Word of the day


Previse – to forecast, foresee or predict;  know or notify in advance; forewarn.

Rural round-up


New agriculture centre of excellence meets key barrier to growth in sector – BNZ CEO:

BNZ chief executive, Anthony Healy says the Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Science and Business programme, launched today at St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton addresses a significant and ongoing issue with the talent pipeline in one of New Zealand’s most important growth industries.

The programme, which is a joint venture between St Paul’s Collegiate and the private sector, including BNZ, will develop and roll out a national secondary school level agribusiness programme as well as serving as a venue for profiling agribusiness as an exciting career choice.

Healy says that while 60 per cent of all the money New Zealand earns through exports comes from agriculture there is currently no structured programme at secondary school level to encourage students to take up careers in agricultural science and business, resulting in a lack of students undertaking training in one of New Zealand’s most significant industries. . .


Methane consuming microbes combat climate change:

A Lincoln University scientist is thinking small to help solve a big problem—climate change.

Dr Sally Price, a senior researcher at the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is looking to raise funds so she can develop a set of guidelines for farmers to encourage the growth of naturally occurring methane-consuming soil microbes, called methanotrophs.

Methane is expelled by cows and other ruminant livestock through flatulence, and is a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.

She has been undertaking periodic research over the last 15 years into the role the microbes play, and has found the root systems of trees and shrubs help to break up the soil and allow the methane to travel down to the microbes. . .

Lincoln finds new partner in China:

 Exploring innovative technologies for improving processing, manufacturing and quality assurance in dairy across the whole value chain is the overarching goal of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed this week between Lincoln University and Yili Industrial Group.

The MoU is the first step in a business relationship considered to be of notable value to both parties, its significance reflected in the document having been witnessed by China’s President Xi Jinping at the Agri-Tech Industry Showcase in Auckland today.

Yili is one of China’s largest processers and manufacturers of dairy products. The company has previously entered into a similar relationship with Wageninigen University in the Netherlands, which has since advanced to include the establishment of a research and development centre on the Dutch University’s campus. . .

NZ Racing Board Appoints John Allen as New CEO:

The NZ Racing Board has appointed experienced Chief Executive Officer John Allen as its new CEO.

Allen is currently CEO at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and prior to that held the top job at New Zealand Post. He is also an experienced company director.

NZ Racing Board Chair Glenda Hughes says this is an outstanding appointment for the organisation and indeed the wider racing and sports industries. . .


Westland Milk Products Annual Meeting – Director elections and appointments

Westland Milk Products shareholders re-elected two long standing directors (including chair Matt O’Regan), voted in a new director for a casual vacancy and ratified the appointments of two independent directors at their company’s annual meeting today.

Existing directors O’Regan and Frank Dooley were re-elected for a four year term. Hugh Little was elected for one year to fill the casual vacancy left by the resignation of director Mike Havill. . .

Ballance farmers elect von Dadelszen for Ward B:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients farmer shareholders have elected Sarah von Dadelszen as their new Ward B director.

Mrs von Dadelszen brings a wealth of agricultural knowledge to the role with a mix of practical farming experience and specialist education and training.

David Peacocke, Ballance Chairman said he was pleased to have von Dadelszen join the board of directors.

“We had a record number of candidates for the Ward B election and the solid voter turnout shows that the co-op is in good heart, with farmers taking an active role in who represents them on the board.” . .


Thursday’s quiz


1. Who said: We need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance and twelve for growth?

2. The musical Kiss Me Kate is based on which play?

3. It’s étreinte in French, abbracio in Italian, abrazo in Spanish and awhi in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What is a kissing cousin?

5. An air kiss, a hug, a handshake or?

Seize the day Dunedin


Dear Dunedin,


You’ve won the Gigatown competition and will be the first in the country to get one gigabit per second internet connection.

Please seize the day and make the most of it.

Your success is vital for the success of the south and in the past few years you’ve been letting the rest of us down.

While North, Central and South Otago and Southland have been positive and doing their best to help themselves, too much of the news from Dunedin has been negative.

Being the first Gigatown in the country is your opportunity for to build on your strengths which include education, health, technology and the community spirit which helped you win the competition.

Companies like Animation Research and Natural History have shown the way without ultrafast broadband.

Now you’ve got the communications edge on the rest of the country they and others will be able to do so much more.

The university has always attracted young people from around the country and other parts of the world but the city has been able to keep too few of them after graduation.

You now have the opportunity to create jobs which will entice graduates to stay and strengthen the city’s economic and social fabric.

You’ve worked hard to win the competition but you can’t stop now.

The real prize will be what you do with the opportunities it will enable you to grab and build on.

Go for it for your own sake and that of the south.


Trade barriers economically and morally indefensible.


Federated Farmers’ vice president Anders Crofoot  spoke to the Australian Farm Institute’s Agriculture Roundtable Conference on the role free trade has played in sustaining and growing the New Zealand farm system.

In many ways my speaking to you, a New York Yankee from the Wairarapa, underscores a dimension of our farm system and human capital that is underrated.  That being how international it is.  I would argue the primary industries are the most international aspect of New Zealand business.

Our isolation means we have to be, and that has been ingrained since the first waves of organised European migrations in the 19th Century.

At first, the majority of the New Zealand farms were focused on producing wool and meat from sheep, and milk from cattle. Exports were limited to non-refrigerated or salted items.

Technology, in the form of refrigeration, towards the end of the 19th Century, had a disruptive influence and radically transformed farming from a domestic focus, to an export one.  Of course this was within the British Imperial family.

Refrigeration saw meat and dairy products being exported, the firs shipment leaving New Zealand on the 18th of February 1882, from Dunedin. The creation of these new markets changed farming by attracting skilled migrants to New Zealand, which lies in a pastoral “sweet spot.”  The right water, sunshine hours, temperature and soils.

Capital enabled mechanisation and technology to be imported, while inventiveness and the ‘no.8 wire’ mentality here started to create new technology.

Refrigeration and a large guaranteed market in Britain saw a first golden period for farming here, which lasted until 1973, when Britain joined the European Union.

Farming then became less prosperous due to the country’s reliance on one market and a narrow basket on primary exports.  In the 1970’s, on-farm costs rose with oil shocks, returns fell, but land prices remained high.

1984 Reforms

This resulted in a cornucopia of subsidies and tariffs in a vainglorious attempt to hold back the world.  These crumpled in 1984 with the defeat of Rob Muldoon’s National Government, and the election of a radically reforming Labour Government of David Lange and Roger Douglas.

Suddenly and expectantly subsidies and trade protection were removed, and New Zealand trade was gradually liberalised. Remarkably it was cheered on and championed by Federated Farmers, who foresaw the cancerous effect of subsidies and protection. Since 1986, productivity in New Zealand’s agricultural sector has improved by an average of  5.9% per year.

Until then, nearly 40 percent of the average New Zealand sheep and beef farmer’s gross income came from government subsidies.  Farmers were paid to rip out native vegetation, ironic given today’s environmental climate.

They were encouraged to produce without regard to markets; but unfortunately we don’t get rich by selling to ourselves.

By 1985 UK trade was dramatically decreased. However, Muldoon’s parting gift of a free trade agreement with Australia in 1983 (CER) started to blossom.

The effect of reforms on outlook and trade

You may think that this major policy change, of removing farm subsidies, would have destroyed the make-up of our farm systems.

On the contrary, our farmers came through that experience stronger than ever.

For farming, there is life after subsidies, and while the late David Lange predicted that farming was a sunset industry in the 1980’s, and that manufacturing and tourism would take its place, a compatriot of mine, Mark Twain, would answer in reply that the rumours of agriculture’s death have been greatly exaggerated!

A lack of subsidies and tariff barriers forced New Zealand producers to grow up and talk to the markets they were selling into.

The removal of farm subsidies in New Zealand has given birth to a vibrant, diversified and growing rural economy. Early predictions were  that 8,000 farms would fail, but in the end, only 800 did.

As of 2013, 73 percent of New Zealand’s merchandise exports were from the primary sector.  That is five percent higher than in 2008.  Of the 2013 figure, about 45 percent is from the traditional pastoral side of meat, wool, dairy, seeds and crops.

The removal of subsidies has proven to be a catalyst for productivity gains. In the twenty years since 1986-87, the value of economic activity in New Zealand’s farm sector had grown by 40% in constant dollar terms and continues to do so. Such improvements in productivity are readily apparent at the level of the individual family farm.

Lambing percentages, lamb export slaughter weight and milk fat processed per cow have massively increased. The diversification of land use prompted by the removal of subsidies has been beneficial for farmers and has increased the size and scope of the New Zealand agricultural sector as new innovative products have been developed.

Farmers are now farming better than ever, contributing $14 billion (6%) to our countries GDP from behind the farm gate.

They are much more conscious that their activities must make good business sense.  No longer are they chasing subsidies, pursuing maximum production at any cost.  Farmers maintain cost structures that reflect the real earning capacity of their farms.  They invest in protecting their environment and the value of their land is based on its earning capacity in the market.

Good management of the environment is an integral part of sustainable agricultural practice by farmers, where farmers are producing more from less.

With the removal of subsidies, agricultural practice is now driven by the demands of the market and by consumers.  The removal of subsidies has also broadened the base of farming to encompass diversified activities, such as rural tourism, and blended forms of agriculture where dairy farms in the Bay of Plenty and Nelson also grow horticultural products.

New Zealand now boasts the lowest level of agricultural support for industrialised countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  The level of assistance to agriculture in New Zealand now represents only one percent of farming income.

In 2013, the worst drought in 70-years, covering the South Island’s west coast and the entire North Island saw only 146 Rural Assistance Payments (RAP) granted.  Given these are means and asset tested it underscores just how little support farming receives here in contrast with the EU, where farmers are getting payments due to Russian sanctions!

What support New Zealand farmers do receive is mainly in the form of government funding for agricultural research.

Agricultural labour productivity is consistently the leading sector for labour productivity.

A key difference between New Zealand and other countries is that New Zealand exports the vast majority of its agricultural production.  Upwards of 95 percent is exported. We produce enough food to feed at least 24.4 million people, although some estimates are higher.

This makes New Zealand a significant player in world trade of foodstuffs, being the largest dairy exporter and the largest exporter of lamb, while by no means being the largest producers.  We are also the largest global exporter of a number of herbage seeds.

This also goes to highlight the knife edge the world sits on between food surplus and food deficit; food security.

External perspectives on trade

Thanks to a structural realignment domestically, New Zealand farming turned from a myopic dependence upon “mother Britain” to having to hustle for markets and opportunity.

Before I address that opportunity I wish to highlight something Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston, recently wrote about.

We have become accustomed to looking at trade barriers and threats “symmetrically” – things like quotas, subsidies and tariffs, “Buy Local” campaigns, or British farmers objecting to Tescos promoting New Zealand lamb.

Earlier this year, The Economist magazine noted the United States’ Farm Bill was

“A strange piece of legislation, which costs nearly a trillion dollars. It mixes benefits that mostly go to the poor (food stamps) with agricultural subsidies that mostly go to the rich (crop subsidies for large farms).  Given a blank slate, nobody with an interest in either alleviating poverty or improving farming would construct such a law. Yet here it is again.”

As an American New Zealander I must concur with the Economist’s conclusion.

Yet there are also “Asymmetrical Trade Threats,” highlighted recently by Fonterra Co-operative Group Chief Executive, Theo Spierings.

On TV3’s The Nation, he put the impact of Ebola to New Zealand at $150 million, yet not one New Zealander is infected.

What has been affected is about six percent of Fonterra sales.

Animal disease provides another threat.

A new assessment of Foot & Mouth Disease puts the estimated cost of a large-scale outbreak at $16 billion over six years for New Zealand.  This would also tip us into recession.

Markets live on fear and rumour and last year’s non-Botulism scare gives a hint as to what effect a major animal disease outbreak could result in.

Ebola and potentially Foot and Mouth Disease join another example of an “Asymmetrical Trade Threat;” the Eastern Ukraine.

Even what Russian separatists do in the Ukraine materially impacts the price of our dairy exports and our wealth as a country.  So the knock-on effect Ebola has upon the economies we trade with and the dislocation of up to three billion litres of milk caused by Russian sanctions.

These largely unforeseen and unpredictable, Asymmetric Trade Threats are costing us hundreds of millions of dollars.  The now discredited ‘food miles’ concept could have fallen into this category as could future consumer movements.

I put that out there because we need to be attuned to “a tree falling in the forest.”  No matter how removed, technology disease and political events seemingly unrelated could impact us..

Trade today, trade tomorrow

Now for the good news.

The Helen Clark-led Labour Government and the John Key-led National Government have built on a platform laid down since 1984.

You cannot secure free trade if you do not live the dream, and Exhibit A is China.  Our exports to China have jumped 160% since the FTA came into force in 2008.

In 2004-06 we exported some $2 billion worth of goods to China.

In the year to September 2014, that stood at $11.35 billion and 37 percent up on the same point in 2013.

Last December we signed a free trade agreement with Taiwan that has seen trade break the billion dollar barrier being 19.5 percent up on the same point in 2013. It is now our seventh largest trading partner.

Even Britain remains our sixth largest with exports up over ten percent in the year to September.

Free Trade has enabled and not hindered New Zealand.  We are richer and better off for it.

Our trading partners rely heavily on the Asia Pacific, which underscores why we need the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).  But it must be a partnership we can embrace.

When it comes to the TPP, Dr Rolleston recently wrote:

“I find it remarkable you can largely tell a persons position by the acronym they use.  As we call it the TPP we fall into the supporter category, but those who add an ‘A,’ making it the TPPA, generally fall into the opposing camp.  Supporters use partnership, opponents prefer agreement.”

Whatever your view, no one under the age of 40 will realistically recall what New Zealand was like when we had a tariff for every occasion.  Something a comprehensive TPP must aim to put on the path to extinction.

If TPP members play favourites with certain countries over others, we could easily end up being worse off than we were before a TPP.

A TPP that doesn’t address trade barriers at and behind the border is no agreement.

If some countries cannot stand the trade heat then they need to get out of the negotiation kitchen, allowing others who can to cook up an agreement which New Zealand has deserved since the 1984 reforms.

There’s also no reason why countries in the slow lane cannot join later when the scale and ambition of the TPP is known.  The Three Musketeers’ motto, “all for one, and one for all,” defines whether the TPP will stand as a beacon or fall into the trade abyss, like Doha sadly seems to have done.

If we compromise just to get agreement over the line, agriculture will be trapped permanently in a too hard basket.

While there’s much conjecture about TPP benefits, Tim Groser, our Trade Minister, has correctly noted that the China Free Trade Agreement underestimated economic benefits “by between 10 and 17 times.”

The recent agreement with Taiwan has seen bilateral trade surge 19.5 percent in the year to September, bearing in mind it was signed only last December.   It seems we do very well if agriculture and agri-food is enabled and not hindered by such agreements.

This is why the TPP must address trade barriers at and behind the border

If everyone plays ball the members of the TPP will account for a quarter of global trade.  This is a huge prize and winning a two-year seat on the United Nations Security Council has to give us some diplomatic clout.

Trade restrictions open up opportunities for corruption.

They interfere in relationships between producers and consumers and promote inefficiency.

They are expensive and the people who are hit hardest by that are the poor.

Trade barriers are economically and morally indefensible.

November 27 in history


176 – Emperor Marcus Aurelius granted his son Commodus the rank of Imperator and made him Supreme Commander of the Roman legions.

1095 – Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont.

1295 – The first elected representatives from Lancashire were called to Westminster by King Edward I to attend  “The Model Parliament“.

1703 – The first Eddystone Lighthouse was destroyed in the Great Storm of 1703.

1815 – Adoption of Constitution of the Kingdom of Poland.

1830 – St. Catherine Laboure experienced a vision of the Blessed Virgin standing on a globe, crushing a serpent with her feet, and emanating rays of light from her hands.

1839 – The American Statistical Association was founded.

1849 – Te Rauparaha, the formidable Ngāti Toa leader who had dominated Te Moana-o-Raukawa – the Cook Strait region – from his base at Kapiti Island for nearly 20 years, died.

Death of Te Rauparaha

1856 – The Coup of 1856 led to Luxembourg’s unilateral adoption of a new, reactionary constitution.

1868 – Indian Wars: Battle of Washita River – United States Army Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer led an attack on Cheyenne living on reservation land.

1874 Chaim Weizmann, 1st President of Israel, was born.

1886 – German judge Emil Hartwich sustainsedfatal injuries in a duel, which became the background for “Effi Briest“, a classic work of German literature.

1895 – Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, setting aside his estate to establish the Nobel Prize.

1901 – The U.S. Army War College was established.

1912 – Spain declared a protectorate over the north shore of Morocco.

1924 – In New York City, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held.

1925 Ernie Wise, British comedian, was born (d. 1999).

1934 – Bank robber Baby Face Nelson died in a shoot-out with the FBI.

1940 – The 16,712-ton New Zealand Shipping Company liner MV Rangitane was sunk by two German ‘auxiliary cruisers’ (armed merchant raiders), the Orion and Komet, 300 nautical miles off East Cape.

Liner sunk by German raiders off East Cape

1940 – Romania’s ruling party Iron Guard arrested and executed over 60 of exiled King Carol II of Romania‘s aides, including former minister Nicolae Iorga.

1940 – World War II: At the Battle of Cape Spartivento, the Royal Navy engaged the Regia Marina.

1940  Bruce Lee, American actor and martial artist, was born.

1942  Jimi Hendrix, American guitarist, was born (d. 1970).

1942 – World War II: At Toulon, the French navy scuttled its ships and submarines to keep them out of Nazi hands.

1944 – World War II: An explosion at a Royal Air Force ammunition dump at Fauld, Staffordshire killed seventy people.

1963 – The Convention on the Unification of Certain Points of Substantive Law on Patents for Invention iwa signed at Strasbourg.

1964 – Cold War Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru appealed to the United States and the Soviet Union to end nuclear testing and to start nuclear disarmament, stating that such an action would “save humanity from the ultimate disaster”.

1971 – The Soviet space programme’s Mars 2 orbiter released a descent module which malfunctioned and crashed, but was the first man-made object to reach the surface of Mars.

1973 – The Twenty-fifth Amendment: The United States Senate voted92 to 3 to confirm Gerald Ford as Vice President of the United States.

1975 – The Provisional IRA assassinated Ross McWhirter, after a press conference in which McWhirter had announced a reward for the capture of those responsible for multiple bombings and shootings across England.

1978 –  San Francisco, mayor George Moscone and openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by former supervisor Dan White.

1978 – The Kurdish party PKK was founded in the city of Riha (Urfa) in Turkey.

1983 – Avianca Flight 011, a Boeing 747 crashed near Madrid’s Barajas Airport, killing 181.

1984 – Under the Brussels Agreement signed between the governments of the United Kingdom and Spain, the former agreed to enter into discussions with Spain over Gibraltar, including sovereignty.

1989 – Avianca Flight 203, a Boeing 727, exploded in mid-air over Colombia, killing all 107 people on board and three people on the ground. The Medellín Cartel claimed responsibility for the attack.

1991 – The United Nations Security Council adopted Security Council Resolution 721, leading the way to the establishment of peacekeeping operations in Yugoslavia.

1992 – For the second time in a year, military forces tried to overthrow president Carlos Andres Perez in Venezuela.

1997 – Twenty-five were killed in the second Souhane massacre in Algeria.

1999 – The Labour Party took control of the New Zealand government with leader Helen Clark, the country’s second female PM.

2001 – A hydrogen atmosphere was discovered on the extrasolar planet Osiris by the Hubble Space Telescope, the first atmosphere detected on an extrasolar planet.

2004 – Pope John Paul II returned the relics of Saint John Chrysostom to the Eastern Orthodox Church.

2005 – The first partial human face transplant was completed in Amiens.

2006 – The Canadian House of Commons endorsed Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s motion to declare Quebec a nation within a unified Canada.

2009 – A bomb exploded on the Nevsky Express train between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, derailing it and causing 28 deaths and 96 injuries.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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