Word of the day

April 30, 2015

Asterism – an ingeniously polite insult or deriding of another; genteel irony; polite mockery.


Rural round-up

April 30, 2015

Dairy industry ‘paper’ flawed

Federated Farmers is disappointed to see Massey University supporting attempts to use academia to tarnish the dairy industry by pretending a student’s academic hypothesis is established fact.

“The paper is being discredited by the authors’ academic peers as being sloppy,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair.

“Unfortunately Joy, Death and Foote’s conclusions are drawn off assumptions, which are out in the world now and we have to rely on the intellect of its readers to see through its many untruths.”

“We support the authors’ desire to have ‘accurate reporting of real costs’ but the student’s thesis only looks at the negative externalities under very poor and inaccurate assumptions of the dairy industry while ignoring the positives. Therefore it could not possibly arrive at an accurate conclusion.” . .

 Downward revision for Westland Milk Products’ pay-out to shareholders:

The decline in international prices for milk has resulted in Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, revising its predicted pay-out for the 2014-15 season.

Westland’s board has advised shareholders that the predicted pay-out is now $4.90 – $5.10 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS) before retentions. This is down from the previously announced range of $5 to $5.40 per kgMS.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says prices were such that a $5.20 pay-out seemed possible before the recent auctions, as buyers looked to New Zealand to secure supply ahead of the dry conditions during January and February. . .

 

Rates a balancing act of who’s going to foot the bill – Chris Lewis:

Rates are being set across the country as local government prepare their Long Term Plans (LTP) for the next three years.

These plans set out the council’s long term focus, describe the activities it intends on providing and specifies which community outcomes are to be achieved. More importantly, from the rate payer’s perspective, who is going to foot the bill for these activities?

Across the country Federated Farmers staff and elected members are busy squirrelling away on council’s plans. One of the things members don’t fully understand is where our membership money is spent. It has taken me a while to get my head around all the different activities the Federation covers and the effort that geos in to keeping 85 councils around New Zealand honest and fair for rural communities. . .

Ministers welcome scientific progress in cutting agricultural greenhouse gases:

Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have welcomed news of a breakthrough by New Zealand researchers which offers the potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions from sheep and cattle by 30 to 90 percent without cutting production.

This breakthrough in methane inhibitors was made by researchers working through the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium.

“Livestock methane is New Zealand’s single largest greenhouse gas emissions source, making up 35 percent of our total emissions in 2013,” says Mr Groser. . .

Tight times force farmers to adopt new tactics – Tony Field:

Dairy New Zealand is warning farmers to prepare for tough times next season as well as this one.

It says the average farmer needs $5.40 in income per kilogram of milk solids just to cover farm working expenses and interest and rent this season. Fonterra is forecasting a payout of $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids this season.

Industry body DairyNZ says “bank balances for most dairy farmers will be heading south this winter and spring, producing some short-term but significant cashflow management challenges for farmers”. . .

Secret recipe through the seasons:

There’s a lot to be said for a fertiliser which does double duty, giving an instant boost of nitrogen to promote autumn growth, followed by the slower release of sulphur.

That’s the verdict of King Country sheep and beef farmers, George and Sue Morris who followed advice from their Ballance Agri-Nutrients representative to give PhaSedN a try.

The product is a granulated combination of SustaiN, elemental sulphur and lime. While the nitrogen offers an immediate boost to pasture, the elemental sulphur delivers a long-term supply of sulphur. It is an ideal combination where there is a high sulphur need such as sandy, peat and pumice soils or if there is high rainfall or a high risk of sulphur leaching. . .

 

 

Snapshots of US agriculture – Conversable Economist:

An extraordinary shift happened in the US agricultural sector during the last century or so. Robert A. Hoppe lays out the facts in his report “Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report,
2014 Edition,” written as Economic Information Bulletin Number 132, December 2014, for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Indeed, when I hear arguments about how difficult (impossible?) it will be for the US workforce to adjust to the coming waves of technology, my thought quickly jump to the shift in agriculture.

For example, back around 1910, about one-third of all US workers were in agriculture (blue line, measured on the right-hand scale).  It’s now about 2%. The absolute number of jobs in agriculture declined, too, but the big change was that more than 100% of the job growth in the U.S. was in the non-agricultural sector. I haven’t researched the point, but my guess is that many people around 1910 would have viewed these changes as somewhere between  impossible and inconceivable.  . .  Hat tip: Utopia


Thursday’s quiz

April 30, 2015

1. Who said: Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.?

2. Who wrote Crime and Punishment?

3. It’s châtiment in French; castigo in Italian and Spanish and whiu  in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What  are the two missing lines from this verse from The Mikado?

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time —
 .  . . 
. . . 
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment!
Of innocent merriment!

5. An inquisitorial justice system  an adversarial one or  . . . ?


Have your say on census 2018

April 30, 2015

Statistics New Zealand is consulting on the next census which will take place in 2018.

Statistics NZ wants to hear your views about the next census and is inviting you to take part in an online discussion forum open from 30 April to 10 June 2015 via www.statistics.govt.nz

This is the first time Statistics NZ has engaged online with the public about the content of census, and it is an important step in ensuring the 2018 Census is relevant for New Zealand.

Statistics NZ has developed a ‘Preliminary view’ of content for the 2018 Census based on its review process to date. The online forum will be structured around these topics, with current thinking – including proposed changes – a starting point for discussion.

Statistics NZ is encouraging people to respond to its initial recommendations, share their views and discuss issues that matter to them with other Kiwis.

The best opportunity to influence census content is to make a formal submission, via www.statistics.govt.nz. The formal submission period will be open from 18 May until 30 June.

Statistics NZ welcomes all engagement and will listen carefully to everyone’s views, but will need to find the right balance between making changes to better reflect New Zealand today and being able compare data over time. Factors such as the length and complexity of the questionnaire will also need to be considered.

Following consultation, Statistics NZ will analyse the submissions and aim to confirm final content for the 2018 Census in early 2017. . .

You’ll find a link to the discussion forum here.

I want the census to recognise New Zealander as an ethnicity instead of just allowing people to choose it under other.

If you’re in Australia you can be a New Zealander but it’s not a distinct category in the New Zealand census.

People who are European can choose distinctive ethnicities such as Dutch. But those of us of non-Maori descent are supposed to choose the broad and inaccurate category European while people of other descent such as Asian or African aren’t recognised as New Zealanders even if their families have been here for generations unless we opt for the after-thought category of other.


Better results not ideological obsessions

April 30, 2015

A new funding system for people with disabilities was the subject of this exchange at question time yesterday:

CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour—Kelston) to the Minister of Finance: Is the Productivity Commission report released yesterday indicative of a Government agenda to privatise the welfare system?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): No. It is indicative of a Government agenda to get better results for people who really need them. We are happy to debate the kind of toolset that the Productivity Commission has laid out, but I would like to signal to that member and to the Labour Party that we are focused more on getting better results and less on their ideological obsessions. What we are doing is building a system that allows Governments to invest upfront in personalised interventions for the child, the individual, or the family for a long-term impact, and to track the results of that investment. The Productivity Commission has produced a framework that gives the Government a wider range of tools. It has been heavily consulted on with the social service sector to a draft form, and now it will be further consulted on before it gives us a final report. But I expect at the end of that that the Labour Party will be out of step with pretty much everybody by sticking to its 1970s models.

Carmel Sepuloni: Does the Minister intend to establish a voucher system for social services in New Zealand?29 Apr 2015 Oral Questions Page 11 of 15 (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes. We are under way in establishing a voucher system particularly for people with disabilities. It is called Enabling Good Lives. It has been broadly welcomed by the disability sector. I suspect that the mass adoption of it by the Australian Government in the form of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is going to put a lot of pressure on New Zealand to further develop a sophisticated voucher system for people with disabilities. The reason why is that it gives them some choices rather than being subject to a system where the Labour Party tells the providers—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Jami-Lee Ross: What progress has the Government made in delivering better outcomes from social services?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: We have made considerable progress in focusing on our customers—that is, getting to know much better the circumstances and prospects of those most vulnerable New Zealanders. For instance, a child under the age of 5 who is known to Child, Youth and Family, whose parents are supported by a benefit, and where either parent is in contact with the Department of Corrections—and there are a lot of those families; around 470 of them in Rotorua, for instance—is around five times more likely to end up on a long-term benefit and seven times more likely than the average to get to be in prison before the age of 21. In the light of that information, we feel a moral obligation, as well as a fiscal one, to act now to reduce the long-term costs, and we are not—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Carmel Sepuloni: Does he agree with the findings of the draft Productivity Commission’s report he commissioned that the Government faces incentives to underfund contracts with NGOs for the delivery of social services, with probably adverse consequences for service provision; if so, does he agree that greater contracting out could harm service provision?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I agree with the first one but not the second one. The Government often does deliberately, as a result of Government policy, actually, pay less than the full cost of services, and often the users of those services need a higher level of more sophisticated service that what we currently offer them. There is no evidence at all that contracting out, as the member calls it, will reduce service provision. Sometimes that is the right way to do it. For instance, the Government owns no elderly care beds in New Zealand. It is all contracted out. That has been a bipartisan approach for many years with a highly vulnerable population. There are other areas where there are benefits from competition and also benefits from cooperation.

Jami-Lee Ross: What results has he seen from investment in Better Public Services?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: One of the first results we are seeing from taking an investment approach to public services is a much better understanding of our customers. The reports, now published 6-monthly, into the welfare liability have lifted the lid on a very complex ecosystem of dependency. Now we are starting to take initiatives in order to change the way that system works. For instance, around 70 percent of the people who sign up for a benefit in any given month have been on a benefit before. They are long-term regular and returning customers. In the past we have thought that because we found them a job once, that was the end of it. In fact, they need sustained support and employment, and we expect to be taking more measures in order to back up that initiative. But there will be hundreds of others that will involve contracting out, will involve competition, will involve the private sector, and will involve better results. . .

Carmel Sepuloni: Does he agree with the finding of the report, which he commissioned, that “Problems with contracting out are often symptoms of deeper causes such as the desire to exert top-down control to limit political risk.”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes.

Carmel Sepuloni: Does he agree that the Government needs to take responsibility for system stewardship and for making considered decisions that shape the system, including taking the overarching responsibility for monitoring, planning, and managing resources in such a way as to maintain and improve system performance?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, the Government can do a better job of what the Government does. We are still unravelling the damage done by the previous Labour Government to our social services delivery, where that Government turned it into what I would call a dumb funding system. Communities and families have an important role as well as Governments—in fact, a more important role. In fact, one of the programmes that the commission refers to is Whānau Ora, which is designed around the radical proposition that a lot of our most dysfunctional families can actually heal some of their own problems and improve some of their own aspirations. . .

This exchange shows a stark difference between National and Labour.

National is determined to improve the delivery of social services, give people with disabilities more choices and reduce dependence.

Labour which is still ideologically opposed to private provision of services even if that gives better results.

And it’s not just Labour which has the wrong idea of welfare and the government’s role in services.

Lindsay Mitchell writes on Green MP Jan Logie’s contention that social problems aren’t solved one individual at a time:

If problems aren’t solved “one individual at a time”, when it is individuals who abuse or neglect each other, when it is individuals who successfully resolve to change their behaviour, what hope? And why have role models eg Norm Hewitt to show what individuals can achieve? Why have organisations like AA who focus on each individual owning and addressing their problem; in living one day at a time to break their addiction?

Logie believes in deterministic explanations for human behaviour. Causes are outside of the control of the individual. For instance, colonisation and capitalism cause social chaos to entire groups. Therefore the largest representative collective – government – must play the major remedial role.

And she has the gall to talk about private service providers securing an “ongoing need for [their] services”.

When for the past forty odd years  government policy has been creating and increasing social problems through the welfare state.

This reinforces this morning’s quote from Thomas Sowell: Although the big word on the left is ‘compassion,’ the big agenda on the left is dependency.


Fonterra drops forecast payout

April 30, 2015

Newsletter from Fonterra chair John Wilson:

Today we’ve unfortunately had to announce that the forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season is being reduced from $4.70 per kgMS to $4.50 per kgMS.

When combined with the previously announced estimated dividend range of 20-30 cents per share, this amounts to a forecast Cash Payout of $4.70 – $4.80 for the current season.

The 20 cent drop in the forecast means we have had to reduce the Advance Rate payments, particularly over winter which will have a significant impact on farm budgets.

The updated Advance Rate schedule will be available on Fonterra Farm Source later this morning.
There is still a lot of volatility in international dairy commodity prices caused by over-supply in the market.

We have confidence in the long-term fundamentals of international dairy demand but, right now, the market is out of balance. GDT prices for products that set our forecast Farmgate Milk Price have fallen 23 per cent since February.

Given the uncertainty, there continues to be further risk.

We also announced today that our latest estimate of New Zealand milk production for the current season is 1,607 million kgMS. This is based on recent growth conditions on-farm but will depend on conditions for the rest of the season.

Westland dropped its forecast yesterday too.

It’s disappointing but not unexpected.


Quote of the day

April 30, 2015
Helping those who have been struck by unforeseeable misfortunes is fundamentally different from making dependency a way of  life. – Thomas Sowell
He also said:
Although the big word on the left is ‘compassion,’ the big agenda on the left is dependency.

%d bloggers like this: