran of building a secret nuclear enrichment facility.

2010 – Mahmoud Abbas spoke at United Nations General Assembly to request that Israel end its policy of building settlements in the West Bank.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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